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Should I Buy Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils?

variety of essential oil vials

What are therapeutic grade essential oils? The phrase “therapeutic grade” is not regulated by any independent, third group, so almost any manufacturer can slap this label on their products. How do you know what the difference is between over the counter essential oils that claim to be “pure” and those touted by expensive companies like Young Living?

The distinction is critical, because almost 90% of the essential oils on today’s market would not qualify for this moniker. The term “therapeutic grade” serves as an indication of purity, and it also denotes efficacy. This grade of oil should have a high concentration of therapeutic constituents.

Since there is no standard definition of therapeutic grade, here are a few questions you should ask yourself before deciding which essential oils to buy:

  • Are the quality assurance tests that a manufacturer conducts of their essential oils performed by an independent testing lab?
  • Is the supplier growing and distilling their own organically grown plants and herbs?
  • Does the farm where the plants are grown distill their oils on site, or do the plants lose their potency by waiting for days to be processed?
  • Does the manufacturer use low temperature and low pressure to distill their essential oils in order to preserve their delicate chemical composition?
  • Can the supplier verify that their plants and herbs are not subjected to chemicals, harmful solvents, or synthetic products while they are growing?
  • Do the essential oils you are considering buying meet ISO or AFNOR standards?
  • How many years of experience does the supplier have in producing essential oils?
  • Do the essential oils have a maximum shelf life of just a few years? (If they do, this is an indicator that the oils have been mixed with a fatty agent, which will cause them to go rancid by the end of their shelf life.)
  • If the essential oils are derived from an edible plant, do they carry a warning not to ingest or use them internally? (This, in particular, is a huge red flag.)
  • How does the essential oil smell? Each batch of oils should have its own, slightly different scent. Ideally, it should smell organic, rich, and delicate. If so, this is an encouraging sign that the distiller is distilling the oils in small batches to preserve their authenticity, as opposed to large batches.

Asking and answering each of these questions will help you determine which essential oils have truly earned the “therapeutic grade” label and which are imposters. Genuine therapeutic grade essential oils offer an amazing host of health benefits, and it’s worth taking the time to make sure you are buying the real thing.