Friday, October 15, 2004


Essential Oils are the life blood of the plant world. They have a similar biochemistry to human blood - oxygen, nitrogen, carbon, etc. They perform very similar functions: remove waste, transport food, oxygenate cells. They also raise frequency. Essential oils have been shown to stimulate the immune system and help the body balance itself for optimal health. Essential oils kills virus, bacteria, molds, fungus and parasites.

The Essential Oil Desk Reference defines essential oils:

 "Essential oils are aromatic volatile liquids distilled from shrubs, flowers, trees, roots, bushes, and seeds. Vegetable oils can become oxidized and rancid over time and are not antibacterial. Essential oils on the other hand cannot go rancid and are powerful antimicrobials. They are chemically very complex, consisting of hundreds of different chemical compounds. Moreover, they are highly concentrated and far more potent than dried herbs. The distillation process is what makes essential oils so concentrated. It often requires an entire plant or more to produce a single drop of distilled essential oil.

Essential oils are also different from vegetable oils, such as corn oil, peanut oil, and olive oil. They are not greasy and do not clog the pores like many vegetable oils can."

In the US, essential oils are governed by the perfume act. That means a label can say 100% essential oil, but by law only has to have a small amount of plant material in it. The rest of the bottle can be filled with all kinds of chemical fillers. A common one is propylene glycol - commonly known as antifreeze. Perfume? Well, maybe. But medicinal? Definitely not in my book.

It takes great knowledge and skill in many specialties to cultivate and produce true medical grade essential oils. Medical grade essential oils, for therapeutic application, are so designed by ISO (International Standards Organization) and AFNOR, a French standards and certifying agency.

Here are some of the processes and considerations at the Young Living herb farms and essential oil distillery in Utah. Young Living is the largest, internationally certified medical grade pure oils grower, distiller and distributor in the world.

A GC is a gas chromatograph. It measures what an oil has in it, and in what quantities. Since there re over 70,000 different kinds of molecules n plant oils, some are still unknown to us. However,with a GC, dilution and other forms of adulteration can usually be identified. It's not foolproof, but it is the best tool that we have available to us today, especially when used in conjunction with a mass spectrometer, which is another type of equipment used to test oils.

All Young Living oils are quarantined until they have been thoroughly tested. If there are any discrepancies, they are sent out to other labs to be tested again. Because of Gary Young's (the founder) commitment to purity, our oils actually have a very complex testing process that they go through. To my knowledge, there is no other company testing their oils as stringently.

The problem is that even if an oil is pure, it may not contain the ingredients that make up an excellent oil. For example, the standard process, in the industry, for distilling an oil may include high temperature and high pressure during distillation, to maximize yield.

The plant may have laid in the field for a long time before it is processed.

 It may be distilled in an aluminum distiller, or chlorinated water might be used.

The plants might be laden with petro-chemicals like pesticides or fertilizer.If so, during distillation, the chemicals may adversely affect the oil.

 A hybrid of the plant may be grown, which may not contain the desired molecules.

The plant can be harvested at the wrong time in its growth process.

Any of these factors can be present, and yet, a manufacturer can still call their oil, "pure". Do you see? This is why distillation is as much of an art as it is a science. Do you think the typical company cares about all of these details? I don't think so. They're looking for "pure" oils that they can buy cheap. Gary Young cares, he cares a great deal.

Young Living goes to great lengths to grow the plants that will provide us with what we want in an oil.

Gary Young is very specific about the soil that the plants are grown in. I remember when he bought the Whispering Springs Farm in Mona, UT (now called the Young Living Farm), and he was so excited to show it to us. The only things out there were an old, broken down house, several natural springs, and huge piles of organic manure..... He was grinning from ear to ear. He and Mary spread that manure themselves, knowing that it would build the soil, organically.

When the plants are ready for harvest, I have heard Gary make the crew wait until just the right time for harvesting - when the plants were in the optimum part of their growth process.

I remember, many years ago, when he wasn't sure - was it better to distill peppermint during the bloom, or just before? And how long should they wait, after harvesting, and before distilling? The industry said to wait, and yet, his heart told him that if he did, valuable molecules would be lost.

He tested his theory, and re-tested, until he got the results he wanted. He takes the plants directly out of the field, to the distiller, as soon as possible. In my opinion, he has re-written the rules on distillation in these past several years. I've been present as he has experimented with the process, and his dedication to improvement never ceases to amaze me.

And how about using city water to distill with? No, says Gary, it has to be pure water, without chlorine and other harmful chemicals. He even waters the fields at the farm with spring water.

And the distillers are stainless steel. And he's constantly re-designing them to make them more efficient at capturing the molecules that can make all the difference to us.

He's revolutionized distillation by using low temperatures and low pressure. His goal is to have the best oils in the world. It's his challenge to himself. He lays awake at night thinking of new ways of improving the process.

I remember when we went to France, several years ago, he took with him lavender oil from the YL farm. He had so carefully grown the plants in organic soil, watered them with spring water, and when it was time to distill, he chose the time carefully, and then distilled with especially low temperature and low pressure. In France, they tested the oil, and found many molecules that had never been seen in lavender before. He was ecstatic.