Essential oils have changed considerably since their inception in modern day aromatherapy practice. In Ancient Egypt, plant oils used were different to the essential oils of today and many of these ancient ‘oils’ were made at source. In other words, people made a lot of their own plant oils and knew what was going into them. Today, it is a much different practice.
In the UK, when common usage of modern day essential oils became popular, it was in the beauty and massage industry they were used the most; not many people really knew about the therapeutic powers of essential oils and essential oils were often used for their ‘nice smells’ rather than for healing power. Today, this is true in the USA with the use of fragrance oils, which are synthetically made and are not from nature’s plants; indeed, many ‘essential oils’ are also not of the qualitative and therapeutic standards required for aromatherapy practice, even some of those which claim to be so.
As the use of essential oils for their therapeutic properties has risen, people are learning to educate themselves more on what they are actually buying. It is difficult to know if the information being supplied by the large essential oil companies (and some smaller companies too) is both correct and believable.
Some guidelines for buying from a true and pure essential oil supplier include:
- the reputation and the history of the essential oil supplier – if you have heard rumors or ‘bad press’ about a particular essential oil supplier, you may believe in the old adage ‘there is no smoke without fire’. Check your facts, do your own research and decide for yourself.
- pricing of essential oils – if you study essential oils, you will have some idea of what is a reasonable charge for a particular essential oil – for example, rose essential oil is a really expensive oil. If you see it being sold really cheaply, its probably not the ‘real deal.’
- check the latin names of the essential oil – true essential oils will have come from the botanical plant of the same name and not from a ‘blend’ or ‘infusion’ of a synthetically engineered oil in a factory.
- essential oils go through a number of qualitative tests for evaluation. These include gas chromatography and mass spectometry (more on that in subsequent posts) and some essential oil suppliers will allow you access to the GS/MS reports.
-ask where the essential oil supplier gets their essential oils from – essential oils are available from plants which only grow in certain areas of the world. For example, if someone tells you they buy their frankincense essential oil from a local farmer and they live in England, alarm bells should be ringing!
- if possible, get a recommendation of a good essential oil supplier from a friend or professional you trust.
Currently, regulation governing the sale of essential oils is little or non-existent in most areas of the world so it is up to the consumer to work out who is ‘trustworthy’ and who is not. Studying essential oils helps you to have some knowledge of what you are looking for – after all, knowledge is power! But, even then, it can be difficult to identify a trustworthy supplier of true essential oils.
In my time I have spent living in the USA, I have learned from peers, forums, publications and my own internet searches and research about the essential oil suppliers in the USA; after 3 years, I am only just beginning to ‘trust’ some of the information I have on essential oil suppliers who supply the ‘real deal’. I am not going to post a list of the ‘good guys’ and the ‘bad guys’ on my aromatherapy blog, but if anyone has any thoughts or ideas on essential oil suppliers, I would love to hear from you, either by posting a comment at the end of this post or through my personal contact information in the right hand side column of the blog!