When you first learn about essential oils, it can be tempting to run out and buy one of those all-encompassing kits. Before you do, there are a few things you should know.
It’s true that essential oils can provide mental and physical health benefits – but there’s a caveat. You must choose the right essential oils in order to gain the many benefits you’ve read about online.
You Can Judge An Oil By Its Bottle
Forget all that stuff you’ve heard about judging a book by its cover. You can most definitely judge an oil by its bottle.
Look for essential oils that are in brown, black or cobalt blue bottles. And definitely avoid any essential oils in clear glass. These oils are quite fragile and susceptible to damage from light. So, a darker bottle will help keep the oil from breaking down or oxidizing in the light.
Plastic is also a big no-no when it comes to essential oils, so be sure to look for a clear glass bottle. You’ll also want to pay careful attention to the label before you make your purchase. The ingredients should be 100 percent pure essential oils, and those oils should be sourced directly from the plant. As you might imagine, organic oils are more pure than non-organic. They’ll also be more expensive, but it may be worthwhile depending on your needs.
The Species Matters
With some essential oils, there’s only one variety. But wherever you’ll find various species of plant, you may find various choices in essential oil. And you might be tempted to just choose any old variety. But here’s the thing - even among the same type, different species have different strengths and benefits. For example, German chamomile promotes relaxation, but other types, like Roman chamomile, have a completely different chemical composition and may provide a different set of benefits.
If you’re looking for a specific type of essential oil, pay attention to the species. If the species isn’t listed, it’s probably a blend of the cheapest species within that type. So you can bet it’s not the best quality.
One way to combat this deceptive labeling is to look for the Latin name listed along with the common name. It’s easy to generalize when you use the common name, but the Latin name will be more specific. And, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), what’s on the label must be in the bottle.
Not All Brands Are Created Equal
Think about your favorite clothing brand. What do you like about it? Most brands stand for something. It may be the lowest price, highest quality or something else. Essential oil brands are the same. Each brand has a story and it helps to educate yourself on that story. Look for a brand that focuses on high-quality ingredients and an extraction process that leaves the oil’s integrity intact. This way, you’ll get the greatest benefits out of your purchase.
The processing of an oil is extremely important in its end quality, and you should know that there are various ways to extract the oil. Steam distillation is the most common, but it can damage citrus oils. Cold pressing is a gentler way to process any citrus oils because the heat is absent from the process.
Carbon Dioxide extraction is another process that’s used for certain types of oils, including frankincense, ginger, clove and others. And once the oil is processed, it should also be tested.
Most reputable brands will perform gas chromatography and mass spectrometry testing. This measures the mass within the oil in order to identify the compounds within. This is an important step because it’s the only way to really know what you’re getting.
Avoid Marketing Hype
There are a lot of buzz words in this industry that can be downright confusing. They always imply something, but they don’t exactly mean what they imply.
Here Are A Few To Look Out For:
Eco-friendly – This is a broad term that could mean many things, but there are no regulations on using it.
Therapeutic grade – This phrase is dangerous because it sounds official, but again, there are no regulations. Therapeutic grade usually refers to the fact that it’s 100 percent pure, but it doesn’t mean anything when comparing two pure essential oils against each other.
Certified – If an essential oil’s label says it’s certified, be sure that it lists the precise certification. Anyone can certify anything, and the word alone doesn’t mean much of anything.
Unfortunately, there aren’t any regulations on the purity or quality of essential oils, and there isn’t any grading system in place. If you see any oil listed as a specific grade (e.g., grade A or therapeutic grade), be wary.
When you’re looking for essential oils for aromatherapy or other types of therapy, it’s important to know what you’re getting. Not all oils are the same in terms of ingredients, quality and potency. And if you’re looking for therapeutic health benefits, you’ll want to buy a high-quality potent oil.
Essential oils can be used in various different types of therapy from aromatherapy to massage therapy. So if you’re looking to get the correct oil for your massage or diffuser, make sure you do your homework first.
Figure out which oil you want based on its health benefits, and then find a brand you like and check the label. Once you find a reputable essential oil brand, the rest should be easy.
Trevor McDonald is a freelance content writer who has a passion for writing. He's written a variety of education, travel, health, and lifestyle articles for many different companies. In his free time, you can find him running with his dog, playing his guitar or outside enjoying about any type of fitness activity imaginable.
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