Sunday, 30 October 2011

Why Organic essential oils? Skeptic finds aromatherapy is real

Hans and Katri Nordblom
For further information and Shirley Price US NOP Organic oils see

The following essential oils are cleared for use in US hospitals by individuals trained in their safe use.
Eucalyptus globulus
Eucalyptus citriodora
Black Pepper,
Clary Sage, 
Roman Chamomile,
German Chamomile,
Mandarin Red,
Sweet Marjoram,

Ian Brealey
Why organic?
Of course I should say straight away that some of the most delightful aromatherapy oils in use like Rose and Jasmine are not organic certified because of the process used to extract them.  However for the 36 essential oils cleared for aromatherapy use in US hospitals that are described in this booklet we offer an NOP organic oil among our 244 stock oils.

More and more professional aromatherapists, holistic massage therapists and everyday recreational users of aromatherapy are appreciating the potency and purity of certified organic aromatherapy oils, vegetable oils, hydrolats and cosmetic bases.  But for the many who have not used them or do not know about the benefits of using certified organic aromatherapy oils, hydrolats and cosmetic products, this article will attempt to explain the value of using organic products compared with non organic ones and give an introduction to essential oils and their uses.
Sp suppliers have always had a commitment to organic argiculture and traditional methods.  One the supply side the area of organic cultivation of organic aroma plants is expanding rapidly.  At the same time state financial support for wine growing is diminishing creating opportunities for essential oil cultivation. Rather than produce an indifferant wine cultivators can now for example show the same dedication to cultivation of a hectare of thyme for thyme oil.   At the same time Sp under the Lothian Herbs label has been successful in supplying pharmacies reaching a wider audience for pure essential oils.
Essential oils have many properties and are esteemed as preservatives for their anti bacterial and antifungal actions.  No one can see their anti viral actions demonstrated without feeling a little safer!  Because many of our Sp essential oils end up in food, flavouring and natural perfumery we source and bottle essential oils and manufacture aromatherapy products to the same exacting UK manufacturing standards of documentation, labelling, efficiency and hygiene as is required in the handling of food.  Below I also describe some of the label security measures used to give consumers confidence they have been supplied with genuine products.
When it comes to quality some of the best feedback we receive is of course from our customers.  The 6000 Shirley Price Aromatherapy Diploma holders are the largest and most demanding professional aroma community in the world.  Both professionals and their clients are very discriminating.  The Sp distributors around the world too are very knowledgeable and have a good idea of locally produced oils.  Often Sp is alerted to outstanding oils by our worldwide distributors.
A key to buying good quality fresh oil is volume.  I am grateful to the 2000 odd therapists and cosmetic hobbyists who order from Shirley Price Aromatherapy.  In the aggregate their purchases enable the purchase of quality essential oils as close to the farm as possible.
Look out for the approved labels of organic suppliers

Audit trail
Besides my professional work for corporate clients I have the job of sourcing the worlds finest essential oils.  For the most part I work with the great farming/distiller cooperatives whose farmers  produce oils 1000kg at a time under ongoing contracts. UK based distillers also produce many excellent oils from aroma crops grown in the UK. Organic inspection and certification begins at the farm and proceeds in an unbroken chain from the farm to the final product.
What are essential oils?
For someone like me this is the most fascinating of questions.  All the time we are gaining a better understanding of the science of why plants produce essential oil constutuents and their uses both to the plants and to ourselves.  Biosynthesis of essential oils proceeds to create essential oils which are then stored in glands for example menthol in peppermint.  Steam distillation is used to extract the essential oil.

Artisanal distillers
For aromatherapy use artisanal distillers who use traditional methods are very popular.  It is no secret that one of my favourite artisanal distillers of lavender essential oil is Lorella Bevilacqua.  Living in the Tuscan hills of La Maremma in Italy Lorella produces a lavender with unique notes more reminiscent of a Lavender Absolute than a steam distilled lavender.
Her plants are carefully tended and benefit from natural springs in the hills.  The distillation is artisanal proceding 20 litres at a time over 6 weeks rather than the more customary 1000 litre distillations on commercial scale farms.  Shirley Price Aromatherapy are fortunate to purchase her output which in a season is some 30kg of lavender oil which we use in our blended oils, creams and gels.  Lorella is immensely knowledgeable and herself a florentine botannic artist whose illustrations are used in textbooks.  For her the production of lavender oil is a true labour of love involving all the family.
Andrea Butje of the Aromahead College in the USA keeps a blog with descriptions of the artisan distillers she meets.
Its vital that the organic oils have been certified by a well recognised body for example the UK Soil Association.  Usually this is the last step in a chain of organic certification so you can be sure that the production has been subject to annual inspection from the field to our factory in England.

There is so much knowledge and enthousiasm for essential oils all over the world.  Here is the group of 100 taiwanese aromatherapists attending Robert Tisserands aromatherapy seminar in 2010.
Lorella's lavender also illustrates the importance of traditional techniques. Only the flowering heads are cut and distilled, the stalks are left on the plants for removal in Match.
Completeness and freshness
In order to get the results in the textbooks it is necessary to use true whole oils which have been prepared by traditional methods such as these.  Pure, high grade organically-grown oils have therapeutic qualities accorded to them by the Congress of Grasse because they contain a variety of natural chemical components which remain pure and intact.  The therapeutic properties ascribed to essential oils may depend on individual constituents present in only minute quantities.  To obtain a response from the limbic system, the seat of emotion and memory, can require only 20 molecules!  True essential oils have a creamy quality to them which some ascribe to the chemical imprint of the plants 'life force' or enthusiasm for life which dissipates as the oil oxidises through contact with the air. Like any perishable agricultural crop the freshness of the crop is key to a quality oil.  Organic certified oils assist me ensure the oils are both complete and fresh.
Organic Essential oils do not contain any pesticides, herbicides or chemical fertilisers and any other man made chemical residues. This makes the oils both safer and where they are used for their healing effect. Also as the plants are grown to organic standards they are healthier and more vibrant, therefore resulting in a more powerful and richer oil.
At our exhibitions therapists can smell for themselves the difference as I am always happy to open a bottle which a therapist is interested in.
6 reasons to use organic oils
There are many reasons for buying organic oils, one is simply that the aroma is much richer and fuller, but there are also sound health reasons for doing so.
It is safe, nutritious, unadulterated
It does not use artificial chemicals, pesticides and fertilisers
It is environmentally friendly
It is produced without GMOs, which are prohibited within the Soil Association Standards for organic food and farming
It reduces dependence on non-renewable resources
It relies on a modern and scientific understanding of ecology and soil science, while also depending on traditional methods of crop rotations to ensure fertility and weed and pest control
By caring for the soil for future geenrations organic farmers forgo a measure of profit now.  However they create a product of great quality.  Again turning to the esoteric aspects of essential oils some say that the care with which the oils have been farmed distilled and handled is reflected in the energy of the oil.
Many individuals are not aware of the importance of the quality of organic essential oils; they simply go to their health-food shop, chemist or mail order catalogue and buy whatever is available.
Consumers can be sure that members of the aromatherapy trades council consist of aromatherapy companies have carried out meticulous, painstaking research to find the best sources of high quality organic essential oils, and have selected only the purest and most potent oils from these specialist organic growers and suppliers.

Lorella Bevilaqua with her lavender crop
For suppliers to be certain that the oils are sourced from the highest organic quality, suppliers need to follow some common sense procedures.  It is important to travel in person regularly to meet with suppliers.  Buying essential oils is like buying any agricultural commodity a process of getting to know people and staying in touch.
How to find the best organic oils yourself?
Beyond the label individuals should trust their own sense of smell.  The therapeutic effect of the oils they are using will usually be obvious. Here it should be added that one of the primary reasons for only buying organic essential oils is that these oils do not contain any pesticides, chemical fertilisers, artificial preservatives, adulterants or – especially now – do not come from genetically altered plants.
When a certified body like the Soil Association covers a company, they are scrutinised with great detail. Annual checks on stock levels and accounts are made by a Soil Association inspector who also confirms facilities procedures are routinely cleansed to a high standard, that labelling is correct and all manufacturing records are kept and make sense.
A detailed log of every single time a bottle of organic essential oil is filled is maintained, every time a container is used to fill an oil and every item/oil that arrives and is dispatched has to be timed, dated and logged.
By choosing organic agriculture you are supporting the environment and your own health.
Certification of Organic Essential Oils
There are many good certification bodies to choose from both in the U.K. and worldwide, Ecocert International covers the EEC. In the UK the Soil Association is one of the better-known bodies. All our oils are where possible organic including resinoids like Frankincense and Myrhh.
Organic Certification: Professional Standards
Organic farming is a carefully devised system of  production defined by EU law and is based on the following principles:
• Building soil fertility;
• Minimal use of non-renewable resources (no chemicals);
• Minimise pollution and damage to the environment;
• Working with, not against, natural systems;
• Respect for animal welfare;
• Minimal processing or additives
Organic farming is governed by EEC Regulation No. 2092/91, which defines the basic standards of production and processing and the requirements for control and policing. This Regulation is implemented in Britain by the UK Register of Organic Food Standards (UKROFS). The statutory requirements are:
• Two-year conversion period prior to full organic status is achieved;
• Adequate physical and financial separation of organic and non-organic units under the same management;
• Application to, inspection by, and certification with, an approved inspection body, such as Soil Association Certification Ltd;
• Maintenance of adequate records to demonstrate compliance with the standards;
• Annual monitoring and inspection by the approved certification body;
• Strict requirements for labelling and for the use of additives and processing aids.
Source: The Soil Association
Testing procedure:
Include the use of the most up to date GC-MS (Gas Chromatography – Mass Spectrometry) laboratories in the UK.
Security devices
In countries where adulteration and fabrication of aromatherapy products is a problem we can provide scratch and reveal labels.  This reveals a security number which can be checked by logging into Sp distributors websites.  Here is an example.
the silver area is scatched to reveal a number

this can  be checked by logging into the distributors website

Soil Association licence
Soil Association list
Because Sp supply in volume around the world Sp is able to bring the working therapist organic oils at very reasonable cost.  Some oils are much dearer than conventionally farmed oils in which case the conventional oil is listed.  As a rule of thumb organic citrus oils are 50% more expensive than pure but inorganic oils.  As citrus oils are in any case relatively cheap it is worth paying the difference but we always list the non organic alternative so the choice is yours.
One of the fruits of increased availability of organic essential oils is inexpensive hydrolats.  This is the ditilled water from which the oil separates which contains many useful water soluable aromatic elements.  Hydrolats are valued for their cosmetic use in skincare and have been found to have important therapeutic properties. (1) In the english language Suzanne Catty is a highly regarded therapist and author. (2)
With some exceptions it is not possible to recommend organically grown vegetable oils on cost grounds.
I do not favour statements of what I personally or a company is against.  I prefer statements of what we are for! The company has alway maintained a popular cosmetic white lotion as a base for massage.  Sp also stocks a range of organic cosmetic bases made to the highest standards.

Students learn more about quality organic oils as part of their studies at the FHT accredited Shirley Price International College of Aromatherapy in Hinckley whether for aromatherapy or holistic skincare and cosmetics
The Shirley Price factory hosts the college training and students come to the UK from all over the world to work in the factory and qualify as professional aromatherapists. What a wonderful way to learn aromatherapy surrounded by hundreds of the finest available essential oils!
The various course details and bookings can be arranged with the college secretary Rosie Brandrick, herself a qualified beauty therapist

Aromatherapy Practicioner Diploma Course Description:
This is an exciting and practical Aromatherapy Practicioner Diploma Course with elite tutors, themselves practicioners and authors for a small private class at relatively modest cost.  It will deepen your knowledge and give you hands on experience of working with organic essential oils and aromatherapy.
We will also explore the fullest understanding of essential oils, all in a nourishing and supportive environment.
Course Summary:

The course is be led by Jan Benham MIFPA FFHT
The course comprises 5 weeklong modules held at the factory.  Many other courses are held at the factory too.
Cost is £450 per module.  Minimum course length is one academic year and maximum 4 years.
Course curriculum
Dates can be found on the FHT website
The Shirley Price International College of Aromatherapy tutors
Sara Gelzer MIFPA                          Jan Benham MIFPA, Sue Jenkins MIFPA
Ian Brealey, the tutors and his staff are a familiar site at FHT exhibitions in the UK with their stand of organic essential oils, hydrolats, vegetable oils and cosmetic bases and college stand.  Ian has a first class BSC and is a qualified and professional chartered accountant in practice with a number of company directorships.  Dr Manjit Jaspal qualified in Medicine at Edinburgh University and is a Coventry General Practitioner.  The Brealey and Jaspal families have been acquainted for over 40 years. They are the owners of Shirley Price Aromatherapy Ltd.
For further information:
Shirley Price Aromatherapy Ltd (Directors PI Brealey BSC FCA, Dr M Jaspal MB BS, George Brealey Technical Manager.  244 essential oils
Please tel. (UK) 01455 615466 or email at: or
Our founder
Shirley Price sold the company and college in 1998 and retired.  She continues to update her internationally bestselling books and you can find Aromatherapy for Health Professionals in a new 2011 edition now on Amazon

1.  D.Baudoux Huiles Essentielles 2000ans de decouvertes aromatherapiques pour une medecine d'avenir p105 Les Hydrolats
2. S. Catty, Hydrosols, the next aromatherapy.
3.  J McVicar Jekkas Complete Herb Book
4.  H Beckmann & S Le Quesne, The Essential Guide to Holistic & Complementary Therapy
5.  J Crebbin-Bailey, Dr J Harcup, J Harrington The Spa book, The official guide to Spa Therapy
6. P Davis, Aromatherapy an A-Z
7.  V. Worwood, The Fragrant Pharmacy, The Fragrant Heavens
8. R. Tisserand The Art of Aromatherapy
9. S. Price Practical aromatherapy,
10. S, Battaglia, The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy
11.. P. Franchomme, R. Jollois, D Penoel, L'aromatherapie exactement
12. S Price, L.Price, P. Price, Aromatherapy for Health Professionals, The Aromatherapy Workbook, Hydrolats, Carriers
13.  J. Buckle Clinical Aromatherapy Essential oils in practice
14. ISA, A safety guide on the use of essential oils
15.  R. Tisserand Essential Oil safety

Online resources
For those new to aromatherapy Aromaweb's sitemap is a useful starting point.

Research Papers can be found on PubMed by inputting the common name of the essential oil required. For example lavender.


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