As essential oils become more well-known in western approaches to wellness, you may see an increase of articles and blogs warning us about the dangers of aromatherapy. So often, these sweeping statements lump all essential oils into a single category. In reality, there is a significant range in the quality and purity of essential oils, and we need to acknowledge that not all brands of oils are created equal.
Many companies mix their oils with synthetic ingredients but brand the product as “pure” or “therapeutic.” For example, Lavender is often sold using a hybrid lavandin, which is mixed with the synthetic linalyl acetate to improve the fragrance. It’s cheaper, and most consumers don’t know the difference. Although quality lavender essential oil has an incredible ability to support skin health and healing, synthetic lavender could actually be more harmful than helpful to the skin. It’s been demonstrated that although 100% pure therapeutic grade lavender oil can support skin health, synthetic forms of lavender oils found in many store-bought mixtures can actually worsen preexisting skin conditions.
Synthetic oils can be especially harmful if they are applied in a manner that calls for therapeutic grade essential oils. Know the company, and know how they make oils. (I am a big fan of Young Living because of their transparency with processing the oils.)
So how do you know if the oils you are buying are actually 100% pure therapeutic-grade products? Do your research. Look into the company and spot industry jargon. For example, a company may say their oils are “ethically sourced.” This actually means that the company buys their oils from a third-party supplier, and they are only responsible for bottling and selling the product ethically. These oils are likely made through a distillation process using a variety of synthetic substances. If you want to investigate further, then look into the ethics and processes of the supplier. At that point in your research, you may only find murky details and not get the full picture. On the other hand, Young Living is responsible for the entire oil production process from start to finish. Tracing the supply chain should be simple, and the findings should be reassuring.
A less trustworthy company may also warn against ingesting the oils on the product label. This is a big red flag that the oils could have synthetic ingredients. Essential oils that are 100% pure therapeutic grade are completely plant-based, so it’s safe to ingest them. As in all things, have an open conversation about your wellness with your health care provider, do your research, and learn how to best use essential oils for your own family—and make sure that you can trust those oils you’re using.