Question: It seems everywhere I look there are ads for aromatherapy and essential oil products. How can I separate between the marketing hype and the real thing?
Answer: This is a key question. Authentic (meaning “real”) aromatherapy and essential oils are readily available. The majority of products sold in America contain laboratory-formulations that mimic scents. These are not genuine essential oils. This practice seeks to leverage American consumer interest in natural health.
This complex subject would fill pages. To simplify, here are three key facts to know in selecting products.
1. Can you define “aromatherapy” and “essential oils”?
Aromatherapy is the science of using scent for therapeutic purposes.
Authentic essential oils are oils extracted from plants through exacting distillation (and a few other processes) designed to retain plant properties.
The best essential oils are from organic plant sources and are unadulterated by additives or dilution.
Key Point: ALL essential oils have fragrance (smell); not all fragrances contain essential oils.
2. What is the difference between commercial fragrance products and therapeutic quality essential oils?
There is a tremendous difference between commercial fragrance products and 100% pure essential oils. Chemical reproductions of fragrance used in personal care products (cosmetics, “perfume,” bath and hair products), cleaning agents, culinary products, and other uses are not suitable for therapeutic use.
Typically, commercial products mimic the smell. The smell does NOT achieve therapeutic results (besides the placebo effect). There are easily between 200 to 800 different chemicals found in each essential oil. These chemicals interact with body chemistry to nudge the body toward healing.
100% pure essential oils are highly therapeutic. The science is there. Expect more on this subject in this blog.
For optimal well-being, choose 100% pure, therapeutic- or pharmaceutical-grade products only from a reputable company.
3. Can chemical reproductions reproduce the properties of essential oils?
No. The chemical composition of oils ranges from simple to highly complex. The interplay among the chemical constituents is not yet fully understood. The greatest number of chemical constituents is found in rose oil; some are present in such minute quantities that they are as yet unidentified. Other factors include the cost of duplication of the entire chemical chain compared to only the composition that affects the human perception of odor. The healing vitality present in the plant oils vs. the chemical laboratory is part of a larger issue of natural vs. synthetic.
Tip: Do not use products with ingredients you are allergic to. For example, if you are allergic to Roman Chamomile, avoid products containing the plant or extracts of Roman Chamomile.
This material first appeared in Paula Stone’s aromatherapy courses. This material was later published and is available in her textbook Therapeutic Reflexology, “Aromatherapy and Essential Oils.”