The following report contains updates on the current trends in production and availability of the most in-demand Essential Oils, Carrier Oils, and Raw Materials sourced from around the globe.

Rose Geranium Organic Oil

In South Africa, Rose Geranium is generally available throughout the year. Although the current growing conditions are favorable, this year’s harvest yield is projected to be lower and limited. Given the high demand for Rose Geranium and the very limited amount of oil available, the pricing has doubled this year…

Geranium Oil

In China, Geranium is harvested between July and September every year. This year’s estimated output is approximately 40 tons. Warm and humid, the current growing conditions are unfavorable for the development of this botanical. The international market demand for Geranium is increasing every year.

In Egypt, Organic Geranium is harvested in the months of June and July. The current crop is normal and the growing conditions are favorable. Last year’s production yielded 180-200 tons of oil with a carryover of 30-40 tons of oil. This year, the plantations are slightly less; however, if the weather conditions are favorable and the cultivation is not affected by diseases, the season could produce a harvest with an estimated yield of 220 tons of oil. There is high demand and an active market for Organic Geranium.

Basil Oil

In India, Basil is harvested from August to September. At present, Basil is not being cultivated; however, last year’s climate was favorable and the crop was decent with a yield similar to that of 2017. The demand is as usual, without highs or lows, and the market is stable.

Organic Basil is sown in July and harvested from October to November. This year’s growing conditions are favorable. It is too soon to predict the harvest yield; however, the production is generally expected to be the same as last year, as the prices for this crop seemed to be stable all year long. The demand for Organic Basil is neutral. The market conditions for this crop seem to be favorable because of good demand for Natural Linalool, an isolate that is extracted from Basil.

Tamanu Oil – Virgin

In Madagascar, Tamanu is harvested from September to November; however, this may vary due to climate change. The current growing Conditions have been favorable until recently, except for the challenging cyclonic period. Compared to last year, when there was a lack of raw materials, this year’s harvest yield is better, making it possible to double the production. The demand is stable. Although the production of this oil is prevalent, the competition is not hard.

In Vietnam, Tamanu is harvested from February to May. The current growing conditions are favorable. Due to the stable weather, this year’s harvest yield is projected to be the same as that of last year. Compared to last year, there has not been much change in demand. This year’s lower supply capacity means that this year’s prices will be higher.

Orange Oil – Bitter

In Sicily, bitter oranges are harvested from December to April. This hardy tree is the most resistant, thus growing conditions are virtually always favorable for it. The harvest yield and the demand for this crop have been quite steady for many years now. The Essential oil is a minute factor in market demands, as the main market is for purees for marmalade as well as for the peel, which is used in candied fruit.

Litsea Cubeba & Litsea Cubeba Organic Oils

In China, Litsea Cubeba is harvested from the end of July to September. At present, it is too early to predict this year’s harvest yield. The demand is stable but the market conditions are unclear.

Eucalyptus Globulus 80/85% & Eucalyptus Globulus Organic Oils

In China, Eucalyptus is harvested from December to February of the following year. This year’s harvest yield is estimated to produce approximately 15,000 tons. The international market demand for this crop is increasing every year.

Coconut Virgin Organic & Coconut Refined Organic Oils

In the Philippines, coconuts are available all year and are harvested in 45-60-day intervals. Since September of 2018, several provinces in the Philippines have been experiencing the El Nino weather pattern, which is characterized by a decrease in the amount of rainfall, resulting in drought conditions. There is a possibility of the harvest yield being in short supply during the second half of 2019, and this is expected to cause an increase in prices.

Coconut RBD Oil

In Malaysia, Coconuts are grown in tropical areas and bear fruits throughout the year. While the production has been rather stable in the last few years, pest infestation as well as natural disasters, such as typhoons and tsunamis, could potentially destroy the crop. As there have not been any major disasters in the last two years or so far this year, the 2019 yield is expected to be similar to or slightly higher than the yield of 2018. The lack of a perfect substitute for Coconut Oil means that there is always a demand for Coconut Oil, from oleochemical, food, and non-food industries. The current prices are more attractive compared to previous years’ prices.

Vitamin C

In the northern hemisphere, Soy is harvested from September to October. In the southern hemisphere, Soy is harvested from March April. Since the previous year, there have not been any major differences in the growing conditions or the harvest yield. The demand has increased and the prices are rising.

Citronella Java Oil

In Indonesia, the initial harvest of Citronella typically occurs 6 months after it is planted. Once it matures, this continuously-planted grass can be harvested every 3 months. Most of Indonesia is suitable for cultivating Citronella, given the existing weather patterns of rain and semi-wetness, which is required for optimal growing conditions. Compared to previous years, the number of Citronella plantations has increased in Indonesia, and this is largely due to the increasing prices, which have encouraged more farmers to gravitate toward cultivating this crop and planting in scale. The yield per acreage is stable at 0.5-0.75% of dry herbage that results in Essential Oil. Indonesia has a large and constant local demand for Citronella Oil, plus it is a net exporter. Global demand for Citronella is also growing. At present, market prices are rising steadily; however, Indonesia is currently less expensive than China, and it is predicted to remain as such for the foreseeable future, due to the declining crop in China.

Sesame Organic RBDW & Sesame Extra Virgin Organic Oils

In Mexico, Sesame is generally harvested between November and December, although occasionally it is harvested in January; the harvest period depends on the timing of the rainy season, which impacts the planting time. The growing conditions in 2018 were better than the conditions of the previous two years. 2018 also saw a better harvest yield than the previous year.

In India, the sesame seed and Sesame Oil market conditions are expected to be relatively complicated during the first half of the year. The prices have remained the same since October and the harvest during June and July are expected to be better.

Valentines Day

Give Gifts for the Sweet People in Your Life! Find LOVELY Deals Today on Plant Therapy, for a Limited Time Only!

Give Gifts for the Sweet People in Your Life! Find LOVELY Deals Today on Plant Therapy, for a Limited Time Only!

PT Valentine promo

“Fair Trade” Certified Products


The Fair Trade movement is a social response to the conventional trading system by which many farmers and workers have been deprived or disparaged. Compared to traditional charitable donations and aid, buying Fair Trade products is a more effective way of facilitating supportable development, as it allows better trading conditions and sustainable farming for workers and farmers in developing countries. By contrast, traditional trade practices are reputed to treat the most underprivileged producers unjustly and discriminately; hence, Fair Trade seeks to empower these producers to enhance and advance their stations by helping to bring them out of poverty through increased wages, as well as by further developing their skills, reforming their societies, and protecting local resources to save the environment for posterity.

A Fair Trade product, which includes agricultural products and crafts, is made in an environment wherein the producers are guaranteed better – fairer – prices, improved working conditions, and fair terms of trade so that the working and living environment of their communities will be supported in their development and protection. The standard for Fair Trade products is that they must not be produced through forced labor, child labor, or in conditions that are disadvantageous to workers, as they must feel empowered to develop businesses that are competitive and prosperous. A Fair Trade label signifies that consumers are purchasing goods that are socially and environmentally responsible.

The ISEAL Code of Good Practice on Standard Setting is the guide against which Fair Trade standards are established, and the Fairtrade International Standards Committee decides the decrees regarding the standards. Additionally, buyers and suppliers must both act in accordance with the basic values and ethics outlined by organizations, such as Fair Trade USA and the Fair Trade Federation, that are involved in Fair Trade.

By trading directly with producers, Fair Trade importers do not have to deal with middlemen, which allows farmers to receive a greater cut of the income earned from the amount that the products will ultimately make when they are being sold in stores. To further entrench fair practices among the collectives that the Fair Trade importers collaborate with, these small-scale farms that are known for not having any hired help at all or for having only minimal hired help, must be operated democratically; this means that each farmer is given the chance to vote – on the prospects of their crops or other decisions that must be made collectively – and that all proceeds are equally allotted to each member.

Regardless of market price fluctuations and decreases, no matter how steep the decline, Fair Trade ensures that farmers receive a sensible minimum amount for their harvests. This means that particular crops must not be sold below specified prices. Purchasers commit to paying producers punctually for their products and may even offer them advance payment before the time of harvest, in order to guarantee those producers will have all the resources required to deliver their goods at the appointed time. In turn, producers commit to compensating their workers with fair pay.

To supplement the regular prices that they receive for their products, farmers also earn a Fair Trade Premium that allows them to develop and thus ultimately invest in their communities. The way it works is that goods earn an additional several pence per pound (and more if the products are organically-grown). This extra income may then be put toward such things as the farming business itself with a focus on using it to obtain organic certification or to irrigate the fields, both of which lead to the potential to earn more for their upcoming goods. Alternatively, the money may be invested in school-building and well-digging projects or to contribute to scholarships, to advance healthcare, to develop plans for better nutrition, to replace traditional energy sources with energy-saving systems, or to replant trees in order to optimize soil health. Producers may opt to put the money toward ecological strategies that address the factors contributing to climate change, and this ultimately works to the global advantage. The Free Trade Premium also helps growers and producers when their crop yields are low and in situations where the climate becomes inconducive to their existing farming methods and thus necessitates the cultivation of different crops.

Fair Trade not only mandates that farmers implement and maintain safe and secure working conditions that will not jeopardize the workers’ health and well-being, but it also prohibits any forced labor or child labor, both of which are common practices in several regions around the world. Furthermore, the regulations of Fair Trade prohibit any kind of harassment, exploitation, and discrimination, such as intolerances to workers’ political views or their affiliation with a trade union.

Fair Trade helps develop and strengthen the long-term relationships between producers, purchasers, and patrons by encouraging them to engage in the transparent and respectful exchange of insightful information regarding farming practices, general technical assistance, and market trends. This allows traders and distributors to join forces with farmers to resolve any issues.

Despite Fair Trade products not always being organic, the farming practices that growers are obligated to employ are still sustainable and ensure the protection of the land, the water, and plant life. This means that there is a controlled and limited list of fertilizers and pesticides that are permitted to be used, genetically modified organisms are entirely prohibited, energy is used in the most economical and ecologically-friendly ways, and waste management applies the philosophy of reusing and recycling in order to reduce waste as often as possible.

In keeping with the principle of respect, Fair Trade suppliers avoid coercing growers to implement the newest, most modern technology and procedures in place of their traditional methods for growing and producing. Instead, they grant them the right to continue their time-honored systems, thus acknowledging the unique customs of their individual cultures. While the growers are still educated about more current and contemporary practices, maintaining the techniques and customs of their ancestral backgrounds allows them to boost their productivity, which helps keep pace with buyer demands.


The late 1940s: The Fair Trade movement began; it is believed that, at this time, North American and European churches began the initiative of helping support disadvantaged communities and refugees by importing their artisanal creations, such as embroidery.

The 1950s: In Europe, Oxfam shops began selling the handcrafted artistry of refugees from China.

1958: America’s first Fair Trade shop was set up.

1964: Oxfam formed the first ever official Fair Trade Organization. In the Netherlands, a similar action was being taken.

1967: Fair Trade Original, another importing organization, was established in the Netherlands.

1969: Europe’s first Fair Trade shop was set up.

1960-70s: The founding principle of Fair Trade was formed; non-governmental organizations and people from places like Latin America, Africa, and Asia partnered up to address the necessity of having marketing associations that would do more than just promote and sell products – they sought to develop organizations that also informed, guided, advocated for, and generally supported underprivileged producers in impoverished communities – and they did. With their mission set to achieving fairness in global trade, they established several Southern Fair Trade organizations based on their unified vision of an alliance that implemented the values of equity, cooperation, open discussion, negotiation, honesty, respect, and transparent practices.


The following products can have Fair Trade standards applied to them and can be certified Fair Trade:


  • Cut Flowers
  • Ornamental Plants
  • Cotton
  • Sports Balls
  • Gold
  • Platinum
  • Silver
  • Beauty Products
  • Clothing
  • Jewelry
  • Fresh Fruit (namely Bananas)
  • Fresh Vegetables
  • Dried Fruit
  • Tea
  • Coffee
  • Wine
  • Juices
  • Nuts/Oil Seeds
  • Oil
  • Honey
  • Quinoa
  • Rice
  • Spices
  • Sugar
  • Cocoa





MYTH: Fair Trade products are always organic.

REALITY: Although the standards for the Fair Trade movement do ordain that farming processes be sustainable, Fair Trade products are not automatically “organic;” however, the Fair Trade Premiums paid to farmers may support them in implementing organic methods through training processes that can help them change and potentially align their practices with techniques required for organic production.


MYTH: The goal of Fair Trade is to compensate developing countries with wages that are paid in developed countries.

REALITY: The wages that Fair Trade growers and producers earn are not founded on the pay standards set out by a developed country, rather they are paid on the basis of accurate production costs. Production factors that influence the amount of compensation received include the following: the time commitment, the competence and exertion required, the local costs of living, minimum wages in the area of production, as well as the value of money and the community’s spending ability in the area of production.


MYTH: Fair Trade is essentially charity.

REALITY: While the Fair Trade revolution does help support constructive and lasting change for underprivileged workers by empowering them to be self-sustaining, their success is achieved through their own independent efforts in running their farms, groups, and businesses, rather than on donations. The main objective of Fair Trade organizations is trade. This means that they earn their wages fairly for their accomplished work and do not depend on receiving aid. The Premium sum that they receive goes into a collective fund for the community to share for their environmental, social, and economic benefits; it is not used by individuals for personal gain.


MYTH: Fair Trade products are more expensive.

REALITY: Compared to the prices of regular products, most Fair Trade prices are not expensive for the same or similar products. Due to the elimination of middlemen, Fair Trade organizations are able to do business directly with producers, which allows them to offer customers the most affordable prices and which makes it easy for producers to receive larger portions of the prices.


MYTH: Fair Trade products are always completely free of GMOs.

REALITY: Fair Trade outlines specific farming guidelines must be followed, but environmental pollutants and banned substances like GM seeds might not be entirely possible to avoid at all times, as there is always the possibility of neighboring fields inadvertently causing the contamination of smaller farms. For this reason, Fair Trade products are not labeled with the claim of being 100% GMO-free.


A company that wants to become Fair Trade certified must begin by submitting an application to an agency that is authorized by Fairtrade International to enforce Fair Trade standards and to be a certifying body. Next, an on-site audit of the company is conducted based on a checklist that is specific to the business.

This inspection serves to confirm the company’s adherence to Fair Trade standards and involves reviewing documentation, such as financial documents, as well as consulting with employees, executives, committees, and union members. This process helps to ascertain that the logistics network – from the producer all the way to the packaging of the final product – is supervised and inspected.

For the next step in the evaluation process, the assessor sends a report of the audit to a certification analyst, who then evaluates the outcome. In this phase, if the company’s practices are not already aligned with Fair Trade standards, it will receive a chance to make the changes necessary for conforming to regulations. If all required changes have been made and if the company is qualified to become certified, a certificate is issued. Each year, organizations that are certified must pay the certifying body an annual fee to maintain the certified status.


A Fair Trade label indicates that the labeled product has met international Fair Trade standards and that the farmers and workers associated with its production received fair treatment and wages. The label is not meant to ratify the professional practices of the company that is selling the product. NDA is new to Fair Trade products and is in the process of adding several more to its current range.

There is a misconception that it is easy for any company to apply a Fair Trade logo to its products and claim to be certified or even ethical. The reality is that, in order for goods to be labeled and marketed as Fair Trade, a company must first earn certification, which confirms that the products have been handled and produced according to the regulations and precise standards set out by Fair Trade International. Only after these requirements have been met can a company place a Fair Trade logo on its products. If a company claims that their products are certified but lacks the official certification to prove it, or if it infringes the Fair Trade regulations, the penalty would involve undergoing a thorough inspection and potential prosecution.

Market Report, September 2018

The following report contains updates on the current trends in the production and availability of the most in-demand Essential Oils, Carrier Oils, and Raw Materials sourced from around the globe.

almond tree

Almond Sweet Organic Oil

In Morocco, sweet almonds are harvested in September. The growing conditions have been normal and the harvest yield has been the same as in the previous year. The demand for the organic product is firm and prices remain stable; however, prices may increase due to an increase in conventional almonds from California.


Anise Star Oil

In China, Anise Star is harvested between March and May and again between November and December. At present, the raw material stock is meager and oil is limited; new Anise Star Oil is not expected to be available until November. The market price for Anise Star Essential Oil has been rising since late June; however, there is still a chance for prices to stabilize. Now is the ideal time to place orders.

Balsam Fir (Abies balsamea)

Fir Balsam Oil

In Canada, Fir Balsam raw material is distilled between the months of May and October. The insufficient sunlight as well as this year’s summer drought has caused a reduction in the yield and ultimately the amount of raw material. This year’s harvest yield was 0.078% compared to the 2017 yield of 0.087%; there is less oil from the yield depending on batches, and the drop ranges from 8-12%. Christmas tree growers represent 25-35% of sourced Fir Needle raw material with the forest industry representing the rest. There is a high likelihood that less raw material will be obtainable as a result of the USA dropping out of the NAFTA trade.

The production has been able to keep up with this year’s higher demand; however, once the production culminates, there will not be any carryover. Compared to last year, there is a 30% difference in pricing at this moment. The main and perhaps only influences preventing the price of Canadian Fir Need Oil from rising are the prices for European and Chinese Fir oils; despite the differences in species, the Siberian Fir and Chinese Fir price points are holding the Canadian Fir back from burgeoning; hence, now is the ideal time to buy, as the pricing is expected to rise later.


Lemongrass Oil

In India, Lemongrass is harvested between July and November. The market for Lemongrass Oil has not been reassuring, and currently, the only material available is that of inferior quality with low Citral content.

Market Report August 2018 {Essential Oils, Carrier Oils, Raw Materials}

The following report contains updates on the current trends in production and availability of the most in-demand Essential Oils, Carrier Oils, and Raw Materials sourced from around the globe.

patchouli (1)

Patchouli Oil

In Indonesia, the Patchouli supply has decreased, and the next yield is expected to be lower. It is currently an ideal time to make an investment in Patchouli stocks. Big buyers have recently entered the market and a large number of processors are purchasing new plant material at the newer price points. Given the current prices in the Indonesian market, the production of Patchouli in India is not likely to be reestablished; despite some cultivation in limited areas, most Patchouli is being used for the propagation of plants rather than for the production of oil. Despite the availability of organic production, albeit a limited one, Indian Patchouli Oil differs from the Indonesian oil; hence, natural product formulators looking to replace the Indonesian oil with the Indian oil may find that the latter does not match their preference.


Frankincense Oil

In India, the Frankincense gum harvest season came to a close as the Monsoon season began at the end of June. Because gum collection takes place in several regions, the crop yield varies and is dependent on numerous growth conditions; however, the average yield for Frankincense Essential Oil ranges between 4 and 9%. The anti-inflammatory properties of Frankincense derivatives have increased the value and popularity of their use in medicinal applications in the pharmaceutical industry. Frankincense prices remain high with a nominal competition. With increasing demand for this oil, the prices are also expected to keep gradually increasing. Frankincense supply remains stable and some large quantities may still be obtainable.


Lavender Oil (Bulgaria)

In Bulgaria, Lavender is harvested in the month of July. This year’s exceptionally low yield caused by excessive rains has resulted in an acute shortage of material available for distillation. Given this shortage, it is predicted that the demand will not be met. Current market prices in Bulgaria are 50% higher than last year.


Tea Tree Oil

In Australia, Tea Tree leaves are harvested between May and November. This year’s steady rainfall has placed constraints on and has affected production to the point where there is no carryover stock. This current state of affairs is not expected to improve any time soon, thus oil prices are predicted to increase. The production season recommenced in June and has been expected to continue to August 2018.

In China, Tea Tree leaves are harvested between May and August. In August, the crop season also commences and carries on until October. Last year’s production was negatively impacted by continuous rains in the main areas of production, namely the regions of Guangdong, Guangxi, and Fujian. There is a tight market and, in the near future, the prices are estimated to continue increasing.

basil plant3

Basil Oil (India)

In India, Basil is harvested between the months of November and February. At present, it is challenging to obtain the Basil plant material.


Rosemary Oil (Spain)

In Spain, Rosemary is harvested between February and June. Oil samples that are currently available in the market are derived from wild harvesting, and the distillation of the first batches of oil is set to proceed. Despite the low availability of Rosemary, the market is calm at present, but the updates from local farmers are optimistic.


Cinnamon Leaf Oil

In Sri Lanka, Cinnamon is harvested between the months of May and November. Due to a major drought in the growing region, the collection has decreased and the oil supply is low. A new crop was expected to have become available in larger quantities between July and August, an ideal time to meet the year’s requirements. The prices for Cinnamon Leaf Essential Oil are unstable; however, this is partly because of the depreciation of the Sri Lankan rupee.


The rise in “makeover your medicine cabinet” approaches to using essential oils presents three key problems:

  1. It is the least effective way to therapeutically use essential oils.
  2. It does not address the root problem.
  3. It is illegal in the United States.

To best understand the problems we must first look at how this all got started…

A Brief History of Botanical Medicine

Humans have been employing the use of botanicals, or plants, to support and restore health for some 50,000 years. Or, you could probably say botanicals have been used as long as humans have been on the planet.  Botanical medicine has a 5,000 year written history based on the energetics of the person and the plant. You see, humans have been treating the individual long before they fully understood anatomy, physiology, and states of disease.

When the shift began in the last century to do away with this model of healing and instead treat disease and illness, the lay-person lost a valuable resource for wellness care. Prevention was tossed to the wind and we lost sight of taking care of ourselves based on our energetic makeup. And if you look around, we’re really rather suffering from the lack of wellness-based medicine in our lives and our communities, aren’t we? I certainly think so.

Botanical Medicine is Holistic at its Core

If you had an appointment today with an Ayurvedic practitioner, a Chinese medicine practitioner, a herbalist, or myself, you wouldn’t be treated for your high blood pressure, your osteoarthritis, or your migraines. While all of these symptoms are important and will be considered by the practitioner as part of a whole you’ll really be treated based on your energetic constitution and the symptoms will be viewed as clues to what’s really going on.

How do you experience the world? Are you a fire constitution expressing too much heat through chronically inflamed joints? Are you an air constitution expressing too much wind that leaves you mentally spacey during the day and with troubling insomnia at night? Has damp or dry energy patterns tipped the scales for your constitution?

Any constitution can experience similar symptoms but getting to the root of the cause takes some asking, listening, and observing (hence my 5 pages of questions on my intake form!). A fire type and an air type can both have knee pain but their origins are very different and their treatment plans should be different as well.

Replacing Drugs with Essential Oils

So you want a natural solution for [insert health complaint here]. After being steeped in treating disease states instead of the person for the past hundred years your first thought isn’t going to be: “I’ll use this essential oil because it has this energetic aspect that my body needs for balance.” Nope. You’re going to look at what western medicine would classify the essential oil for.

Let’s say you’ve got a sinus headache. It’s allergy season here in Southeastern Utah and between the mold and the plant pollens, a lot of folks are really suffering. What would be your first choice for that sinus headache from your essential oil kit? If you looked just at the chemistry you might choose, say, Peppermint. It’s rich in terpenic alcohols (aka monoterpenols) and right there on the monograph, it says “decongestant,” that’d be just the thing!

But wait, that’s only part of the story of peppermint essential oil. Peppermint’s energetics give us deeper clues as to who should be utilizing this essential oil. It’s in the pungent family (TCM, Ayurveda, AGM) and likes to move and circulate energy in the body. It’s also classified as a Yin botanical with cooling properties. So, who needs these properties? Someone with a hot and Yang temperament, yes? Aha! What if your constitution tends toward cold though? What if your dominant dosha is Vata? What if it’s a Yin and cold season and the last thing you want is to amplify that temperature in yourself? Oh, then this isn’t the right essential oil for you at all. In fact, it might exacerbate your constitution and you’ll only feel worse. Well, that’s not the relief you were looking for.

If you choose an essential oil like a drug: this essential oil for this acute health problem; the worse that happens is you feel worse, or it doesn’t work. While unpleasant, or disappointing, it isn’t necessarily life-threatening if you’re working within safe dosing guidelines. What is potentially life-threatening is when essential oils are bought and sold to advanced disease states like cancer, high blood pressure, or an autoimmune condition. There aren’t any essential oils that will replace chemotherapy, blood pressure medication, or treat multiple sclerosis. Not that these disease states cannot be improved by treating the individual, it’s just that essential oils aren’t drugs. What happens if you follow the bad advice of taking Frankincense essential oil for cancer? If you take enough to wipe out cancer it will be too poisonous a dose for your eliminatory organs to handle and you’ll go into organ failure and die. If you don’t take enough, it will likely protect the cancer cells giving them the opportunity to continue to grow and spread, and if you’re in chemotherapy at the same time it will make the chemo harder to do its job.

Essential Oils Cannot Legally be Sold or Recommended as Drugs

So, if death or worsening of a condition isn’t an indication enough that essential oils aren’t drugs and shouldn’t be used to treat from a western medicine perspective there’s the fact that it is completely illegal for essential oils to be recommended and sold as drugs in the United States. The branches of U.S. government, designed to protect consumers and the field of medicine, have created specific laws around this.

In the United States a sales representative (product rep/consultant), an employee at Whole Foods, your aromatherapist, your herbalist, or your aromatic therapies practitioner, cannot:

  • treat medical conditions – headaches, cancer, cold/flu
  • prescribe, recommend or suggest essential oils, herbs, or nutritional supplements for medical conditions
  • diagnose medical conditions

…unless they are licensed in their State to practice and prescribe medicine.

Why this is Great for You and Me

Making it illegal to use essential oils as drugs is a rather good thing for both you and me. Firstly, it protects you, the consumer, from snake oil sales folks that want to sell you a product for your medical condition. There’s no reason an untrained, unlicensed person should be practicing or prescribing medicine. Okay, we could probably argue the benefits of emergency medicine in the event of the zombie apocalypse.

It’s also great for me, as an aromatherapist, that I don’t have to practice medicine. Or prescribe medicine. I didn’t go to medical school and I have zero interest in practicing western medicine. My CPR training card doesn’t give me any authority to treat your medical condition any more than your neighbor licensed in plumbing does.

I can treat you as the wonderfully holistic person that you are – with your unique way of absorbing and expressing this beautiful life. And that’s why I’ve spent 19 years studying holistic medicine! I love tapping into the body’s own innate healing abilities by gently nudging it towards homeostasis, that balanced state it thrives in and strives for.

Eastern and Western Medicine Synergy

In closing, I want to talk about the benefits of combining modern and ancient medicine models in the practice of aromatherapy.

Eastern aromatherapy looks at the energetics of the person and the essential oil and prepares a treatment plan based on supporting the constitution of the individual. Be it grounded in Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ayurvedic Medicine, Ancient Greek Medicine, or another system, it always supports the person, not the allopathic disease state.

Western aromatherapy closely analyzes and studies the chemistry of the essential oil. This information gives us the biophysical action of the essential oil, dosing parameters, and safety information like contraindications and cautions. Then it looks at the scientific study of the human body: anatomy and physiology (A&P). A&P gives us guidance on routes of absorption, how the chemistry of the essential oil travels in the body when we smell it, when we apply it to the skin, when we use it internally, and the best methods to accomplish each of these routes for the highest therapeutic effect.

Each area gives us one half of the story, and when combined we have a holistic, modern, wellness tool that is powerful, safe, and very effective. Toss in a healthy diet, loving movement of your body, and we could quite possibly change the world with aromatherapy!


This article is focusing on the problems with selling essential oils like drugs.

Some of the key problems are:

  1. Essential oils aren’t approved as drugs in the United States.
  2. A prescription is required by a medical professional licensed to prescribe medicine in his/her State.
  3. A license to practice as a pharmacist and control a pharmacy is required.

To first understand the problems we need to look at some of the ways essential oils are regulated in the United States.

Classification of Essential Oils

fdaEssential oils are regulated by the following federal agencies:

  • Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
  • Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Fish and Wildlife departments
  • Customs and Border Protection (CBP)

The federal government doesn’t recognize essential oils as their own class of consumer products. Instead, the category an essential oil falls under is based on:

  1. the words you & the manufacturer use to market the essential oil – referred to as “claims” by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
  2. the perception of how the essential oil is to be used by the consumer.

An essential oil might be sold under one of these categories:

  • cosmetic
  • dietary supplement
  • approved drug
  • GRAS flavoring
  • soap
  • air freshener or household cleaner

As much as we love our all-in-one bottles of essential oils the federal agencies don’t. Accordingly, you can’t market the same bottle for multiple categories. It’s a pick one or none kind of deal. If an essential oil is sold as a cosmetic (topical use product) it cannot make structure/function claims. If an essential oil is sold with structure/function claims (supports the natural functioning of the respiratory/digestive system) it is classified as a dietary supplement and can be sold in pre-formulated capsules to be taken by mouth or in a dietary supplement bar clearly labeled not a food. If an essential oil is sold as a food and beverage flavoring ingredient it can only be used according to GRAS dilution standards to appear in products around 100-1000 parts per million. If an essential oil is sold as an over-the-counter drug it must be formulated according to the FDA’s monograph. If an essential oil is sold as an approved (new or old) drug it is sold by prescription by a licensed pharmacist in a licensed pharmacy that meets federal regulations for formulations and dosing.

Please note I am not covering livestock and veterinarian use of essential oil sales as that is not an area I have researched nor do I have a great deal of interest in.

Cosmetics are a classification of essential oils intended for use on the skin and body. And yes, as I’ve pointed out above, a cosmetic product cannot also be a dietary supplement and vice versa.

“articles intended to be rubbed, poured, sprinkled, or sprayed on, introduced into, or otherwise applied to the human body…for cleansing, beautifying, promoting attractiveness, or altering the appearance” [FD&C Act, sec. 201(i)].

Dietary supplement is a classification of essential oil constituents intended for use in the body. A good example of a product on the market that meets DSHEA guidelines and employs a C02 extraction of cinnamon is New Chapter brand’s Cinnamon Force alongside the alcohol extraction of the herb cinnamon. Remember, an essential oil cannot be sold as both a dietary supplement and a cosmetic – the same bottle cannot be sold for skin use.

Congress defined the term “dietary supplement” in the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) of 1994. A dietary supplement is a product taken by mouth that contains a “dietary ingredient” intended to supplement the diet.

GRAS flavoring is a classification of essential oils that are intended to flavor foods and beverages. There’s a good bit of confusion around GRAS and essential oils – namely that GRAS doesn’t mean it is a dietary supplement and that the FFDCA has guidelines for essential oils used in flavoring foods and beverages that generally range somewhere between 10-1000 parts per million in a finished product. To get a better idea of what this looks like I recommend you read my article: Essential Oils and GRAS: What it really means.

“GRAS” is an acronym for the phrase Generally Recognized As Safe. Under sections 201(s) and 409 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (the Act), any substance that is intentionally added to food is a food additive, that is subject to premarket review and approval by FDA, unless the substance is generally recognized, among qualified experts, as having been adequately shown to be safe under the conditions of its intended use, or unless the use of the substance is otherwise excluded from the definition of a food additive. For example, substances whose use meets the definition of a pesticide, a dietary ingredient of a dietary supplement, a color additive, a new animal drug, or a substance approved for such use prior to September 6, 1958, are excluded from the definition of food additive.

Essential oils can also be sold in soaps, in perfumes (under the cosmetics guidelines), as air fresheners (regulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission), and of course in OTC and new drugs. Just keep in mind that soaps, perfumes, air fresheners, diffuser blends can’t be sold with cosmetic, drug, or dietary supplement claims (i.e. you can’t sell a diffuser blend for immune support during cold and flu season).

Why we can’t sell essential oils as drugs

If you want to sell essential oils as drugs there are a few legal hurdles in your pathway:

  • State licensure as a pharmacy facility and as a pharmacist
  • Compliance with current good manufacturing practices (CGMP)
  • Labeling with adequate directions for use
  • FDA approval prior to marketing
  • A prescription from a medical professional with a current license to prescribe

Some folks are not prepared to go to pharmacy school to sell Lavender essential oil for headaches or a cold-flu essential oil blend. Not to mention getting essential oils approved as drugs (hundreds of thousands of dollars), and have you even priced liability insurance to work as a pharmacist in this litigious country? Yeesh!

Ways you can’t sell essential oils

Again, a disclaimer that I am not your legal adviser but am offering information based on consulting with no fewer than 7 licensed attorneys in 4 states and that I rather devour regulatory websites like romance novels, this is what it boils down to:

Ways you can’t sell a bottle of Lavender, Peppermint, Frankincense, or other essential oil:

  • You can’t make disease/condition claims without a license to practice medicine, prior approval from the FDA as a drug, a pharmacy license, and a prescription from a medical professional with a license to prescribe (since you can’t treat medical conditions, prescribe, and fill prescriptions all under the same roof). Disease/condition claims would include terms like headaches, cold/flu, cancer, high blood pressure.
  • You can’t make drug claims without prior approval from the FDA, a pharmacy license, and a prescription from a medical professional with a license to prescribe. Drug claim examples would include terms like analgesic, expectorant, antispasmodic, antimicrobial.
  • You can’t sell a bottle of essential oil with structure/function claims if it is to be applied to the outside of the body or inhaled unless you follow the guidelines of manufacturing an over the counter drug and then you wouldn’t have a bottle of essential oil anymore you’d have a topical OTC drug.

Further thoughts on ‘relaxation’ and structure-function claims

To sell Lavender essential oil with a claim of “relaxation” it must be in the form of a dietary supplement. Not a raw ingredient like a bottle of essential oil but readily available in a product that will go into the consumer’s mouth. Leaving the consumer to manage dosing and dose forms on their own is fraught with problems, namely:

  • dosing is based on the chemistry of the essential oil to determine the level of “active” ingredients in the form of specific chemical constituents.
  • dosing is measured in milligrams and based on the weight of the average adult consumer.
  • capsule selection is based on whether the capsule should dissolve in the stomach acid or in the lower bowels.

None of these is left to the consumer to guess at. And in the end you don’t have a bottle of Lavender essential oil, you have a carefully formulated bottle of encapsulated essential oil. You still have to follow current known safety guidelines, observe laws related to manufacturing, labeling, and advertising, as well as report back to the FDA adverse events consumers have experienced.

I think it is important to remember that encapsulating an essential oil doesn’t reduce potential toxicity with regards to:

  • Teratogenicity – the capability to cause malformations or defects to an embryo or fetus.
  • Hepatotoxicity – the capability to cause toxicity in the liver.
  • Nephrotoxicity – the capability to cause toxicity in the kidneys.
  • Carcinogenicity – the capability to cause cancer through the damage of genome or the disruption of cellular metabolic processes.

The responsibility to make every effort to avoid poisoning the general population through careful regard for dosing (amount and length of use) and delivery systems is on the company’s shoulders. Think companies aren’t responsible for this? Head on over to the U.S. Department of Justice and see for yourself what kind of hot water you can get into when you combine greed, unsafe ingredients, and not following labeling laws. Scrutiny in the dietary supplements industry has skyrocketed in the past few years as consumers are reporting more adverse reactions, raw ingredients are being adulterated or contaminated, and companies are not following federal and state laws when manufacturing products for consumers.

Will we lose access to essential oils in America?

There is a concern felt in many branches of the essential oil and aromatic therapies industry that we may lose access to essential oils if they continue to be sold as unapproved drugs. If essential oils are deemed too dangerous because people are drinking them in water and recommending their use for ebola would it surprise any of us that the FDA pulls them all off the market?

We have this amazing wellness tool and it would break my heart if we lost access to it. Not simply because my livelihood revolves around access to essential oils in my practice, aromatherapy but because they do play a role in my personal wellness care.

How do you sell essential oils in the United States?

So, dear reader;  If you need a space to commiserate on the challenges of retailing essential oils here I’m totally cool with that. I do respectfully ask that you don’t use the comments section to complain that essential oils should be legal to sell as drugs, or that so-and-so or such-and-such company is violating X number of federal laws, or to get on your soapbox about big pharma or government agencies or conspiracy theories. I appreciate your thoughtful replies and look forward to hearing from you!

Melaleuca Introduces New Clary Sage PURE™ Essential Oil – Melaleuca Journal

Clary sage has been used for thousands of years as an herbal remedy. The name “Clary” has its roots in the Latin “Clarus,” which means clear. What are its aromatic notes? Sweet, herbaceous, and lightly floral. What are its primary benefits? Harmonizing and heartening. What makes PURE™ Clary Sage superior? PURE Clary Sage is grown […]

Source: Melaleuca Introduces New Clary Sage PURE™ Essential Oil – Melaleuca Journal

Spa~At~Home Parties

Spa-at-Home parties offer an excellent alternative venue to offer your pampering bath and body products for sale. Opportunities to offer the spa experience within the comfort of the home abound – from traditional home-party style evenings to bachelorette bashes, tween birthday parties, and sleepovers – the potential to leverage your products is limited only by your imagination, and motivation!

Setting the Stage

Theme your presentation around the type of event the hostess is having. For example, if your hostess is having a bachelorette party, you’d want to theme the products and demonstrations around items that the bride and her attendants could use in preparing for the big day – items like facial masks, body scrubs, or relaxing bath salts and soaks. For a tween birthday party, you might instead opt for things like fragranced body splashes and lotions, shower gels and bubble bath.

It isn’t necessary to change your product packaging for these types of events, but you can inject fun into the process by creating themed gift sets, baskets or gift bags in non-traditional types of containers. Some great examples include take-out boxes, cosmetic bags, inexpensive totes or purses, teacups, or martini glasses.

Keeping it Simple

The key to success in putting on these types of events is to keep it simple. Limit your product offering to your best sellers, or those that best fit the group. If you plan to offer demonstrations of items such as scrubs or masks, be sure to instruct your hostess to have extra hand towels, tissues, and other necessities ready for her guests.

Handy Spa-at-Home Party Checklist:

  • Pre-printed order forms
  • Business Cards
  • Brochures or flyers
  • Calendar (to book additional parties!)
  • Party games
  • Inexpensive prizes (pumice stones, nail files, cuticle kits, etc.)
  • Plenty of Sample Products
  • Full-size items for sale
  • Party favors (items such as samples, business card magnets, notepads, etc.)
  • Bags to package purchases
  • Cash bag to make change

Offering spa-at-home parties is a creative way to supplement your income, and introduce your products to new prospects. Focus on sharing your passion for the products, and the benefits that they impart, and sales will surely follow.

To your success with spa products!

Organic Soap and Spa Products!

Much of what we use, consume and put on our bodies in modern society account for increasing health issues today — and synthetically produced spa and soap products are no exception.

Many common soap formulas today contain:

  • Parabens
  • Synthetic fragrance
  • Synthetic colorants
  • Petroleum derived ingredients
  • Formaldehyde
  • Aluminum… and many more harsh chemicals.

These chemical ingredients are used as preservatives to lengthen the shelf-life of soap products.

Several studies showed that these soap ingredients cause skin problems such as dermatitis, clogged pores, and premature skin aging — and because they are absorbed into the bloodstream, can cause a toxic shock. A majority of these synthetic soap ingredients have also been found to be carcinogens. Parabens, for instance, were found in breast tissues of cancer patients.

Sounds scary, right? Ironically, many soap ingredients do more harm than good. They strip the skin’s natural pH balance and destroy the harmless bacteria on our skin that would have served as its natural protection against environmental agents.

So: how can you overcome this? Enter organic soap and spa products!

There are a lot of organic soap varieties on the market:

  • Hand carved
  • Cold processed
  • Liquid forms
  • Gel soaps
  • Non-toxic cleaners

There are a number of ingredients that make organic products ideal. Firstly, peppermint gives a soothing effect to the skin and body when used in a soap product. Alongside immediate ‘skin based’ effects, peppermint is also ideal for relieving muscle aches and stress. It is an anti-inflammatory and antiseptic too. If you are looking or making an organic soap, peppermint is a great start.

Almond and lemon used together is another natural ingredient to use in an organic soap. Usually, almonds are grounded to produce almond oils and are great at mildly exfoliating the skin.

Cinnamon is another powerful organic soap ingredient. It is mildly coarse and generally considered antiseptic (and even an aphrodisiac!). It has a stimulating scent that is known to ease stress.

Other natural components to make organic spa products are:

  • Lavender petals and oils
  • Calendula petals
  • Poppy and orange seed line
  • Dead sea salts for scrubs and much more.

All of these organic ingredients give useful effects to the skin such as battling rashes, drawing out excess oils and reducing wrinkles and so on.

So, if you want to achieve a natural-looking beauty, nothing beats naturally made organic soaps!