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The Basics

You can read a lot about essential oils, carrier oils and hydrosols on the web. The problem is, what articles do you believe? Was the article written by someone with the educational background to give safe advice or someone who simply wants to make some money? You read a blogger’s article and then you click on a link and presto – you are taken to a company that subsidizes the author for your click and your purchase.

First, look for credentials. Often, you will find that the author is simply promoting a specific brand of oils. Some articles are written by a person who has worked with essential oils and thinks he or she is an expert on all things essential oils because he or she has read other articles on the web. After all, reading articles on the web makes us all pros, right?

So, who should you listen to? Articles written by certified or registered aromatherapists are probably your safest bet. Why? For the same reason you take medical advice from your doctor or tax advice from your accountant. Would you take legal advice from your ten-year old nephew about your business because he read an article on the web? I didn’t think so. Certified and registered aromatherapists are educated on essential oils, so that’s who I would trust.

Let’s start with some basic information. “Therapeutic grade.” This is the phrase that irritates me beyond anything I can describe. It seems like everyone uses the term. Whether the essential oils come from some manmade lab or organic oils harvested by conscientious growers, people can legally use the term “therapeutic grade.” How can this be you ask? Because “therapeutic grade” is a marketing term. There is no government standard that grades any essential oil. So anyone, and I mean anyone, can say that their essential oils are therapeutic grade. The problem, however, is that some reputable companies have caved and used this term because that’s the term everyone seems to look for. How sad is that? The term, therapeutic grade, is so widely used, that if a company doesn’t say it, people assume it isn’t good quality oil. Wow…see why I get just a little upset by that?

Next, we have price. It’s easy for Joe Seller to mark up his product so that you think Joe Seller’s product just has to be the best. Some companies spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to advertise. But all the advertising in the world doesn’t mean quality, purity, or organic. But it does mean that Joe Seller hired a smart advertising agency to promote Joe Seller’s product.

And then there’s the company which will sell you an oil for $50 but if you become one of their consultants, you can get that same oil for only $39. So, what’s the first thing that happens once a newcomer gets sold on their product? The newcomer starts selling the oils so he or she can get discounts. The newcomer, who may have very good intentions, doesn’t necessarily have any educational background in what he is selling and what the contraindications are for certain oils when it comes to medication, children, animals, pregnancies, etc.

I love working with essential oils. So why do I have a problem with certain marketing models? Because using essential oils safely is first and foremost the most important thing. And second, these companies probably aren’t educating or requiring education of their sellers other than the brief little blog they have in their pamphlets.

So, you ask, how do I know where I should purchase my oils and how do I know the oils are truly organic?

That’s where a certified or registered aromatherapist comes in. Ask someone who has gotten a formal education on the subject of oils and what she advises. A good aromatherapist won’t try to sell you a brand, she will help you choose the oil that is in your best interest and she will expect GC/MS reports to be available with each and every batch of oil she (or you) purchases. She will know how to read the report and can advise you accordingly.

And please, never assume that just because one batch of oils provided by a company is good the rest are. Not all oils come from the same country, the same space of land or the same growers. And, like every culture, one year could be spectacular for a particular plant and its oils with the perfect amount of sunshine, rain and overall weather conditions. Another year could be a completely different scenario. Not enough rain, overworked land, different suppliers, growers…you get the idea.

If you are using essential oils, you probably care about the earth, people, and nature, so consider buying oils only from suppliers that purchase through fair trade and responsible growers. In other words, research or reach out to a certified or registered Aromatherapist for advice.

I personally do business from one place when purchasing essential oils. We’ll call this essential oil company that I deal with the “EO Company”. This particular EO Company has been known to sell oils for cleaning supplies instead of use on the skin because of conflicting GC/MS reports. In other words, if one report says it’s pure but a second says it isn’t pure, they won’t sell it as an essential oil for the skin, instead, they reduce the price and sell it for cleaning or other uses. Why? Because they actually care about their product, their name, and their client’s health and wellbeing. They do not put money, advertising and marketing schemes before purity. And because I have the same philosophy, I will only buy my essential oils from EO Company.

Why haven’t I named the EO Company? Because I do not write for them. I write to help educate you, the reader.

Finally, please don’t hesitate to ask for credentials if someone tells you he/she has his/her certification. I’ve actually had people lie to me about their credentials. Yikes!

Here are the three levels of education that The National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA) recognizes:

  • Level 1: NAHA Certified Level 1 Aromatherapist® (minimum 50 hours)
  • Level 2: NAHA Certified Professional Aromatherapist® (Minimum 200 hours)
  • Level 3: NAHA Certified Clinical Aromatherapist® (Minimum 300 hours)

Here are the three levels of education that the Alliance of International Aromatherapists (AIA) organization recognizes. You will note that they have higher expectations and their list of approved schools is very short.:

  • Level One: Foundation Course in Aromatherapy (Minimum 100 hours)
  • Level Two: Professional Aromatherapy Certification (Minimum 200 hours)
  • Level Three: Advanced Practitioner Level Aromatherapy Training (Minimum 400 hours*)

Both of the above organizations also have a list of approved schools – my certification was obtained at a school approved by both organizations and, in case you are wondering, I am currently a Level Two in both organizations.

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