The following is a response that was given on a discussion thread in the Essential Oil Consumer Safety Advocates Facebook group. The discussion included a number of topics, including “essential oil grades”, quality, purity, ingestion/internal use of essential oils, culinary use of essential oils at home and in the food industry and safety protocols. Because there was confusion and misinformation happening, the following comment was made and these areas of misinformation were addressed by an admin in the group.

COMMENT FROM GINGER L. MOORE (ADMIN OF THE EOCSA GROUP ON FACEBOOK):

Alright, this thread took a turn during the night and has brought more confusion it seems. So let’s take a moment to breathe and I’ll try to clarify a few things.

1) There are no “grades” of essential oils as is being taught by some. This includes therapeutic grade, certified therapeutic grade, certified pure therapeutic grade, clinical grade, pharmaceutical grade, medicinal grade, food grade, perfume grade, etc. There is not a recognized governing body or entity that has a universal standard of what qualifies as any of these grades. All these grade terms are company specific for marketing purposes with at least one of them being a trademarked marketing term owned by one company making it a crime for anyone else to use that term. The companies who use these terms may have internal standards they go by for what they consider to be worthy of their company or fitting their idea of “therapeutic” but unfortunately, no one knows what those standards are except for them.

2) Ingestion and internal use (this includes vaginally or rectally) of essential oils is serious business and should not be done without the direct and supervised care of a qualified aromatherapist trained in the modality of aromatic medicine. And then it is only for acute needs, short term and with precision. The risks of ingesting essential oils as is suggested and being done in recent years are very real while the benefits are few and non-existent. People are being injured regularly due to the lack of understanding and education and following the recommendations of others. This is not a good thing…at all.

Fact: Essential oils are potent chemicals with great potential to help but also great potential to do great harm. Ingestion of essential oils as it is being endorsed, taught and recommended by some companies and their reps is unsafe and extreme disrespect for essential oils and for those who have spent so much time studying them, researching them and teaching others about them. The key here is “as it it being endorsed, taught and recommended by….”. Contrary to what many say, as I stated above, the greater aromatherapy community recognizes and teaches that there is a time and place for ingestion. But that place is not daily, not casually, not in a cup or glass of whatever beverage, not in a user filled veggie cap, not on the tongue or under the tongue and not by the untrained/unstudied home user or under the advice of the untrained. When we say untrained, we mean anyone who has not invested the necessary time and attention studying aromatherapy with qualified and recognized teachers and then more time and attention invested in extensive study of aromatic medicine. I’m sorry but the home user, the companies who teach/recommend ingestion nor their reps do not qualify as trained. Aromatherapy is a science and it is an art. Aromatic medicine is a precise science that requires accuracy, experience and know-how. I have yet to see the general essential oil user who is equipped or educated in this.

3) Trying to compare the therapeutic use of essential oils in aromatic medicine and the use of them by the professional food industry as flavorings is like trying to compare cats and dogs. There are no similarities whatsoever except for the fact that great care and intentional purpose is needed. When the food industry uses an essential oil (rectified, modified or otherwise) to flavor a batch of candy, for instance, they are not adding a drop to a 2 quart pot of a candy recipe that makes 1# of candy. They are making batches that are much larger, perhaps 100# and the amount they use is precisely calculated by professionals who know what they are doing because they have been trained in it. They are qualified to create those recipes and execute them safely. Again, the home user, the companies and their reps are not qualified in this modality of use to be recommending it or teaching it.

Now, that said, well studied and trained aromatherapists and aromatherapy teachers do teach some home culinary uses of essential oil and we have covered details about this use in the document shared in an earlier comment. It’s an art form that takes know-how. Not everyone has that know-how or are talented in that artistic form.

4) There is such a massive twisting and inaccuracy being spread about aromatherapy and its purposes, modalities and functions that its like a crazy wildfire that is fanned by heavy winds. It leaps and jumps and destroys everything good in its path. “Grades” is a good example of that. “Schools of thought” is a good example of that. The many myths we address here are good examples of that. The many unsafe protocols and recommendations we address here are good examples of that. Aromatherapy is not for the easily influenced, the lazy or the faint of heart. It is not the easy answer or the cure-all. It is wonderful but it can also be dangerous. And that in itself should be enough to make everyone stop, take note of what they think they know and then dig deep into the facts, the real research and science of it all to make sure they really know. Because until people do, we will continue to have injuries, people being sensitized and habituated to essential oils and companies out to make a quick buck off of the lack of knowledge they know exists on a very deep and broad scale. Responsibility is ours to take and utilize effectively. No one can do that for us except us.

– Ginger L. Moore