Knowing and trusting the company or companies you purchases your essential oil products from is crucial in this industry and I have and continue to use numerous different brands of essential oils. Early on in my essential oil journey, I began using Young Living essential oils because they were the best, most pure, therapeutic grade essential oils and the company owned their own farms.
Earlier this year in January, when I was working on my first aromatherapy certification, I contacted Young Living specifically to ask what chemotypes their Rosemary, Basil, and Thyme since they were not on the label or website and they do not provide GC/MS reports on their website or by request.
For your reference: “A chemotype occurs when a plant of a specific genus and species produces a particular chemical in a higher than normal amount because of geographic location, weather, altitude, insect and environmental interactions, and the like. A chemotype is not a different species or genus, nor is it a type of chemical; it is merely a chemical anomaly within the plant that occurs naturally.” -[ The New York Institute of Aromatic Studies, Aromatic Scholars program.] To learn more about chemotypes of certain essential oils, please read my previous blog post: What are Essential Oil Chemotypes?
Young Living’s Product Support responded in February saying that “We do not have a specific chemotype for our essential oils available to provide as we do not standardize our essential oils by chemotype. However, we are able to provide the key constituents on a specific oil you have concerns regarding. “
This did not sit well with me because it seemed as if they didn’t really have a good understanding of what chemotypes were at all. How can you standardize something that occurs in nature based on things like weather and whatnot. I even inquired with my colleagues and aromatherapy instructors all of which agreed that this claim makes no sense -- I even asked Robert Tisserand during one of the weekly Q&A sessions during the Essential Oils Safety Masterclass and he said that it "made no sense."
Young Living does not release their GC/MS reports to the public, so there is no way to confirm this information, but it would appear (in the past) that even if they do not standardize oils by chemotype that their Basil is high in Methylchavicol, Rosemary with 1,8 cineole, and Thyme with thymol.
Fast forward a couple of months, I followed up with a few questions:
I was told that " We do not have a specific chemotype for our essential oils available to provide as we do not standardize our essential oils by chemotype. However, we are able to provide the key constituents on a specific oil you have concerns regarding." I was given the corresponding chemical constituents for the oils requested (Rosemary, Basil, and Thyme). But the first statement is concerning to me as chemotypes are very important to know for these essential oils."
"You should be able to tell customers what chemotypes of oils that you are selling. This is not a standardization, chemotypes occur in nature due to a variety of factors including: chemical composition including environmental conditions such as light, soil, temperature, moisture, climatic influence and altitude as well as geographic area.. Many essential oils have chemotypes and it is always important to know which one you are working with as therapeutics and safety may differ. Do your chemotypes stay the same? Do they change depending upon the harvest? This information is hard to ascertain since you do not publish your GC/MS reports."
To which Young Living Product Support responded:
"Young Living® no longer standardizes its essential oils by chemotype (CT). Chemotype is another name for chemical variety (a specific variety of a plant species based on chemical profile). Young Living has adopted the use of "Seed to Seal®" to standardize its essential oils by. Seed to Seal includes standardization by chemical profile as well as growing conditions, distillation, and manufacturing process."
I responded again with:
"This seriously makes no sense, while yes, a chemotype is a chemical specificity or variety, it is one that is based on numerous factors. For your reference: A chemotype occurs when a plant of a specific genus and species produces a particular chemical in a higher than normal amount because of geographic location, weather, altitude, insect and environmental interactions, and the like. A chemotype is not a different species or genus, nor is it a type of chemical; it is merely a chemical anomaly within the plant that occurs naturally."
"So unless you can control the weather and the aforementioned factors, I am suspect about your claims that you can "standardize" your oils by "Seed to Seal" without altering the chemical makeup of the oil artificially. I understand that some aspects can be controlled, but you cannot account for one crop having had more rain than another and have it not have a relative chemotype."
"I would like further clarification upon this subject because there are vast different therapeutic properties for different oils with chemotypes. For instance, Rosemary can be used for hair growth - this is true of the verbenone chemotype, but not 1,8 cineole or camphor chemotypes. This is particularly frustrating since Young Living does not share its GC/MS reports with the public."
I am rather frustrated and disappointed that they could not answer a simple question and seem to not even be all that educated in the science of essential oils, which is also a bit off-putting since they are one of the biggest essential oils companies in the world and like to claim that their oils are the most pure, the most therapeutic grade, and seed to seal.
Finally in August they replied….
"We recognize that pure essential oils will have natural variances in chemical makeup from batch to batch caused by many different factors including time of harvest, amount of sunlight, amount of water, geographical location of harvest, etc. However, our Seed to Seal® quality commitment ensures that every batch of oil contains the optimal levels of natural bio-active compounds. We verify the chemical constituents of each batch through testing before we begin selling the oil. From this information, we can assure you that the active constituents in each batch and bottle of essential oil meet our specifications and thus have the same therapeutic value."
"The key constituents for Basil, Rosemary, and Thyme given to you past provided the ranges for the levels of those constituents which were considered within our Seed to Seal specifications at that time. Due to a recent change in company policy, we are no longer able to provide ranges for the chemical constituents in our essential oils. This information is now regarded as proprietary as it discloses the constituents we deem most therapeutic in value, and therefore the information is considered trade secrets. Patents and trademarks do not adequately protect this information, as you cannot patent or trademark an oil."
So after close to 9 months, I still have no answers, and they seem to be stuck on seed to seal trumping chemotype considerations which occur naturally due to a variety of environmental effects. This is why companies need to provide GC/MS reports on their website or at the very least by request. This is not proprietary information. The "because we are awesome and we say so" argument does not hold up here at all. I am highly disappointed by their responses and lack of actual information beyond the company marketing lines.
The topic of using essential oils to support sobriety came up in the EO group that I am in last night and I gave it some thought as to how using essential oils could potentially help support the various symptoms and issues that arise through the journey of sobriety.
I would preface this by saying that you should consult with a medical doctor first and if detoxing from alcohol or drugs are involved – this needs to be done under medical supervision at a rehab or hospital setting – quite frankly because you can die because detoxing can cause seizures and other life threatening conditions. During the detoxification phase someone in a hospital or rehab setting will not be allowed to have things like essential oils in their possession because they could be used to smuggle in drugs or alcohol.
If the sober person is out of the detoxification phase and out of rehab or a hospital setting, they can use essential oils pretty much like any of us would use them. Some precautions may need to be taken if they have a dual diagnosis meaning that they have underlying mental health conditions, in addition to their addiction or alcoholism and may be treated with other medications. It is very important to note that grapefruit in any form should not be ingested if you are on medications because they can cause you to absorb them rapidly which can lead to some nasty side effects. I’ve had to avoid ingesting grapefruit for many years because of the bipolar/ADD medications that I am on. I can use grapefruit essential oils sparingly topically or in a diffuser without any issues.
Essential oils can help support someone living in sobriety, but cannot replace the crucial components of living sober such as daily AA/NA meetings, having a sponsor and a solid support network, psychotherapy and medication regimens if required. Always consult a medical doctor for any questions or concerns as the Internet, while it is a great source of information, can give you conflicting results.
***Please note that in some cases when dealing with things like cravings and/or severe anxiety and depression: ALWAYS call your sponsor or go to an AA/NA meeting immediately and in some cases, you may need to seek medical attention if you are in danger of using again.***
Some of the areas where essential oils can help support your sobriety will focus on liver support, emotional support, cravings, nausea, and memory issues. This is not a complete list as everyone’s experiences in sober living are different.
Liver support – alcoholism and drug addiction can cause damage to the liver over time. You can use some essential oils to support healthy liver function. These oils will also help support the digestive system as well. It is recommended that you see a medical doctor and have blood work done to evaluate your liver function from time to time.
There are many different oils that can help support the liver such as: Blood Orange, Carrot Seed, Goldenrod, Rosemary, Fennel, Thyme, Lemon, Cypress, German Chamomile, Peppermint and Juniper.
Anxiousness and Stress are common in sobriety and essential oils can help support minimizing their effects. It is recommended to see a mental health care professional if these symptoms persist and are in danger of becoming unmanageable.
Rose, Neroli, Helichrysum Roman Chamomile, Jasmine, Cardamom, Cedarwood, Frankincense, Vetiver, Ylang Ylang, Clary Sage, Lavender, Citrus Oils and many other oils can be diffused or applied topically.
Sadness can be common when dealing with a major life change like sobriety – it can often preclude the ending of some friendships, relationships and general habits. This can cause you to feel sadness and longing since you will not want to hang out at your local bars or attend parties with friends where lots of drinking may occur. As with feelings of anxiety and stress many other oils can be diffused or applied topically. It is recommended to see a mental health care professional if these symptoms persist and are in danger of becoming unmanageable.
Oils that help with sadness include: Cedarwood, Sweet Orange, Petitgrain, Bergamot, Cardamom, Jasmine, Lemon, Mandarin, Rose, Ylang Ylang, Peppermint, Vetiver, Rosewood, Neroli, Lavender, Palo Santo, Scots Pine, Clary Sage, Geranium, and many others.
Cravings - Some people do this via ingestion, but if you are not comfortable with that route of application. I would imagine that an inhaler might help too. . In addition, you may be having other symptoms like anxiety, stress, and sadness that may contribute to the cravings. Consult your support system and/or medical professionals if you are in danger of relapsing.
Cinnamon Bark, Clove, Lemon, Eucalyptus Radiata, and Rosemary can help with cravings.
Nausea can sometimes be an issue in the early stages of sobriety.
Ginger, Peppermint, Spearmint, Lavender, Fennel, and Bergamot.
Sugar and caffeine cravings are common after someone becomes sober. You could minimize caffeine intake (if you are using it for the energy boost) and diffuse citrus blends or use it in a roller with other essential oils and a carrier oil like Jojoba. I personally like diffusing Peppermint and citrus oils on days that I need an extra energy boost.
Some oils can help stave off sugar cravings are: Cinnamon, Grapefruit, Coriander, Fennel, Ginger, Peppermint, Bergamot, Ocotea, and Dill as they support your endocrine system.
Memory issues can result from years of alcoholism and addiction.
Rosemary, Basil, Cypress, Peppermint, Lemon, Ginger, Grapefruit, and Sage can help support any lingering memory issues that you may be experiencing.
***Always be sure to check for any potential drug interactions for anyone who may be on methadone and other types of medications for opioid addiction as there can be serious contraindications***
If you or someone you know is struggling with alcoholism, addiction, or maintaining sobriety, please seek medical attention right away – their life may depend on it.
Owner, Restorative Aromatics and NAHA Certified Aromatherapist Level One. This blog focuses on aromatherapy education and other essential oil related topics.