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October 26, 2014
Have you wondered about the difference? I have and although I'm an organic gardening and lifestyle advocate all the way there are some things you should know about the certified USDA Organic Standard for food and farming, the changes may indeed have a direct effect on essential oil quality. For starters, USDA Organic regulations for organic products in a nutshell:
Yes, there have been changes, "USDA Organic" now leaves a small leeway for "other" additives.
What does this mean in terms of Essential Oils? Well... Are organic products completely free of pesticide residues? The 1995 definition of organic production by the National Organics Standard Board notes that "Organic agriculture practices cannot ensure that products are completely free of residues; however, methods are used to minimize pollution from air, soil and waters." These methods include buffer zones between conventional and organic fields, a three-year waiting period before previously non-organic land can be used for organic crops, and placing organic products in storage on the higher shelves to avoid cross contamination from non-organic products. Products are tested by certification agencies for contamination in response to a complaint, to spot-check certain crops, or if there is any evidence of contamination. Although I embrace all things organic I understand that unless I've grown it myself, there are exceptions to the rule these days. While choosing organic is a good choice to reduce exposure to chemicals and pesticides, choosing pure EOs over organic is a better choice in my opinion when it comes to essential oils. Note that I don't use company "marketing slogans" like therapeutic grade or certified therapeutic grade because they're not a real standard. In fairness, Spark Naturals has their own designation too: Certified Pure PharmaGrade but I'm comfortable with it as they strive to align themselves with The U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention, a physical standard.
"The U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention (USP) is a scientific nonprofit organization that sets standards for the identity, strength, quality, and purity of medicines, food ingredients, and dietary supplements manufactured, distributed and consumed worldwide. USP’s drug standards are enforceable in the United States by the Food and Drug Administration, and these standards are used in more than 140 countries."
So here's my bottom line...
When you choose a pure line of essential oils you're indeed getting a superior organic product, even more so than the local "organic" line sold in your favorite health food store. How? This level of a therapeutic quality essential oil undergoes a final testing process via Gas Chromatography and Mass Spectrometry (GC/MS), checking for pesticides, fungus/disease, solvents and any other impurities. The AH HA moment? All plant material sourced must be of an organic origin first and foremost in order to pass the stringent tests. But remember, organic doesn't always mean pure, not anymore, residue chemicals can travel and permeate the ground or infiltrate water systems. For my money, I'll stick with an organic plant source AND the assurance of a pure end result thru additional GC/MS testing.
I hope this helps in understanding the difference between organic and pure essential oils, it certainly can be confusing out there!
May 10, 2017
Thanks and you’re welcome! It’s not an easy subject to research, understanding what “organic” actually means (an ever changing certification unfortunately) was necessary before it made sense to me.
Thank you. I have been waiting for an acceptable and clear explanation and understanding of the various ‘grades’ of EO. I have postponed purchases to date due to incomplete and unclear answers. Your explanation goes a long way toward clearing up much confusion. I write this as I am inhaling ’Jeddy’s Blend’ from my recent purchase from your new store! Love it! Many thanks to you for your efforts and to your sister, Jillee, whom I’ve been following for over a year. Go ladies!
Heather, as you probably know already there is no regulation of essential oils by the FDA only a food grade standard (GRAS) which isn’t a standard of purity. Pure is my own term, for EOs that have GC/MS documentation, tested to be free of pesticides and chemical solvents.
Hi, thanks for the great blog. I have always been under the impression that the term pure was undefined and unregulated and therefore meaningless. Just to clarify, are you stating that the word pure as it pertains to essential oils is a legal term that means the product is both legally organic and tested for pesticides?
Cheers to YOU Georgia, embracing EOs is not for the faint of heart so yes, I think you’re doing great! Keep up with the Dreamy Salve, apply liberally too – just before bedtime. If nothing else, you’ll have soft feet and an added immunity boost :)
Upon urging by my goddaughter, I have been embracing essential oils for myself and my life partner for over a year now. Thanks to your site and that of your sister, I am incorporating more and more of them in my daily life. LLP has now kept me almost 100 percent allergy symptom free for over a year now, and I live in Texas’ allergy central – Austin. My partner has asthma and other life altering problems and I have had him using the Respire for some time to ease the tightness in his chest and the allergy head congestion along with the doctor prescribed asthma meds. I just finished making the DreamySalve for his insomnia, and while it has not eliminated the problem, it at least mitigates it somewhat. Thank you for all you have done for the rest of us out here.
Then if a company was selling organic essential oils (I don’t mean one local organic oil) but a company that sells a large range of EOs both organic and non-organic versions of each oils and GC/MS documentation for their organic versions, wouldn’t this have to be superior?
Oops!! I thought y’all were talking about a physical store. My bad!
you so good! thanks!
Right here on the website! www.campwander.com/shop/
You have a store? Where is it ?
Thanks for all the great info…I’m learning sooo much! I’ve looked everywhere I can think of and can’t find an answer. I have Now (brand) 100% pure and certified organic (per the label) orange essential oil. How do I tell if this, or any oil is considered food-grade quality? I’m cooking cranberries and would like to add a drop or two of the orange, but just don’t know if its safe! Suggestions? Thanks!
Both EOs are important in many ways, especially for pain and congestion. Copious amounts of either EOs long term can indeed by dangerous as can any over the counter drug. Use pure essential oils in moderation with common sense. Methyl salicylate is a natural form of aspirin, if you’re allergic to aspirin, on blood thinners or epileptic these EOs should be avoided.
I love the smell and feel of Birch and Wintergreen EO’s but I’ve recently read that they contain methyl salicylate that is harmful to the liver. Is this true? Should we eliminate these from our blends?
Love your site and recommend it to my friends and family.
I was a little confused because I thought you were recommending that we choose essential oils that have pure on the label but just because a company uses the word doesn’t mean the product qualifies as your definition of pure. Thank you very much for clarifying. Now I know what to look for. Perhaps you can add a little note explaining that because I don’t know as it’s self-evident. Thanks again and keep up the good work.
Not necessarily. The distillations put through GC/MS lab tests are of organic or wild origins to begin with, otherwise there would be no way the plant material could pass as pure. This is my understanding.
Thank you! I just placed my second order from your store. Running out of Dreamy Sleep Salve. OH NO! My hubby has been requesting his own portion. Glad you offer a two-pack now!
If the bottle states for external use only chances are additives and/or solvents might be found.
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