Young Living Standards for Quality Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils

As part of Young Living's internal standards of quality therapeutic grade essential oils, there are four areas in which special attention is always given:

  • Plants
  • Preparation
  • Purity
  • Potency

As you will see, each of these provides a significant impact on the way Young Living's therapeutic grade essential oils and other products are developed from seed to seal.

How are Young Living Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils Different than Any Other Brand?

Specific Plants for the Best Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils

Young Living has extensive experience selecting the correct species of plant for the desired potency for therapeutic grade essential oils. Once the right species is selected, only the best growers know how to produce a mature plant using the best soil and right amounts of water. Even knowing the right time of day during the harvest season is critical to creating Young Living therapeutic grade essential oils.

As we talk about this difference, I'd like to focus on two specific therapeutic grade essential oils – clove and helichrysum.

Clove Leaf vs Clove Bud

The most common clove essential oil being sold today is distilled from the leaf and/or stem. On the other hand, Young Living only uses clove bud essential oil (the dried bud of the flower). Clove bud essential oil is fairly costly, as the buds are rather scarce on a clove tree. In fact, for every bud there are about 80 leaves. As you can see, clove leaves are abundant; plus, they produce a very decent yield, and are, therefore, less expensive to distill.

All clove oils smell identical to the untrained nose. Unless the label states clove bud and is unadulterated, you really end up with clove leaf oil that is sub-therapeutic.

Clove is a great example of an essential oil that is quite commonly adulterated. What happens is that a small amount of clove bud oil is extended by mixing with clove leaf and/or stem oil. It is very easy to practice this kind of adulteration and the consumer rarely even notices the difference – except in the therapeutic results.

Eugenol - the main compound in clove essential oil.

The eugenol content of your typical clove bud essential oil is about 80-90%. Eugenol is also found in clove leaf and stem oils in very high amounts. But, this is not the key therapeutic aspect of clove oil. Clove bud oil has a very powerful property that comes from something called eugenol acetate. It is this eugenol acetate that gives the clove bud essential oil the truly therapeutic efficacy you are looking for. Clove bud essential oil is almost 10% eugenol acetate vs. less than 1% that is typically found in the leaf and stem oil.

The difference becomes apparent when modulating physical discomfort. Gary Young suffered intense physical discomfort as a result of his logging accident. So, the modulation of physical discomfort is something that Gary is expert in, and he was the first to really differentiate between the various types of clove.

We've had many vendors try to sell us what they purport to be clove bud essential oil. However, with our advanced analytical equipment, we can really look at every constituent in an essential oil to the parts per million level. In this way, we can identify whether the therapeutic grade clove essential oil is truly from the bud, or from the leaf and stem, or, even, if it has been adulterated in some way. If it is not a pure clove bud essential oil, containing the proper amounts of eugenol acetate and other properties, it is rejected.

Let's look at the essential oil of helichrysum for example…

There are many species of helichrysum, but Young Living will not settle for just any kind of helichrysum for their therapeutic grade essential oils.

helichrysumYoung Living found that the best species of helichrysum, containing the highest amount of therapeutic compounds, is helichrysum italicum literally meaning: from Italy. helichrysum italicum is found throughout the entire Mediterranean – Italy, Yugoslavia, Serbia, Corsica, etc.

It's a real struggle to get any kind of yield of essential oil out of helichrysum. To give you an idea, one of the common names of helichrysum is straw flower. Imagine, if you will, trying to wrest a drop of oil out of straw!

Although helichrysum yields very tiny amounts of essential oil, it is an essential oil really unlike any other. For one thing, it contains di-ketones – very rare in the essential oil chemistry universe. Helichrysum specific di-ketones are only found in the species helichrysum italicum.

Other Important Factors in Obtaining Quality Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils

helichrysumBut, the important part is more than simply the kind of species. Where the plant is grown is absolutely crucial to determine its therapeutic effect. The constituents vary greatly depending on soil conditions, climate conditions, altitude… If helichrysum is grown at the wrong altitude, you will get an inferior essential oil. If you grow helichrysum in improper soil conditions and improper climate conditions, or if you have too much or too little precipitation, you will find the oil to be of very poor quality. These factors lend enormous importance to the potency of the oil – especially in a therapeutic grade setting. For this reason, we have found it to be challenging to find a source of helichrysum – especially during the last several years.

A couple of years ago, there were exceptional dry conditions where the optimum helichrysum is grown, resulting in a very low-yielding, poor quality harvest. We had to choose: discontinue the product for a time, or substitute with a sub-standard product temporarily until we could get a better supply in. The choice was obvious since Gary has a firm belief that if the oil is not absolutely therapeutic grade, it is better to be out-of-stock, than to compromise and sell something that is less than Young Living Therapeutic Grade. In fact, we were sold out of therapeutic grade helichrysum essential oil for almost a year, yet many other companies were not.

Preparation

Even if you have the correct species of plant, grown in the correct climate, grown in the correct altitude, under the correct growing conditions, the essential oil can very easily be ruined in the distillation process. Distilling plants is a complex process involving maintaining proper pressure and heat for the right amount of time.

Take helichrysum for example… Since it yields so little oil, there is a real temptation to over-distill it. Yields can be increased by 40% by running the distiller longer and hotter. However, this burns the oil, and creates a sub-therapeutic essential oil that is very, very poor in the type of therapeutic benefits that you would desire in a helichrysum italicum.

France distillery for therapeutic grade essential oilsThere are a lot of distillers that do not use proper practices for the essential oils to optimize therapeutic grade, and they sell their oils cheaper to other folks who are not as discriminating or knowledgeable. So, we really try to cultivate personal relationships with our growers and distillers who have consistently provided quality, whether they are in the United States, Canada, Ecuador, Spain, Madagascar, Morocco, China, India, etc. – literally world-wide; and these partners supply exclusively to us.

We are one of the few companies that actually visit our vendors in the various parts of the world. We visit the distilleries, see what they are distilling, how they are distilling it, look at the time of year they're distilling it, and verify the quality. As you can see, there are a lot of nuances of distillation that create great therapeutic grade essential oils.

Purity

Young Living therapeutic grade essential oils are 100% pure – meaning that they never have alcohol, solvents, or other chemicals added to the distillation process to increase product yield. We do sell two oils that are absolutes – jasmine (from the jasmine flower) and neroli (from the orange flower). Except for those two absolutes, all of our oils are either hydro-distilled, or steam-distilled. If you have a steam-distilled essential oil that should have been hydro-distilled, you will have a sub-therapeutic grade essential oil. Thus, it is very important to understand the nuances of how different plants, spices and different leaves need to be distilled in different ways to truly achieve an optimum therapeutic grade profile.

Young Living labEach and every batch of Young Living therapeutic grade essential oils is subjected to rigorous state-of-the-art analysis at the Young Living laboratory. Our company has some of the best equipment to test the essential oils, including Gas Chromatograph Mass Spectrometer (GCMS) testing, and heavy metals analysis.

All therapeutic grade essential oils have a specific profile that has to match our standard.

This is a standard that we have refined over a number of years. With our testing, we look at constituents in the parts per million area – even the very tiny minor constituents that may have a major impact on the therapeutic effect. We also look for marker compounds that are hallmarks of adulterated oils, or extended oils, or oils that have been confused or swapped for other oils.

melissaTake for example the essential oil of Melissa. It is very common in the industry to substitute citronella and lemongrass blends for the essential oil of Melissa. With the GCMS we are able to determine the minor compounds in Melissa that are unique only to Melissa. In other words, we can tell if the Melissa in question is truly Melissa, or composites of lemongrass and citronella.

If an essential oil does not meet the high standards for a Young Living therapeutic grade essential oil, then it is rejected. In fact, we reject about 80% of all of the essential oils that are brought to us or that we will find ourselves. Many of these rejected oils, however, find their way to other essential oil companies and are still sold as therapeutic grade.

Even with the most sophisticated technology, producing therapeutic grade essential oils with all of their active compounds takes commitment and expertise – exactly what Young Living Essential Oils strives for.

Potency

The culmination of the Plants, Preparation, and Purity is Potency. Potency, in essence, makes up the Young Living promise – all therapeutic grade essential oils that Young Living distills or sources has the most optimal naturally-occurring blend of constituents to maximize the desired therapeutic effect.