During the last couple of months I have researched essential oils. Through this research I have uncovered a fascinating world of lies and deceit and I would like to share here what I have found, both to show the process of research I have gone through as well as the insights and realizations I have gained through it and the conclusions I have come to about essential oils.
When I first started investigating essential oils last year I was under the impression that “essential oils are essential oils” – meaning that I had no idea that there were any differences in qualities or production methods for example. I had been somewhat skeptical towards it, especially in relation to the ‘magic effects’ described in some aromatherapy circles where essential oils is supposed to cure anything from heart break to ensure your future success on the financial markets. When I then continued investigating the oils I was surprised to find how cheap they were. So a I bought a few and amongst other uses, applied peppermint oil to a homemade toothpaste recipe I found online. However as I kept going down the rabbit hole that is the essential oil business I discovered a concept called ‘therapeutic grade’ essential oils and I was shocked to find that I had been ever so naive in thinking that pure essential oils could be so cheap and still be, well pure. So according to the research, most of the cheap oils were in fact perfumed oils with lots of chemicals in them that didn’t in fact have any therapeutic properties but rather were cheaply made aromatic oils solely for the purpose of smelling good. Since my reason for wanting to use essential oils specifically was their therapeutic properties and not specifically their smell, I started researching more deeply into what companies to trust and buy from. I have read guide upon guide that stresses the most important factor being that the company lists the exact production process, country of origin and chemical components in the oils, so with that as my check list I went online searching for the right producer. The first many websites that popped up were the ones with the cheap oils where no much information were listed so I quickly skipped over those. Specific company names started ‘naturally’ popping up again and again with reviews from people using their oils claiming that these were the purest and finest oils available and that one should never buy from any other company than these. So I went and checked out their websites and sure enough they had the specific information listed about the production processes, country of origin and chemical compositions, abundantly so, along with many articles and texts about their ‘wild crafted’ herbs and corporation with various indigenous and local producers. So by this time I was quite satisfied and I was relieved that I had researched the point enough to not get fooled into buying the cheapest products just to save money. I also found that the amount of people reviewing these serious companies with glowing recommendations solidified their trustworthiness. Then I saw the prices – and they were skyrocketing compared to the ones I had found on the cheap websites, sometimes going over by 100 %. I now understood that I had been very naïve about essential oils and had been cheap in my desire to find oils to play with and I realized that what I was looking at here was the real deal and that these oils were actually valuable and that the prices set were equalized to that value. Unfortunately the prices for these brands, often located in the US were too expensive for my budget, so I decided to see if I could find any European equivalent where I could find the same ‘therapeutic grade’ essential oils. I also decided to not buy any oils until I had found a company that I was satisfied with. So I started researching what other people were buying and how they were measuring the quality of the oils. I started to dig deeper into the essential oil world and one day I came across an article describing how these big companies that I mentioned earlier were in fact MLM (multi level marketing) schemes that used affiliation structures and very high prices to ensure their profits. What I found next came as a big surprise to me and served as a splash of cold water in the process of gaining insights into the essential oil business that I now thought I had successfully cracked.
It turns out that there is no such thing as an ‘therapeutic grade’ essential oil as there are no governing bodies controlling the quality of essential oils. The big companies that market themselves on being the only ones selling these ‘pure therapeutic grade’ essential oils do so because they have bought the right to specific phrases – to the specific words!
Furthermore, something the big companies market themselves on is that their oils are safe for ingestion, which is something the smaller companies strictly state that their oils are not. What I found out through my research is that this has to do with the fact that getting around the insurance policies on essential oils for ingestion is a multi-million expense that smaller companies cannot afford. So they are forced to place the label “not for ingestion” on their products simply to ensure that they don’t stand liable if anything happens. This however has nothing to do with the quality of the oils and whether they are in fact safe for ingestion or not. So as it turns out cheap (ish) oils might as be exactly as beneficial and ‘therapeutic’ as these astronomically expensive ones.
Through researching essential oils for all these months and looking at many producers and resellers I finally found one that I am satisfied with, a smaller company whose been in the business for more than 50 years and with a large supply of both organic and wild crafted oils. Contrary to the big companies I mentioned earlier this company isn’t glorified in every other blog and article about essential oils. Instead I have found them mentioned on sites for professional perfumers and aroma therapists and on forums where their owner himself has participated in discussing the oils he sell. When I ordered the oils I promptly got an email notifying me that one of the oils I had ordered was out of stock. Through a brief discussion with the owner and a suggestion from him to try a different oil, my purchase was dispatched. Now – I have no idea whether the essential oils from this company are ‘best’ or even ‘good’. In fact I have only just ordered the batch so I will see when they arrive and when I have tested them for myself. I can only say that thus far I have been satisfied with the service and level of professionalism of this company. Considering the process I have gone through with researching essential oils and seeing how naïve I have been throughout it all, I will now take a step back and continue to do thorough research and try the oils out for myself before making any conclusions. There might be many more rabbit holes to go down when it comes to the world of essential oils.
I am sharing all of this to show how; when we do not research, it is so easy to get fooled by what seems to be professional and authoritative opinions. From complex chemical names in what is supposed to be rejuvenating skin cream to seemingly innocent customer reviews on certain brands or products, there is much cognitive disinformation out there. It only works because we ‘work with it’, as in my case where I had a predisposed ‘weakness’ within me to for example wanting to buy the cheapest product without doing research and the opposite of thinking that just because something is expensive and have been given glowing reviews by ‘ordinary’ consumers, it must be of a high quality.
Conclusively, what I have found from this whole process, which I have thoroughly enjoyed by the way, is how important it is to research and investigate things for oneself and to not stop when something appears to be answered in full. I will continue to investigate essential oils and it would be ideal to even make the oils for oneself or visit the production places and also to understand more about the chemistry behind it. Unfortunately most of us don’t have the time to become absolute experts on everything we engage in on a daily basis. So it is obvious that a certain level of trust has to be placed on producers and those who sell the products. But that trust doesn’t have to be deaf or blind and it doesn’t have to be a lazy form of trust were we simply abdicate responsibility for what we put in or on our bodies or where we disempower ourselves believing that someone else knows better than us. There is a lot of research one can do and cross-reference for oneself. And through the words of a person one can also see with which principles they are approaching their business. Accordingly one can then cross-reference with other companies and at least make an educated decision for oneself based on this research.
I leave you with some valuable articles on essential oils and the drama of the therapeutic grade oil scam so that you can continue the research for yourself.
Good source of information about the usage of essential oils: http://www.essentialoils.co.za/
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