How essential is that Essential Oil?

February 3, 2017


Essential oils seemed to be everywhere these days which is great!  Every time you go on Pinterest there's something new about them. Just try googling essential oils and you'll find pages and pages of all things Essential. As an Aromatherapist I t think it's wonderful that people are interested in and exploring essential oils.  They are extremely beneficial and have amazing therapuetic properties. However there's a lot to know first before delving into essential oils. Some can be useful and others can be dangerous. Who can and how they should be used is very important. Most importantly, how do you know if an essential oil is a pure oil? All of these questions are important. I'm going to do my best and not get too technical; here is a cliff's notes version of what you need to know in purchasing and using essential oils.


When you start playing in the world of Aromatherapy you must first begin with the quality and authenticity of the essential oils being used. When using essential oils for therapeutic purposes safe application and effectiveness can only come from the use of whole, genuine, and authentic essential oils. When shopping for essential oils there are many companies to choose from but there are some important things to look for.


Common name, Latin Name, Country of Origin, Part of plant used, how it's grown, and biochemical specificity, yes there's a bit of science in all of this.


Common name- is the widely accepted name for a given plant species i.e. lavender, ginger, etc


Latin name- is the internationally recognized identity of a given plant, its scientific name, refers to one kind of plant, critically distinguished from all others


County of origin- place where essential oil is either indigenous or where it is cultivated or harvested. This can have an effect on the chemical composition of an essential oil due to differences in environmental conditions. Essential oils from the same botanical species but different countries may also have vastly different aromas.


Part of plant used- some plants produce oil from more than one part of the plant, i.e. seed and root or fruit or leaf. These are different oils with different therapeutic properties. Examples: From the bitter orange tree we obtain petitgrain from the leave, neroil from the orange blossoms, and bitter orange from the zest.


How it's grown- the company you purchase from should be able to supply this information this information lends to the credibility of the company your buying your essential oils from. These are the four main types a plant can be grown.


Ethical Wild Crafted- collected in their native environment

Cultivated- plants specifically grown to be distilled for essential oils 

Traditional/conventional- plants grown with the use of pesticides

Organic- plants grown without pesticides and respects the balance of nature


Biochemical specificity (yes, I know, more science)- the identification of a chemotype of a specific essential oil. Many factors influence the chemical composition of any given essential oil such as environmental conditions and geographic area. It's not a different species or a type of chemical, it's a chemical anomaly within the plant that occurs naturally.  Not all essential oils have chemotypes nor are all chemotypes available on the market, however they do provide different therapeutic benefits.  Rosemary is a good example, Rosemary ct. verbenon ((great for skin care) Rosemary ct. cineole (good for respiratory/nervous system), Rosemary ct. camphor (muscle, aches, and pains)


These are necessary things to look for when buying essential oils and any reputable company should be able to provide this information for you. (see my list below)


Oh one more thing!



Essential oils have a general shelf life of two to five years depending on the individual oil and many in which it is stored. Citrus oil have a shorter shelf life than more viscous essential oils like Vetiver or Patchouli.  Here are a few tips to enhance the longevity of your essential oils:


Store in amber or blue bottles

Best stored away from sunlight and direct heat

If purchased in large quantities move to smaller bottles

Always make sure the bottle has an orifice reducer, this reduces the impact of oxygen. It's a small dropper insert that fills the opening of the bottle.


I know that was a lot of information and possibly a bit overwhelming to think about when shopping, however it's very important to purchase quality essentials oils to actually ensure you enjoy their benefits. One quick way to know if you are on the right track is to check the price.  If the price is too low, that's usually an indicator that it's been adulterated in some way. If you'd like more info on this sign up for updates.  Happy exploring!



Be useful, be kind

-Team Shia


Places I like to shop. Also a trusted source for many Aromatherapist.




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