We would like to clear something up that seems to be mystifying for most people, ourselves included. The phrase “therapeutic grade essential oil” might not be used by us at Mind Body & Spirit from now on. We have used “therapeutic grade” solely as a generic all around term for an essential oil that can be, as the FDA states, “generally regarded as safe” (gras) and is a “pure” essential oil. So why have we stated that we sell “therapeutic grade” oils? We thought we were helping to give a standard for what our customers should look for in their oils. But ultimately we, as well as many others, may be actually doing a disservice to the whole natural world of alternative therapies without even realizing it.
We consider ourselves fortunate that we have people who read the information on our website and our newsletters, and let us know if something is not quite on the mark. Just recently we had such a customer inform us about an old article written by Mountain Rose stating they have therapeutic grade essential oils. This customer informed us that Mountain Rose no longer puts the term “therapeutic grade” on their website or their products. Would one think this is because they no longer make a good product? This is not the case. The product is exactly the same. Then perhaps they were never a “therapeutic grade” oil carrying company to begin with? No, not the case either. Here is the problem that we have been contributing to; the fact is that there is no such grading as “therapeutic”. In fact, there is no grading system at all. While there may be a few reasons to oppose the FDA, they are still our governing agency when it comes to safety of products to put on, around or in our bodies. The FDA has no rating for essential oils. In fact there is essentially NO grading applied to essential oils by any governing agency. However there are terms and phrases coined by some companies to set standards of their own. The term “therapeutic grade” is a trademarked term used in tandem with the name “Young Living Therapeutic Grade” Oils. This label was actually trademarked by the MLM (multi-level marketing) agency to distinguish their oils from other oils on the market that might not be 100% pure or have additives, perfumes, etc in them. It was also their own way of setting a standard for what their own internal testing decides is “Therapeutic grade”. Young Living decided that therapeutic grade sounded like a good term to use for first-rate quality essential oils. And truth be told, they have first “grade” quality oils but it is also a heck of a good marketing tool! Which is not a bad thing either.
That being said, you can clearly see we are not saying that Young Living oils are not good oils. They are very good oils! There are several excellent quality essential oils on the market today. And there are some oils that are not good quality. The good oils, and some not so good, go through the same standard testing for products of their kind, and then some of the good ones do their own testing in house and decide what “therapeutic” means to them. Another MLM company called DoTerra has done exactly the same thing that YL oils did. DoTerra trademarked their own version of what they set their standard for high quality oils at and call it “Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade” oils. DoTerra also have good oils. But both of these companies paid a fee to have those terms specifically trademarked for use on their oils only. It was not given to them by anyone outside of their own companies. They both do in house testing for their own standards of what their quality is going to be. Is it good? Sure, but that does not mean that other oils are not good. What is great about trade-marking your own phrase is that you can actually say that “No other company can state that they have “Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade” oils like our company can!” And that automatically translates as we have the best and it has no competitor.
Let’s look at it another way. If I decided that I was the best mother in the world and trademarked the phrase “Certified Exemplary Maternal Progenitor” or CEMP. My own certification of what I have decided is the best Mom would be set and have a trademarked name attached. Would it make me the best Mom out there? Not even close! It would only be what I set as a standard for myself. Am I qualified to do that because I feel I have been a good mom? Who can really decide if there is no standard set already? Good question. But the cool name might convince some that I am the best there is?!
Marketing is necessary in our world. If a company does not market themselves properly, they will not make it. And without good marketing a good product won’t get where it should be, in the hands of those that need it. But perhaps our marketing might be getting out of hand. Merri and I have been using several different oils for many years. Some have been very good oils. Some have been from very small companies and others are from large MLM’s. The only thing that has made any difference to us about oils is that they were good quality and that they work. We did the best research we could and got our information outside of all of the companies themselves about their products. And we tried them. If they worked for us, it was the only gauge we felt we could comfortably use and therefore chose to have oils we felt comfortable with in our store. We sell Mountain Rose and Gritman now. We also have a very small supply of Young Living oils in stock for convenience sake but most of the time anything Young Living can be ordered through us as well.
So why have we been calling the oils we carry therapeutic grade? Because to us that phrase meant a good quality pure essential oil that works. Little did we know that we were using a phrase that was patented! We were using a marketing tool and really didn’t even know it. And it worked. It sold ALL the oils that we believe in, just as it sells the oils that the MLM companies believe in. But is the competition and marketing going to hurt in the long run for all oils? It just might. At one point when essential oils were still in their infancy they were just called oils. Most were adulterated with fragrance, etc. Then “pure” oils were marketed, and pure essential oils were next. There always have been adulterated and unadulterated but people were finally understanding the differences and uses for each. Somewhere along the way, organic became the next great thing. Finally percentages started showing up…100% pure, organic essential oil. And finally therapeutic grade or medicinal grade was the best there is. This is where we might be hurting ourselves. An anonymous healer from France proposed this (something I find quite true); “When we term our oils as “therapeutic” or “medicinal” we begin risking the loss of our freedom to use them. These “medicinal” oils could eventually become the property of the medical community, as has happened before, by referring to them as medicine. If this were to happen the adulterations could be severe. We will no longer have the oils that we have come to trust and that we have freely used. And if that happens, it will be a sad day indeed.”
Do your research as best you can. Get the best oils while being aware of marketing. Get caught up instead with good quality and what works for you. Feel inside for answers after you get the facts you need and then use the oils that are right for you. Remember that within the United States, and in many other countries, “Pure” only means they have to legally have some pure essential oil in the bottle. It does not mean it is not adulterated. 100% pure has the same legal interpretation, a few drops is all that is needed. And “organic”, which is on Mountain Rose bottles, can mean very little as well. (Except that we know it’s a good oil because we have done our homework and used it and it works). Go with your intuition, it will not lead you astray!
Marketing aside, we have good oils. If we slip and call them therapeutic grade, you can correct us and remind us that there is no such thing. But also remember that Young Living calls their oils “therapeutic grade” because they have good oils! They just lead the way with the perfect term for quality. Too bad it is two-fold, it’s a good term, but will the term hurt in the long run? Let’s just all trust we, the people who know good medicine, can keep it from happening. And with diligence and education, maybe we can help keep oils where they belong…in the hands of those they help.