essential oils – Alliance of International Aromatherapists Thu, 08 Dec 2016 20:22:32 +0000 en-US hourly 1 A Rare Glimpse into Adulteration of Essential Oils Wed, 07 Sep 2016 17:56:00 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Essential oil adulteration: camphor and turpentine


Article written by Dr. Raphael d’Angelo, AIA Medical Advisor


I recently was given a fascinating article entitled “How to Adulterate Volatile Oils: A Pre-1906 Manuscript Formulary” (G. Sonnedecker, 1990) and I think the AIA members would find this very informative as a part of aromatherapy history that we rarely encounter.


Adulteration is defined as “any practice that through intent or neglect, results in a variation of strength and/or purity from the professed quality of a drug” was the standard before 1859. In that year the budding American Pharmaceutical Association added ” the intentional addition to an article, for the purpose of gain, or deception…”


Documented falsification of natural substances goes all the way back to the Romans who used their five senses to detect adulterants. This was the only practical way until the early 1800s when physical and chemical tests became more available. The first published work on adulteration (1784) was from a pharmacist in Brussels La Falsification des Medicaments de Voile. The first American publication was by the physician-chemist Lewis C. Beck in 1846 under the title Adulteration of Various Substances Used in Medicine and the Arts.


In the 19th century as it is today, adulteration was a problem that was prevalent and not easily spotted or curtailed. In 1856 the National Wholesale Druggists Association concluded, “the best cultivated and most fruitful field for dishonest practices in our branch of trade has always been in the essential oil business and it continues to be so.” Interestingly, essential oils in this time period were being used much less for personal health concerns and more for food flavoring, drugs, liqueurs, toiletries and cosmetics.


In an effort to combat this greedy practice pharmacy journals would publish specific oils and the proportions of adulterants used in an effort to make pharmacists and other end-users more aware of what to be looking for. However the opposite effect of equipping an unscrupulous producer with the exact knowledge of the craft was a glaring drawback.


The article examined one of these rare manuscripts – a thirty page bound document with fifty-eight formulas for adulterating essential oils and was in use in 1901 and 1902. Twenty different adulterants were noted with oil of turpentine leading the list. In decreasing frequency there was alcohol, oil of Camphor, oil of Cedarwood, oil of Balsam of Gurjon, Castor oil, Black oil, Asphalt Varnish, oil of Birch tar, oil of French Reunion, oil of Geranium, oil of Copaiba, oil of Olivarum, oil of Petit-grain, Carbon Bisulfide, oil of Red Thyme, oil of Sesame, Concentrated Sulfuric Ether, and Carbonate of Iron. An adulterant of 50% or more of the volume was specified in more than half of the formulas. An example was oil of Oregano labeled “pure” contained 17% turpentine and oil of Cedar labeled “commercial” had 90% turpentine.


The article’s Appendix provides examples of the adulteration formulas found in this manuscript. I have selected some that follow.




  • Oil origanum 7 lbs
  • Turpentine 3 gallons
  • Asphalt Varnish 4 drams




  • Oil organum 10 lbs
  • Turpentine 2 lbs




  • French oil of Rose Geranium 2 ounces
  • Oil of Rose, Kissanlick 1 ounce




  • Oil Hyssop 1.75 ounces
  • Alcohol, absolute 0.25 ounces




  • Methyl salicylate 4 lbs
  • Rectified turpentine 1 ounce
  • Oil of Camphor 1 ounce
  • Carbonate of Iron ½ dram


Oil of Turpentine was steam distilled from the crude oleoresin. A V-shaped incision was made in the bark of pine trees in Southern states in the nineteenth century. The sticky resin would flow into collecting pans and then into wooden barrels. From there it was available for sale.




Glenn Sonnedecker, professor emeritus, School of Pharmacy, University of Wisconsin-Madison. “How to Adulterate Volatile Oils: A Pre-1906 Manuscript Formulary”. Presented to the American Institute of the History of Pharmacy, 1990.


My thanks to Mindy Green, Boulder, Colorado for making this article available at the July 2016 AIA Rocky Mountain Regional meeting.

The Bugs of Summer Tue, 14 Jun 2016 23:01:36 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Bugs of Summer


Bug season is upon us and that means it’s time for aromatherapy bug spray blends. Although all essential oils will repel some insects, there are a few that are more commonly used for the summer pests that many deal with such as mosquitoes, black flies, and ticks.


You may need to experiment to find out what works for your local bugs. Here are some essential oils classically used to deter the tiny biters…


  • Citronella (Cymbopogon winterianus)
  • Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
  • Cedarwood (Cedrus atlantica, Juniperus virginiana, Cedrus deodora, or Juniperus mexicana)
  • Patchouli (Pogostemon cablin)
  • Spikenard (Nardostachys jatamansi)
  • Geranium Bourbon (Pelargonium graveolens)
  • Lemon Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus citriodora)
  • Lemon Tea Tree (Leptospermun petersonii)
  • Catnip (Nepeta cataria)


Try different combinations of these oils and experiment by adding some of your own.


Use distilled water with a touch of alcohol, witch hazel, or liquid Castile soap and blend at up to 2% (1% for kids, using kid-safe oils, of course). Hydrosols also make an excellent base and contribute to repelling bugs. Peppermint hydrosol smells especially good when combined with patchouli essential oil.


Try This:


Mix catnip essential oil into neem carrier oil and spray on plants and trees. The neem sticks to the plants and trees and keeps mosquitoes away. Use one tablespoon (30ml) neem per one gallon of water, shake well and spray (catnip eo is optional). Be sure to respray after it rains.


Suggested Proportions:


  • 1 Tbsp Neem oil ( Azadirachta indica)
  • 50 drops Catnip (Nepeta cataria)
  • 1 gallon Water


Bonus Tip:


Leave out Lemongrass as it attracts bees. Beekeepers use lemongrass oil to swarm bees to a new hive (click below to watch video):


Click to watch bee video



Use common sense beyond aromatherapy:


Check your property for potential breeding grounds for mosquitos. Empty anything that has standing water such as buckets and old tires to be sure that they do not nest near your home. Wear protective clothing and tuck pant legs into socks when walking through high grass.


Remember to write down your recipes as you make them so the winning one can be replicated! Share you recipes with us on the AIA Facebook page.


Emily Carpenter

Emily Carpenter is a Certified Aromatherapist, herbalist, and Reiki practitioner who also studies homeopathy. She blogs about her experiences on

Dietary Supplement Regulations and Guidelines for Essential Oils Sat, 11 Jun 2016 03:00:55 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Consult a Colleague


Consult A Colleague


Do you have a burning question about aromatherapy that needs answering?


We’re here to help! Each month one of our colleagues will answer a question in our newsletter. So send them in and keep them coming.


Robert Tisserand, Gabriel Mojay, Anita James, Mindy Green, Mark Webb and others are part of our panel of consultants to answer these questions. Questions will be posted on our blog and in our email newsletter each month.


The questions need to be submitted to
and put “Consult a Colleague” in the subject line.


This Month’s Question

I was wondering when essential oils are used as a dietary supplement what regulations or guidelines are used by manufacturers to assure safety and quality? I know they need to watch verbiage with structure function statements, but how would a consumer know if the oils being used are safe / not toxic, etc.?


The reason I ask is because I was asked to give an opinion about a dietary supplement containing essential oils that was promoting cellular regeneration. Please let me know if you want to know the product name.




Dietary supplement companies are required under federal regulations to manufacture products in compliance with a strict cGMP (current good manufacturing practice) rule (i.e., 21 CFR 111) and are subject to inspection by FDA to ensure compliance. That addresses the “quality” part of your question for finished products, as the cGMP rule defines the term “quality” to mean “that the dietary supplement consistently meets the established specifications for identity, purity, strength, and composition, and limits on contaminants, and has been manufactured, packaged, labeled, and held under conditions to prevent adulteration.” This rule and its definitions are relevant to all dietary supplements, including those that consist of or contain essential oils.


On the issue of safety, all supplement companies are required to sell only products that are reasonably expected to be safe for their intended use (in the relevant legal language, the product may not “present a significant or unreasonable risk of illness or injury under conditions of use recommended or suggested in labeling, or, if no conditions of use are recommended or suggested in labeling, under ordinary conditions of use.” 21 U.S.C. 342 (f)(1).


In addition, FDA commented in the preamble to the final rule on claims made for dietary supplements to express the agency’s view that any health consequences that may be associated with a supplement need to be disclosed:


“The agency also notes that there may be important health-related consequences associated with taking a dietary supplement, even if the product does not bear disease claims. For the labeling of a dietary supplement to be considered truthful and non-misleading (see sections 403(a) and (r)(6) and 201(g)(1) of the act), it must include all information that is material in light of the claims made for the product and the consequences that may result from its use (see section 201(m)) of the act.” 65 FR 1000 at 1005; January 6, 2000.


In making this statement, FDA acknowledged that there may, in fact, be “consequences” to the use of a supplement (of course this is also true for a food) but this does not make the supplement (or food) illegal. It is the marketer’s responsibility to be aware of such consequences and inform consumers.


So if a company sells a dietary supplement that consists of or contains an essential oil (or in fact, any ingredient) the company takes the position that the product does not present a “significant or unreasonable risk of illness or injury” and would need to inform consumers of any “consequences” that may be associated with the product.


—Michael McGuffin, President
American Herbal Products Association |
“This response does not constitute legal advice and use of this information should be subject to consultation with a qualified attorney.”

Aromatic Medicine: Internal Dosing of Essential Oils Mon, 02 May 2016 20:52:45 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Article by Amy Kreydin


  botanical medicine capsule  


If aromatherapy is a frequently misunderstood profession then the specialization of aromatic medicine is so out there we could be discussing xenobotany here. But we’re not talking about plant life on other planets, this is a unique branch of botanical medicine that employs volatile aromatic plant extracts in internal dose forms.


Twenty years ago I began studying botanical medicine in high mountain meadows, birthing rooms, greenhouses, gardens, and dining rooms in Northern New Mexico. Six years ago I studied clinical aromatherapy in a classroom at Boston Medical Center. Last year I began studying aromatic medicine at the Heal Center. It was an International effort coordinated by South African Roz Zollinger, Brit Gabriel Mojay, and led by Aussie Mark Webb. It was amazing and I’ve loved how it has taken my practice and education to another level. 🙂  

What is Aromatic Medicine?


Aromatic Medicine is the internal dosing of volatile plant extracts. Extracts used in aromatic medicine include:


  • steam- and hydro-distilled essential oils,
  • expressed/cold-pressed essential oils,
  • carbon dioxide extracted volatiles (CO2 extracts),
  • and deterpenated/rectified essential oils.


Other botanical ingredients used in formulations might include:


  • ethanol botanical extracts (herbal tinctures),
  • triglyceride (fatty) oils, waxes, and butters (think shea butter and almond oil),
  • and raw plant materials from powders to loose herbs.


Aromatic medicine draws on both pharmaceutical standardized methodologies (Galenic method) as well as botanical medicine methodologies to calibrate and formulate doses. This has proven to be the biggest leap in the evolution of how I prepare remedies. Twenty years ago I used dashes, pinches, scoops and generally eyeballed my measurements. That would be a terrific way to make a batch of bone broth, blood builder syrup, healing soup, or adrenal-nourishing tea but a terrifying approach to aromatic medicine! Today you’ll find me cozied up to a fancy little scale measuring active ingredients in milligrams with a handy little calculator and a mason jar full of pipettes. 


Dose Forms in Aromatic Medicine


You’ll recognize some of these dose forms from more common aromatherapy practices but I’m adding notes specific to how the dose may be different in aromatic medicine:  


  • Respiratory tract – an emulsified solution dosed via a nebulizer according to the constitution and age of the client; an emulsified nasal spray/wash; an aromatic suppository.
  • Gastrointestinal tract – milligram dosage according to the weight of the client and chemistry of the active ingredients employed and dosed via enteric-coated capsules, aperitifs and digestifs, emulsified gargles, liquid syrups, or aromatic suppositories.
  • Urogenital tract – milligram dosage according to weight of the client and chemistry of the active ingredients employed and dosed via aromatic suppositories or pessaries.


Should I try Aromatic Medicine?


Professionally, my aromatic medicine training has really elevated my formulation work and introduced me to some unique approaches to drafting wellness plans. Personally, I’ve enjoyed a broader range of wellness tools to support immune health during the 2015-2016 cold/flu season, and this year’s cedar fever season followed shortly by the mold and pollen sinus apocalypse ;-).   Aromatic medicine seems to particularly shine in the area of supporting the body during an acute or chronic infectious disease state. Examples of this include influenza, hospital superbugs, respiratory infections, gastrointestinal infections, and Lyme disease.


Is it safe?


Safety and efficacy should always be at the forefront of any aromatic intervention, be it inhaled, topical, internal, or oral. If you’ve read some of my other posts like Friends don’t let friends drink essential oils, and Why essential oils are not water flavoring agents, and Essential Oils and GRAS: What it really means then you know there are risks associated with oral dosing: mucosal lining damage, internal organ stress, stomach and esophageal damage, phototoxic reactions (worse with oral dosing than topical), and immune system stress (sensitization, triggering an autoimmune condition, etc). So if adding a drop to a glass of water isn’t safe how is adding a drop to a gel cap and swallowing it safe? Great question!


The only way for aromatic medicine to be safe is to have a firm grasp on dosing, chemistry, and pharmacology of these concentrated ingredients. We know that essential oils can safely be used to flavor beverages and foods when they have been appropriately emulsified (remember that oil and water don’t mix!), and used in accordance with flavoring doses. Oftentimes this means an essential oil needs to be rectified for it to be non-irritating to the mucous membranes in the mouth, throat, and stomach.


Dosing, chemistry, and pharmacology go hand-in-hand in a treatment plan. We select a dose based on weight and constitution of the individual – very different dosing and dose forms for a 190 pound adult with a strong constitution versus a frail 110 pound senior citizen. Then we further calibrate the dose according to the chemistry of the aromatics we’ve selected. After that we further calibrate based on the dose form we wish to employ. So each capsule, suppository, nebulizer dose provides the same dose of aromatics.  

Can I do this myself?


I get a lot of safety questions about using essential oils orally, and many of them are centered around the individual wanting to know if their at-home formula is safe or if a commercial formulation they’ve purchased is safe. With some inspiration from Jim McDonald, a Michigan herbalist, I’ve put together a list of questions to help you determine whether an oral dose of essential oils is appropriate and safe for you:


  • What is the binomial (latin) name of the plant this aromatic extract comes from?
  • Does it have a chemotype? (i.e. Rosemary CT Cineole)
  • How was this aromatic extracted?
  • Has it been rectified/deterpenated?
  • How was the plant grown?
  • What is the chemistry of this specific batch?
  • How old is it and what were the storage conditions like?
  • What is the LD (Lethal Dose) 50 of this extract?
  • What are the possible medication and health contraindications for this extract?
  • What is the maximum adult oral dose of this extract?
  • What is the nature of the condition being treated?
  • What is the dosage for the weight and constitution of the person being treated?
  • What delivery form will be the most effective, and safest for the condition being treated?
  • What is the dosage frequency and the treatment plan length?
  • What do the side effects look like?
  • What does an overdose look like with this dose form and aromatic?


This article, written by Amy Kreydin, was originally published at The Barefoot Dragonfly.


Amy Kreydin


Amy Kreydin is a Board Certified Reflexologist and Clinically-trained Aromatherapist, in private practice since 2004. Kreydin received her certificate as a Certified Reflexologist from the Palmer Institute in Salem, MA in 2004, and was awarded her board certificate in Reflexology from the American Reflexology Certification Board in 2006. She trained at a Harvard teaching hospital in Boston, MA and obtained her Certified Clinical Aromatherapy Practitioner (CCAP) in 2011. She is passionate about whole body wellness and loves helping folks reach their health goals to live an abundant, vibrant, and balanced life.

Visiting the home of Fragonia™ Wed, 23 Dec 2015 03:59:09 +0000 Continue reading ]]> by Priscilla Fouracres


I recently had the privilege of visiting the only place in the world where Fragonia™ (Agonis fragrans), is grown and produced into essential oil. The 46-hectare property (114 acres), owned and operated by John and Peta Day, is about two hours from Perth, the capital city of Western Australia.

John and Peta Day in a field of Agonis fragrans (Photo courtesy of the Paperbark Co.)

John and Peta Day in a field of Agonis fragrans (Photo courtesy of the Paperbark Co.)


The ‘farm’, as the Days call it, has a sense of serenity that emanates from the well-cared for and highly-loved piece of land they began developing 15 years ago.


A mud-map is required to find the farm and even then it is easy to drive past the unassuming property in a low-lying marshland where paperbark trees, a common name for some species of Melaleucas from the Myrtaceae family1, grow naturally.


Situated in a farming community and region better known for its citrus fruit, beef production and vineyards than native plants, the farm is virtually unknown in its own backyard by the general population. Yet, it is well-known and reputed for its quality oils and hydrosols among aromatherapists and essential oil suppliers worldwide who understand the significance of the Day’s work in bringing a brand new essential oil to an international market.


Clinical trials on Fragonia™ are nearing completion and will be another step forward in confirming the efficacy of the oil along with scientific work that has already been done.2


Sold under the trademarked name of Fragonia™, laboratory tests have shown it has antimicrobial activity similar to Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia), Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus), and Oregano (Origanum vulgare).3 Therefore, Fragonia™ is a good substitute for people who are not fond of the smell of tea tree.


Steam distilled from leaves and twigs, Fragonia™ has a middle note.


A typical GC/MS analysis of Fragonia™ will show the following range of components4.


Monoterpenes 30 – 40%
a-pinene 22 – 27%
b-pinene 1.5 – 1.8%
myrcene 1.4 – 2.2%
limonene 2.3 – 2.5%
p-cymene 1.6 – 2.9%
y-terpinene 1.3 – 3.3%
Oxides 26 – 32%
1,8-cineole 26.6 – 32.5%
Monoterpenols 23 – 30%
linalool 10.9 – 12.4%
terpinen-4-ol 3.2 – 4.3%
a-terpineol 5.4 – 4.5%
myrtenol 3.1 – 4.5%
geraniol 0.5 – 1.6%


The oil’s 1,8 cineole content offers expectorant and mucolytic properties, making it useful for respiratory issues.5, 6


As a monoterpene-rich oil with a high percentage of alpha-pinene, Fragonia™ would be expected to have analgesic, antiseptic, antiviral, and decongestant properties.7 Tisserand and Young8 recommend the addition of an antioxidant to preparations containing Fragonia™ because of its high alpha-pinene content.


Fragonia™ is a favorite with many Western Australian aromatherapists because of its aroma and calming properties. The camphoraceous, balsamic, citrus and sweet smell is attributed to its myrtenol content, while its well-known calming properties are due to linalool.9


Fragonia™ can easily stand alone in a diffuser and could be mistaken for a blend.


I have used it in liquid hand soap and blends to alleviate muscle and joint pain. I also diffuse it when I’m alone but want the company of a heart-warming friend.
You will no doubt hear more about Fragonia™ in the weeks ahead when results from the clinical trials are released.



  1. Brophy J.J., Craven L.A. and Doran J.C. Melaleucas: their botany, essential oils and uses. Canberra, ACT: Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research Monograph No. 156; 2013: 415.
  2. Day P. and Day J. Personal conversation. Paperpark Co.; 2015
  3. Robinson C.J. A new essential oil – Agonis fragrans: chemotype selection and evaluation. Publication No 06/090. Barton, ACT: Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation; 2006:73.
  4. Webb, M.A. Aromatic Toolkit – Materia Medica. Two-day workshop. Perth, WA: AromaMedix Pty Ltd; 2015.
  5. Battaglia S. The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy. 2nd ed. Brisbane, QLD: The International Centre of Holistic Aromatherapy; 2003:34.
  6. Price S. and Price L. Aromatherapy for Health Professionals. 4th ed. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier; 2012:27.
  7. Battaglia S. The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy. 2nd ed. Brisbane, QLD: The International Centre of Holistic Aromatherapy; 2003:76.
  8. Tisserand R. and Young R. Essential Oil Safety. 2nd ed. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier; 2014:287.
  9. Webb, M.A. Aromatic Toolkit – Materia Medica. Two-day workshop. Perth, WA: AromaMedix Pty Ltd; 2015.


Priscilla Fouracres

Priscilla Fouracres


Priscilla Fouracres is a writer and certified aromatherapist. She has a B.A. degree in Communications and has worked as a journalist and public relations consultant for the health sector. She is an American expat living in Perth, Western Australia, and AIA member.

How to use Essential Oils Sun, 09 Dec 2012 02:20:42 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Essential oils are a complement to conventional medicine. Always seek medical advice for serious health conditions. Essential oils are generally used in two ways: topical and inhalation.

Topical uses include: adding essential oils to baths and showers to refresh and cleanse; applying directly to skin for wounds, sprains, strains, muscle pain and tension; and making personalized skin care products for a wide array of common skin conditions.

Inhalation of essential oils molecules is the most common method for mood and emotional support, respiratory conditions, and cleansing and purifying the air. Essential oils can be inhaled from tissues or inhalers, dropped onto st4eaming water, added to vaporizers, diffused or sprayed.

Consulting with an Aromatherapist for oil selection, best application methods and concentration levels will ensure success.

Internal Use Statement Sun, 09 Dec 2012 02:01:01 +0000 Continue reading ]]> AIA does not endorse internal therapeutic use (oral, vaginal or rectal) of essential oils unless recommended by a health care practitioner trained at an appropriate clinical level. An appropriate level of training must include chemistry, anatomy, diagnostics, physiology, formulation guidelines and safety issues regarding each specific internal route (oral, vaginal or rectal).  Please refer to the AIA Safety Guidelines for essential oil use.