by Asti Atkinson

When I started using essential oils 18 years ago, I quickly learned that not all essential oils are equal. Since there is no governmental organization that regulates or oversees essential oil quality in the U.S., we truly have a 'buyer beware' scenario. With that being said, whether you are an experienced oil user or new to essential oils, you'll want to make sure that the oils you purchase and use have a transparent process.

Mona and I resonate with oils that are truly pure and potent. For every oil we use, there are two main considerations:

  1. Purity. This has to do with whether the oil has been compromised in any way or if it is 100% aromatic plant extract. Some essential oils on the market are partially or completely formulated in laboratories, which make them synthetic (many of these are in personal care products, etc. as well as stand-alone essential oils). Some oils come from plants that have been exposed to pesticides and/or other chemicals. These chemicals do distill into the essential oils, and are not desirable. Some essential oils include 'stowaway' weeds that are distilled into the oil, or manufacturers purposely isolate certain chemical compounds from one oil to add to another.  For example, Cypress (a very inexpensive oil to produce) and Frankincense (a more expensive oil to produce that comes from tree resin) share a common chemical compound: alpha pinenes. Many companies will isolate the alpha pinenes from the Cypress, add it to the Frankincense, and market the whole oil as Frankincense. Unfortunately, even though the oil in this case is 100% natural, it isn't pure -- because we have tampered with nature. Whenever we do that, the body gets confused and is unable to utilize the substance in the same way. Nature has its perfect balance, and we are well-advised to stay in that realm.
  2. Potency. This has to do with the chemical footprint of the essential oil. Depending on the geographical location (soil, climate, pollution) and genus/species/plant family, essential oils can be drastically different. It is best to source oils from places around the globe where the oils have powerful chemical properties that help support our body systems on many levels.

Safety Guidelines:

  • Don't use essential oils in your eyes, nose, or near your eardrum -- these are sensitive tissues and the oils are very concentrated. If you'd like to use oils to support these areas of the body, you can apply a small amount of oil (consider diluting if your skin is sensitive) on the eyebones around the eyes, on the mastoid bones behind the ears and/or rub into the cup of the ear, and on the bridge of the nose.
  • If your skin is sensitive, or if the oils cause any discomfort when used topically, you can apply vegetable oil (such as fractionated coconut oil, olive oil, etc.) directly on the area of concern to dilute the essential oils and reduce discomfort. If you know you are sensitive to a particular oil, you can dilute it before applying. Note that some oils are "hotter" than others, for example, oregano, cinnamon, cassia, thyme, etc.

Essential Oil Tips

If the oils aren't working like you are hoping: 

  • Consider your diet/nutritional supplements. Essential oils work chemically in the body, so you want to make sure your cells have the energy they need to support your body. 
  • Consider how you are applying oils. Essential oils are natural aromatic plant extracts, so they don't stick around for a long time. You may need to consider reapplying every 15-20 minutes to support the body.
  • If applying topically, make sure you rub them in -- they are volatile, which means they evaporate quickly.
  • Everyone's body is different; consider using another oil or blend for what you are trying to accomplish and see if you get better results.

If you experience a rash or other reaction:

  • Stop what you are doing for the time being. If you are concerned about the rash or reaction, please see your licensed medical provider.
  • Consider your toxic load. Work with a mentor or professional to reduce toxic load in the body -- essential oils are particularly good at breaking down toxins to help them leave the body, but if your elimination pathways aren't clear, sometimes those toxins try to go through the skin, etc.
  • A good everyday oil to use is lemon -- put a drop or two in water and drink to support the body. Make sure anytime you use essential oils for internal use, that the label clearly states that oil is intended for ingestion.

Disclaimer: These claims have not been approved by the FDA. Essential oils are not intended to cure, treat, or prevent any disease or condition. Please consult your licensed medical provider if you have health concerns.