What makes an essential oil therapeutic grade?
Standards have been developed by the Association French Normalization Organization Regulation and adopted by the International Standards Organization to distinguish true Therapeutic Grade essential oils from inferior oils merely used for fragrance. This is a growing concern as demand for essential oils increases due to health-conscious consumers desiring to ward off today's stressful lifestyles—thus diminishing the supply. True Therapeutic essential oils are immune-system stimulating, anti-viral, anti-infectious, antibacterial, anti-microbial, antiseptic, anti-tumoral and even anti-fungal.
Gas Chromatography Purity Testing
Gas chromatography is the scientific method employed to differentiate imposters from the real McCoys. It measures whether basic components of an essential oil occur in a precise percentage. If only two primary constituents do not meet precise percentages, the oil cannot be AFNOR or ISO certified—although the oil may qualify as Grade A. Gas chromatography can also identify oils that have been synthetically manipulated. At Mountain Rose Herbs, we go the extra mile and request the use of a 50-meter column during gas chromatography testing. Most U.S. labs utilize a 30-meter column, which is adequate for vitamins or minerals—but is certainly not adequate for the chemical complexity of essential oils. An oil's purity can be affected by myriad environmental factors: geographical region, altitude, climate, soil, growing conditions and harvest method and season. Even the time of day the plant is harvested can affect the oil's purity! Producing genuine Therapeutic Grade essential oils is indeed a fine art. We do painstaking research at Mountain Rose Herbs, insisting on knowing harvest location, methods utilized to extract the oils, and data reports assuring the oil's character.
The distillation method also affects an essential oil's purity—and Therapeutic Grade oils mandate preserving as many of the plant's compounds as possible. Therapeutic Grade essential oils must only be distilled in glass, porcelain or stainless steel cooking chambers at the lowest possible pressure and lowest possible temperature. Glass and porcelain essential oil distillation is the most superior method employed today, however production is limited thus resulting in a slightly more expensive product. Extremely high temperatures, high pressure, or contact with chemically reactive metals such as copper or aluminum can quickly destroy delicate compounds. And the method of distillation is one of the most important steps in the production of essential oils. Every essential oil offered by Mountain Rose Herbs is 100% Pure Therapeutic Grade, and all of the essential oils we stock are obtained by steam distillation of the plant's volatile oils, with the exception of citrus oils which are produced using the cold pressed method. All of the oils are derived from the first distillation--never the second, third or fourth! The only exception to this rule is our Lavender 40/42, which is a blend of many different lavenders; and absolutes, which are extracted by alcohol. These oils may not be suitable for therapeutic aromatherapy, however they are intoxicating as a fragrance or perfume.
The primary components of 98 percent of all essential oils in the market are synthetic. They should not be used for therapeutic applications, and they potentially carry risks. Only pure essential oils should be used for therapeutic purposes. At best, synthetic oils may not produce desired therapeutic results—at worst, they could possibly be toxic. Mountain Rose essential oils are 100% pure, natural plant oils. They are free of added water, alcohol, carriers or other diluents. No chemical solvents are added during distillation, and nothing is added to the oil after distillation. A very large selection of oils offered through Mountain Rose are certified organic through Oregon Tilth Certified Organic. Although organic certification is an intensely painstaking process that a few of our suppliers are still striving to attain, any oils we stock that are not yet certified organic are guaranteed to be free of pesticide and chemical residues. Mountain Rose Herbs essential oils are wholly suitable for aromatherapy, cosmetics, cooking and body application.
Article used with permission by Mountain Rose Herb Company. We are excited to be a future supplier of Mountain Rose Herb Company products. MBS also carries Ravenwood oils, another line of high-quality, therapeutic grade oils. Please ask for assistance on oils at the shop.