These days, essential oils are seemingly everywhere. Every time we turn around it seems like someone, somewhere, is talking about the amazing, incredible, life changing benefits of essential oils.
But is it all just hype?
What exactly ARE essential oils, anyway, and why does everyone keep talking about them?
In a nutshell, essential oils are oils that are concentrated oils that derived from a variety of plant sources, such as peppermint, lemon, lavender, and many more.
In our own lives, we had frequently used essential oils for a variety of purposes, whether it be in our homemade cleaning products, homemade scrubs or dry shampoo, or DIY bug spray. And in our naive minds, all essential oils were created equal. After all, weren’t they all created from plants?
For a long time we would simply buy our oils on Amazon or through VitaCost, but then we started doing a little more research into the health benefits of essential oils. As we researched, we discovered that the majority of essential oils that you can buy from the store are not, and do not claim to be, therapeutic-grade oils.
What is Therapeutic Grade?
The potential danger of an essential oil is generally relative to its level or grade of purity. Many essential oils are designed exclusively for their aroma-therapeutic quality; these essential oils generally should not be applied directly to the skin in their undiluted or “neat” form. Some can cause severe irritation, provoke an allergic reaction and, over time, prove hepatotoxic. Non-therapeutic grade essential oils are never recommended for topical or internal use. Source
We started to notice that the bottles of oil we had purchased from those places had warnings on them like “do not take internally” and “for external use only.” So we started looking into oils that did claim to be therapeutic grade and safe for internal use.
We had several few good friends who use a brand of essential oils called Young Living so we listened to them talk about all of the amazing things that the oils were doing for their family. While we were impressed, we still weren’t quite ready to join the crazy “oil bandwagon.” But the more we read, the more that we discovered that many of the essential oils companies on the market (even some of the ones that claimed to be therapeutic-grade) weren’t really giving the full story.
The Full Story
Almost every bottle of essential oil on the market claims to be “Pure Essential Oil”, but that claim can legally be made if there is as little at just 5% of the actual essential oil from the plant in the bottle. There is also no regulation for how an essential oil is to be extracted. Companies are free to use high-heat, high-pressure, and chemical-solvents to extract more from the plants, and still slap whatever label they want to on the oil. In fact, the majority of essential oil companies buy their oils from an oil broker. The company isn’t actually involved in the process of cultivating the plants or extracting the oils at all.
How to Know the Difference
Here are 8 questions to ask whenever you’re considering purchasing from an essential oils company (adapted from here):
1. Can this company guarantee that the land used to grow their plants & herbs is free of residual herbicides, pesticides, & chemicals?
2. Does this company own their own lab to test an oil’s composition?
3. Does this company ever purchase oils from outside suppliers? If so, does the company visit the farms and oil distilleries to observe the process and make sure that there are no added chemicals to the distillation of the oils and that the herbs and plants are grown completely free from contamination with herbicides, pesticides, and chemical fertilizers?
4. Does this company only use crops that were harvested at their peak time? And if so, does the grower test to make sure that the crop is at its peak time for harvesting?
5. Does this company continuously monitor the process of distillation to make sure that the oils produced from the distillation contain all of the correct therapeutic components?
6. Can this company guarantee that oils are discarded and not sold if mistakes were made during the distillation process that affect the quality of the oils?
7. Does this company’s oil suppliers use extra solvents during the distillation process to extract extra oil from the plants?
8. Can this company guarantee that nothing is added to the oils during bottling?
Why We Chose Young Living
Young Living is the only company we know of that has their own farms, can absolutely guarantee that no pesticides or herbicides were used in the growing of any of their oils (they use essential oils for pest control and they do all of the weeding by hand), has their own testing equipment (they do both in-house and 3rd party testing), only uses the first distillation of oils instead of adding chemicals to get more out of the plant, and basically answered all 8 questions in a way that we felt comfortable with.
Young Living is also the only company that is directly in charge of essential oil farming operations. Every other company goes through some kind of an “oil broker” to buy their oils. They have to trust the oil broker that the farmers that he/she buys the oils from can be trusted to do what they are saying they are doing. With Young Living, you just have to trust one company instead of several.
We also loved that we could just sign up and get the member discount (24%!) and not have to actually sell anything to anyone. All we had to do to keep getting my discount was to buy $50 worth of products per year, which we quickly discovered would not be a problem at the rate we use them.
How We Use the Oils
We signed up for Young Living several months ago and have been using the oils pretty much daily since then. I bought the premium starter kit and I’m so glad that I did!
Here are just a few of the ways that we’re using the oils in the starter kit. Our medicine cabinet has definitely gone through a major overhaul!
Lavender essential oil – balancing/relaxing, can boost stamina and energy, soothes and cleanses common cuts, bruises, and skin irritations
Thieves essential oil blend – university tested for its cleansing abilities, highly effective in supporting the immune system, supports oral health
Peppermint essential oil – supportive of respiratory system, may improve concentration & mental sharpness, helps curb appetite
Lemon essential oil – uplifting to mind & body, supports healthy skin, aids normal digestion, supports nervous system
Panaway essential oil blend – helps tension and discomfort, soothes the skin while providing comforting warmth to muscles after exercise
Frankincense – stimulating & elevating, hleps focus the mind and overcome stress, supports normal respiratory system, supports maturing skin
Purification – us on skin to cleanse and soothe, diffuse to help purify and cleanse the air from environmental impurities and other disagreeable odors
Stress Away – combats normal stresses that creep into everyday life, helps reduce mental rigidity, helps induce relaxation
Melaleuca – supports the immune system, supports healthy skin, cleanses and soothes common skin irritations
Joy – brings joy to the heart, inspires romance & togetherness, refreshing & uplifting to the heart & mind
Citrus Fresh – relaxing and calming blend, supports the immune system and overall health, diffuse to purify the air