Essential Oil versus Essential Oil

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Essential oil versus essential oil

Have you ever wondered if there are different qualities of essential oils?  Well I must tell you that the difference in quality is huge, it is day and night and it is even very scary what is offered as essential oil to the public.  Indeed, all essential oils originate, or should, from aromatic plants, but this is all they have in common. After this, it is another story.

Let’s start from the beginning.
An essential oil (EO) is a concentrated, complex, liquid extract, mostly obtained by water steam distillation from aromatic plants or parts thereof (flowers leaves, wood, roots, bark, fruit, peel...) and is composed of numerous aromatic molecules with unique and specific properties.

They are so powerful on different therapeutic, energetic and aesthetic levels that you need to be informed properly on their quality, characteristics and usage before applying them for the well-being of yourself and your family.

How the plants are grown and harvested, how the distillation process is performed and what happens after that, all define the final quality of the essential oil.

Hereunder the different qualities available on the market:

Standard industrial quality
These are mostly made from non-certified botanical plants, industrially grown and harvested without consideration of the energetic impact, method, and moment of harvesting. They are usually quickly and incompletely distilled at high temperature and pressures, often rectified, diluted, denatured and build up with synthetic chemical components when not pure and simply reconstituted.  These kinds of essential oils are used in the cosmetic and perfume industry and have no or little therapeutic value.

100% Pure and 100% Natural
The plants used, from wild harvest or organic cultivation, are not always botanically certified and several species can be mixed. Biodynamic principals are not guaranteed and they are commonly quickly and incompletely distilled at higher temperature and pressure. They can be rectified but not cut, denatured or mixed with other essential oils like the previous ones. These kinds of essential oils are of medium quality and are not recommended to be used for therapeutic purposes as the composition and active molecules are not defined and thus the exact properties and toxicities are not known.

Authentic and Chemotyped
These oils are guaranteed 100% pure, 100% natural, 100% integral, and 100% unaltered, originating from certified botanical plants and biodynamics principles of growing and harvesting are applied. After distillation they undergo a physical and biochemical process of identification and the aromatic components are identified and thus the exact properties and toxicities are known.

They are rare and their price is inevitably higher, nevertheless fully justified by their superior quality and effectiveness. Only 5% of all essential oils on the global market match these criteria.
These chemotyped essential oils (CTEO) are the only ones that can be safely used for proper medical and therapeutic purposes, especially in case of internal use.

Organic certification
This essential oil is obtained from plants whose cultivation has been ORGANIC certified by an approved body; however there is no methodology in place for the distillation, control and handling after harvesting as is for CTEO.  What this really means is that there is no guarantee for a proper distillation or to be 100% pure, 100% natural, 100% integral, and 100% unaltered for essential oils that are only certified organic.

A chemotyped essential oil, what is it?
A chemotype (CT) is a chemical, biological, and botanical classification designating the molecule that is mainly present in an essential oil.

The techniques of chemical analysis currently available to researchers (thin-layer, counter-current, gas chromatography, mass spectrometry and magnetic resonance) have enabled us to acquire a deeper knowledge of the molecular structures present in essential oils. The biochemical variations within a single botanical species, allows us to define specifically the nature of sub-species, varieties, cultivars, and taxa of aromatic plants.

Depending on factors directly related to the plant's specific conditions, such country, climate, soil composition, altitude, plant exposure, phytosociological factors and the harvest period, a given aromatic plant can produce essential oils with a very different biochemical composition and consequently different properties and toxicities.

This variation in the biochemical composition of essential oils brings about the concept of “Chemotype” or “Chemical Race” and is a fundamental concept of Aromatology, also referred to as scientific aromatherapy.

Two chemotypes of the same essential oil will have not only different activities but also very different toxicities.

Example of 2 different chemotypes obtained from the same plant:

Thymus vulgaris CT thujanol:

    • powerful bactericide and viricide

    • immunostimulant

    • well tolerated on the skin

    • stimulates and regenerates the liver cells

Thymus vulgaris CT thymol:

    • powerful bactericide and viricide

    • immunostimulant

    • dermocaustic

    • liver toxic when used in high doses or over a long term period

This example illustrates how crucial it is to know the chemotype of the essential oil. This specific information on the composition of essential oils and the understanding thereof, are the basis for a powerful, effective and safe therapy.

Whether or not it has organic certification, a chemotyped essential oil guarantees quality, efficiency and safety as it is:

    • 100% NATURAL: not adulterated by synthetic constituents, mineral oils, or spirits.
    • 100% PURE: and not cut with other essential oils, fatty oils, or alcohols.
    • 100% UNALTERED: not discoloured, peroxidised, or rectified.
    • 100% INTEGRAL: all the molecules are present; it is complete, also energetically.

What can I do practically with essential oils at home?
Being able to use good essential oils at home in a preventive, effective, safe and easy way is a durable, natural and cost effective way to take care of yourself and your family.
Essential oils with their energy and high vibrations have the capacity to accompany us on our pathway of life and, when integrated into your daily life, play a role that generates compounding effects, month after month, year after year, decade after decade…

Prana Monde offers a Natural Home Pharmacy Workshop where you learn about the practical application of a selection of essential oils at home in a safe and effective way.

Philippe Lismont,
Aromatologist (Belgium)

Author - Philippe Lismont

Published - 2017-01-10