What is a Therapeutic Grade Oil
True therapeutic grade essential oils, are oils that have been produced using the highest standards meeting the AFNOR designation. They are organic oils produced without additives, chemicals, or solvents. They have no pesticides, fillers or synthetics. These oils are plant molecules at their finest. They may be ingested, applied topically, and diffused in rooms. Retail stores may sell organic essential oils, very rarely are these of quality to meet therapeutic grade standards. True therapeutic grade oils cost more than fragrance grade oils, or organic oils not meeting therapeutic standards.
Therapeutic grade essential oils are almost never sold in retail stores. They would be too expensive, and most likely not appreciated by the general public. Over 90% of the oils sold as “essential” in American retail stores, are fragrance grade and not for the highest potential for wellness.
There are a few growers and distilleries in North America that produce high quality oils fulfilling all the criteria for “therapeutic grade.” Young Living is the largest and best known of these.
Look for the designation “AFNOR” or “AFNOR-EC” on the label. Oils that carry this fulfill European standards for essential oils. There are no American standards as yet. ARNOR stands for Association Francaise de Normal-ization. It is a French organization under the administrative supervision of the French Ministry for Industry. EC stands for European Convention. Only oils that meet these standards can print “AFNOR” on their labels. The ISO, International Standardization Organization in Geneva, Switzerland, is a worldwide federation of national standards bodies drawn from 130 countries. The ISO has adopted the AFNOR standards for essential oils as the international standard. For more complete information on AFNOR, visit www.RaindropTraining.com and go into the Raindrop Messenger archives. V.3, N.3, April 2005.
In addition to meeting AFNOR standards, therapeutic grade oils must also be organically grown, unadulterated, properly distilled, and meet other criteria which few brands other than Young Living oils actually meet. For a complete definition of “therapeutic grade oil” refer to The Chemistry of Essential Oils Made Simple, by David Stewart, Ph.D., page 324.
* This information taken from the Book; Healing Oils of the Bible, by Dr. David Stewart, Ph.D., page 188-189.
NOTE: I highly recommend Healing Oils of the Bible to be the first book you read, if you desire to learn about therapeutic oils, exactly what they are, how they work, and how to properly use them. For other books, see my section on Recommended Reading.
A Word About Organic Essential Oils: When it comes to essential oils DO NOT equate purity, and therapeutic grade with the word, “Organic.” An organic oil, alone, is not a therapeutic grade oil, and should not be ingested or used for wellness purposes. Do not be fooled by words. Oils labelled as organic may have been contaminated during production or extraction with use of solvents or chemicals. They may be mixed with cheaper oils, essential oils of similar species, or they may use the leaf of the plant instead of the bark. With some therapeutic oils, such as cinnamon, only the bark is used for therapeutic grade cinnamon bark oil. Some companies have been known to use very little bark oil, and fill with oil from cinnamon leaves. This is not the same. Sadly, these may still be labelled as “Organic”. This is usually done to increase profitability. These adulterated oils, may cause allergic reactions, headaches, and redness to the skin.
The price of oils in a health food store are much cheaper than true therapeutic grade essential oils. If you are caught in sticker shock, I recommend beginning with the Young Living Starter Kit. It will give you a great selection of therapeutic oils, with names you most likely recognize. These oils may be topically applied, diffused in the air, or a few drops may be added to your water for a refreshing grapefruit, lemon, or peppermint drink. It is an approach of “Buying Better, Buying Less.” Spend your money on quality, not cheaper oils with limited use.