doTerra uses the term “certified pure therapeutic grade” in their marketing. Well, it’s exactly only that – marketing. There aren't any certified essential oils because there isn't any recognized organization or agency that certifies essential oils. So, doTerra coined the term, put it on their bottles and trademarked (see the TM after the logo above) the term. What does it mean? Nothing as their oils are not certified. They use the term as their way of letting others know that they test their oils (like most essential oils good providers do). But, it makes for good marketing that doTerra sales reps (called “consultants”) and users most often than not misunderstand to mean that the oils are certified.
From doTerra’s website ~
CPTG Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade is a registered trademark of dōTERRA Holdings, LLC representing internal standards of quality assessment and material control. The CPTG protocol is not administered by government or industry regulatory agencies and does not imply regulatory approval of dōTERRA products.
An interesting and very informational article about this topic is the “The ‘Therapeutic Grade’ Essential Oils Disinformation Campaign.” by Cropwatch Organization. I was fortunate enough to be introduced to this organization at the NAHA Conference in Boston MA. They are doing and continue to do amazing work.
Potential essential oil buyers should independently check out the marketing information provided by essential oil traders – do not be put off asking for any extra information or reassurances that you are legally entitled to if the situation is not absolutely clear cut. The professional aromatherapist has a duty to be able to provide all relevant safety information relevant to to their clients’ treatment(s) and therefore It is part of ‘due diligence’ to ask questions, require any stipulated proofs, request an MSDS, ask for compositional data & certificate of origin of the batch of oil purchased and have their eyes wide open to marketing ploys & scams of all types – including providing GC’MS print-outs and other information which relate to other batches of oils entirely, and, of course, describing essential oils as ‘therapeutic grade’. I often talk about this in my workshops, and have been very transparent about being able to attain a GC Certificate and Batch Number for each and every essential oil I use in every synergy or single note perfume I create. Knowing how to read one of these is a different story and what I will touch on in future posts, along with source of Q.A.
Internal Use of Essential Oils
Consultants of doTerra are taught to recommend internal use of essential oils to the general public. However, this contradicts the respected advice and scope of practice recommended by Aromatherapy and Herbal associations, organizations and health care providers (including both mainstream and alternative medicines). Essential oils are quite potent. For example one drop of an essential oil is the equivalent of 25-75 cups of the herbal tea of the same plant. doTerra for example recommends for peppermint oil – “take one drop internally to calm indigestion or upset stomach” in their Introduction to Essential Oils Essential oils are very powerful and there have been reported cases of poisonings and fatality due to the self-dosing of essential oils. It is not something to do lightly as I often see recommended by doTerra consultants.
The National Association of Holistic Aromatherapy NAHA warns:
Some oils are associated with toxicity problems (e.g. a risk of accumulative effects), and so internal use is not entirely hazard or risk-free.
The International Federation of Aromatherapists Code of Ethics states -
No aromatherapist shall use essential oils for internal ingestion or internal application nor shall any aromatherapist advocate or promote such use of essential oils unless the practicing aromatherapist has medical, naturopathic, herbalist, or similar qualifications and holds an insurance policy which specifically covers the internal application of essential oils. (IFA code of ethics. Simply Essential, No. 11 December 1993).
Salvatore Battaglia in The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy writes -
Oral administration does have a number of disadvantages:
§ possibility of nausea and vomiting
§ irritation of the gastrointestinal tract
§ much of the essential oil will be metabolized by the liver
§ destruction of the essential oil constituents by stomach acidity or enzymes in the intestines.
It’s common practice in the aromatherapy, herbalism, and alternative medicine health care that essential oils are not to be taken internally unless under the proper care of qualified care providers. There are two major aromatherapy organizations and both have in the scope of practice and ethics that members do not recommend the use of internal essential oils (to the general public for example), it’s in just about every aromatherapy respected book written by experts in the industry (some of which are quoted in this blog post). And it’s in all of the well known educational programs for aromatherapy and herbalism. They agree with each other on this. However, the only places it differs (not including personal blogs and such) is these multi-level marketing companies like doTerra and Young Living. They are actually the ones in the minority when it comes to recommending internal use of essential oils.
Undiluted (Neat) Use of Essential Oils
When I first was introduced to doTerra essential oils the consultant rubbed peppermint oil directly on my skin. Almost immediately I started to get a burning sensation and so she removed it with vegetable oil and rubbed wintergreen oil (also directed and undiluted) to my skin. In doTerra’s Introduction to Essential Oils almost every oil listed in the manual is recommended to use undiluted. Another brand, Young Living, recommends the use of undiluted essential oils as well. It’s interesting (as a side note) that doTerra emerged from a group of professionals that were a part of Young Living, I knew something smelt funny a year ago... I digress. But, when it comes to dilution the use of undiluted essential oil is again also one not recommended by respected aromatherapy associations, experts and well-known educators in essential oils.
Because essential oils are so powerful, they should always be used diluted. The recommended correct dilution for topical use is 1% for children (avoid essential oils in newborns) and pregnant women, 2% for adults and 3% for medicinal use. While there are some essential oils that are “skin friendly” such as lavender and tea tree oil (though skin patch test is recommended), they are the exception to the rule. Essential oils in general should be properly diluted before use.
Valerie Gennari Cooksley, R.N., Co-founder of Institute of Integrative Aromatherapy writes in her book Aromatherapy Soothing Remedies to Restore, Rejuvenate, and Heal -
Most essential oils you must dilute to use. Essential oils do not exist in nature in large quantities; they are tiny, microscopic droplets, unseen by the naked eye within the plant’s structure in minuscule quantity. So when you embark on your experiential study of nature’s gifts start by using highly diluted essential oils.
Allison England writes in Aromatherapy and Massage For Mother and Baby -
Essential oils are powerful and need to be diluted before applying directly to the skin. They should always be used either in a carrier oil, or mixed with water, some oils such as the citrus oils, could cause soreness and irritation. Those of you who have attend my classes at both UW Milwaukee/ Park side/ Alverno College/ St. Francis Hospital/ Froedert Hospital/ Small Stones/ Outpost Natural Foods/ know I always always state: DILUTE DILUTE DILUTE
I hope this helps to educate and clarify what is often seen and incorrectly provided by well-meaning sales reps of multi-level marketing brands of essential oils. While I've mentioned doTerra, this also does apply to Young Living. My intention is to educate and provide holistic wellness in a responsible way. As I continue to practice Clinical Aromatherapy I find that within my scope of practice also comes the responsibility of providing correct recommendations and education when needed and absolutely when it comes to safety. I stress the safety issue especially when it is directly correlated with children, elderly and pregnant women. Any comments, questions, feedback welcome.