Have you noticed “aromatherapy” products are becoming popular? The word “aromatherapy” is used on packaging for soap, shampoo, bath oil, perfume, lip balm, deodorant, tea, food, and scented candles to name only a few. What does “aromatherapy” really mean? How do we know if a product contains true, pure, therapeutic grade essential oils or just a fragrance?

To begin sorting out how to find high quality aromatherapy oils check the label and the literature provided by the company. The label should have a common name such as “Lavender.” It should also have a Latin name to identify the plant source, for example Lavendula angustifolia. Be sure the label tells you the quantity of oil in ounces or milliliters as well (1/2 fl oz or 15 ml). It’s a common practice among some companies to sell a 1/3 oz of oil in a 1/2 oz or 1 oz bottle. A product’s packaging can be misleading! The company’s phone number or address should also be on the label to provide you with a way to contact them with any questions you may have about their product. The literature provided by the company about their products should give clear instructions on how to use the oil safely and the therapeutic qualities of each oil.

Next, you might want to find out how the company assures the quality of their oils. Do they import their oils themselves or do they purchase them through a middleman? Do they test their oils with GC/MS (Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry) technology to identify the chemical constituents of an oil and to be sure that the oil is pure and uncut? If a company is willing to provide you with this information and answers these questions with honesty and assurance, you can be certain that the oils you are buying will be of a high quality.

One reason to be concerned with quality is that many of the synthetically perfumed oils on the market cause allergies and other reactions such as headaches. Pure, high quality essential oils can actually relieve symptoms such as these.

Why do the prices of essential oils vary so dramatically? It has a lot to do with the plants themselves. For example, jasmine flowers are tiny and give off their strongest scent during the night. The labor-intensive process of hand harvesting the flowers just before sunrise and the enormous quantity of flowers needed to produce a small amount of oil both contribute to the price. On the other end of the spectrum, essential oil of orange is machine pressed from the rind of the orange, which yields relatively large quantities of oil. As you might imagine, a bottle of pure jasmine oil will cost significantly more than an equivalent amount of pure orange oil. You can expect essential oil prices ranging from approximately $10 to $80 a bottle depending on the essential oil you’re purchasing.

With so many possible toxins in our environment today (e.g. pesticides, synthetic fragrances, food colorings, and food preservatives) it seems wise to use body care products that are natural and contribute to our well being. Pure, high quality essential oils can both prevent and relieve many common ailments as well as enhance our health.

Author's Bio: 

Andrea has been teaching courses in the therapeutic uses of essential oils since 1996. She is the co-founder of the Finger Lakes School of Massage in Ithaca N.Y. Andrea developed and teaches a scientifically based 200-hour Aromatherapy Certification Program approved by the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy. She has an online web store at www.AromaticsInternational.com