What is all the fuss about Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils?
“Are your essential oils Therapeutic Grade?” is one of the most common questions I am asked. It is a question that has come up again and again over the many years I have been an aromatherapist. And even after all this time, this is still a term that confuses people.
To answer the question, we must first establish what is meant by the term.
It is important to understand that there is no independent body officially testing and “grading” essential oils. So Therapeutic Grade is not an official term. Nor are terms such as aromatherapy grade, food grade or commercial grade. All of these are terms you may see mentioned in discussions about essential oils. But none of them have an official or legal definition.
But that doesn’t mean that these terms have no meaning at all. When some people say “There is no such thing as Therapeutic Grade” that is also not entirely true. (Like many things in Aromatherapy, there is rarely black and white – just shades of grey!)
The term Therapeutic Grade, along with other similar terms, is simply one that some essential oil sellers use to describe the quality of the essential oils that they sell. In other words, it is a marketing term.
The term Therapeutic Grade does not indicate that the essential oils are necessarily any better than another company that does not use the term. Although that is what those using the term appear to be trying to do. They will say that essential oils that are Therapeutic Grade are the only genuine essential oils or at least better quality than anyone not using the term.
The term is particularly common with network or multilevel marking brands, but I have seen variations of it used by companies large and small, including some well regarded in the Aromatherapy Community.
It is common to see some brands say things like – “Only XY company sells essential oils that are XY Therapeutic Grade”. And this is in fact true. Not because of the quality of the essential oils, but because XY company will have trademarked the term “XY Therapeutic Grade” making it unavailable to anyone else. No other company is legally allowed to use the term even if their essential oils are the same as or even better quality than XY company’s essential oils. It is a legal distinction rather than a quality one.
“Therapeutic Grade” is no guarantee your getting a quality essential Oil
In simple terms, phrases like Therapeutic Grade are simply a shorthand way for a company to say, “We sell quality essential oils.” Which is something all reputable essential oil brands aim to do! Unfortunately, in addition, it is often used by some companies to charge higher prices than the industry norm. Or even to disparage other essential oils companies who do not use similar marketing terms.
The use of the term “Therapeutic Grade” does not guarantee you are buying the best quality essential oils. This term on its own is not enough to determine the quality of the essential oil. And don’t be afraid to look to buy from companies that do not use the term. Many essential oil companies will sell essential oils of equal or better quality, without the term Therapeutic Grade (and in many cases without the corresponding inflated prices!)
So how do you assess the quality of the essential oils you buy?
There is unfortunately no single factor that will ensure you are buying quality essential oils. However I have some general tips in my blog post – Buying Essential Oils – What to look for.
Research carefully, ask questions and be wary of marketing terms when buying essential oils.