by Debbie Ulrich, CEnKP1, C.N.H.P, C.S.N.
There are two general categories of essential oils- those that heal and those that do not. (i.e. those that are therapeutic and those that are not). When a warning is issued about the potential risks and toxicities of a certain essential oil and is not clear that they are referring only to non-therapeutic grades, a consumer could be misled to believe that certain oils should always be avoided, not realizing that there may be therapeutic versions of that species which are safe and effective. Thus misinformed, consumers could be led to deny themselves the gift of the valid therapies such oils can afford.
Conversely, when non-therapeutic brands of oils are mistaken for therapeutic ones and are applied with an intent to heal, not only is healing unlikely, but actual harm can result. A therapeutic grade essential oil is defined as one that is specially distilled from plants that are cultivated organically or grown wild in a clean environment not gathered along a busy highway). Plants should be from the proper botanical genus, species and cultivar. No chemical fertilizers are added to the soil, and crop cultivation is free of herbicides and pesticides. Essential Oils should be extracted by steam distillation at minimum temperatures and pressures, as was done in ancient times. No chemical solvents are to be used in the extraction process.
The essential oil must be distilled using low pressure, low temperature steam for proper length of time to ensure that a complete essential oil is extracted. Distillation, condensation, and separation should be performed in vessels constructed of relatively inert materials, such as food grade stainless steel or glass. Therapeutic grade essential oil should be bottled as it comes from the still, with none of its natural constituents removed and with nothing added. The container and its lid, or seal, must be non-reactive, air tight, and a shield from light such as bottles of brown, amber or blue glass. An essential oil will contain hundreds of constituents, most of them in trace amounts and measured infractions of a percent. Yet every constituent is vital to the healing potential of the oil. It is the balance of these many constituents that forms the foundations of its therapeutic value. For example, salt is never a major ingredient in any recipe however trace amounts can make all the difference in the flavor and even the nutritional value. Our bodies need only trace amounts of certain vitamins and minerals but when our bodies are devoid of even one trace element, this can result in malfunction, disease, and even death. This also applies to therapeutic grade oil. Its delicate balance is a result of having been grown in a nurturing environment of love, being gently coaxed from the plant, and packaged in a protective container guarded from the light, heat, and air. Once delivered from the still, not one constituent is removed nor is anything synthetic added, lest the life of the oil be compromised and its ability to administer healing obliterated or reduced.
There is currently no government set standards in North America for therapeutic grade essential oils. Hence labeling fraud is rampant. Therefore, to ensure you are getting therapeutic grade oils, you need to know your grower, your distiller, your packager, and your distributor because any step along this chain of delivery oils can be compromised. There is nothing dishonest about producing food or perfume grade oils. The problem comes when such oils are bottled, labeled and presented as if they were therapeutic when they are not. A common practice is to take a decent grade of essential oil and dilute 90% to 95% with an odorless, colorless solvent (usually an inexpensive petrochemical) so that what started as a pound of good oil becomes ten or twenty pounds of diluted oils to be sold as if it were the original substance, thus reducing the cost to the consumer and multiplying the profit to the manufacturer. Such diluted oils often carry labels saying “Genuine” or “100% pure” which is allowed by the U.S. F.D.A.. The healing properties of an oil are also linked the manner in which it was grown, harvested, distilled and packaged. The vast majority of essential oils (over 95%) are produced for flavor and fragrance and do not fulfill therapeutic standards. Such oils are not considered suitable for those in healing applications. Out of the hundreds of constituents comprising natural, therapeutic grade oil, the fragrance industry is interested only in the few components that contribute to aroma. The same goes for the flavor industry. Their only concern is with the components that contribute to taste. In fact, some food grade oils are entirely artificial, formulated in a laboratory by synthesizing and mixing the one, two or three main compounds that dominate its natural odor or taste. In addition to their limited focus on the few qualities of an oil that serve their purposes, the food and flavor industries are primarily concerned with economics. Their interest is in producing the necessary oils as inexpensively as possible to maximize profits. In contrast to therapeutic oils, which are grown organically, food and fragrance grade oils are normally distilled from plants cultivated with chemical fertilizers, herbicides, fungicides, and pesticides. Most of these are toxic and inevitably end up as contaminates in the oils. These chemicals reduce the quality of the essential oil. Impoverished soil produces impoverished plants. Plants grown in such soil become deficient, weak and unhealthy. Their immune systems have become compromised so they cannot ward off the attack of fungi, bacteria and insects. This is why you want to use only essential oils grown in a proper organic way.”
Please note that Young Living follows the quality guidelines noted in the article above regarding the manufacturing of therapeutic grade oils from ‘Seed to Seal’. Their exclusive Seed to Seal process includes the following FIVE careful steps*:
1. SEED* Gary Young exclusively uses SEED* which has been authenticated by Young Living and industry experts through scientific research, field study, university partnerships, and on-site planting certification. Selecting seeds which produce the highest value is a vital first step in Young Living’s Seed to Seal process.
2. CULTIVATES* Gary then CULTIVATES* the seed, using his knowledge of soil preparation, balance of sun and water, responsible weed and pest control and wild craft harvesting, to ensure that stringent standards are met, both on the Young Living farms as well as carefully monitored on partner farms. Gary continues to conduct research and remain dedicated to growing the highest quality aromatic plants.
3. DISTILLS* Then Gary DISTILLS* the plants, combining ancient and modern techniques with Young Living’s low-pressure steam distillation process which ensures that the beneficial plant compounds in each batch of essential oil remain uncompromised. This step is completed at the precise time to ensure all beneficial constituents are present to maximize the quality of the oil. Additionally, Gary uses tree resin hydrodistillation for select oils and cold pressing techniques for most of Young Living citrus essential oils.
4. TEST* Young Living never accepts diluted, cut, or adulterated essential oils. To guarantee consistent quality, their essential oils are TESTED* in their own internal labs as well as in third party facilities, to ensure that they meet demanding specifications, exceed international standards and contain the optimal levels of natural bioactive molecules.
5. Young Living completes their Seed to SEAL* process by carefully sealing and inspecting each bottle of essential oil at their 107,000 – square – foot state of – the –art – clean – room facility and then ships worldwide. Individual bottle labels are encoded with detailed tracking information which allows Young living to trace each bottle of essential oil back to its source.
Should you have any further questions please direct them to Debbie Ulrich at 410-868-7407 or via the email form on this website. Also, more information is available about Young living’s Seed to Seal process global farms at www.SeedtoSeal.com or you may purchase the training DVD ‘From Seed To Abundance’, item # 3619 an invaluable tool to share with prospective customers.
‘The Chemistry of Essential Oils’ by David Stewart, Ph.D., D.N.M.
‘Young Livings Essential Oils Products Guide’ by Gary Young