High quality essential oils naturally contain compounds that help us achieve various therapeutic goals (i.e. improve sleep, heighten mental alertness or reduce inflammation) while having a pure fragrance. Low quality oils will have an unnatural or synthetic odor and have no therapeutic qualities. They are also more likely to cause skin irritation and other unwanted reactions. For oils to be pure, natural and have complete chemical components, they should contain no adulterations or additives (which can cause rashes, burns and other skin irritations). They should be identified as specific botanical species (e.g., Lavendula angustifolia for lavender) and extracted with proper distillation methods.
Unfortunately, essential oils that meet the criteria for good quality are not as readily available to the everyday consumer. One of the telltale signs is the low price of aromatic oils in retail stores, especially if all of the oils are the same price. The price of essential oils should vary, depending on the availability of the oil, extraction method used, etc. Quality essential oils can be quite expensive; however, their therapeutic benefit is unmatched.
How to properly identify a high quality essential oil:
- It’s in a Glass Bottle
Pure essential oils are known to cause damage to plastic containers, whereas glass remains secure. So if you are considering buying a “pure essential oil” that comes in a plastic bottle, be warned that it may not be as authentic as the package claims.
- The Botanical Name is in the Ingredients List (e.g.. Lavender – Lavandula angustifolia)
There are plenty of artificial mixtures out there that are designed to partially mimic the effects lavender for example, but will not deliver the full benefits.
- The Company Website Tells You Which Country the Oil is From and Any Precautions
Investigating the source of the product will give you a good idea of whether or not it’s genuine (i.e. Lavandula angustifolia – from Bulgaria). Safety considerations should read something like this: Non-toxic, non-irritating and non-sensitizing. Do not take lavender essential oil internally.
- It’s USDA Organic
This is a great sign that the oil is of good quality. However, there are some oils that can’t be organic because of the extraction process and other factors. In these cases, a good indication is wild harvested.
- The Price Makes Sense
The price of essential oils should vary. This is due to factors such as plant availability, extraction method and also consumer demand. A big red flag is when all of the oils at a website or store are listed for the same price, or if some of the more expensive oils are given a suspiciously low price. Examples of the more expensive oils and their prices (for 1/8 oz) are:
Chamomile –Anthemis nobilis: $37
Jasmine – Jasminum grandiflorium: $82
Neroli – Citrus aurantium: $71
Rose – Rosa damascena: $180
Sandalwood – Santalum spicatum: $30
How can practitioners incorporate essential oils and aromatherapy in their practice:
- Incorporate into a body oil for massage or cupping.
- Diffuse into the air by using a diffuser or room spray.
- Have the client inhale from a nasal inhaler at the beginning of the treatment.
- Put the appropriate oils on the corresponding acupuncture or acupressure points.
Extending the efficacy of your acupuncture treatment:
By using oils alongside acupuncture, you are addressing the client’s ailments from an additional angle. Often times you get the best results when you work with a problem by coming at if from different angles (e.g., instead of just choosing one form of therapy to help with acid reflux, you can have an acupuncture treatment, nutritional consultation, and get some body work to loosen the structures around the stomach, esophagus and back as well as relaxing the mind). This way you have a higher chance of success.
How aromatherapy enhances the patient experience:
Patients will appreciate of the beautiful fragrances that accompany the therapeutic effects of the essential oils. Nasal inhalers and room sprays are convenient ways for patients to utilize these powerful oils at home or on-the-go! Patients have reported positive results using aromatherapy products to reduce anxiety, heighten mental focus and promote restful sleep. Just to name a few.
The best tips for practitioners who are just getting started with essential oils and aromatherapy:
- Thoroughly research the companies from which you’re sourcing the essential oils to make sure they’re of the highest quality.
- Make sure that you’re using the essential oils in a safe way. Robert Tisserand and Rodney Young wrote a very helpful book about essential oil safety, which is a wonderful reference book. The National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy is an organization that has a variety of resources as well.
- Another option is to ask a registered aromatherapist for help. Just remember that many essential oils do have precautions, so use them safely.
About the author:
Amie Theriault is the owner and founder of Santi Apothecary. She started this company with the goal of sharing in the benefits of using essential oils through the products she creates. Amie’s inspiration to develop products that promote well-being originated from her work with clients at Santi Holistic Healing LLC – where she is the owner and practices Muscular and Soma Therapy, Aromatherapy, is a certified DNAFit Trainer and oversees the direction for holistic care for clients. She sees people struggling with health issues caused by the ill-effects of stress, anxiety, diet and injury. Her experience in working with individuals and her knowledge and passion of aromatherapy and its healing benefits created a natural progression of using these essential oils.
Amie believes that natural, holistic methods are a key part of well-being and started designing these products on an individual basis – helping one person at a time. Amie has studied aromatherapy extensively and is a Registered Aromatherapist in the United States, one of only two in Massachusetts and 7 in New England. In addition to her Bachelor of Science in Health Studies from Boston University, Amie has her masters in Aromatherapy, has her diploma in Muscular Therapy & certificates for Aromatherapy Teacher, Soma Therapy, DNAFit Trainer & Thai Bodywork.