Archive for March, 2010

In my last post, I discussed some of the medical research that has been undertaken on Frankincense. This week I want to outline some of the ways in which Frankincense has been, and is being, used.

The Essential Oils Desk Reference lists the medical properties of Frankincense as being anti-tumoral, immuno-stimulant, antidepressant and muscle relaxing. [1] We also know that this essential oil is beneficial to the health of the skin, having been used for this purpose (along with such oils as Myrrh, Sandalwood, Geranium, Rosewood and Roman Chamomile) throughout recorded history. [2]

Not surprisingly, when I did a search on Frankincense on the site Essential Oil Testimonials, I found that skin cancers, tumours and numerous skin ailments cropped up as the most common uses for Frankincense. I also found Frankincense being successfully used for mental illnesses such as depression and bi-polar. How does Frankincense work in the body to be able to do all these things you may ask?

Frankincense contains sesquiterpenes, molecules capable of penetrating the blood/brain barrier, which renders it capable of stimulating the limbic part of the brain (Incidentally this is the centre of memory and emotions), the hypothalamus, pineal and pituitary glands. The Hypothalamus in turn, is the master gland of the body which produces many of hormones such as thyroid and growth hormone. Read the rest of this entry

Use only Therapeutic Grade Essential oils

In the last two posts, we looked at what might make an essential oil toxic. I concluded by saying that if you’re not using an essential oil that is pure, unadulterated and therapeutic grade, then it could be very toxic.

So what is a therapeutic grade essential oil?

A therapeutic grade essential oil should have the following qualities:

  • The plant from which the oil is distilled or extracted should be organically cultivated and grown.
  • The land on which the plant is grown, should itself be free of herbicides, pesticides and other toxic residuals.
  • The oil needs to distilled at the correct temperature. Very high temperatures may extract the most oil from the plant, but in the process damage the quality of the oil.
  • The oil must be pure and undiluted. And it most certainly should NOT be mixed with synthetics.

In an age where plants and their constituents are being heavily synthesized, and where most farmlands are contaminated by either heavy metals, pesticides or herbicides, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find a producer of essential oils that adheres to such a strict regimen.

To date, I have only found one – Young Living.

Dr David Stewart goes a lot further than I do. He puts forward the following questions to those who claim to match or better Young Living’s Therapeutic Grade (TG) essential oils: [1]

  1. Does their company own any farms on which to raise herbs for oils? And if they do, are they new farms on land formerly polluted with herbicides, pesticides, and chemicals that contain residuals from the past, or are they farming land that is clean, which has never been cultivated or has been untilled for at least the last 50 years?
  2. Does their company have their own fully equipped testing laboratory to verify an oil’s composition?
  3. Do they have anyone on staff with a trained nose who can analyze oils by their smell? (There are less than 200 people in the world with noses sufficiently trained to discern the chemistry of a fragrance.)Gary Young can.
  4. If their company purchases oils from outside suppliers, do they visit the distilleries and farms of those suppliers periodically to observe if the herbs are grown organically, i.e. without pesticides, herbicides, or chemical fertilizers?
  5. Do they know if the grower has a testing laboratory on the farm to determine when the crop is at its peak for oil harvesting?
  6. Do they know if the crops were actually harvested at their peak time and, if so, was there an inordinate delay in taking them to the still and into the cookers?
  7. Do they know if their distillery personnel understand the art and science of distilling, exactly how to pack the cookers, how to administer the steam, how to maintain minimum temperatures and pressures throughout the cooker, and how to continuously monitor the process throughout distillation to make sure the oil produced contains all of its components in the proper proportions?
  8. If their supplier makes a mistake in the distillation or harvesting processes that results in an inferior grade of oil, does that supplier sell the oil anyway or do they discard it?
  9. Do they know if the cookers in the distilleries of their suppliers have domed lids or cone shaped lids? Most stills use dome-shaped lids. Cone topped cookers deliver a better grade of oil than dome tops.
  10. Do they know if their suppliers supplement the distillation process with solvents to extract additional oil from the plant matter?
  11. Do they know if their suppliers bottle their oils directly from the distillery without modifying the composition of the natural oil by adding anything or taking anything away?
  12. Do they know if their company has tested their company’s oils side by side with Young Living oils in the same lab to make a fair comparison? And if so, where is the data?

As Dr Stewart points out, if the answer to these questions is “No” or “I don’t know” then how can one say for sure their essential oils are better than Young Living’s or for that matter therapeutic grade in quality?

Till next time



Disclaimer: Please remember that anything discussed here does not
constitute medical advice and cannot substitute for appropriate medical care. Where essential oils are mentioned, it’s recommended you use only pure, unadulterated therapeutic grade essential oils and follow the safety directions of the manufacturer.

[1] The Raindrop Messenger, Official newsletter of C.A.R.E. (Center for Aromatherapy Research and Education) Vol 6, No 4 Jul-Aug 2008. To subscribe

Can Essential oils be toxic? Part two

In my last post I discussed how many aromatherapists (largely from the Anglo-Saxon world) avoided numerous essential oils on the basis that many essential oils contain compounds which are toxic to humans. I went on to point out that these compounds are toxic when in ISOLATION. Put together with other constituents which make up an essential oil, it’s a different kettle of fish all together.

I also pointed out that aromatherapy in the English speaking world relies heavily on research which uses perfume-grade essential oils and NOT therapeutic grade essential oils. Numerous perfume makers today (and I might add, so do many manufacturers of essential oils) utilise synthetic substitutes for many of the compounds found in essential oils. Perfume manufacturers aren’t alone in the use of synthetics. The pharmaceutical corporations are well known for taking something useful found in nature and developing a synthetic for it.


Bengay is an ointment that has been used for over 100 years. It originally contained camphor, menthol and methyl salicylate, derived from essential oils. Camphor is found in Rosemary, Juniper and Sage oils, while Menthol is the main ingredient in Peppermint oil. Methyl Salicylate is the main ingredient in Wintergreen and Birch oils. The patent for Bengay is now owned by Pfizer Pharmaceuticals.

When in April 13th 2006, an athlete by the name of Arielle Neuman died, the medical examiner found that her body contained a lethal amount of methyl salicylate. Arielle had been applying Ultra Strength Bengay to her arms and legs. The Bengay packaging states that Methyl Salicylate forms 30% of the product. An open and shut case against Methyl Salicylate, and by extension any natural remedy using this compound, it would seem.

Except that the Methyl Salicylate found in Pfizer’s Bengay is SYNTHETIC. Dr David Stewart points out:  “Natural methyl salicylate, as found in wintergreen and birch oils, is of a specific isomer (molecular shape) and is easily metabolized by the human body. Its chemical formula and energy template harmonize with human tissue. It does not accumulate. It is not toxic like its synthetic counterpart. …Furthermore, the laboratory produced compound does not have the right energy template to harmonize with the human body. When taken into the body … the body does not recognize the compound, cannot easily metabolize it, and allows it to accumulate. Given enough over a length of time, lethal doses can accumulate…” [1]

Synthetic substances – “dead with the intelligence of a robot”

Wintergreen essential oil contains many other compounds besides methyl salicylate. These additional constituents work in a way that mitigate the natural methyl salicylate and render it safe. This effect is known as “quenching”; when the compounds in an oil help to tame the damaging effect of another compound in the oil. Dr Stewart also points out that “the molecules of methyl salicylate from a natural source are of a specific isomeric shape while the formula of laboratory-produced methyl salicylate can actually have up to nineteen different shapes. Since the shape of a molecule determines which locks (receptor sites) on cell membranes can be opened, the organs affected by the synthetic version are not all the same as those addressed by the natural version.” [2]


Dr Stewart described synthetic substances as being “dead with the intelligence of a robot”. What Dr Stewart is saying is that when a compound has been created through a living process (as in a plant and its essential oil), its energy field is like a life force with an intelligence. If a plant and its associated essential oils has been grown, then harvested and distilled with healing intent, then the constituents in that oil will contain vibrations in their subtle field (vibrations which a synthetic can’t hope to mimic) that cause them to work in harmony with the human body. This area carries us into the field of quantum physics, body/mind medicine and the subject of intent. Readers will also no doubt see parallels with Dr Masaru Emoto’s work with water. This is an important subject we will return to on this site, but for now suffice it to say that compounds found in nature, cannot be dissected, their particular constituents pulled out and copied without losing the ‘essential’ vibration of the original product. The whole truly is greater than the sum of the parts. The attempt to synthesize Nature’s efforts has had (and continues to have) significant consequences for us all.

This brings us back to our original question, can essential oils be toxic? And the best answer one can give to this, is that if you are using essential oils that are not pure, unadulterated and of a therapeutic grade, then YES, they can be very toxic.

In the next post, we’ll examine what you should be looking for in a therapeutic grade essential oil.

Till next time



Disclaimer: Please remember that anything discussed here does not
constitute medical advice and cannot substitute for appropriate medical care. Where essential oils are mentioned, it’s recommended you use only pure, unadulterated therapeutic grade essential oils and follow the safety directions of the manufacturer.

[1] The Raindrop Messenger, Official newsletter of C.A.R.E. (Center for Aromatherapy Research and Education) Vol 6, No 1 Jan-Feb 2008. To subscribe

[2] Ibid