At least once a week someone will email us asking “Are your oils therapeutic grade? You don’t state that on your website.”
To answer that question, first you must define what is meant by “therapeutic grade essential oils.” What does it really mean? Did you know that there is no organization in North America that oversees therapeutic quality, so the definition is really up for grabs? It can be what you make it. This is the reason that at The Apothecary we do not make the claim that our oils are “therapeutic grade” since, in this country, the term is meaningless, and often used as just marketing hype and greenwashing.
Any vendor can claim that their oils are “therapeutic grade” since there is no legal definition of the term.
In our opinion and experience, the correct term should be “aromatherapeutic grade”, since aromatherapy requires only the finest of essential oils. There are many criteria that must be met for an essential oil to truly be of aromatherapy quality:
Organic status does not always mean "therapeutic" quality. What organic should mean for consumer products is that there are no synthetic chemical pesticides or fertilizers, and no GMO’s (genetically modified organisms) involved in the process at any stage from the agricultural level to the finished product. But know this: finding oils labeled “organic” or “certified organic” does not automatically extend to being therapeutic because 95% of all essential oils produced by “certified organic” distillers are still for the flavour and food products industry, still distilled under high pressure, and still not "therapeutic-grade" oils! Many of the larger “certified organic” distilleries have the flavour and food industries as their largest customers, who are not concerned about therapy.
An oil may well be grown organically, but poorly distilled.
This will give you a certified organic, mediocre essential oil. Not something we will knowingly put our label on.
It is very common practice in our industry for botanical matter from different countries or even different years to be blended for distilling, or the oils from different areas or different years to be blended. We believe that aromatherapeutic grade oils should be distilled from one harvest. The oils should be offered as they come from the still, with no components increased or removed to meet an arbitrary profile.
The Common Definition
We don’t always know what other suppliers mean when they state their oils are “therapeutic grade.” What we do know is that a commonly agreed upon definition of “therapeutic grade” (not a legal definition, but often used by knowledgeable members of the trade) includes that the oil be from a named species, single crop, single distillation (not a mixture of aromatics from various areas, perhaps even various years), hopefully (but not always) either organically grown or knowledgeably and ethically wildcrafted. We know that our oils fit this definition, and we give you the information you need to make informed choices...do the vendors you are referring to give you the country of origin, the specific chemotype as well as botanical species?
Here at The Apothecary we strive to provide Aromatherapeutic grade oils, based on the definitions above.