Ask Dr. Christoph Streicher
Recent Aromatherapy Questions & Answers
would like to know if there truly are therapeutic-grade essential oils and if
so, what are the requirements to attain that level of grading. I was told by
another essential oil company that there are no grading systems for oils but
that its oils are of the highest quality and are 100% pure essential oil. We
have been using Amrita’s oils in our center for a few years now and love them.
I trust your company and your products, and that is why I am asking for your opinion
on this. Thank you, Matt.
There is no agreed-upon grading system. The term
“therapeutic grade,” therefore, is often misused. When you ask a company that
uses this term what it means by that expression, most of the time you do not get a clear
answer. When a company says there is no grading system and then says it has
the highest quality oils, there is a contradiction right there.
uses five levels of quality control:
Amrita works directly with distillers on all continents, and these are distillers
who distill for aromatherapy purposes instead of for industrial essential oil
production. Distillers commonly do not adulterate essential oils; when this
happens, it is more often done by the importers who supply essential oils
mainly to the flavor and fragrance industries.
Gas chromatographical (GC) analysis, with a chiral column where needed, is used
to ensure that the oils are pure.
The essential oils Amrita carries need to comply with a specific chemical
profile. GC analysis is used for this as well. For example, Amrita’s standard
for tea tree oil is a maximum of 3% cineol and a minimum of 40% terpinene-4-ol.
For oregano oil, our standard is a maximum of 65% carvacrol, etc. For some
essential oils, like German chamomile, if one does not pay attention to the
chemical profile, one may end up with an essential oil that is useless from a
therapeutic point of view.
The scent of the oil is very critical for us. I am always looking for oils
that, on the level of the aroma, are whole, mild, not aggressive, etc. For
example, you may know how harsh peppermint oil can be. However, if you smell
the Amrita peppermint, you will experience clarity, freshness and
softness--almost something a little floral.
The vibrational quality of the oil is also important. Here it gets pretty
subjective. I want an oil to not only smell great, but also when I smell it, I
want it to have an immediate, positive impact on my mind and emotions. That is
something different from the scent.
there anything in the process of producing an oil that affects its purity and
potency, other than the quality of the plants you start with? I have heard
something about how the distillation process can affect the quality of the oil.
that is true. A master distiller distills every plant species in a different
way, paying attention to the freshness of the plants and adjusting the duration
of the distillation, the amount of steam put through per hour, etc. There are a
number of parameters that can make or break a good oil.
how can a consumer make an educated assessment of an oil and judge if it is of
a therapeutic quality? I am sure it is hard to judge based on the label or on
the manufacturer’s Web site. Are there certain things to look for or questions
it is difficult to judge the quality of oils. However, the following are some
things you can check:
Are the botanical name of the plant and the country of origin listed on
Does the company carry organic oils?
Do they perform GC analysis on each oil?
Do they say they buy oils directly from the distillers?
Can they supply hydrosols? (Only if they work with the distillers can
they get hydrosols.)
And then educate your nose by smelling as many
different oils as possible. You may want to buy Amrita’s sample pack of 10
essential oils; a sniff says more than a 1,000 words.
What is Lavender Maillette? I've not heard of it before?? Thanking you in advance, Denise.
Lavender Maillette is particularly high in linalyl acetate. This gives it a fine and rather sweet aroma. If a perfumer wants to work with a natural lavender (which is rather unusual for today’s perfumery) lavender maillette is the oil of choice. Lavender maillette is a clone; that means all plants have the same genetic make-up. It is not genetically engineered. At this point, all lavender maillette comes from