Essential Oils Testing–Is it Reliable?

Essential Oils Testing Wmk

If you haven’t noticed, there has been a lot of hubbub on the internet about essential oils these days.

There are essential oils remedies, recipes, “Medicine Cabinet Makeovers,” and testimonials galore.

There are loads of blogs telling you that their oils company is the best one (yes,  even I had a blog series entitled “Which Essential Oils Company is Best?”, didn’t I :)?) and often you are urged to sign up with a direct sales company to makes money selling oils, or at least to get your oils for free.

One thing that comes up over and over again regarding essential oils, however, is GC/MS testing.

Today we are going to talk about GC/MS testing in more detail.

We’ll learn:

- What GC/MS testing is
- What GC/MS tests tells us
- What GC/MS testing’s limitations are

Stay with me–this is going to be very interesting.

What is GC/MS testing?

GC/MS testing is Gas chromatography–mass spectrometry.  

What does that mean, you ask?

Basically, here’s what a GC/MS test does:

1.  The essential oils are injected into an apparatus with a tube.  The tube is coated with material that has different affinities for different chemicals at different temperatures.

2.  The temperature of the apparatus is gradually increased.

3.  The oil vapors are moved through the apparatus to a detector at the end of the column.

4.  The detector responds to the vaporized parts of the oils by printing out proportional peaks on paper.

5.  The height of each peak corresponds to the amount of each component of the oil.

6.  Components are identified by the time at which the peak prints out on the paper.

7.  The data for each oil can be compared with standards, or “fingerprints,” for each essential oil to make determinations about purity and other qualities about the oil.

Complex, but pretty neat, huh?

Basically, you get data about what components are in the oils and how much of each component there is.

S0–does that mean that if a company does GC/MS testing, that you can buy their oils and be sure you are getting “the real deal“?

And does it mean the if a company’s GC/MS tests come out within industry standards that you should feel comfortable using them?

Maybe.

While GC/MS testing can tell us a lot, there are some problems with relying on these tests alone.

1.  Essential Oils Can Be Adulterated in Ways that GC/MS tests cannot determine.

a.  Adding synthetics: For example, if synthetic linalyl acetate is added to pure lavender oil, a GC-MS analysis cannot tell whether that compound is synthetic or natural, only that it is linalyl acetate.

b.  Heating: Some oils are heated to burn off more “herby” smells, as with Eucalyptus Globulus or Peppermint.

c.  Redistilling – Some oils are redistilled to make their fragrance more appealing.  I talked about this in this post.

d.  Blending of oils to Save Money or Get Uniform Smell
i. An “expert” might dilute a more expensive lavender with a less expensive lavender in order to sell the less expensive oil for a higher profit.

ii.  Sometimes customers complain that their oil “doesn’t smell like it did before.”  That can be a good thing, because oil smell should vary a bit–depending on weather, time of year, amount of water, etc.  However, sometimes oils are blended with other batches to avoid this kind of customer complaint.

I would rather have my oils vary in smell than have them mixed with other oils.

2.  The Standards for the GC/MS testing were set up more for the food, fragrance, and flavoring industries, rather than for therapeutic oils.

When using the standardized guides and GC/MS testing, there are ranges that components of the essential oils are supposed to fall between.

For example, terpinen-4-ol is the active ingredient in tea tree oil that is supposed to be the most therapeutic.  When tea tree oil undergoes GC/MS testing, the compliant range for terpinen-4-ol is between 30 and 48%, and the “compliant range” for terpineol is 1.5 – 8%.  So the compliant range for the two combined is 31.5 – 56%.

However, since terpinen-4-ol is the most desired healing component of tea tree oil, some distillers have figured out ways to distill tea tree oil in order to have the resulting oil have a greater percentage of terpinen-4-ol.  You can see an example of this here.

Main Camp Natural Extracts claims to be “the purest tea tree oil in the world.”  Now, I don’t know about “purest” but they do have some pretty strong tea tree oil.  Their terpinen-4-ol + terpineol is a minimum of 75% and it typically is over 80%.  That clearly is well outside of the GC/MS guidelines.

So Main Camp’s oil would not test compliant with GC/MS testing, but it seems to be a valuable tea tree oil, nonetheless.

Depending what you think about the method they used to extract more terpinen-4-ol, you may or may not want that oil, but this example just goes to show that having more of an active ingredient in an oil might make the oil more therapeutic without it testing “compliant” on a GC/MS test.

Sacred Frankincense is another oil where this is done.  Some distillers can apparently tweak the advanced tech extraction that will just extract greater proportions of the anti-cancer component in frankincense oil.  The resulting oil won’t test compliant with GC/MS testing, but it is technically “more therapeutic.”

3.  GC/MS testing does not determine soil quality.

GC/MS testing only tests volatile (those that evaporate rather quickly) chemicals.

Such testing can’t make allowance for whether or not a plant was grown in soil with quality nutritional components.

We all know that organic farming practices yield higher quality produce.  As such, one would expect that the same would hold true for essential oils–we would expect that essential oils grown in high quality soil would have more therapeutic benefits.

4.  GC/MS testing does not test for many environmental toxins.

Since GC/MS testing can only test for volatile chemicals, it won’t test for heavy metals or other toxins that are heavy.

What kinds of toxins won’t show up on a GC/MS test?  (I don’t want any of these in my oils–ick!)

a.  Trace amounts of iron from an iron distiller might break off and end up in the oil.

b.  Radiation

c.  Heavy Metals

d.  Heavier Pesticides

e.  Pollution components

f.  Heavier chemicals from fertilizers

There are lots of things that could be in essential oils that I know I don’t want on my body, because there are lots of oil-soluble chemicals, pesticides, etc.   Of course, you might think that a small amount of toxins might not be a big issue, but over time it can accumulate, especially if you are using the oils frequently.  And with our toxic environment, why add anything to the burden you and your family are already under?

Also you might be purchasing organically grown oils, but if the farm is next to a heavily-polluted area, the plants will likely be polluted.

Something to think about:  Would you want an essential oil that was grown on toxic waste that passes the GC/MS reference standards, or would you rather have an essential oil grown organically that does not meet the testing standards for some reason?

I know which one I would want ;-).

Conclusion

Remember back in my series about my path to choosing the essential oils company that my family was going to be using?

Along the way, I heard all kinds of things about testing and certifications, some of which the oils companies made up themselves.

Well, testing is important.

But so are a lot of other things.

Here are the things that I recommend you look for in an oil company:

Signs of a Quality Essential Oil Company

1.  Experience
2.  Purity
3.  Plants grown in indigenous locations
4.  Organic and/or wild-crafted when available
5.  Most plants are grown in remote locations where no pesticides, herbicides, or harmful chemicals are used and only natural fertilizers are used.
5.  Reasonable shipping prices
6.  Reasonable pricing
7.  No solvents used
8.  No artificial oils sold
9.  No adulterating (no heating, blending, adding or further distillation of oils)
10.  Sourced from Small Farms
11.  Common Sense Approach to oils – no “over-recommending” of internal use of oils and reasonable caution in overall use of oils.

**Following is a link to Native American Nutritionals. I am an affiliate for them and if you make a purchase after clicking on my link I will make a commission.  Your price, however, doesn’t change.  Your support helps keep my free resource going – thank you for your support!  Additionally, I am not a medical practitioner.  This blog is for entertainment purposes and you should not make any changes to your diet, exercise, or natural health regiment without discussing with your physician first.**

The company I use, Native American Nutritionals, meets all of those requirements, and that is why I recommend them. You can, of course, find other companies that meet these requirements, but I have been very pleased with their customer service and overall helpfulness in adding essential oils to my family’s natural health arsenal.

What do you think?  Please share your comments below.

(The top image is the copyrighted property of 123rf limited.  They are a contributor or licensed partner and their image is being used with permission under license and cannot be copied or downloaded without permission from 123rf limited.)
Shared at The Prairie Homestead, The Better Mom, Real Food Forager, Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free, Time Warp Wife, Chef in Training, Intentionally Domestic, Growing Home, Not Just a Housewife, Far Above Rubies, We Are that Family, Frugally Sustainable, and Skip to My Lou.

Comments

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  1. I have started purchasing from them based on your recommendation. Fast shipping and the one time I called I got very helpful information.

  2. Adrienne- Every time I click over to NAN’s website, I become flustered and click off not having bought a thing. For me, the site is just not “user friendly.” I am new to all this EO stuff and I’m sure newbies like myself would appreciate being able to easily find starter kits or something that guides us through the process as we get our feet wet. I click on their “product” link and just get lost not knowing what to do next. I need a big banner that says. “New to EOs? Start with our handy dandy starter kit…..” Could you pass this suggestion along to them? I am excited to get started with EOs but I don’t know where to begin!

    • They know that their site needs to be redone. Did you see their kits? I think the family emergency one would be a great place to start. Check it out and let me know what you think.

      • Melissa Tucker says:

        Hi Adrienne,

        I jsut wondered about how to get started with NAN if you want to slowly build a kit rather than buying all at one time? I am having hormonal and metabollic issues.. Any advice you can give me will be great!

        Thanks,
        Melissa

        • Hmmm..did you see their kits? One of the smaller ones looks pretty good to me. I personally use lavender, peppermint, lemon, and the immune strength and tea tree the most. If you need specific advice I can try to get if for you = thanks!

  3. Diane Knickerbocker says:

    Elizabeth Van Buren essential oils meet all these requirements and more. I’ve been very pleased with their product. There is also a difference between the quality of equipment used to test oils and of course there needs to be a qualified scientist to read the results. You can find that here as well. Many large “sell your own oils and get them free” companies have tried to ask ELizabeth to test their oils by misrepresenting themselves, which they wouldn’t do, but shows that they don’t actually have the ability to test their own oils and won’t pay to have it done.
    Contact me for quality oils or I’ll tell you how to purchase them yourself.

    • I am not sure what you mean by “ask Elizabeth to test their oils by misrepresenting themselves, which they wouldn’t do”. Could you explain please? I wasn’t able to check out these oils at all. Their site is generating a ton of errors.

      • Diane Knickerbocker says:

        Hello Adrienne, 
        This is true. The company on more then one occasion has called Elizabeth Van Burens office asking them to test a batch/sample of oils for the them. They give them a false name and ask it they will test their oil for contaminants and adulterants. When the name and number is researched it comes back as one of the “sell your own oils and get them gree companies”. Elizabeth is having trouble with their website but they can be reached by phone and will give you all the information on their oils including ms/spec results on their own oils. By the Way, I am not affiliated with Elizabeth Van Buren nor do I receive any commitions from them.
        Best regards,
        Diane

  4. After reading your posts on essential oil companies, I decided to switch to Native American Nutritionals. I had been looking for an essential oil company that had pure oils, but with better prices. I have tried 3 times to email them with questions and have never once heard back from them. Your experience seems to be very different than mine.

    I imagine that after my complaint on your blog that I will probably hear back from them, but I don’t know if I can trust them to help the individual little guy when they have ignored me 3 times over the last 6 months. My search goes on.

  5. If you are throwing out GC/MS as valid sources for testing an essential oils quality, what other scientific testing is there? Because there area many essential oils companies that claim to meet the standards you listed.

    • I’m not throwing it out. I was stating that it has limitations and that I think it’s the best thing to use the standards I outlined at the bottom of the post along with GC/MS results. I think too many people lean too heavily on those tests alone when there is a lot more to consider :).

      • Oh, okay! So it’s just one of the many things to consider important. Thanks.

      • blueelvisbabe says:

        I can’t find anything on NAN website about their testing methods. What exactly are their testing methods and can I find the info about it on their website? Many oil companies only do GS/MS testing and I’m wondering if NAN is one of them or do they have futher tests that they do?

        • Hi there.
          This is the reply from the owner at NAN:

          There should be some info on the testing on the website — I need to go through the new site and get everything “fixed”. Yes we do the GC-MS testing and others as well. If they want a copy of a test for the oil they purchase, we can provide them with a copy. (Some time we will be putting the tests right on the website.)

          If you need anything you can email them. Thanks!

  6. Alison Price says:

    You are awesome!!!! I am out of oils and ready to give Native American a try. What an amazing post! Thanks for all your research.

  7. Melody Moon says:

    I believe testing is important and knowing your company is important, but the real test is RESULTS….that is why I use Young Living….I don’t have to worry about an earache or kidney infection. I just recently experienced the kidney infection and several I know have had the earache and did not have to seek medical attention because I was able to care for myself….and my friends used their YL oils for immediate relief with their health issues….I just don’t want to think of giving up my oils to try another company….and I have tried a couple of others,,,,,, and expect to get the results I get from YL….because the results aren’t there..because of the integrity of the YL the oils bring results….a drop of Sacred Frankincense on the tip of my son’s toe will STOP a seizure….I carry it in my pocket whenever he is with me….I trust these oils….don’t ever want to be without them…..or depend on another company to do what these oils done….the two I’ve tried were sadly disappointing….

  8. What a great review. I would have to give this oil a try. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Christina says:

    I would like to comment regarding point 2 – just for starters. I am no expert in chemistry, however THIS guy is: (Robert Tisserand post on Tea Tree oil constituents) If you read this link you will see that there is a normal range for a reason, ANYTHING outside this range is not considered to standard (as you stated). There are times when more is not MORE.

    • Hi and thanks for commenting. Sorry but for now I am taking out most URLs in comments b/c I had malware issues awhile ago from one of them. I think his article was quite good. I talked with the owner of Native American about this and basically, this is what he said:

      Of course, the preference would be for oils to be processed under low temp and low pressure, but sometimes, if you are looking for an oil to do a certain thing (like to have the workings of the terpinen-4-ol specifically rather than the effects of the whole tea tree) then that kind of extraction that would result in an oil with more of a certain element might be preferable.

      Also, he did say that he has had oils on occasion come back that were outside of the “compliant” range (though rarely) and it was due to some reason like rain amounts. At that time, he has disclosed to companies that he has sold the oils to and has explained the reason.

      Thanks for commenting!

  10. Wow. there’s alot of misinformation here and a discredit to a great souce of information that proves to be alot more accurate than just taking a companies word for it. Basing a decision on science and a solid education is much more beneficial to ones health and safety than just trusting someone selling or pushing a product to be honest (distiller, company, blogger, etc.)

    there’s a lot of BS on the internet pertaining to EOs, and alot of it comes from companies trying to gain a bigger corner on the market.

    • So I am going back over these comment, Juanita, and it appears that you are saying that I am the one posting “disinformation.” You have since shared other comments. Do they outline all of the problems that you have with my post or are there more?

      • It is pretty clear to most of us the agenda here. I appreciate your info, but some of it is false and the attitude here is one of discrediting random testing. We ALL should do our research WELL for safety’s sake.

        • Hi Kelly. I am not sure what you mean by “the agenda”. What do you think is false? And I am, you are right, discrediting random testing without other information because there is just too much that can go wrong for someone to lean on a GC/MS test as the end all and be all. The term is thrown around by many in the oils industry (and by customers) without the masses knowing what the test does and what it doesn’t do. I was one of those “not in the know” and now I know better. Please let me know what you think my agenda was and what is false. Thanks.

      • yes, but without GCMS, you have nothing to base the companies words against. they can “say” anything they want, but is it true? any company wants to say their oils are the best. some will go to great lengths to decieve or twist the real truth into something that sells more product..

        if you know how to read a GCMS and the company makes them available(reputable ones do and most have them right on their websites so you know exactly what your getting before you buy it). its the companies that dont make that available, have incorrect information, no differentiation between chemotypes of certain EOs, and things labeled by incorrect common names that I worry about.. a couple companies sell something deceivingly labeled as an entirely different EO.

        it is a bigger picture than just the GCMS, but its a very good indicator.. if the company freely publishes it on their site, or makes it available, thats a good thing.. if they dont, you should use caution, theres nothing proprietary about them. its either good, pure oil… or its not..

        • Hi Juanita. I never said in my post that GC/MS testing is not be looked at. I was merely stating that there are things that the GC/MS testing can’t tell you and it’s important to ask questions that go beyond the test and the numbers.

          Of course, there are companies that are trying to deceive. That, sadly, is part of the problem of humanity. And it goes beyond the oils industry, of course.

          Companies who show a GC/MS test wouldn’t be doing so if their oils didn’t meet compliance. Furthermore, I have heard of companies producing certificates for oils that are different than the ones that they are selling. Of course, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that that could easily happen.

          I guess I am pretty confused about several comments coming in insinuating that I am saying that GC/MS testing isn’t valuable. It is – but it is just part of the picture. And relying on it alone isn’t a good idea.

          I have been a proponent of full disclosure by EO companies all along in my series. I wouldn’t recommend a company that didn’t make GC/MS certs available or that didn’t have proper labeling.

          Thanks.

  11. To a degree Adrienne’s article is accurate…and to a degree she is really misleading. GC/MS testing alone does not indicate EVERY possible adulteration or contaminant in an oil. But it can raise a red flag that something is amiss when the components are not in the ratious/balance that they should be. The FIRST method of evaluation by professionals is always organoleptic…ie, does the oils smell as it should? (which is not the same thing as smelling good.) We have had oils tested because they were “too good to be true” and in every case the GC/MS test revealed that the oils had been “improved” by adding phytochemicals to alter the balance. MY instinct caught it, the GC proved it. Also, if you believe that the WHOLE essential oil, used safely and appropriately, is more effective than a single chemical derived from the oil, then you would not want an oil whose major component is far higher than “standard”.. because if the (for example) terpinen-4-ol is twice as high as it should be…what components are missing or at far lower %ages than they should be. Why not use pure terpinen rather than the oil. You are siting what is EITHER an adulterated oil (the Australian Tea Tree Association would say that) or an oil that is totally manipulated to provide what is NOT a natural result. Many of us prefer to use pure and natural oils, rather than oils whose chemistry has been manipulated as in the case you cite.

    Yes, the other factors that you cite are important…but the test showing that the oils is “what it should be” is the starting point. Also, are you not taking many of the factors above on faith? Of course you are. And this is not a bad thing. We HAVE to be able to trust the integrity of our suppliers. Unfortunately, in this industry, there are many major players whose integrity is not reliable.

    (I read your blog series about which oil suppliers you considered, and wish you had asked for suggestions..there are MANY small companies online offering superb essential oils that would have met and surpassed your standards.)

    • Hi Marge. I really appreciate your chiming in here.

      I am not sure what you mean, however, by my article being misleading. I think that of course the testing can show a red flag that should be paid attention to. My concern is how so many in the industry (and consumers) lean on this kind of test as if it is the end all and be all. When it is not.

      I have maintained that not adulterating is the best way to go but there are apparently those in the industry who think that the high terinen-4-ol is valuable – would you not agree with that?

      I have, at the same time, heard about oils that naturally have percentages outside of the normal “in compliance” range and yet they are thought by some to be superior due to their being organic, and/or wild-crafted. Can you address that?

      I do think that the GC/MS test can be a good starting point. I am simply frustrated hearing many people leaning on that, and that almost to the exclusion of other things that should have been taken into account.

      Regarding taking the other factors by faith, well, in a sense, yes. But isn’t that for anyone who talks w/ any company about their practices? If I were to call your company you would tell me things about you and many you could prove and some possibly you couldn’t. I have gone above and beyond with Native American to make sure that they are doing what they say….of course, all of that within reason. I don’t have the funds that would make it appropriate for me to visit their many suppliers around the world, etc. But I would like to :).

      Regarding suggestions, I know that there are other companies that are good. At some point, in my searching, I needed to stop. I would be happy to talk to you if you would like. I was looking for myself and my family and made a recommendation to my readers–just like I do with many things I write about. I say what I think and sometimes I need to go back and revise posts or make other recommendations. But I am very busy trying to research many different things while I keep a family afloat amidst our own health needs. And that alone takes a ton of time. If I were 5 people perhaps I could do more….but then again, I am taking contributing writers on soon so there will hopefully be more time.

      Thanks and again, I would be happy to talk to you.

      • Tabitha T says:

        I got the impression Ms Clark may use GC if she has questions about the oil. I really enjoyed your EO series and get what you are trying to say. The testing is not the “end all, be all” to prove you have the Holy Grail of a certain EO. I have been to some parties and representatives of the MLM oils make it sound like the test itself means you have the purest oil. I found that to be misleading after reading Marge Clark, Robert Tisserand, and some other authors articles, books, etc. As a layperson, I understand what you are getting at. The testing is of value, but it can be manipulated and used as smoke and mirrors to deflect from other important evaluations of an oil’s quality.

        I did like the sound of NAN but had trouble with the website and have continued to purchase from Marge Clark at Nature’s Gift via my naturopath. She has a lot of info on her web site. This has been a huge help because I’m still trying to get my hands on her beginner EO book.

        • Thanks, Tabitha. You are completely correct. Sorry about the site issues at NAN – if I can be of help let me know. They are working on updating their site. Why have you not been able to get her book? I contacted her to possibly work with her but I didn’t hear back.

  12. Ann Wooledge says:

    Using a GC/MS analysis is for better reasons than just figuring out how good or not good an essential oil is. If you are selling essential oils you should know and understand the chemistry – the chemical constituents – in a certain oil. This is how you know, or have a much better, idea of how this oil will work for a particular issue. Does it contain a high percentage of eugenol? Do you know which essential oils have a large percentage of eugenol? Without looking it up? Do you know the cautions that go along with this oil even though it also has lots of benefits – do you know which ones those are? Eugenol is just one example because there are hundreds of different constituents in the different oils. Knowing this usually requires an aromatherapy course that has been approved by NAHA or AIA. I would just suggest that if you want to continue blogging about essential oils and aromatherapy is general, it might be a good idea for you to check one of those out.

    • I know I am not an aromatherapist and I never said that I was. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t share important information that is beneficial to my readers.

      I am a little confused about your comment. You seemed to be only saying that you think that what I have to say isn’t valuable since I don’t have an NAHA or AIA course under my belt. Of course, taking certain courses can be helpful and others–not so much. I have just enrolled in a highly regarded herbalist course and that is all I have time for right now. I am sure you can understand :).

      What I mean is, you are only saying that I should take a course if I want to keep blogging about essential oils and aromatherapy. May I ask if you are going to all of the blogs that talk about EO’s and telling them that? There are tons of them.

      And I don’t think that one needs to know specifics of eugenol to write an intelligent and helpful post about essential oils and the industry–
      –just like I don’t need a medical degree to write about how doctors misdiagnosed me with high stomach acid and prescribed drugs that only would have harmed me
      –or how I can find error in English Lit PhD’s presentations despite my not even having a BA in English (yes, I did this)
      – or how I can debate many current event topics effectively despite my never having taken a course in any of them

      Basically, I think it comes down to being open-minded and a good researcher.

      I am not perfect but I try to do the best that I can–and I am willing to apologize and get new information out if I find out that I was wrong.

      Please let me know if you think I presented some error in my post but I can’t promise you I will know which oils have the largest percentage of eugenol without looking it up. Well, if I look it up now (like anyone in a course needs to do, right?) then maybe I will know for the next time you comment :).

      • Diane Knickerbocker says:

        I really appreciate all research you did in acordance to this subject and brought to light a lot of what’s going on within this industry. The truth of the matter is you do need to do a lot do due diligence asking a ton of questions before purchasing EOs. Keep up the good work and continue to ask the questions. I really enjoy reading you.

        • Thanks, Diane. There is a lot going on in this industry–as in the pharmaceutical one and in agriculture….and in perhaps all, correct? It’s a shame.

  13. I am disheartened by this blog. The series was written in supposed “unbiased opinion” of varied oils. Now we learn you are a sales person for one company. That takes away your credibility. Fortunately, since reading much more since your blog, I have heard other opinions from those with educational backgroung to support their opinions. I did see results of testing as you’ve mentioned. The testing gauges content for what should/should not b present and whether those that should are in proper ranges. Exactly what is unreliable about that? If it isn’t to be present or the range is not accurate, then it is adulterated. Aka unpure. Until you have the educational backgroud dispute scientific data, or succeed in creating your own legitimate distillery (working properly within guidelines), it would be more beneficial to your readers were you to stick to what you know. Misinformatiion and false claims lead to injury

    • Hi Sandy. I think that one certainly can talk about a subject and still gain financially from it. It happens all the time. My husband, though he isn’t a sales person (and I am not a sales person for NAN – I am an affiliate, which is what almost all bloggers are–affiliate for Amazon, Tropical Traditions, oil companies, Squatty Potty, Orawellness, and the link) he makes money teaching and he is an expert in what he teaches.

      Are you saying that if I am an affiliate for a company that what I write about that product or topic is invalid? I don’t think so.

      I have a strong educational background – and am starting to learn a lot about oils. I think that I did a lot of checking in to the material that I presented. Is there a point you would like me to elaborate on or explain more? From what I have heard, there are naturally occurring instances where oil components would be outside of the range. If that is not the case, I am happy to revise the post, but that is what I understand to be true at this point.

      I would like it if you could please tell me what you think is misinformation in this post. There are oils companies all over the place selling oils that are adulterated in many ways and I am trying to make my readers aware of it so that they won’t lean only on the results of GC/MS testing to make up their mind about what oils to by. If anything, I am trying to help them sort through the information that is out there–much of which is marketing hype, in my opinion.

      Thanks for your comment and I hope to hear back from you.

    • One more thing that I would like to add. I personally don’t want my oils “messed with” as in heated, vacuumed, or having active ingredients enhanced. The reason I mentioned the tea tree example is that this company states that their oil is better b/c it has more of the active ingredient in it. There are many who buy it for that reason. Of course, one could make the argument that it is adulterated and I agree with that, in theory. However, I have heard of oils that test outside of the given “ranges” that are not adulterated and yet many in the market for oils would prefer an oil “within the range” that may have been grown around / with a lot of pesticides to an oil “outside of the range” that was grown organically.

      I personally would rather have the first oil. Of course, this example is over-simplified but I think you can understand where I am coming from.

      Also, if all bloggers “stick to what you know” – I am not sure what any of us would be writing about. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses in what they know–even if they are “experts” or take a course. I have been to many doctors with many degrees who diagnosed me wrong and prescribed things that hurt me. Sometimes just having a degree or a certain amount of education isn’t enough.

      I am trying to be a service to my readers and I am bringing up things to help them make decisions about what they eat and what they put in and on their bodies and use in their homes. I think the dialogue is very worthwhile and many people are leaning too heavily on the “tests” without asking the other questions that are very important.

      Please let me know what you think – and I would appreciate your trying to be nice in how you express yourself. I might be wrong but you seem to be condescending to me. :)

    • Hi again, Sandy. I just wanted to reply once more. Just because an oil has GC/MS testing outside of the ranges, doesn’t mean it is adulterated. The Tea Tree oil I cited in the article could have been produced simply by higher temperature or pressure. Not necessarily adulterating, but not distilling under ideal circumstances. And I have heard of other oils falling outside of the “compliant” range simply due to rain amounts. So just b/c an oil tests as “non compliant”, that doesn’t mean it isn’t pure. The test is a good place to start, but it doesn’t necessarily answer all of the questions.

      • Im going to quote what you wrote to keep from everyone having to go back up and re-read what you wrote..
        ____________________________________
        Main Camp Natural Extracts claims to be “the purest tea tree oil in the world.” Now, I don’t know about “purest” but they do have some pretty strong tea tree oil. Their terpinen-4-ol + terpineol is a minimum of 75% and it typically is over 80%. That clearly is well outside of the GC/MS guidelines.
        So Main Camp’s oil would not test compliant with GC/MS testing, but it seems to be a valuable tea tree oil, nonetheless.
        Depending what you think about the method they used to extract more terpinen-4-ol, you may or may not want that oil, but this example just goes to show that having more of an active ingredient in an oil might make the oil more therapeutic without it testing “compliant” on a GC/MS test.
        _______________________________________

        the last line of your quoted text is absolutely untrue in the case of T-4-ol. period.

        http://roberttisserand.com/2013/07/tea-tree-oil-quality-and-constituents/

        _________________________________________
        I am writing this in response to a recent discussion on various facebook pages about tea tree oil (TTO), and whether a TTO with 51% terpinen-4-ol would be better than one with 41%, or whether 51% suggested adultration. Most TTO is produced in Australia and China, and this article is about the quality of Australian TTO, since the Chinese oils generally do not conform to the Australian standards, and there is no quality standard for Chinese TTO. The major constituent of TTO is terpinen-4-ol (T-4-ol). Most essential oils contain a single major constituent, and yet the main point of natural medicine is that we don’t isolate “active ingredients” and use them instead of the whole natural product.

        Once we do that, we call it a drug. And, once we do that there is no longer any possibility for synergistic action. Synergy is the interplay, or interaction between constituents of plant-based medicines, that often give them effects that cannot be obtained by using a single, isolated substance. The action of TTO owes a great deal to its content of T-4-ol, and there may be instances when T-4-ol alone is more effective. But there are certainly situations in which the whole oil is more effective. So the question here is this: What is the ideal amount of T-4-ol, and is more always better?

        There is an industry standard for TTO, and the most recent version was published in 2004. Standards for essential oils are set by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). The actual ISO standard is copyrighted and is not in the public domain, but for the purposes of this discussion all we need to know is that the standard for T-4-ol in TTO is 30-48%. This means that any genuine, natural, unadulterated TTO should contain a minimum of 30% and a maximum of 48% T-4-ol. (For anyone who wants to better understand the way a standard can help identify if TTO is genuine there is a document on the ATTIA (Australian Tea Tree Industry Association) website: How ISO & AS Standards help identify fraudulent material.) I asked Tony Larkman, spokesperson for ATTIA, whether a TTO with more than 48% T-4-ol was a good thing or a bad thing. This is his response:

        They put a ceiling on the T-4-ol to stop the bush cutters (who were distilling wild harvested material in wood fired pot stills) from cheating – it is easy to use the wrong source plant material “by mistake”; back then it was all done by smelling the product and paying cash based on the buyers skill at detecting the cheats followed by CG analysis when they got back to base some weeks later. One sample had 47% so they made the standard inclusive at 48%. The 30% minimum was put there to stop them cheating the other way by diluting with some of the eucalyptus and other oils (including turpentine form the hardware store!).

        I spoke to the technician from the Australian Government’s Department of Primary Industry (DPI) essential oil testing facility at Wollongbar, NSW last week asking him what the highest level of T-4-ol he had ever seen in his 15+ years experience as an analytical chemist in a sample of pure Australian TTO. His response: Under a proper distillation regime 42% T-4-ol result is very high and rarely does one see 43% T-4-ol. It is extremely rare to see 45%. I once had a 47% T-4-ol result only to find after a double check from another sample from the same batch that it was a fault in the calibration of the GC unit.

        I have never seen a T-4-ol level in pure TTO to exceed 45%, neither has the analyst from the DPI. When I see the T-4-ol level over 42% I immediately submit it for a chiral test on the assumption that it has been adulterated with T-4-ol which is a waste product from factories that ‘correct’ eucalyptus, sandalwood, tarragon, pine, fennel and aniseed oils. It is also found in turpentine. I would personally like to see the max level dropped to 45%.

        It is a myth that higher levels of T-4-ol make TTO more effective. All studies on the efficacy, safety and usage of pure Australian TTO have been conducted using a T-4-ol content of about 40–42%, the level at which it most commonly occurs in plantation sourced oils which have been bred to yield at this level. Australian TTO is a complex mixture of 113+ compounds and it is the synergistic effect of all of these compounds that makes TTO such an effective antibacterial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory product.

        Since the mid 1980s there have been many discussions about the optimal levels of T-4-ol and 1,8-cineole in TTO. The fact is that increasing T-4-ol levels above 40% makes no difference to the safety and most importantly the efficacy of Australian TTO. The current demand for T-4-ol levels at around 40% ensures that a sustainable quality of pure, natural TTO can be made available. Demanding T-4-ol levels in excess of 42% will in no way increase the efficacy and safety of TTO; in fact it increases the likelihood of being supplied with an adulterated product contaminated with industrial waste and by-products from other industries where there is no quality assurance, likely resulting in contamination with unknown and untested substances.

        I know that some people don’t like standards for natural products, but I believe standardization is a mostly good thing, and certainly for TTO we can see the benefits of ‘fingerprinting” as the analysis and comparison process is sometimes known. I will be publishing a lengthy interview with Tony Larkman in the coming weeks.”””
        ______________________________________________________________________

        that is a direct quote from The Spokes person for the Australian Tea Tree Association. who has a much better grasp on TTO than anyone here..

        the above should serve as a clarification from two VERY reputable sources that know and understand EOs, chemistry and adulteration more any of the rest of us ever will.. lol..

        • Hello again, Juanita. Sorry for the delay in replying to you –I found your comment in my spam folder. I don’t typically look there, but someone on Facebook accused me of deleting comments on my blog so I looked in my spam folder and there was your comment. So I would appreciate it if you would tell your friend (I am assuming that she is your friend since there are no other comments that I did not reply to) that I did, in fact, reply to your comment :). I have a spam plugin on my blog that catches odd-looking comments and sometimes it makes a mistake, like in this case. Probably b/c your comment was really long.

          Here is a reprinting of your comment, with my replies inserted. I do think it’s easier for readers to follow them this way. I will type my responses in italics.

          Im going to quote what you wrote to keep from everyone having to go back up and re-read what you wrote..
          ____________________________________
          Main Camp Natural Extracts claims to be “the purest tea tree oil in the world.” Now, I don’t know about “purest” but they do have some pretty strong tea tree oil. Their terpinen-4-ol + terpineol is a minimum of 75% and it typically is over 80%. That clearly is well outside of the GC/MS guidelines.
          So Main Camp’s oil would not test compliant with GC/MS testing, but it seems to be a valuable tea tree oil, nonetheless.

          Depending what you think about the method they used to extract more terpinen-4-ol, you may or may not want that oil, but this example just goes to show that having more of an active ingredient in an oil might make the oil more therapeutic without it testing “compliant” on a GC/MS test.
          _______________________________________
          the last line of your quoted text is absolutely untrue in the case of T-4-ol. period.
          http://roberttisserand.com/2013/07/tea-tree-oil-quality-and-constituents/

          I find your comment of “absolutely untrue” to be confusing. You may wish to reread my entire post to see what I did and did not claim. Although the Tisserand article is wonderful it does not negate the point I was making. Let me walk you through my logic so you may understand my thinking better.

          Here are some points I made in my post and a further clarification of them:

          1. Main Camp Natural Extracts claims to sell “the purest tea tree oil in the world”–I did not agree to what they claim; I simply quoted it.
          2. They use different processes of distillation to produce different quality or types of essential oils. One type they sell is outside the standards but they seem to think it is valuable or they would not be selling it, and apparently someone is buying it so–if something sells, it has value in the eye of the purchaser.
          3. Next, I will refer back to my post where I wrote the following things:
          a) “you may or may not want that oil” — in your case, Juanita, I am assuming you do not want this oil. But that still does not say others may not want it too. Since the company sells the oil, I would assume that people want the oil.
          b) This example of this “high terpinen-4-ol tea tree oil” was “to show that having more of an active ingredient in an oil might make the oil more therapeutic without testing compliant”—the key words in that last quote was “might”. I did not say it would. I said the oil might.

          Now, this might seem like a totally ridiculous example, but humor me for a moment:

          Let’s say that there is a situation where the higher terpinen-4-ol WOULD be more therapeutic, for example, a new exotic virus is found and it is immune to everything except terpinen-4-ol. The terpinen-4-ol is the only thing that can kill it. So having a higher percentage of terpinen-4-ol in your tea tree would be more therapeutic at killing that virus than having a lower percentage of that chemical. I am sure you will be able to find other scientific research on the internet that will show that having higher terpinen-4-ol tea tree oil would be more advantageous in some situations.

          So, to reiterate, I was not saying that one tea tree was better than another. What would make a tea tree better is the intended use. Also the higher terpinen-4-ol may or may not suggest adulteration but we would have to get more data about the farm and distillation method in order to determine that.

          I hope that helps.

  14. What would be good oils, or a good book to read about what oils to start with? I’ve heard of essential oils but haven’t tried anything except tea tree. However, looking around online, I found an article by the NCI that indicated they are good for stress. I have also heard that there is a blend that is really antibacterial, antimicrobial, etc. but safer than Lysol. Do you know?

    • Good question. I have been meaning to write a post with a few books. I honestly haven’t used many but I do have the one in this post and I like it. I have this book (affiliate link) in my shopping cart at Amazon and I am planning to buy it. I think the blend you are talking about is commonly referred to as Thieves. Native American has a very similar blend called Spice Traders. I like it a lot. I hope to have a DIY post on that blend soon. Does that help? If you need a suggestion about what to buy I would be happy to help. I think Native American’s Family Emergency Kit mostly looks great personally – but I am the “how can this help with medical stuff” kind of gal :).

    • Anna, my very favorite ‘beginner book’ is “Aromatherapy for Vibrant Health and Beauty” by Roberta Wilson..it’s available on Amazon. NOT overly heavy in science… you are not looking for that yet. She give really GOOD information on a wide range of oils, physical and emotional effects, and a good balance of basic information and formulas/recipes using the oils in many different modalities…ie, massage blends, bath blends, etc. The second edition includes a good section on hydrosols, as well. It’s the book I recommend for those just starting out.

    • Our go-to book is Aromatherapy a-z by Patricia Davis. Have been using it for several years now, it has seen us through chicken pox, skin issues from the swimming pool, and all other sorts of things you run into with small children. At first I found it was very conservative in comparison to the other guides I had read (lived in France when I bought Davis’s book, and the main voices in French aromatherapy highly recommend internal use for oils whereas she is against it). However, the more I use her guide, the more I think there is wisdom in her conservative approach, and we’ve had great luck with her guide. We’re lucky where we live in that essential oils are tightly regulated so most of this discussion is irrelevant for me. The one that is good to point out to beginners is that wild plants cannot be certified organic, but they are often highly prized by aromatherapists. Lastly, if anyone goes to Europe, stock up oils there, the price:quality is excellent in France and Belgium.

  15. Rachel S. says:

    Do you know if NAN ships outside the U.S.? More specifically, to Costa Rica?

  16. I have to say, I was disappointed with your series about essential oil companies. I was looking for your opinion about the company I use, Aura Cacia. A picture of the bottle was in the heading of the article – great! But the only information I could see, was that another company (the one who pays you) said that “most” other oil companies get their oil from “experts. Did you even research them, or did you just take another compainies opinion for the truth?

    • I’m sorry, Mandy. Things got kind of carried away and I ended up writing them off pretty early. They add carrier oils to a lot of their oils and they don’t recommend internal use and they don’t meet the prerequisites that I laid out in this post. I hope that helps. I like the company and their education but not their oils for the uses I want them for. I hope you can understand that I was sooo exhausted inquiring about what company that I wanted to go with. I was getting a lot of pressure to stay with doTERRA and wanted to make sure that I made the right decision. My point wasn’t to go through all of the options and I would have liked to be more thorough but I ended up simply wiped out from the whole thing.

      • I did see the comment you made about reading the ingredients on an oil you had and found jojoba oil. But if you look on their website they clearly sell that oil both neat and mixed with jojoba. I can understand that you were tired of the whole thing though. My understanding is that you should not ingest oils, even though some companies say it is OK. My impression is that Aura Cacia is not saying that their oils are inferior, but that you simply should not be ingesting.

        • I understand why they are saying it but a reader commented that their blended oils aren’t clearly disclosed. I honestly can’t imagine that their oils are anything less than the “experts” oils by their pricing, but I could be wrong. I do recall someone telling me something about impurity but I can’t, of course, say that that it going on just b/c someone told me it. I believe it was a company saying that they tested their oils and found problems. I still stand by the different criteria that I’ve laid out and that is the kind of company I want to buy from. And I just found out more about the fair trade nature of NAN that makes me even more enthusiastic.

          I think personally that ingesting is OK – with caution. But I am not medically advising it :).

  17. I’ve really enjoyed and learned a lot from all the EO research you’ve done!
    I am signed up with YL, but just bought my first order thru your affiliate link with NAN –

    thanks for your commitment to the truth!
    Many many blessings!

  18. Michelle Patterson says:

    I have tried several different brands of essential oils and have found doTERRA to be the highest quality. Can’t live without my essential oils!
    #oils4everyone

  19. *Sigh*

    I’m at a loss with EO’s. It seems like no matter what I read takes me in circles. I just want quality oils that don’t cost a fortune and aren’t hyped up. All the research is tiring and frankly I don’t have time to do all that (Bless you for doing it b/c I don’t know how you do it).

    It seems to me that this one area divides those of us in the holistic/natural community more than any other. It’s sad.

    I feel like the only way to know for sure is it go get my aromatherapy degree.

    • Hi Danielle. I personally don’t think you need a degree to figure out what to purchase. I hear you on all the controversy. It’s crazy. I think it’s partially b/c of the hype from YL and doTERRA insisting that they are the best. I think there are some great companies, but not tons. I do think that the one I chose is an excellent choice. As I have time I hope to recommend more but I am swamped :).

  20. Wow. This post is jam packed with information!

    I’ve played around with essential oils a bit since I went to a home intro session earlier in the year. I was waiting until I had more time to immerse myself in the subject, which you’ve proven here is something that needs to be done before deciding which company to buy from.

    Like anything else, it’s so important to make an informed choice. Thanks’ for making it easier for us to do so!

  21. Hi. Visiting from Frugally Sustainable Blog Hop. This is a fantastic article. Your points define why I do not use essential oils topically very often, and never internally. I just smell them. In an ideal world purity could be assumed, but with pollution in all corners of the world – who knows.

    A factor that is important to me, in addition to what you’ve mentioned above, is Fair Trade practices. Many of these plants for essential oils are harvested by workers in the developing world. I want to make sure any oils I purchase have been harvested by people who were paid fairly for their very hard work. I haven’t decided on what my essential oil company is yet, but I’m leaning towards Mountain Rose for that reason.

    • You make a really good point. Native American pays their workers a better than fair wage. I should ask him how much. I’ll go and do so now. Thanks!

      • Thank you so much for doing that. Do you know if they are certified Fair Trade? The term ethically traded, without the certification, can be akin to the term therapeutic grade in essential oils. A lot of companies say ethically traded but without the certification it is hard to truly tell.

        • Hi there. I don’t believe that Native American is certified Fair Trade, but here is a quote from the owner about how he is treating his workers. (I have edited it a tad to make it easier to read.)

          Well–fair to them will not be considered fair to us over here :-). I am helping out a Farm in Africa right now. We are getting the village to get it up and running. I think it’s 300 acres but I would have to go look, it may only be 200. Still a lot of land. NAN has paid for 3/4 the land so far and some other things too. Right now they are growing some food crops, but down the road we will have them add some herbs for the essential oils. I just sent them some more funds yesterday to get them their summer payment finished. They told me they were going to send a picture with the workers holding up a sign to thank us. — I have some pictures from an email earlier. I will see if I can find them and send it over.

          Now, what is fair — with the farmers in the third word countries we paying them a bit more than what they would normally get — I would say about 20% more, but they also get to work the 40 hours and not the 60 hours they would normally work. So that is a huge savings. Still, a few extra bucks to us Americans is not a big deal when they are used to getting paid $20+ a month — depends on what country. In Africa right now its $20 a month for the average worker at 60 hours a week and they have 60%+ unemployment. In Costa Rica where my Mom just went to visit and help out, the skilled labor, carpenter or plumber, was paid $10.00 a day.

          Really, we hope to be doing a lot more — my dream is to establish our own farms/villages all over the world — NAN would own the land but the workers would live on it without the fear of being kicked out. Basically, we want the workers to see the farm as their village, but we also want to keep it a “safe” place to raise a family. None of the alcohol or gambling that people waste money on and are addicted to.

          I want them to grow all or as much as they can of their own food. They then can grow the plants for the oils. We will extract the oils and then sell them in America. The Farm would be paid for the oils so they can improve the village/farm and also purchase more land. We want one village to turn into two, that then turns into four, and then into eight, and so forth. —- I figure once we get this all running smoothly, we should be able to do some great things. — It is so sad to see the corruption and waist and we want to assist the people in assisting themselves.

          I really see things up and running in about five years….So we are going to finish off paying for the farm in Africa, then get a distiller up and get the farmers to practice on 5 acres of herbs. If things go as planned, we will expand the planting and then look for another Village to get started. I’m looking down in Central or South America, the Philippines, or in India. Not sure where just yet. Still waiting to see what comes up.

          I am excited about it and I see it as my life’s project. I want not only self-sustaining villages but ones that grow and can assist others. I want something that will be around well after I have left this earth.

  22. Adrienne, I give you so much credit for tackling this huge issue! I’ve avoided it for the most part on my blog. I’m not ready to deal with the YL v. doTERRA v. everyone else v. who-knows-who. I really appreciate the time you’ve invested into the subject. I haven’t purchased from NAN but really value your opinion of them and will definitely keep them in mind.

    • Hi Kristen!

      So nice to hear from you! It’s really confusing for me as well. I have heard great testimonials from those 2 companies but I really like the company that I chose. Thanks and I hope to hear what you think when, and if, you do try them. Take care!

  23. I remember you saying in one of your earlier posts on essential oils that Native American Nutritionals & Rocky Mountain Oils were merging. Do you know if that happened? I was just curious. Thanks. Karla :)

    • Yes. They are working together closely. :)

      • Okay. I was looking at both of their website and that got me to thinking about it. Since they are working together closely would you say that they creating their oils in the same facilities, using the same practices, and working with small indigenous farms? Still just curious as I’m looking at possibly purchasing some oils, but the layout of one site is easier for me to follow. Will they ever be one in the same or will they be distinct companies. I guess my question might be how are they working together. Maybe you don’t have an answer, but if you do I’d be interested to hear it. Just mostly curious I guess.

        • As far as I know, their oils are the same. I know RMO is easier to maneuver around. I don’t think that they will be one and the same. Of course, I would appreciate it if you’d order from NAN since that way it supports my blog and they are the same products. If you feel you must order from RMO I can talk to them about that aspect of things. We’ve been planning to coordinate but it hasn’t come together yet. Thanks! :)

  24. Adrienne,
    Thank you so much for your diligence with the EO issue. I have had your post bookmarked for a long time until I was ready to dive into the world of EO’s. I just finished my schooling and now have room on my plate. I’m wondering if you have any recommendations on books for a beginner? I trying to learn what to use for what and how to use it best. I am also considering a course and I saw that you said you were enrolled in a course. There are so many courses out there. If you don’t mind me asking, which one did you decide to go with? I have a friend doing a very high priced one and before I invest that much money I would value a second opinion.

    One more thing. I recently came across another blog that has many DIY recipes and they speak about EO’s frequently. Have you heard of Spark Naturals (that’s an EO company they recommend)? Any thoughts on how they compare to NAN. I’m getting ready to start my collection and would love to make sure I’m buying from the best.

    As always thanks for your very insightful information. I appreciate your hard work and dedication to providing valuable information. Keep it up!

    Kristi :)

    • Yes, I’ve looked at Spark and I am not impressed. They sell artificial fragrances. This is another comment from the owner of NAN. “Now looking at their blends. I see their first one is called Amend. I looked at the ingredients and see that they use the better quality Corsican Helichrysum italicum. But since they do not sell this oil as a single this make me thing even more that they are just a dealer for one of the “experts”. I also see they do not list the ingredients in order of most to the least. I can tell because the top three oils in this blend are expensive and if they were doing it that way they would be charging more for the oil.”

      I hope that helps. I saw them on a bunch of blogs. They are doing DIY – not health applications. It’s totally different. I would still rather use good stuff for DIY b/c who wants more ick in your life, right?

  25. Eternity Shaina says:

    Just this summer I found a local place in Ava, Missouri called N.A.N. Oils (Native American Nutritionals). I had the opportunity to speak to the medicine man there and he spoke of the importance of pure and synthetic. They ship to other companies as well. Very good people.

    • Hi Shaina. Did you see that that is the company that I recommended :)?

      • I am a first time user of NAN oils, which I decided to try based on Adrienne’s recommendation. I have had a wonderful experience with NAN oils. Shipping is fast and reasonable. The oils are amazing! I find all three people including Paul Dean to be very hands on and open. NAN is a company that prefers and loves to advise and talk to people over the phone. For anyone who has been frustrated about NAN not replying back via email, just give them a ring and ask anything you want! I believe they are a three man team and are probably very limited. Please don’t let this discourage you from enjoying their oils. NAN is very small and doesn’t have the big backing like other company’s like Doterra. It’s rare for company’s these days to give any attention to clients via phone. Take advantage! Paul Dean is amazing! Thanks Adrienne

        • Wow – I am so glad to hear this. I hope to have more updates in the future about how I have been using their oils. Just had a few really amazing successes. Thank you and so happy you came back to share!

  26. Nirinjan Campbell says:

    Hi Adrienne,
    Thank you so much for your many months of research and writings about essential oils. I am so sorry you have endured a fair amount of negativity, particularly from people working in the industry. I would think they’d understand there is a lot of confusing information out there and applaud you for seeking out answers! I almost got a headache reading through all the comments to your posts. I admire your mental and emotional stamina!

    I looked into NAN after reading your best EO selection and liked what I found. I called them twice this week for information on their blends and both people I spoke with were extremely helpful and friendly. I talked to Paul once and it was a treat to speak with him. I also found a couple youtube interviews and again had a very favorable impression of Paul and NAN.

    I placed an order yesterday and used the link to NAN on your site. I ordered 12, 5 ml blends. Total overkill, I know! I am so intrigued by the emotional healing aspects of their blends that I got carried away. A couple copals are for family members but most are for me, I admit. I’ll let you know what works well for me.

    Thanks again for your research!

    Nirinjan

    • Thank you so much for taking the time to comment–and for such kind words. I so hope you enjoy the oils. I have used them successfully for 2 issues this month and they resolved very quickly.

      Take care!

  27. Hi Adrienne,

    I read your 7 part blog on EO a while ago, but today I have spent endless hours reading all of the comments too, and found additional information there that is much appreciated. But I am running out of time and couldn’t find the answers to my question – you mentioned somewhere that you did some research on Bulk Apothecary, but I couldn’t find it. Of course, my mind is pulsating with all the info and I might have missed it trying to get through as much as I could. I understand that you came to recommend NAN, which is why it’s a bit confusing to me that there are adds on your blog from Bulk Apothecary and now I also see PipingRock. It appears that you are endorsing them too, by running their advertisements, but I never read any such thing about them.
    I have been with YL for years mainly because of Thieves (which I still value highly), and only recently started to branch out into other oils and other uses. A good friend recently signed up with DT (that should show you what an ‘active’ rep I am, and how much I am in it for the prospect of making money!) and the conversation about the two was what brought me to your blog. After reading all of it (and a little more on a side) I think that despite all of the rhetoric about purity, and cutting oils, and origins, and ethics … the real reason is rather prosaic – money. My guess would be that all of these people, who now own DT and BY, were probably making much less working for Gary Young than they are making now as owners of their own companies. Were there ideological differences? Possibly, but aren’t there always in a company as big as YL has become. Of course I may be wrong, and they all may be idealistic, altruistic people out to help the masses being deceived by a shady Mr. Young, but I doubt it. The animosity, put downs, and self aggrandizing speak differently. As do the oils. As do the prices.
    Regarding your profiting from your recommendation that some people see as questionable, it’s very much a chicken or an egg dilemma – are you recommending it because they cut you a promotional deal, or are you promoting it because you believe in it, and the company is showing it’s appreciation (as they should!). I believe the later, because I find that attitude very familiar. When I find something I like/discover it’s working/get excited about — I immediately sign up as a rep which then puts me in a that precarious position – are you trying to sell it to me, just because you will make money off of it? That in itself blocks me, so even though I rep companies that I believe are good, I am incapable of selling their products. However, I signed up in a first place for the convenience of ordering and the discount, so I’m OK with it.
    I have since started following you on fb and have benefited greatly from your recipes too – that bean chocolate fudge is a find of a decade, especially for a macrobiotic cook!!!! You are who I wish I was twenty years ago, but since I wasn’t, I am glad to play catch up and benefit from your research, and I thank you for it.
    Now a word about BA and those adds, please :)

    • Hi there. Sorry for the delay in responding.

      Under a pile of stuff here.

      I am going to be quick, but I do hear many concerns about Gary Young and they are not just ideological. I can’t say what did and didn’t happen, but it is more than just conceptual stuff.

      About the ads, they are not things I am recommending. Those ads show up b/c the ad company sees that you clicked on an essential oils post so they are trying to give you what you are interested in. Kind of creepy, eh? Try typing in a few searches for other things and click on a different post of mine and you will likely see different ads.

      I never heard of Piping Rock. I bought some cocoa butter from BA but I don’t think their oils seem to be very high quality.

      Hope that helps – and thanks for the kind words! :) I’m still trying whom I would like to be. Likely will never make it :).

  28. Hi Adrienne,

    I wrote you a lengthy note on September 17, and at first it waited for moderation for a few days, and now it disappeared altogether, so I’m a little confused. I just asked about some of the advertisements on your blog and I don’t think there was anything offensive in it that would warrant a removal. I understand that you have a lot of mail and posts may wait for you to get to them for a long time, it’s a removal that has me confused.

  29. Hey Beautiful,

    Have you ever used Rebecca at the Well? If you have what do you think? I have a friend who loves her oils, but I have yet to order any…however, my stock is about depleated and with cold and flu season coming up that isn’t a good thing. (I work with lots of litte ones, who carry all sorts of lovely germ bugs)

    • I’ll take the compliment – thank you! I have never heard of her oils but she doesn’t even carry peppermint. Very odd. And wow—pricey! Cypress is 28.95 and NAN’s is 14.50 for organic. I don’t see that hers are organic. No need to look any further.

  30. Hello!! First I would like to say I LOVED your series. I have read through the whole thing multiple times to try and gleen as much as could. I was just wondering what your thoughts on the E.O.B.B.D. Test (Essential Oils Bontanically and Biochemically Defined) that are (I believe) required throughout Europe to pass the test used for health and whatnot. For me seeing as Europe has been using EO for so long, they would have a good standard to go by. There was only one company (that claims) theirs it the only one that passes that test and that is Be Young. How did you find that company?
    These are just some questions I have come up with having added my own research to what you have done. I too am looking for the best company for my family and all their allergies, and again have loved and really enjoyed all the fruits of your labor!

    • I heard the EOBBD is set up in Europe (i think) as a standard and it is mainly put out by medical facilities. I have a few other reasons for not going w/ Be Young. I don’t believe that they get their oils straight from the farms like NAN does.

      Thanks much!

      • I was thinking that was the reason. And just to clarify about the EOBBD- since it’s not an American test and not widely used here you haven’t/can’t put too much credit behind it? I truly am just curious- I thought that it would be a good test to have (because of the hsitory and use of oils there), and only 1 American company (it seems) uses that as a testing standard it made me wonder- it also made me wonder how the American test standards relate to it. I believe I have already picked my company to use, and I am very happy with them so far- and it had a lot to do with all your research. =)
        Thanks again for your work- I know it’s not easy- I have four kids ages 9-4- and I can’t even imagine how you found the time and energy to do all this!
        Kudos!

        • I think it’s b/c the standards don’t mean that much. Kind of like in this post: http://wholenewmom.com/health-concerns/toxic-overload-health-concerns/essential-oils-testing-is-it-reliable/

          I don’t know how I did it either. But I really needed to make a decision and I wanted it to be doTERRA. I just couldn’t do it the more I asked questions. Then when Pappas came on w/ his stuff I guess it solidified that I’d made a good decision. He knows his stuff but it’s not the kind of behavior I can deal with.

          • Totally understandable. And you have helped me in my decision making process and helped explain things.
            Thanks again!!!!

          • Thank you for all your hard work and effort that you put into your research and working tirelessly to answer everyone’s questions! I have learned a great deal reading your series and think that you have done the best you could to be forthright on a very convoluted subject.

            In one of the last comments, you mentioned that you wanted your decision to be doTERRA, but Dr. Pappas’ comments reinforced your decision to go elsewhere, but I don’t understand why? It is my understanding that Dr. Pappas conducts testing for many essential oil companies as well as other types of companies and while he has done testing for doTERRA, he is not affiliated with them or a representative (to my knowledge); he merely runs the test and analyzes his work therefore, why do his comments have any bearing on your perception of doTERRA? Is it just because it is well known that he has tested doTERRA oils or is there more to that?

            Thank you again for pushing the envelope and questioning things so many take at face value.

            • My decision to go elsewhere was made as I proceeded through the series, but seeing Pappas’ interactions reinforced it. He presented at doTERRA’s convention one year and is contracted with them. Yes, he tests for others but he is touted by doTERRA reps as being their fabulous scientist so there is a partnership there that is recognized by the reps. He is the “scientific face” of doTERRA as well as I can tell.

              I hope that helps.

  31. Hi Adrienne,
    I’m new to essential oils and read your blogs! I definitely am impressed like many of the other moms.
    I like NAN also.
    But I just looked at your store on your website and it shows you sell oils by Young Living!! I’m confused! Are you?

  32. Thank you — I did read this on your blog but I was wondering if you did any research on bulk apothecary.

    I will ultimately do my research and then make a decision.

    Thanks for your response.

    Charlotte

    • I am sorry but I am so swamped w/ oils questions. They buy from experts for sure which I am not thrilled about. Check out my essential oils testing post for more info on what I look for. Thanks!

  33. Hi Adrienne,
    I have recently started getting into EOs and spent what seems like millions of hours reading multiple articles and blogs online trying to find the best company. As with most people, I want to use a company that has fair prices and, good customer service, and is ethical. I don’t mind paying more for an oil as long as it is pure. That being said, I started with the family physician kit from DoTerra. I have had a great experience and the oils smell amazing…but as I became increasingly obsessed with frankincense, I once again started doing more research, as DoTerra’s is SOOO expensive. My research led me to NAN and I decided to order from them, and wasn’t pleased by how any of their oils smelled in comparison with DoTerra. The only ones I could compare were frankincense and lavender, but all seemed to have a very medicinal/alcohol smell to them. Obviously, smell isn’t everything – I want the oils I purchase to be effective more than anything, but it was a little bit of a let down in any case. Can you shed any light on this, since you have used and know about both companies? Does DoTerra add or blend to make their oils smell so much better than the others?
    Also, do you have any information on a company called Florihana from France? I have read good things about them, and since the French have been in the EO game for such a long time, I was thinking of giving them a shot, but didn’t want to deal with shipping if it wasn’t a reputable company.
    Thanks for all you do! EOs are so exciting and frustrating all at the same time – it’s nice to get some help!
    Lulu

    • I read about them but I forget now. I think there is something in the comments. Just read my GC MS post and see if they measure up. I should write another post soon.

      I don’t care for DT’s scents b/c they are all similar to me which strikes me as odd. There is a lot of talk on the internet about the French adulterating. I can’t say if it’s true or not but there’s an awful lot of chatter about it.

  34. I have been reading all of your essential oils posts and enjoying them very much. I am an organic chemist and have spent years performing and teaching GC-MS and even purifying my own essential oils at times. I’m pretty impressed with your GC-MS explanation as a non-chemist!

    I am new to home use of essential oils. I purchased some DoTerra oils but I have felt very unsure of their quality based on all the evidence I’ve seen. I am wanting to teach my friends and family about the chemistry and use of essential oils and will check out NAN. Do you think they would every be willing to begin a large-scale affiliate program? I feel like there is so much misinformation out there about essential oils, I’m really wanting to help out those around me who want to learn more…

    • They have been talking about this. Are you looking at being an affiliate on your blog?

    • I know I’m really late to this post, but wanted to add a thought. Wanting to educate oneself or others about essential oils is great, but in my opinion, for education to start out and remain truly unbiased and objective and fully informed, it needs to be completely and utterly free of any commercial interest whatsoever. This is why Education and Sales are poor bedfellows and always have been. “Product” Education (translation: product sales) and Aromatherapy education are two vastly different animals. If you really want to educate people about EO’s, the more legit way to do that is to take a certification course in aromatherapy that ISN’T linked to any brand or corporation. NAHA is a good starting place for info on education.

      • Hi there. I would add that NAHA charges for membership so right there there is commercial (money making) interest. You can pay up to the tune of $1,000 to be a Grand Donor. They have all kinds of benefits associated with those memberships so of course they aren’t “utterly free of any commercial interest”. I wonder if their directors make any income from their positions or if they are completely voluntary. Even non profits that seem to have a completely “altruistic” focus can be incredibly self-serving. I have seen the payroll for groups like Komen and even EWG (which I tend to like — EWG; not Komen) and those in leadership make a TON of money.

        When I was an independent insurance salesman I made it a point to not know the commissions on the products that I sold. Of course I had a general idea that if I sold 30 year term I would make more than a 10 year term policy, but I didn’t know the exact percentages so I wouldn’t be swayed b/t one company and another. I really really try to keep my interest in income out of the mix so that I remain as unbiased as possible. That being said, if I find a company that I want to represent and I can make money from it, I will – otherwise I will not be blogging anymore. My expenses are huge and I spend an inordinate amount of time. So….I am writing this b/c it seems your response is directed at me and I wanted to explain more about my situation. Thanks.

        • Hi, I think its great that you are seeking a company to make money with, more power to you! But I wasnt commenting on that, I was commenting on your stated desire to educate others about EO’s. I think you make good points about NAHA and all non profit entities, but Ibwasnt recommending that people get their aromatherapy education directly from NAHA… NAHA posts a list of schools that they and ARC endorse. Many of those schools are NOT sellers of essential oils nor are they tied in any way to any EO distributors or corporations. In other words, their only “product” is EDUCATION on aromatherapy, not essential oil merchandise. That’s what I meant by ” utterly free of commercial interest,” I meant commercial interest in selling OILS and related products. I maintain that educating the public while selling product related to that “education” poses inherent ethical dilemmas and conflicts of interest, naturally. Best way to educate others is to seek one’s own education thru actual schools, not thru corporate “product education” posing as objective education on the safe and effective use of EO’s. My comments were directed to everyone, it’s just that your post was the one that brought up the topic of educating others, so I thought my comments would make the most sense as a reply to your post. And needless to say, these are just my own opinions, I’m aware that there are millions of people who see no problem with the idea of co-mingling public education with product sales… I just respectfully disagree with those millions. ;)

          • Thanks for the clarification, Maya. I appreciate it. I think there are likely more ties than meets the eye, however, in all arenas of business and “education”. Just the NEA itself is riddled with corruption and financial interest.

  35. I was hoping to find a good resource for essential oils, being new to them. What I found was a ton of arguing and long drawn out banter. Also, I like your blog but way too much advertising. And are you selling and making a profit from a certain essentional oil company that is posted on your blog at every break? Not sure. Very confusing for me. I am not a genius – I like straightforward blogs with direct anwers. Your blog sends out a lot of energy and a little bit of in your face attitude. Not trying to be rude.

    Jenny

    • Hi Jenny.

      I am sorry about the arguing but believe me, I didn’t start it. It all came on when I suggested that doTERRA had a different distillation method and that I couldn’t get a consistent answer from their company and their scientist came over with others to argue about me. I felt they took things to a very low level and that I really had no choice but to bring it front and center. I am sorry you felt that way.

      Most bloggers would just delete the dissenting comments, but I try to never do that. I feel that if folks want to get ugly / combative then I will publish their comments and respond.

      As for the advertising, I am not clear what you are referring to. Are you saying that you think I link to Native American Nutritionals too much?

      I can say that I was told that I could make $8000 per month (or more) with doTERRA and I am not making anything close to that with Native American. I chose what I thought was right and that’s the only way to do things.

      I don’t know how to respond to your comment about “energy” but I assume you mean it is negative? I don’t mean to do that. If you have a suggestion I am happy to hear it.

      The same with the “in your face” attitude. It would be more helpful to me if you could give me an example.

      I was very frustrated with the treatment I received from many during the series and many have commented that they thought I handled the accusations in a kind manner. Believe me, it wasn’t easy all the time.

      Thanks,
      Adrienne

  36. Pisces Girl says:

    Do you have a recommendation for the equivalent of YL Progessence Plus in a non MLM company? THanks!

    • Native American has a progesterone cream. They have a free shipping offer today as well.

      • I just wanted to say, i think it’s terrible so many people do not truly read and comprehend your blog. They must have not achieved their reading comprehension level beyond the 3rd grade. So many people complain saying that your not recommending looking at the tests, which you never did!. I see you waste so much time replying to those who have minds to little to comprehend your wise words. I would like to apologize for them on their behalf so you may know there are people out there who do appreciate you, can understand you and hope you continue the good and hard work you do. Thank you for all you do! Best Wishes!