Updated: Apr 29, 2020
In aromatherapy, the quality of your essential oils is everything.
Medicinal aromatherapy has amazing health supportive potential. It can help you look and feel younger and more alive, enhancing your life and sense of well being in many ways. But, in order for it to work, you need to use quality oils.
The problem is, about 98% of essential oils produced in the world today are not intended for serious aromatherapy; they’re produced for the perfume/cosmetic or food industries. Yet, marketers will bottle these lower quality oils and sell them as aromatherapy products. If you attempt anything more than recreational aromatherapy with any of these oils, you’re likely to be very disappointed.
I’ve never seen a good oil in a health food store. I recently got a sample of the best lavender oil available in my local store. All by itself, it didn’t smell too bad. I thought it might be an option for those who felt they couldn’t afford dōTERRA oils. But, when I compared it side by side with dōTERRA’s lavender, I very quickly realized that it was no option at all.
The dōTERRA lavender had a scent that was several times stronger. The aroma was much deeper and more complex, indicating that it had a much better compliment of the therapeutic chemical constituents. And, dōTERRA’s lavender never irritates the skin, is very balancing and lifts the body’s frequency. But, when I topically applied a drop of this health food store lavender, it irritated my skin and left me feeling out of balance. And, in terms of frequency, this oil was basically inert.
Organic is not enough; you need therapeutic grade essential oils.
Why some other oils are comparatively so cheap? Most essential oils produced today are not intended for aromatherapy. Various short- ‐cuts and bad practices in production seriously compromise the quality of the oils.
Now, this health food store lavender was certified organic; and organic is certainly better than non‐organic oils. However, a therapeutic grade essential oil — one suitable for medicinal aromatherapy — is more than just organic.
A therapeutic grade essential oil is one that is both complete in its chemical constituents, giving it a rich, deep aroma, and is kinetically alive and able to raise the frequency of the human body, restoring balance and normal function to weak body systems. This is important, because the oil’s fragrance, frequency and chemistry all contribute to its unique therapeutic effects. If any of these properties s compromised, as a result of poor production practices, an essential oil cannot rightly be called therapeutic- grade.
How a truly therapeutic grade essential oil is made
Because a quality essential oil is so chemically complex, and all of these constituents must be present in the oil in their proper ratio for the oil to have its expected effect on the body, one key to producing therapeutic-grade essential oils is to preserve as many of these aromatic compounds within the oil as possible.
The problem here is that these aromatic compounds are quite fragile, and not easily extracted from the plant material. This means that proper production of essential oils takes a lot of understanding of the oil, and the willingness to invest the necessary time and expense to do the job right. To make a great, therapeutic- grade essential oil, you must take great care with the follow aspects of production:
Grow the proper variety of plants :
Species selection is very important, since different varieties of plants produce different qualities of essential oils. Only those cultivars that produce the highest quality essential oil should be selected. For example, the lavender sold by dōTERRA is an authentic Lavandula angustifolia, which yields an oil low in camphor and rich in lavendulol and lavendulol acetate (the constituents believed to be the key to lavender’s therapeutic action).
Use proper cultivation methods :
Plants should be grown on land that is uncontaminated by chemical fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides or herbicides. The plant materials must be kept free of agrochemicals, since these can react with the essential oil during distillation, and produce toxic compounds. And, because many pesticides are oil- ‐soluble, they can also mix into the essential oil. If these oils are diffused or topically applied, the toxic chemicals in the oils are carried into the body with potentially devastating results.
Plant materials should also be grown away from pollution sources such as nuclear plants, factories, interstates, highways or heavily populated cities, if possible. Also, the soil should be conditioned with an advanced mix of enzymes, trace minerals and organic bio- ‐solids, since plants lacking in certain minerals and nutrients yield oils low in therapeutic value.
Land and crops should be watered with reservoir or watershed water. Mountain stream water is best, because of its purity and high mineral content. Municipality treated water, or secondary runoff water from residential and commercial areas, can introduce undesirable chemicals and residues into the plant and its essential oil.
Harvest with knowledge and care :
The timing of the harvest is one of the most important factors in the production of therapeutic- ‐grade essential oils. If the plant is harvested at the wrong time of the season, or even at the incorrect time of day, a substandard essential oil can be produced. In some cases, changing harvest time by even a few hours can make a huge difference. For example, German chamomile harvested in the morning will produce oil with far more azulene than chamomile harvested in the late afternoon.
Other factors that should be taken into consideration during the harvest include:
* the amount of dew on the leaves,
* the percentage of plant in bloom, and
* the weather conditions during the two weeks prior to the harvest.
Also, because of the volatility of the essential oils, to prevent herbs from drying out prior to being distilled (and so, losing many of the precious, aromatic molecules to evaporation), distillers should be located as close to the field as possible. Transporting herbs to distillers hundreds, or even thousands, of miles away also heightens the risk exposure to pollutants, dust, mold and petrochemical residues.
Extract the oils in the proper way :
Essential oils can be extracted from the plant by a variety of methods, including solvent extraction, carbon dioxide extraction and steam distillation. Steam distillation is one of the most common, and has several advantages over the other methods.
However, distillation is as much a science as it is an art, and subtle differences in distillation equipment and processing conditions can translate into huge differences in essential oil quality. Factors to consider include:
* The temperature during distillation: The fragile aromatic molecules of an essential oil are easily destroyed or altered by high temperatures; and so, the distillation process must use low temperature methods. High temperatures seem to cause a harshness in the oil. Even the oil’s pH and the electropositive and electronegative balance are greatly affected.
For example, the distilling process for lavender should not exceed 118° celcius , cypress should be distilled at 118° celcius.
* The pressure during distillation: The fragile aromatic molecules of an essential oil are also easily destroyed or altered by high pressure during distillation, causing a harshness in the oil, as well as affecting the essential oil’s pH, and electropositive and electronegative balance.
Marcel Espieu (the president of the Lavender Growers Association in southern France for 21 years) says that the best oil quality would be produced when the pressure was zero pounds during distillation.
In the distilling process for lavender, pressure should not exceed three pounds. For cypress, it should be about five pounds of pressure.
* The length of time taken for distillation: For lavender, the time required for distillation is about an hour and a half. On the other hand, cypress requires 24 hours of distillation to extract all of its active ingredients. If distillation is shortened by only two hours, 18 to 20 of the essential oil’s chemical constituents will be missing. § The chemical composition of the cooking pots: Essential oils should be kept away from contact with chemically reactive metals, such as copper or aluminum. A therapeutic- ‐grade essential oil should be distilled in a food- ‐grade stainless- ‐steel cooking chamber.
* The size of each batch: Essential oils should be distilled in small batches. The lavender oil that dōTERRA sources, is distilled in batches yielding about one pound of essential oil.
Truly therapeutic grade essential oils are a very rare commodity
When you come to understand the properties that make up a truly great essential oil, it quickly becomes clear that the production of these oils should be more than just a commercial venture. It requires far too much from the producer in terms of expertise, time and expense to make any sense in purely economic terms.
It’s far cheaper to take short cuts than to do it right. However, dōTERRA wasn’t founded as a purely a commercial venture. The people who joined together to create this company had already developed a deep appreciation for what quality oils can do to promote health, and were even more excited when they found essential oils of such exceptional quality. What started as a search for quality oils for their own use turned into a mission to bring you the finest, certified pure therapeutic- ‐grade essential oils, and to mainstream aromatherapy through the guaranteed quality of essential oils in clinical use.
That spirit continues at dōTERRA, so you can trust that the essential oils you purchase from us are of the very highest quality: those that are truly therapeutic- grade.
A word from Dr David Hill concerning AFNOR/ISO
From time to time, as I travel in the field, I am sometimes asked if dōTERRA’s essential oils meet AFNOR or ISO standards for therapeutic- ‐grade essential oils. In an effort to clarify any confusion on this matter, I have prepared the following information.
AFNOR or the Association Française de Normalisation is a French national organization and member body of the ISO or International Organization for Standardization. The ISO is an international standard- ‐setting body that promulgates worldwide industrial and commercial standards. Although the ISO is a non- ‐governmental organization, it often works with government organizations and industry leaders to set standards that sometimes become law.
Although AFNOR and the ISO have monograph standards for certain plant extracts in different industries, they do not have standards for grades of essential oils, particularly “therapeutic grade” essential oils. In fact, there are no current regulatory standards for the use of the descriptor “therapeutic grade” in the industry, and anyone can use the term to describe their essential oils, regardless of their purity or potency.
Our Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade ® (CPTG ®) quality standard is more rigorous, yet very different in nature and function than the ISO monographs for aromatic extracts. This statement, however, should not be interpreted that AFNOR or the ISO has a standard for “therapeutic grade” essential oils, or that any essential oil product has AFNOR or ISO certification or approval. They do not certify brands, nor do they grade essential oils as therapeutic, grade-A, premium, etc. The ISO monographs for essential oils are not comparable, nor serve the same quality control function, as the dōTERRA CPTG ® standard.
The absence of regulatory standards regarding the use of the terms “essential oil” and “therapeutic grade” are the very reason for developing a higher standard of quality control we have branded CPTG Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade ®. Although there are good essential oils available to consumers, many products claiming to be essential oils often are not pure aromatic extracts, and often contain fillers and non- ‐aromatic compounds. The dōTERRA name and CPTG ® represent our guarantee of 100% pure essential oil extracts and accurate product labeling.
Part of our mission at dōTERRA is to be a leader and educator in the essential oil industry. We look forward to working with other responsible industry leaders and standard setting bodies to establish high standards for products labeled as pure essential oils. In the mean time, the dōTERRA name and CPTG ® will continue to reflect our unyielding effort to provide you with the safest, purest, and most potent essential oil products available to consumers today.
Dr. David Hill Chief Medical Officer dōTERRA Inernational, LLC