Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Which Brand of Essential Oil (EO)?

Dr. Robert S. Pappas (aka "Dr. P"), founder and CEO of Essential Oil University (EOU, www.essentialoils.org) is a PhD chemist who specializes in GC/MS (Gas chromatography–mass spectrometry) analysis and reporting the chemical breakdowns of hundreds of different essential oils, CO2s and absolutes. EOU hosts The Essential Oil Chemical Reference database, containing thousands of literature references and GC/MS reports (with comments) for almost any oil- which can be made available to you for a nominal charge.

Dr Pappas' lab can detect synthetic substitutes and chemicals with the desired active ingredient effectively to determine the purity of the EO. Purity is important in aromatherapy because additives that are used to dilute or imitate an essential oil could trigger allergic reactions and impact the effectiveness of the oil. It is not as important to the flavor and fragrance industry for example which prefers specific rather than pure chemical profiles.

However purity does not mean safety. You have to abide to the safety guidelines (such as the amount, how and restrictions of usage) when using EO to avoid health risks and to achieve the best results.  

Factors that determine EO Quality:
  • Processing - Distillation, equipment, packaging, handling, storage. Sometimes they are adulterated, contaminated or diluted (to save cost, achieve the desired aroma, etc.)
  • Plant used to obtain the oil - species, which country it is cultivated from, environmental conditions, use of chemical etc.
EO is scored/ graded based on (according to The EOU Score for Essential Oils):
  • Odor
  • Purity - GC/MS detailed chemical breakdown (Detect desirable Major and Minor components to determine purity and undesirable components to detect adulterant, contaminant or diluent)
  • Physical constants of the oil  
Other non-profit organizations have also compiled test reports based on the most popular requests from their members for example, free of charge. Though not complete, their databases are growing. They are meant for educational purposes, and for people to make educated buying decisions. You are strictly NOT allowed to copy and paste/ share the reports somewhere else.
  • The Essential Oil Analysis (EOA) Foundation (essentialoilanalysis.com) is a non-profit organization founded in an attempt to bring accountability into the industry through competent GC/MS testing made available for free to the consumer, using only labs that specialize in essential oil analysis; Essential Oil University (EOU) in the USA and Phytochemia in Canada. Test Reports on Essential Oil Analysis database.
  • Essential Oil Consumer Reports Facebook Group (Closed Group) - Discussion, Analysis and Education in Essential Oil Chemistry and Quality.
Popular brands of Essential oil used in Malaysia: Young Living, doTERRA, Plant Therapy, Malaleuca, Oshadhi, Rocky Mountain Oils, Soul, etc.
Peppermint Essential oils from Lazada

Go through the test reports and you will have a better idea of how to choose the right oil. It consists of the detailed list of identified compounds and their intensity then followed by a conclusion/ summary/ comment. There are hits and misses.

Terms used:
  • Adulterated - The adding of another substance (for example synthetic molecule/ compound) that reduces/ changes the quality of the EO.
Examples of Comment:
  • The analysis of this x batch sample meets the expected chemical profile for authentic essential oil of x origin. No contamination or adulteration was detected.
  • No adulterant, contaminant or diluent were detected using this method.
  • The relatively high amount of x are proof that this oil has been cut with a significant amount of x. DEP contamination was also observed in the sample. ☓
  • No trace of actual x oil was found in the sample which comprised mainly of synthetic x. ☓
  • This sample is a complete synthetic fragrance compound. ☓

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