Essential oils are no fad—they are backed by thousands of years of history. They’ve been used as wellness solutions in Biblical, Egyptian, Chinese and Greek cultures—and they’re still used throughout the world today. In fact, they’re actually more popular in many other parts of the world than they are in the U.S.
Thankfully, America is now experiencing an essential oil revolution, and their use is growing in popularity. So, let’s celebrate the fact that essential oils are becoming so popular! But it needs to stay that way—and in order for that to happen, you need to have easily accessible information that is simple to understand and implement.
Let’s dive in.
What Are Essential Oils?
Have you ever smelled the crisp, refreshing scent of a fresh cut lemon?
If so, you may have already experienced the power of essential oils and not even known it.
Essential oils are responsible for the fragrances you smell. They’re also the nutritional compounds inside many plants and herbs. And once extracted from the plant or herb, they bring many of the same well-being benefits to the table. One reason they’re so powerful is because they’re the “essence” of the real plant or herb, only in a highly concentrated form. In fact, one small, 15 mL bottle of lemon essential oil can be made from up to 45 lemons!
Where Does the Aroma Come From?
The naturally occurring aromas of essential oils come from volatile compounds inside the fruit or plant. When pressed and concentrated, the rinds of citrus fruits or the roots, stems and flowers of plants release volatile compounds that represent the true essence of the plant.
If the words “volatile compounds” make you nervous, don’t worry.
These compounds aren’t called “volatile” because they’re dangerous. In this context, “volatile” simply refers to small, organic molecules that evaporate quickly. If you think about a molecule such as water (which is not considered volatile), it needs lots of energy/heat to transform from a liquid into a gas (steam). On the other hand, volatile compounds change from their solid or liquid state to a gas at room temperature. Hence, the name: volatile — they change state rapidly and often.
The first time you experience an essential oil, you’ll notice this characteristic almost instantly. In fact, the moment you open a bottle, you’ll get a waft of the pleasant aroma inside.
That instant smell you’re greeted with is the volatile compounds at work.
This volatility makes essential oils ideal for diffusing and for practices such as aromatherapy and to even be used topically or orally—but ONLY when and if it says so on the directions.
Science Finally Confirms the Wisdom of Our Most Trusted Text
As I’ve alluded to before, beyond their beautiful fragrances, essential oils can deliver some powerful well-being benefits.
Evidence of these benefits dates back thousands of years to:
- Ancient Egypt
- Ancient Rome
- And even our most trusted text: The Bible
Biblical historians have found scriptural references to all of these key essential oils:
- And Spikenard
All of these essential oils were used for anointing and for promoting health.
And do you remember the story of three kings visiting baby Jesus and Mary after his birth? The kings offered gold, frankincense and myrrh.
These oils were so cherished and so valuable, they were two of the three things given to God’s only son! Talk about powerful.
In the modern world, essential oils are as popular as ever before.
They’re used in many household care and beauty products.
Where do you think things such as lavender-scented shampoo and lemon-scented soaps come from?
However, because of mass production and commercialization, many essential oils are both less present in today’s products plus don’t have the same attributes they used to.
Historically, the plants used to make essential oils were grown organically — without pesticides and herbicides. In part, they were grown that way because toxic chemicals like that did not exist. People also knew the real power of essential oils comes from their connection to nature.
Sadly, that’s not the case for many essential oils today. Most essential oils on the market are not organic.
In fact, in the modern world, I believe (in my opinion) there are 4 grades of essential oils you need to look out for:
4 Grades of Essential Oils
Synthetic Oils are the First Grade and Lowest Quality: These oils are created in a laboratory and are the lowest grade of oil. In some cases, they can even be toxic. Avoid synthetic oils at all costs.
Natural and “Pure” Oils are the Second Grade of Oils: These oils may be overly processed, so they may lose beneficial compounds. These are the most commonly sold type of essential oils.
Certified Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils are the Third Grade of Oils: These oils are typically steam distilled and contain beneficial compounds. They may or may not have been sprayed with pesticides. Therapeutic grade is a first-party designation. In other words, it’s self-certified and not recognized by third parties such as Certified USDA Organic.
Certified Organic Essential Oils are the Highest Grade and Highest Quality Oils: These oils are the highest grade of essential oils. They are free of prohibited pesticides and chemicals and are third-party certified for purity.
How would I describe the process for high-quality essential oils? Well, it starts with planting high-quality plants in nutrient-dense organic soil. Then these herbs or plants must be harvested when their beneficial compounds are most available.
Most commercially available essential oils are nothing more than a man-made concoction of synthetic chemicals, an ineffective combination of water, cheap oil and inorganic chemicals.
In fact, even if you take so-called “therapeutic” essential oils that have been extracted from real plants, they will not be as high-quality, since they’ve been grown on farms coated with pesticides and other resin.
In summary, I believe an ideal essential oil should be:
1) Certified Organic
2) 100% Pure and Therapeutic Grade
3) Sourced indigenously or come from certified organic land
4) Not contain any bases, fillers or any additives
If you can find an oil that meets all of these criteria, great! You can feel good knowing that the provider has taken every possible measure to deliver the best, farm-to-your-front door, safe, well-being supporting oil available.
With that said, be cautious of any brand that doesn’t hold their oils to these standards.