I was randomly browsing through my Instagram feed when I came through a post saying “sniffing rosemary can increase memory up to 75%”. I browsed through the web and found a report describing this breakthrough this research with rosemary essential oil (Rosmarinus Officinalis). This became the first essential oil I ordered online and the versatile Lavender (Lavandula Officinalis then) seconded. Since I had a deep interest in fragrances and perfumes, on a visit to the home-decor store, I bought a diffuser shelved next to fragrance oils.
My order arrived and I started using lavender instead of commercial fragrance oil in my diffuser. I loved the smell like love at first sight. This urged me to look for other oils in the store so the journey began.
Knowledge is Power & Essential Oils are Powerful
I used to study the miraculous benefits of oils and then buy online. I was collecting oil from the same but famous company considering the nominal cost. I had no idea what details I need to look for actually while buying a bottle of essential oil. Time flew and I had 20 bottles of essential oils from the very same company when I started my aromatheray study program. Knowledge is power and essential oils are powerful. To get their healing powers, we need to buy the real and the best. I am enlisting below 10 things we need to know before and look for while buying an essential oil (EO) bottle.
1. Botanical Name
Each oil has two names, a common name, and a botanical name (italicized). Two entirely different oils may have the same common name. For example, you want to buy Chamomile EO for the kid with colic, this means you are looking for Chamaemelum nobile. While there are other types that are not only unable to heal colic but might be unsafe for the delicate skin.
Similarly, Lavender EO has two common species below that you can identify only with the botanical names
Lavandula angustifolia, calming and reduces stress
Lavandula latifolia heals pain and unsafe for kids
While most oils come with dark amber colored glass bottles, this point is simple but worth considering. EO need to be kept away from direct light and heat. Plastic or clear glass bottles are not the right way to sell or store EOs.
Genuine oils have their origin displayed on the label. For instance, English lavender is mostly cultivated/ found in the Mediterranean region. There are distilleries there which extract the oils and sell to the companies. If your lavender EO bottle has not mentioned any origin or multiple origins at once then there’s a great room for doubt.
4. Date of Extraction
EOs are extracted from plants and have their age during which they can be extremely useful. The fact is similar to fresh fruits. Like fruits you can’t keep them forever in your fridge or table top, oils get rancid over time and not only lose their therapeutic value but become harmful for the skin. Responsible companies mention the date and the way of extraction of the oil on the packaging or always make you available upon request for the bar code, or batch number marked on the EO bottle
5. Lab Tests
Lab tests or more specifically, GC/MS report are essential to know the therapeutic significance of each oil drop. GC/MS, which is gas chromatography and mass spectrometry, lists out the chemical components of the specific oil batch received from distillation or extraction. Also, note that the composition of oil may differ from batch to batch so it becomes really important to have GC/MS report for each bottle you buy.
6. Shelf Life and Size
Just like fresh food in your fridge has a life, essential oils have theirs. It starts right after the date of extraction. Some oils have a shelf life of one year while a few stay effective for 20 years.
It is much better to buy a size that you can finish within the shelf life. Each millilitre of oil contains 30 drops on the average. Mostly essential oils are sold in 10 ml, 15 ml, 20 ml, 30 ml, 100 ml bottles while most responsible companies even sell in 2 ml bottles. This means that each 5 ml bottle has (5×30) 150 drops of the oil.
7. Diluted or Undiluted
A few pricy oils are sold in pre-diluted form. Example of these oils include
- Lemon Balm
Check the label. Prediluted in jojoba oil mostly, they must be avoided in diffusers and suitable for topical applications in blends. It’s important to know this information so as to adjust number of drops of prediluted oils in making new blends.
8. Therapeutic Activity
Natural remedies have no side effect but this doesn’t mean that anyone can use them in the same doses or quantity. The Greek word Pharmakopiae has two meanings, Medicine and Poison. Because anything powerful enough to heal is powerful enough to do harm.
Exactly this is true for essential oils. It is highly recommended to consider the physical state of the person. Age, gender, skin sensitivity, allergies, and pre-existing health issues need to be known before the application of EO.
Clinical trials have seen that a few oils disrupt breathing patterns among infants while some oils can potentially abort the pregnancy and a few increase heart rate among the elderly.
Before you buy, know what it can bring in to you physically and sprirtually.
The power of each drop should be used with extreme care and with the consultation of an aromatherapist.
9. Aroma Profile
This is a personal choice. Few oils have a similar therapeutic profile but differ in their fragrance, so you may pick certain oil over another for a specific situation.
However, this is worthy to know that earthy aromas keep us calm while floral aromas are sedative.You might not like to buy an oil that smells herbaceous or peppery, so choose the best alternative subject to your goal.
10. Company Profile
Nature is beautiful and naturopaths not only appreciate this beauty but work in a sustainable manner so as to preserve this beauty for future generations.
Species of Sandalwood, Agarwood, and Rosewood got scarce when this love was shared with our unethical behaviors.
Keep in mind, high price and mischievous labeling don’t always ensure the quality of an EO.
While discussion on whether does it matter if the essential oil source plant was GMO-free or not, is on it is emphasized to choose companies which support organic and sustainable farming practices. Choose vendors who source oils ethically and are known to be fair with their customers.
Recapitulating it in one line that each of us deserves nature in its very organic form and so does our generations. Nature was there before us, so it’s our responsibility to promote eco-friendly behaviors while we benefit from its amazing healing powers.