As part of Young Living's internal standards of quality, there are four areas in which special attention is always given:
As you will see, each of these provides a significant impact on the way Young Living's products are developed from seed to seal.
Young Living has extensive experience selecting the correct species of plant for the desired oil potency. 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 a Young Living Therapeutic Grade essential oil.
Let's look at the essential oil of helichrysum for example…
There are many other species of helichrysum, but we do not settle for just any kind of helichrysum.
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.
But, 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 helichrysum for almost a year, yet many other companies were not.
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.
There 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 a great essential oil.
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.
Each essential oil has 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.
Take 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.
The culmination of the Plants, Preparation, and Purity is Potency. Potency, in essence, makes up the Young Living promise – every essential oil that Young Living distills or sources has the most optimal naturally-occurring blend of constituents to maximize the desired therapeutic effect.