Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils?

One day, my friend asked me to recommend her a “therapeutic grade” essential oils’ brand.

What does she means?

Is she looking for the essential oil that has therapeutic effect on her?

Or she is concerning on the product safety?

Or she is looking for high quality and non-adulteration products?

According to Stewart (2005)…

“A therapeutic grade essential oil is defined here as one that is specially distilled from plants that are cultivated organically or grown wild in a clean environment (not gathered along a busy highway). Plants should be from proper botanical genus, species, and cultivar. No chemical fertilizers are added to the soil, and crop cultivation is free of herbicides and pesticides. Essential oils should be extracted by steam distillation at minimum temperatures and pressures, as was done in ancient times. No chemical solvents are used in the extraction process.”

In Janet article, she does mention that this “therapeutic grade” concept was introduced into the market during 90’s by some clever marketer. She opposed the idea of “therapeutic grade” grading system.

In Tisserand article, “such terms as pharmaceutical grade, therapeutic grade or food grade have no meaning in relation to the quality of essential oils for aromatherapy… there is no independent, industry standard that is known as “therapeutic grade.”

For me “therapeutic grade” is a concept, this terms is very attractive and it conveys the message that the essential oils were carefully sourced specifically for use for holistic aromatherapy treatment. Just like the term “100% natural” term, it conveys the products contains 100% natural materials which are carefully sourced, it is safe and it done no harm to me and the environment. But are there really 100% natural?

As a consumer, instead of fully believe the “therapeutic grade” label it tells you, please keep an open mind and ask the following questions to the seller or yourself if they claimed themselves as therapeutic grade:

  1. What are the criteria for obtaining the “therapeutic grade” certification? Or standards use to label as “therapeutic grade” essential.
  2. Who are the bodies governed this standard in the market? For example, there are legislation and organizations that regulate the organic products such as National Organic Program (NOP, United States), Natural Products Association (NPA, United States), Organic Consumers Association, for example.
  3. Or you can also asked, what is the difference between the so call “therapeutic grade” and “non-therapeutic grade” essential oil?

If you are satisfied with their answers, why not give it a tried and do your own comparison and judgments.

Currently, they are no standards or regulation that governed the selling of essential oils in most of the countries. The “therapeutic grade” label is just one of the marketing gimmicks. Before making any purchase, please make an effort to know the company you buy from. You still can assess them based on the “therapeutic grade” concept provided by Stewart.

We all want to purchase a good quality essential oils and afraid making a mistake on it. Therefore, seller used this term to distinguish his or her products with other sellers. Of course, some sellers use it intentionally to mislead the buyers. As I always said, be an educated consumer. Soil conditions, climate, growing conditions, harvesting, extraction methods, bottling, storage, and logistic… all play a part in resulting the quality and chemistry of the essential oils.

Shutes, J. The Quality of Essential Oils By Jade Shutes.
Tisserand, R. (2010) Therapeutic grade oils – read all about it!
Stewart, D (2005). The Chemistry of Essential Oils Made Simple: God’s Love Manifest in Molecules. Care Publications.

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