Monday, May 26, 2014

Why We Carry Oshadhi and Tisserand Essential Oils

This is part two in a series on essential oils at Boline Apothecary. Part one can be read here.

 At the store, we have selected two lines of essential oils to carry on a regular basis. Since they are less familiar to many folks in the area, I wanted to introduce them and explain why I selected them. The two companies that I selected are Oshadhi and Tisserand.

Both are European companies, not US companies. Oshadhi is German, and Tisserand is British. Both companies were started by world renown aromatherapists who started this science in the 1970's. As someone who believes in both "organic, ethical, pronouncable and effective" remedies -and- locavorism in what you ingest, why on earth did I go with foreign companies, you may ask?

Because the United States has little to no effective regulations on essential oils and the ones that they do have favor companies, not consumers. The EU is much more stringent on what ingredients are allowed, what processes can be used, and how things are labeled. I wanted that level of scrutiny on a product that I put on my skin or inhale. (1)

When selecting essential oils, there are a few things you need to consider:

1. How are the plants sourced? Does the company know the cultivator, or do they own the land themselves? Oils are only as good as the plants. So the cultivation and harvest methods should be overseen by the company. Companies like doTerra do not have land or relationships with cultivators nor do they distill their own lines. In order to ensure the oil is pure, a good aromatherapy company has no choice other than to source essential oils direct from the grower/supplier, and to build a close relationship with those farmers who cultivate healing plants to the highest standards. Through this personal contact we know that they practice methods of cultivation which are in accordance with the natural rhythms of the land, and that they utilize methods of distillation which do not damage the pure essences from the plants.

2. How are they distilled and processed into oils? Most people "into" EOs know enough to choose companies that use steam distillation over chemical solvents when possible (some plants cannot be extracted by steam distillation). But there is more to it than that. Are the oils high quality, single source plants, or is it a blend that includes low quality cheaper oils and spiked enough with higher quality ones to "test well"?

Only about 5% of the total global production of essential oils is ultimately destined for therapeutic use. Most essential oil production is bound for the fragrance or flavor industries, and (let's be clear about this) they have less exacting standards of purity(2). It's from these various sources that doTerra gets its oils, because they do not have relationships with growers. Yes, they claim to test them to be ensured of potency (but these oils are likely blends of many species from all over the world, some lesser quality mixed in with some higher quality). Industrial production generally attempts to obtain a specific standardized reproducible note of fragrance, or an identical active ingredient. These oils will generally not appear in price lists under a specific botanical name. The reason for this is that those oils are produced either from different species of lesser value, from mixed crops or from mixing with synthetic components. This is why you will see "Frankincense" on many commercially available oils, but not where or how it was sourced. It is a conglomerate of sources, all mixed together. It is not pure and some of the lesser quality oils are mixed in with enough of the higher grade ones to "test well".

3. How are they tested? It is important to perform careful laboratory testing for purity using gas chromatography and - if necessary - mass spectrography. This guarantees that essential oils are 100% pure. Comprehensive analyses and quality controls, supported by on-going state-of-the-art laboratory tests should be done including:

Optical rotation
Gas chromatography analysis
And, if necessary, mass spectrography

doTerra makes the claim to have the highest grade testing in the United States. Anyone familiar with US law regarding cosmetics, drugs, and body care knows- all the power is in the hands of for-profit companies and the government does little to no regulation on consumer health and body products. So that "best in the US" claim is not worth much. No one is enforcing their claim. But in the EU, the standards are much higher than in the US for these products. This is how doTerra gets away with creating their own certification (that is meaningless) and makes the claim that they are the only ones who have it. The US does not enforce standards.

3. How are they labeled? Is it clear and accurate as to source, extraction method, date bottled, and the latin name for each botanical (so you know that you are getting one specific plant instead of a blend of related plants from different parts of the world)?

4. Is the oil adulterated? For therapeutic use, we want to have a pure, clean, unadulterated oil with a good energy value and a clear fragrance. The more exact the description of the essential oil, the less risky it is for the buyer to purchase something impure. A company who can inform its customers about its oils and where they come from (species as well as geography) shows that it is better connected to the plant source and therefore the chances of adulteration are minimized.

All oils for therapeutic use should be unadulterated: 100% pure natural products. This means no chemical additives; no diluting with alcohol; no thinning with other oils unless necessary for certain purposes (i.e. access to the product because too solid, or specifically for the creation of new products, blends, etc.) Essential oils should not be peroxidized, decolorized, nor deturpenated.

The most common methods of adulterating essential oils (and most cheap oils and commonly found ones like Aura Cacia, Now, and the like) are:
  • Dilution with vegetable carrier oils, alcohol, and synthetic oils (which are cheaper).
  • Blending with cheaper oils of the same plant but from another country. For example: Bourbon Geranium with Geranium from China; Moroccan Myrtle with Myrtle from the Balkans; Siberian Fir with Chinese Fir.
  • Mixing with cheaper essentials oils of the same plant but extracted from a different part of the plant. For example: Clove bud with Clove leaves; Cinnamon bark with Cinnamon leaf; Angelica root with Angelica leaf.
  • Dilution with cheaper essential oils of plants of similiar species. For example: Thyme (thymus vulgaris) with wild Thyme (thymus mastichina); Lavender with Lavandin; Ceylon cinnamon with Chinese Cassia.
  • Adulteration with cheaper essential oils of different plants or of species with a similiar name. For example: East Indian with so called 'West Indian Sandalwood' (Amyris); Lemongrass with Litsea; Patchouli with Eucalyptus; Verbena with Lemongrass; Frankincense with turpentine; Rosewood with Ho oil; Melissa with "Indian Melissa" (Lemongrass etc.); Clary sage with Lavender; Mandarin with Orange; The so called 'white' Thyme  with turpentine...
  • Mixing with isolated natural or (semi-) synthetic compounds. For example: Lemon with citral and Orange-terpenes; Peppermint with menthol; Eucalyptus with cineol; Geranium with geraniol or citronellol; Patchouli with clove bud terpenes; Rosemary with camphor; Thyme with thymol or carvacrol; Cardamon with terpenyl acetate; Elemi with Orange terpenes; Clary sage with lynalyl acetate or synthetic linalool; Clove bud with eugenol

Yes, these adulterations happen all the time. It's likely happened to the oil you have right now.

4. Are they respected internationally? What do certified aromatherapists worldwide think of the company and their practices?

5. Do they "train" their own sales reps to tout a company line, or do they rely on independently certified professionals to tout their products for them? MLM companies like doTerra and Young Living train their reps themselves - and often spread misinformation as a result. doTerra and Young Living, against the common sense and expertise of every certified aromatherapist out there, has products they recommend for internal use and even train their reps to talk about their oils as "food grade". No essential oil should ever be ingested without supervision of a trained professional, period.

You can guess where I am going with these leading questions. Most oil companies out there cannot answer these questions very well at all. Let me tell you about Oshadhi and Tisserand:

Oshadhi: Experts on rare and organic oils 

Oshadhi sets the standard for meticulously produced, pure, therapeutic-grade essential oils, worldwide. They not only have furthered the study and research in aromatherapy by investing in new and rare oil production (there are now 650 botanicals in their line), but have set the standard in how to work with growers and producers when making a healing product. The company was founded by Dr Malte Hozzel, an internationally respected expert on medicinal oils and educator.

If you are going to make a botanical product that you claim is pure, you should know the source of your botanicals. Oshadhi works with farmers directly:
"Our 'treasure hunt' for the best essential oils goes on and on, never ending, always more surprising, always more demanding. This is a challenge we relish. During our quest, we have established strong ties with over 100 farmers of medicinal plants throughout the world. These farmers are committed to the wise and prudent treatment of the soil and have demonstrated a deep respect for nature. Many do the same work as their father and grandfather did, often using traditional stainless steel or copper stills which provide the optimum conditions for the full aroma of the essential oils and maintenance of the active ingredients." -Oshadhi UK website.
They work with farmers employing responsible ecological farming methods:
"There has been ever-increasing degradation of soil due to the misuse of natural resources. This is specifically due to the clear-cutting of plants, over-harvesting, the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides, and monocultural farming. Unfortunately, few farmers are aware of the dramatic consequences of these widespread practices. Oshadi promotes organic farming (both with certified growers and those using organic methods that are uncertified- ed.)."
They respect the plants. Here the founder talks about that topic:

Oshadhi has a range of 650 finest quality, organic, natural essential oils. They are sourced directly from farmers and handled without any electronic or mechanical filling equipment -that's right, oils are bottled by hand to ensure purity. Oshadhi sources oils only with farmers who work in harmony with nature, and who share their ideals of organic agriculture. The wildcrafted plants are ethically sourced. The non-organic (Select) lines are raised with no pesticides and is raised with organic practices, but the soil has yet to receive organic certification.

For the sake of transparency and clarity, Oshadhi labels their essential oils with:
  • the exact botanical name- so you are not getting a blend.
  • the country of origin- so you know where your oil came from
  • the part of plant used for distillation- Did you know that many companies label their cinnamon bark only to have it tested and actually be cinnamon leaf. This may be deliberate or it may be an honest mistake. When you rely on big distillation conglomerates to keep things straight for you, it may get mixed up.
  • the mode of cultivation- certified organic, wildcrafted, or standard (means organic methods with no certification)
  • the major biochemical compounds inside, so you know that it was tested.
Every tiny blue Oshadhi bottle has this. Does your essential oil company do that?

Tisserand: consistent quality and testing

Tisserand is the line of Robert Tisserand (the man credited with starting aromatherapy as a science and is the foremost consulted expert on essential oils worldwide). When you study aromatherapy at an independent institute for certification, you will read his texts and learn all about how he is called upon to test and further the research of this new science called aromatherapy. The fact that his name is on every bottle is a huge testament to the quality of oil in every bottle.

If you are just getting into essential oils, you might want to give Tisserand's line a look. They make high quality oils (also certified organic, farmed with organic methods but uncertified, or ethically wildcrafted - just like Oshadhi).

They have a smaller single oil product line (they have 30 botanicals in their line) than Oshadhi (but who doesn't?) and give you a larger 9 ml bottle to start, so they are often more economical. While I trust them to be pure (and testing bears that out), they do not label some of the things that Oshadhi does (country of origin and part of plant used specifically).

They are the UK's #1 therapeutic brand and work hard on environmental causes, too. (In addition to sourcing their oils ethically and sustainably, they plant trees to offset their carbon footprint as a company.) They make personal care products in addition to essential oils, and their line is ethically and naturally sound as well.

We carry many of their singles as well as blends in roller ball form, for ease of portability. They also have some wonderful starter packs (like the Tea Tree, Lavender, and Eucalyptus trio for $30!)

No matter whether you choose Oshadhi or Tisserand at Boline Apothecary, you are getting some of the finest essential oils on the planet.

If you are interested in a mini course on aromatherapy, we plan to offer one this summer. Sign up on our email list to make sure you hear about registration for that.

(1) Please note that I did not say ingest when referring to how to use essential oils. No matter what a company tells you, EOs are *not* to be ingested unless you are working directly with a certified aromatherapist on a specific therapy. To sell a product like On Guard (or to train our reps to add Eos to smoothies and other food) like doTerra does is deliberate malfeasance and shenanigans. They say that to get you to buy more and go through more product.

(2) Did you know that "vanilla" and "raspberry" flavors are often not from those plants but from beaver anal glands? Eew.


  1. Thank you for this information! This is very helpful. I have purchased some doTerra oils previously, but felt that there were some issues with their practices, although I couldn't put my finger on it. I do felt they helped in whatever therapy I was using it for, but felt it was odd that they promote ingesting it. I also didn't like that they weren't organic, so you didn't know if there was any contamination from pesticides, etc. I look forward to trying the two brands you mentioned!

  2. Thank you for sharing all of this information. I love you thoroughness and dedication to research and quality. Have a nice day! Blessed be :)

  3. Could you recommend some starter oils? What are your "must haves" for beginners? Thank you!!

    1. Hi there! I recommend five to start: Lavender, Tea Tree, Eucalyptus, Frankincense, and Chamomile.

      I sell all these in the Tisserand line, and Tisserand even makes a cost effective starter pack of Lavender, Eucalyptus, and Tea Tree for $35.

      Not all of these oils are safe for children under age 6, but Lavender and Chamomile are!


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