Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils

therapeutic grade essential oilsWhen purchasing essential oils to use for health, beauty, and natural household cleaning, you want to make sure that you get high quality oils that will work powerfully on your body and in your home. This is particularly critical when you need to use essential oils for therapeutic applications related to your health. Whether you are using your essential oils topically, through diffusion, or internally, getting the most out of powerful therapeutic grade essential oils means that you need to have the highest quality available.

Some people are surprised to find out that there is actually no governmental agency or other governing body which oversees the “grades” of essential oils. Although some companies use such phrases to claim that their oils are high quality, no formally approved grading standard is consistently used throughout the industry for essential oils. That means the FDA, or any other quality assurance agency, does not recognize these descriptions in any way. Even so, there are still ways that you can be assured that you are buying top quality essential oils, it’s just harder to tell simply by just reading the labels.

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Certified Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils

If you have heard the phrase, “therapeutic grade” in relationship to essential oils, it’s because certain companies promote their products using such phrases. What’s interesting about this, however, is that many times these phrases are trademarked, which means that they can only be used by that company and no other. For instance, the phrase “Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade” (CPTG) is used by doTerra, one of the MLM essential oil companies, which actually has no significance except for in-house standards that are set up by the company and overseen by themselves. This is not necessarily bad for any reason, but it also doesn’t mean that they are any better than any other oils either. Other companies have also adopted registered trademarks which imply that they have certain standards but the reality is that there is no actual standard for measuring therapeutic grade essential oils.

What are the Best Grade Essential Oils?

While there is really no such thing as specific grading for essential oils, there certainly are standards of essential oils which companies use to ensure the high quality of their products. Companies often put their products through rigorous testing in order to make sure that they are pure, called GC (Gas Chromotography) and MS (Mass Spectometry). This test pinpoints the exact makeup of the oils and screens for constituents that should not be present in oils that are completely pure.

Many times the manufacturer will provide GC/MS reports to its customers which provides them with the information about all of the naturally occurring components that are found in each oil. Some will even go so far as to have third party testing done on their batches, so that an outside party is responsible to show that they are consistent and above board.

Another test that is used for quality assurance for essential oils is Specific Gravity, which is a test performed that measures the specific weight of the oil at a certain temperature. Inauthentic oils will not weigh in at their predicted weight and therefore will reveal their lack of purity. The Refractive Index is another test which indicates the purity of the essential oils by the speed and degree to which the light is refracted off of the oil.

Companies may also uphold their products with a GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) certification which makes certain that quality manufacturing standards are applied throughout production.

What Factors Affect the Quality of Essential Oils?

therapeutic grade essential oils plantMany factors exist which can affect the quality of the essential oils that companies make. The first variable is the plants that are used from which to extract the essential oils.

Plants can be affected by the quality of the soil, differences in altitude, amounts of rainfall, use of chemicals or pesticides, and differences in plant varieties or species. High quality essential oils will be extracted from high quality plants that are grown in healthy soil, appropriate climate, and without the addition of chemicals for pest control or growth.

The way that essential oils are processed will have an impact on the way that the essential oils are extracted from the plants. Although heat can be used for extraction, this is not the best way to be sure that the quality of the oils is highest. Steam distillation and other non-heat extractions are better processes that the higher quality essential oil companies use.

Storage, packaging, and handling can also make a difference in the quality of essential oils. Storage of the oils should be in dark glass containers (not plastic or metal) and the lids should be fastened tightly to keep them from too much exposure to air or sunlight which can degrade the oil quality. Those essential oils which are extracted from citrus, such as lemon or bergamot, have a greater tendency to oxidize, which means that they are particularly sensitive to exposure to air and light.

Blending essential oils can be an incredible way to take advantage of the incredible benefits of several essential oils together in order to increase their power and effectiveness. However, if high quality essential oils are blended with lesser oils, then this significantly decreases their potency. This is why it is vital to make sure that all of the oils included in the blends you use are completely, 100% pure. Also important is to make sure that the carrier oils you are using are natural and pure, including oils such as Sweet Almond Oil or Jojoba Oil.

How to Choose High Quality Essential Oils

therapeutic grade essential oils lavenderAlthough there are few standards that are industry wide, there are still some factors to look for when purchasing essential oils. When you research the essential oil, and the company that is making it, you can find out about how the oil is made and what the company’s practices here. Here are some factors to consider when purchasing essential oils:

Latin Name. When you’re purchasing essential oils, don’t just look for the English name of the plant but be sure you understand the Latin name of the plant. As there are many variations of plants, you must be sure that you get the right one by distinguishing from others with the Latin name. For instance, Lavender may seem like a simple essential oil, but there are actually a few varieties of this plant used for making essential oils.

The most commonly used Lavender essential oil is Lavandula angustifolia/officinalis. However, Spike Lavender (a plant that is similar but has different therapeutic properties) is known as Lavendula latifolia, and Lavandin (a mix between common and Spike Lavender) is known as Lavendula x intermedia. Another variety which may be used in perfumes is Lavandula stoechas. As this one is high in ketones, it’s not typically considered useful as an essential oil, but it can be easily mistaken for true Lavender if you don’t know to look for the Latin name. You may also find some information about the origin of the Lavender when you find labels such as French Lavender, English Lavender, or Bulgarian Lavender, but this information doesn’t change anything about the actual plant.

Purity. Most essential oil companies that are worth purchasing from will offer some sort of purity statement about their products. This will typically tell you which processes are used for extracting the essential oils, such as steam distillation, and will give other information about quality testing which is performed on each batch.

Cost. Although getting essential oils at a discounted price is a great idea, there is a point where it may be too good to be true. Of course there is no guarantee that the most expensive oils are of the highest quality, the least expensive oils may not be of the purity and quality that you want them to be. This is especially important when comparing one brand of oil with a different brand of the same oil. For instance, you’ll find that Orange essential oil is one of the less expensive oils on the market so you can expect it to be inexpensive in any brand. But Frankincense, as a more pricey oil, should not cost the same as a bottle of Orange Oil. If it does, then you are probably getting a product that is less than pure and will not work for anything but maybe making perfume.

Eco-friendly. Some companies are able to produce their essential oils more cheaply because they use manufacturing practices that are less-than friendly to the environment. If one of your goals of using essential oils is to live more naturally, then this may undermine that goal. Keep an eye out for essential oil companies who promote practices that are eco-conscious and sustainable. For instance, companies which aim for less waste or use recycled materials for their packaging should get a higher priority on your list. Also, some plants are actually endangered so you don’t want to buy from a company that continues to produce essential oils that are made from plants on the endangered species list.

Other Factors. When choosing an essential oil company that you prefer, you may have other standards which are important to you. Some companies promise that they will perform no animal testing while others guarantee that no pesticides, synthetic chemicals, GMOs or harmful fertilizers are used in the growth and processing of their plants. Many customers also prefer to deal with companies which source their plants from smaller farms because it allows for more care and quality control.

Organic Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils

The information about grading and standards being insignificant does not actually apply to those essential oils which are considered “organic”. Although the FDA does not certify any essential oils in their own right, there are standards that apply to organic plants which are used for essential oils. Some essential oil companies, such as Eden’s Garden, Mountain Rose Herbs, and Plant Therapy provide a limited number of essential oils made from organic plants.

Organic Grade essential oil lines typically include the most common essential oils, such as Lavender, Lemon, Frankincense, Orange, Peppermint, and Tea Tree. Of course, these options for organic essential oils will vary based upon the company offering them. These will be made from plants that are grown as FDA Certified Organic plants and used to extract powerful essential oils through the distillation process.

Companies that Sell High Quality Essential Oils

If you’re looking for a rundown of the companies that sell essential oils of high quality, listed here are various companies (in alphabetical order) and some information about their products and practices:

doTerra – Uses GC/MS testing on each batch; no animal testing

Eden’s Garden – Uses third party GC testing on each batch; uses eco-friendly and sustainable practices; no animal testing; does not cut oils with other products

Healing Solutions – GC/MS testing one each batch through a third party

NOW Foods – Uses GC and Infared Spectrometry testing, Refractive Index and Specific Gravity testing

Plant Therapy – Uses GC/MS testing on each batch; purchases only from high quality suppliers but does not make all of its own oils

Young Living – Grows their own plants to control quality; uses quality testing for every batch; no animal testing

The Best Essential Oils


Although we’ve learned that the term “therapeutic grade essential oils” is not as clear as we might have believed, there are certainly still a variety of ways that allow for finding the best essential oils available. By doing some research and looking into specific companies, you can certainly find essential oils online which are useful for therapeutic, aromatherapy, beauty, and natural cleaning products for your home. With an almost endless selection of high quality essential oils, you may find it difficult to limit the number that you buy!

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