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: 
- 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?
- Does their company have their own fully equipped testing laboratory to verify an oil’s composition?
- 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.
- 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?
- 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?
- 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?
- 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?
- 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?
- 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.
- Do they know if their suppliers supplement the distillation process with solvents to extract additional oil from the plant matter?
- 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?
- 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.
 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