The Ethics of Sourcing Essential Oils

Uncategorized Oct 21, 2021

"Where do you get your oils from?" is a common and important question I am frequently asked, by both retail consumers and the medical communities I serve.

Typically, essential oil buyers want help understanding what testing is done for purity and authenticity, or if the oils are grown without pesticides, and if they are organic.
"Are your oils therapeutic grade?" became the most asked question since the late 1990's when big sales companies began and coined the term "therapeutic grade" to distinguish their products from commercially grown and processed oils. 

This term - requires some time to educate customers about the world of sourcing essential oils for companies like mine. We provide these answers on our website here.

I source the essential oils I use in Quella's products from time tested, respected farms, distillers, and suppliers that grow and produce essentials oils specifically for use in aromatherapy. My reputation as a business owner, and a holistic practitioner over the last 20 years, is built on the oils I select, and I take that very seriously.

A quick fun fact to share with you is, did you know that 90% of the plants grown worldwide for their essential oils are used in the food and flavor industry, over the counter medications, bath, body, perfume and scented products. You'd be surprised how many commercial products you already use with these essential oils in them!

This leaves 10% of plants grown for use as aromatic plant medicines and integrative health and healing uses. But today, I want to discuss a question that is often overlooked, that is important to me.

Sustainability and Ethics

I've watched as Aromatherapy has grown substantially over the last two decades. Consumer driven demand requires huge quantities of botanical resources to meet the demand of essential oil use worldwide. 

This demand has consequences. Sadly, overuse and greed are threatening the extinction of certain plant species and disrupting ecosystems. On the list of threatened species are sacred trees like Rosewood,  Sandalwood and Frankincense. But this important topic is better left to the experts like Dr. Kelly Ablard from Airmid Institute. She is an expert resource, and her work inspires us to be more thoughtful about our use of essential oils. 

To address the "ethics' aspect of this question I am sharing a short clip from a recent video interview I did with Debra Reis, RN.  It's just a few minutes, please click to listen.  

For our readers, here is the written dialogue of the conversation in the video linked above!

Debra: "How important is it to work with a company that says they are sustainable and ethically source their plant products? Do you find that to be something of importance when looking at a product from a company?"

Jodi: "Yes! Because what we've seen over time with the massive public use of essential oils is to remember that this is a plant kingdom that needs to be in balance with our planet. We are using massive amounts of plant material to make those drops in bottle. 
Airmid, is great resources to really understand the ethics of what's happening in aromatherapy. If you are curious to learn more about threatened plant species used in 

Debra: "Could you give me an example?"

Jodi: "Marco Valusi from Italy shared a story at one of our AIA conferences about Spikenard essential oil, which is an endangered species. When he explained why, its because Spikenard grows on top of a mountain in Nepal. The community is blessed with that plant as a resource for them to make money. But what this means is that the people harvesting & distilling the plant have to bring all of their equipment up to the top of the mountain where the spikenard grows, and the distillation unit needs wood for the fire to heat the materials. The means that they have to clear and cut trees for the wood to power their equipment.
Marco has stepped in to help them refine their process. 

Essential oils like Sandalwood, Rosewood, Spikenard and others that are endangered are being over-used by the mass consumer use and the tendency to use these oils ten times stronger than you need to. 
Yes, some oils are more renewable and easy to source ethical, but certainly not all of them. 

Debra: "Thank you for bringing this up. it really is a responsibility on our part to make sure we are selecting properly, doing our due diligence, and research. It's important what kind of products were are bringing in, and the quantities of which we use"

If you'd like to learn more about my essential oil line's quality measures and ethical sourcing standards, please visit Quella's FAQ Page:

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