Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Why I pay more for Young Living oils....and am happy to do it.

Before I even begin this post, I feel the need for you to understand that I love a bargain.
Rarely do I pay full price for anything, and I like to get the best quality at the lowest price.
I happily buy most generic-brand items at the grocery store.
We eat out with coupons and on Kids Eat Free nights.
The Michael Kors jeans I'm wearing right now were a TJ Maxx find.
My Coach crossbody came from an outlet clearance sale.
My beloved VW Jetta is a rock-bottom Craiglist find.
Heck, even my house was a foreclosure.

All that being said, I pay full price for my Young Living essential oils, and I wouldn't have it any other way.  This is one reason why:

If I were just using essential oils for aromatherapy, this would not be such a huge deal to me.
But I'm using them to change the way our family lives, to better our health and wellbeing.
So that means this Seed to Seal confidence is a big deal to me.
I can actually go to Young Living's farms, or their distilleries.  I can see what is happening with my own eyes.  The plants aren't being exported from some field in China where heavens-knows-what has been put on the plants.  Sometimes our essential oils are out of stock for periods of time....because we are waiting on the plants to distill.  I LOVE that - even though it's a pain to have to wait for a favorite oil, I absolutely love that it's not just being mass-produced in a laboratory to fulfill demand.

That being said, there are many other reasons I don't cheap out on my EO's.

1.  You get what you pay for.
Let's take an example, an expensive one: rose oil.  A 5 mL bottle of Young Living Rose Oil is $244.08.  After you catch your breath, read this:
It takes 5,000 pounds of rose petals to produce one pound of rose oil; and to completely extract the oil, and have it retain its full fragrance, chemistry and frequency, requires a careful, two part distillation process.  This makes a quality rose oil very expensive.  If you can buy a 15 ml bottle for $50.00, you can be sure that it's not very good.

Here is the problem: Aromatherapy has become quite a fad, and an ever-growing number of marketers, seeing its money-making potential, have jumped on the essential oils bandwagon, looking for an easy way to make a lot of money.  They're finding innovative ways to sell anything they can call aromatherapy.  Mostly, what you find are cheap imitations: some sort of oil base to which they've added synthetic chemicals to create a fragrance.  Glade® PlugIns® Scented Oil would fall into this category.  I can guarantee you this: their Lavender Meadow® has never seen a lavender meadow.

To give you an idea of what a money-making enterprise this has become, statistics show that one company — Procter & Gamble — uses two times the amount of essential oils than are actually produced in the entire world.   Just what are they calling essential oils?

Some companies market essential oils that have been cut with synthetic chemicals or blended with cheaper hybrids.  This is quite common with lavender.  For example, according to the Lavender Growers Association, 100 times more "lavender oil" was exported from France than is actually grown there.  Just where did that lavender come from?  (I have some ideas.)

While some of these so-called aromatherapy products present a pleasing fragrance and can cover unpleasant odors, they have no real value for true aromatherapy or any health benefits at all.  In some cases, these so-called aromatherapy products can create serious problems, from allergic reactions to irritations to chemical burns.

2.  The quality of the oil makes all the difference
There are at least 200 different companies marketing essential oils in North America.  However, there are many grades of essential oils, and most essential oils available in the United States are of the lowest grade and quality.  It's not enough to just look for the label "Pure."  
Pure does not actually mean pure.
Or organic.
Or grade A.
It actually doesn't even mean that nothing has been added.

To many marketers, pure means that the oil doesn't contain a base oil.  It means that it's not "cut."
Pure does NOT mean that the essential oil hasn't been adulterated with chemicals or solvents.

As I've studied this over the past 6 months, here's what I've learned: producing a quality oil requires a lot of skill, patience and expense.  Most manufacturers don't find it worth their trouble to do it right.

Around 98% of all essential oils aren't produced for therapeutic purposes; they are produced for the perfume or cosmetic industries.  Much of the remaining 2% is used for food flavoring.  These industries are only interested in the oils' aromatic qualities (that is: that they smell good); and so, techniques are adopted to produce greater quantities of these oils at a faster rate, without any concern for their potential therapeutic benefits. This has a major impact on the quality of the oils.  Bottom line: they're not selling them to benefit your body so they're not very concerned with making sure they are extracting the oils well.

Before I started using essential oils for our family, I had no idea how chemically complex essential oils are.  The average essential oil may contain anywhere from 80 to 200 chemical constituents.  However, these aromatic molecules are very fragile and not easily extracted from the plant material.  Taking shortcuts in the production process will render the oil therapeutically void, basically causing the oil to lose all of its health value....except that it smells good.  Maybe.

I can tell you more about some of the shortcuts in distillation used by the big commercial distillers.  
For example, the distilling process for lavender should not exceed three pounds of pressure, and the temperature should not exceed 245 degrees Fahrenheit.  The distillation time is about an hour and a half, one batch producing about a pound of essential oil.  But in France, because of the costs involved with proper distillation of the essential oils, the traditional method of distillation is being abandoned in favor of high-volume pressure cookers, designed to operate at over 400 degrees Fahrenheit, and over 50 pounds of pressure.  The lavender that is produced commercially (and sold to the United States as therapeutic-grade) is often distilled for only 15 minutes, with a steam temperature of 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and 155 pounds of pressure.  Although the oil is easily marketed and sold, it is obviously of poor quality, and will have little to no health benefit.

Other extraction processes that produce lots of oil at very little cost are:

▪ re-distillation: In this method, the plant material is repeatedly distilled to maximize the volume of oil by using second, third, and fourth stages of steam distillation.  With this method, each round of distillation generates a successively weaker and less potent essential oil.

▪ solvent extraction: This method yields an extremely poor quality oil, but one that is high in toxic substances.  Yet, there are many solvent-extracted oils sold in the United States as therapeutic-grade.

▪ CO2 extraction: In this method, CO2 is forced through the plant material at very high pressure.  It yields an oil with a distinctively strong fragrance with very few health benefits.

And as if that all weren't enough to convince me that I get what I pay for, there are 2 other practices that keep me from buying "cheap" oils.

1.  The practice of skipping nature altogether and manufacturing so-called essential oils in the laboratory. There are huge chemical companies on the east coast of the United States that specialize in the duplication of every essential oil that exists.  For every kilogram of pure essential oil that is produced, it is estimated that there are between 10 and 100 kilograms of synthetic oil created.

2.  Mislabeled oils.  You can go to Whole Foods or any other local health food store (or even Walmart!) and buy Lavender oil.  (Lavender oil happens to be one of my very favorites.)  It may even say Therapeutic Grade on the bottle.  However, it is very, very likely that if you took that bottle to a lab and had it analyzed, it would be lavandin, a hybrid lavender that has a high level of camphor and will likely burn you instead of soothing your burn.  Please don't judge the lavender that I use based on a hybrid!  It's just not the same at all.
side note: I have always hated the smell of lavender, and wouldn't even use those lavender-scented products on my babies because it was too floral and made me slightly nauseous and headachy.  Real, pure lavender oil is totally different.  It's very strong, and I use it sparingly, but boy does it smell amazing, and the things it does blows my mind.  


What about the Young Living Essential Oils that I can buy at a local health store or on amazon? They are brand new and in a sealed bottled.

So, so tricky.

Did you know that you can get a bottle of Essential Oils and open them up, pour them into multiple bottles, add something (vegetable oil, water, who knows what?!?) to make it look full, and then reseal the bottle?  Then you can sell it as "brand new and sealed."

Basically, if someone on amazon or ebay is selling Young Living essential oils for LESS than I can buy them with my wholesale member discount, I have to think there's something shady going on.  Why would they lose money on these bottles of oils?  I'm not buying it.


Bottom line: I'm willing to pay for quality.  The difference Young Living oils have made in the life of our family is worth every penny.


And because the bargain-hunter in me can't resist telling you this: there is a way to get a deal.
I've got $200 worth of points saved up for FREE OILS right this minute.
Here's how it works:
After falling in love with my oils, I was beginning to order more monthly.
I signed up for Young Living's program called Essential Rewards.
Every month when I buy my oils, I earn points toward free oils.
The "catch" is that you commit to buying $50 a month,
however, you can skip one month a year if you need to,
and you can quit anytime.
It's been 100% worth it to me, and now I'm about to cash in on those rewards!

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