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Pitfalls and Potentials of “Essential Oils” (Part II)

by Anita Cheung, proactive self care advocate and holistic health practitioner, founder of i-Detox

(Therapeutic) essential Oil is like (Chinese) Herbal medicine but more concentrated?

On my journey of exploration, I had my ”a-ha” moment learning from a scientist and medical researcher, who had never been trained in “Aromatherapy” and not influenced by any dogma about how essential oils “should be” taken…

Last year we co-hosted a presentation by Dr. H. K. Lin, a US based medical researcher on frankincense essential oil and cancer healing.

frankincense_resinDr. Lin had asked the exact question I had asked – if an essential oil is 100% pure and comes from a plant (unless it’s actually poisonous), why can’t we ingest it like we do with herbal medicine?  Being of Taiwanese origin, he remembered growing up his mother used to make him drink chinese herbal soups and tonics.  (In fact Frankincense is also used in Chinese medicine for diseases related to stagnation, including pain, arthritis and cancer.  And people in the Middle East drink Frankincense resin water as a “cure-all”.)

So to him, essential oil is a representation of chinese (herbal) medicine – both involve boiling the plant to get its extracts, just that essential oil is many many times (40 times to 100 times) more concentrated, and if processed properly, can be of much higher purity and more standardized than Chinese herbal medicine (which may contain chemical residues from the farming and extraction process  these days, especially in mainland China).

He also noted that he had used Frankincense preparation in the chinese medicine way in his study but it was not effective compared to pure Frankincense oil he was using.

<He’s not against chinese medicine, but he’s just saying that the purity standard and effective dose is key.>

What he said really helped me join the dots!

Not all plant essences are created equal

Dr. Lin and Dr. Suhail have compared Sacred Frankincense oil distilled at different temperatures and at different duration. They have found that the potency of it depends on the specific conditions of its extraction.

Two batches of essential oils may smell the same but the therapeutic value can be entirely different.

Dr. Lin warned against just picking up any Frankincense oil and expect therapeutic effect, even when it claims to be “pure”, or of “therapeutic grade”.

Young Living and other brands

DrLin_talkDr. Lin  revealed that he started out his research using the Young Living brand of Frankincense essential oils.  Then later he got supplies from another source.  Dr. Lin didn’t know so much about the different quality of essential oils then, and he was contacting the same people he first knew from Young Living who assured him they would supply the same therapeutic quality Frankincense for his research.  (He later found out they were fired by Young Living and started a new company called doTerra**).  <He was never paid by doTerra nor Young Living to do his research as he wanted to remain independent.> He did not get the same and consistent results with doTerra’s “Therapeutic Grade” essential oils**. Then after two years and almost ready to abort his study, he went back to Young Living’s and he has since got more consistent results.   (He has studied both Boswellia Carteri and Boswellia Sacra species of Frankincense for their ability to target cancer cells without damaging healthy cells.)

**doTerra’s Frankincense turned out to be an entirely different species of Frankincense.  The doTerra website displays Boswelli Frereana as the name of the species and that it is from Oman.  The species native to Oman and mentioned in ancient scriptures is Boswellia Sacra.  Since the Omani “sacred frankincense” is a very previous oil (traditional reserved for royalties), apparently many companies would ship their frankincense oil from elsewhere to Oman and then export it again.  It allows them to claim the product is “from Oman”.

Both Dr. Lin and Dr. Suhail have found that high dose of Frankincense oil (especially the “Sacred” variety) can improve the quality of life of cancer patients and reduce side effects of conventional treatment.  (And Dr. Lin revealed that he takes 20 drops of Sacred Frankincense a day for cancer prevention.)

<If you are interested in getting the notes from Dr. Lin’s talk, please email us.>

Is “Certified Organic” better?

While it is better than perfume grade essential oils, there is no guarantee you are getting what you think you are paying for.

Even if the label says “certified organic” it does not have to be 100%  of  ”pure” substance to be called so.

Or even it contains only essential oils, it may not be 100% of what is listed.

For example, Geranium is often mixed into Rose to stretch “Rose” as the latter costs a lot more. Lavendin is often mixed into lavender, which also costs more.  But if you’ve got a cut on the skin, while you can use 100% pure therapeutic grade lavender oil to help wound healing, lavendin may irritate the skin and will not give the same effect. So it is really important to know your oils.

The “organic” certification does not tell you anything about whether the essential oil has optimal therapeutic profile and can be used as effective medicine.  It only tells you it is “clean”.

The price to pay for smelling nice

bottlesMost scented products are scented with “fragrance”, which is a lot cheaper to produce than pure therapeutic quality essential oil because it is synthesized in the lab.

Most commercial perfume products are “fragrance” grade. They may mimic natural scent (by the use of synthetic VOC) but have very different chemical make-up compared to the natural version. They may irritate skin and are harmful to the endocrine system.

When these fragrance (and products labelled as “essential oils” but actually containing petrochemicals) are absorbed (even through inhalation only), our nervous system and endorine system suffer.

One rule of thumb is, apart from using your nose to differentiate (and more training does make it better), be wary of products that are too cheap.  The most common essential oils are most likely to be adulterated. There’s no way a bottle of genuine lavender oil can sell for less than US$10 (which is what my friend paid for her bottle) for example.

What i-Detox stands behind

While you cannot change what perfume the person next to you on the MTR wears(!), you do have a CHOICE what YOU put on/in your body.

To us, the “therapy” part of “aromatherapy” is a serious matter, and we also believe that the general user should be empowered to make their own choice.

YL CollectionWhether you choose to inhale your essential oil (main focus of the German model of aromatherapy), dilute  it for massage or for personal care (main focus of the English model of aromatherapy), or use it in higher concentration topically or even ingesting it (main focus of the French model of aromatherapy), it’s your choice.

And we feel our job is to provide you with the best product in terms of quality, efficacy and value we can find that you can trust.

We do NOT blindly believe “Young Living” is the ONLY supplier of truly pure and therapeutic quality essential oils in the world, but we appreciate transparency about their growing, producing and testing conditions.  We appreciate the purity of their essential oil products, the great care they have taken to develop such an extensive range of product line (which does not make business sense but is good news for the user).  And we appreciate the growing knowledge base of probably the world’s largest community of essential oil users, who are using the oils addressing physical, emotional and spiritual needs.  The company was established since the early 90′s.

This is a user data base (not established by the company) where anyone can benefit from using.

With about 400 of essential oil and oil infused supplements, body care and naturally disinfecting household products, one can quite easily meet most of their wellbeing needs with their range of products and save a lot of time as well.  And that’s what we like as well.

French model inspired aromatherapy in the English speaking world

This is what Dr. Daniel Pénoël (French medical doctor, pioneer and authority on medical aromatherapy) had this to say about Young Living and Gary Young:

 GaryYoung“Many companies have jumped onto the ‘aromatic bandwagon’ solely for commercial reasons. They simply do not know the meaning of “genuine” when it is applied to essential oils. They market products that are made solely for what I call ‘recreational fragrancing.’

This has nothing to do with medical aromatherapy. Gary Young, the founder and president of Young Living Essential Oils, understands the huge difference between recreational fragrancing and aromatic medicine.”

Thanks to Gary Young and his company Young Living, French model of medical aromatherapy has become more accessible to the general public, especially in the English speaking world where the English model is/used to be more prevalent (and most aromatherapists are trained in this model.)

“But I am no expert… Is it easy to use essential oils for therapeutic effect?”

Plant essences can be very potent natural medicine if used appropriately.  Just like taking supplements or starting an exercise regime, you do need consistency and effective dose to experience sustainable results.  And like any form of natural medicine, the function of therapeutic grade essential oil is on restoring balance, not masking symptoms.   (If you are used to conventional Western medicine, it will take a different mindset to use natural medicine.)

My illiterate grandma knew what to cook and do for me when I was a child to heal from ailments and be healthy not because she went to see a “nutritionist”… For all of us who have the ability to learn and have the open mind/heart to do so, everyone can develop the wisdom and understanding to benefit from nature’s powerful pharmacy of plant essences.  Joining a  community of users is a great way to get started in learning from other users.  <Please let us know if you would like to be invited on Facebook to our community of users.>

I have seen more harm done by people overusing over-the-counter drugs than using natural essential oils.  And I know many health practitioners agree with me on that one.

To make your learning process easier, at i-Detox we have a selection of books on aromatherapy (the English model, French model, even essential oils for babies, animals etc) You are also welcome to compare for yourself our sample collection of various brands of essential oils, or even bring your own oil to compare, against what we’ve got here which is Young Living essential oil.

We run regular Self Care education events such as this one we nickname “Sniffing Party”(!).  The Young Living essential oil product range is part of what we recommend, along with other products we have sourced from different trusted suppliers.

How to get products:

You are welcome to purchase Young Living products from our retail shop or shop from our on line shop.   But we cannot possibly stock every Young Living product as the range is very extensive.  You will have to wait if you order through us products that we do not stock.

The extensive range of Young Living  products are often sold through progressive health practitioners, and anyone can open a user account to purchase products directly with the company. We are happy to help you create your own Young Living account which will allow you TO access their full range of products and receive immediate support from the local office.  We will continue to provide support and education to you.

You can choose to create a “distributor” account simply to enjoy better pricing.  There is no obligation to resell products or to continuously purchase. There is incentive for those who wish to but there is absolutely no pressure in doing so. This is why we have decided to become a distributor and share the possibility with our customers.

You can contact us to set up your account in person.  Or you may quote our distributor # 1360570 and set up an account on line or do so at Young Living Hong Kong office. <Or talk to a Young Living independent distributor who you are most comfortable with and who introduced you to Young Living to create your account.>

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