There is no such thing as a ‘therapeutic grade’ essential oil!

Before I go on, I have to say that I am sorry it has been a long time between posts!  I am now a fully fledged PhD candidate in the throws of preparing a research proposal which is due in August.   I have also been pondering the direction that this blog should take.  I do not want to start an encyclopaedia of essential oils.  You can google any essential oil and come up with mountains of information – not all of it good, I might add – and so I think that to go down this path would be a waste of my time.  A good place to start (if this is the kind of information you are looking for) isAromaweb, although a lot of their information comes from sources that are not referenced, I would also look at google scholar to see if there is anything you can find, too!

I do not want to start writing recipes for everyone as, like I have said before in previous posts, the use of essential oils, or blends of, is usually based on an in-depth consultation.  If you cannot find what you are looking for in the plethora of information that is already out there, or are not confident to mix something for yourself – see a qualified therapist.  On that note, yes – I have previously written a few useful blends for pregnancy, this was borne out of concern for safety.

Today, I want to help dispel the myth of ‘therapeutic grade essential oils’.  I recently joined an aromatherapy discussion group, where I thought I might meet like minded people.  Instead, I have fallen into a wealth of blog inspiration!

The term ‘therapeutic grade essential oils’ was coined by the founder of an American essential oil distributor, Gary Young.  Basically, he describes his oils as ‘therapeutic’ as they are of the highest quality/standards.  Other companies have cottoned on to this term and also claim that their oils are ‘therapeutic grade’ oils.  These oils apparently undergo stringent quality testing such as “rigorous mass spectrometry and gas chromatography testing to ensure extract composition and activity” and the oils are independently tested.

The problem with this is, it is JUST A MARKETING PLOY! Please do not be fooled by this.  ALL quality essential oils undergo this kind of testing.  If you purchase an essential oil from a reliable distributor, you can ask for the information.  Each batch of essential oils is slightly different; this is what makes them unique.  For example, lavender, grown in France, in the same field, at the same time of year WILL NEVER BE THE SAME AS THE LAST LOT.  This is because the variables change.  One year might be hot, the next might be wet…. This is nature, and we cannot control it.

You really should google “what are therapeutic grade essential oils” – it is quite laughable!  One site says:

The key to producing a therapeutic-grade essential oil is to preserve as many of the delicate aromatic compounds within the essential oil as possible – elements that are very fragile and destroyed by high temperature and high-pressure. Contact with chemically reactive metals (i.e., copper or aluminum) is another danger to the fragile aromatic compounds in oils.


The purity of an essential oil is also determined by its chemical constituents. There are many variables that can affect these constituents. These can include:

· Soil conditions
· Quality of fertilizer and whether it was organic or chemical
· Region
· Climate
· Altitude
· Harvest season
· Harvest methods
· Distillation process
· The part or parts of the plant used for distillation

Really??  Gosh…..  

The definition of the term, therapeutic is: “of or pertaining to the treating or curing of disease; curative” and yet, some of these websites have DISCLAIMERS!  My favourite one is “These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.  This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.”

I am not about to re-write what Tony Burfield puts so succinctly in his paper entitled “The ‘Therapeutic Grade’ Essential Oils Disinformation Campaign“.  Please, if you are interested, have a read.

Obviously there is concern about adulterated oils.  I have written about this previously.  Some unscrupulous dealers will mix a pure essential oil with a carrier.  This might be because the pure oil is expensive, as in the case of jasmine oil.  The honest dealer will mark this on the bottle, stating  “blended” or “in jojoba”.  The unscrupulous dealer will, obviously, sell it to you as 100% pure.  The Aromaweb site I mentioned earlier gives a “consistency” description of essential oils.  If you are in doubt about what you have purchased, check this site.  You can also test it yourself, simply by putting a drop of oil on the back of your hand:

  • It is a pure essential oil (distilled or expressed) if it disappears into the skin quite quickly;
  • An absolute or a resin should be thick and sticky;
  • An essential oil in a carrier oil will lubricate the back of your hand and will not quickly absorb.

There is no way of knowing whether this same unscrupulous dealer is selling you something which is synthetic (well, there is, but not at point-of-sale, and not to the lay person).  So, in order to avoid this – DO YOUR HOMEWORK!  The reputable brands will be easy to spot, and should also be easy to find.  Synthetic oils are more-often-than-not found in toiletry products, so you should not really worry about being fooled into buying them.  It is simply scaremongering on the part of these companies which claim their products are ‘therapeutic’.

Good luck! And don’t hesitate to contact me if you need any more information…


“You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.” 
Phineas T. Barnum

One thought on “There is no such thing as a ‘therapeutic grade’ essential oil!

  1. I agree, it is easy to be duped. It is rare to come across oils that have been produced from crops grown for the purpose of therapeutic application, many growers serve the commercial perfume industry something their scientific composition doesn’t reveal. Finding a reputable supplier is important as is reading the label.

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