I'm often asked "which oils I represent" that's how common essential oils have become in our culture today. Once upon a time I "represented" a particular essential oil company. That experience led to me becoming a certified clinical aromatherapist. These days I'm all about the GC/MS report. I only order from companies that provide them up front on their website with the oils. If I can't see the GC/MS report while I'm contemplating my purchase I'm going elsewhere. I won't ask for it and wait, that's how strongly I feel about the importance of a batch specific GC/MS report. Honestly I'm not a fan of having to download it. I like the option of downloading it after I have ordered it so I have the information in my files. But when I'm shopping, I just want to click on a link and have it pop up so I can check its values.
So, many of you may be asking what exactly is a GC/MS report anyway? Why should I care it's meaningless to me. GC=Gas chromatography and MS=Mass Spectrometry. NCIS fans have heard forensic scientist character Abbie Sciuto talk about "Major Mass Spec" as if it were a living person. Love Abbie but back to the subject at hand.
GC/MS reports tell the user what chemical constituents are part of the essential oil that they're about to order are, and in what levels t they're present in said oil.
To clarify, GC reports show exactly what constituents are in each essential oil distilled. i.e. linalool, linalyl acetate, camphor, camphene, 1,8 cineole, geranial, etc. The MS report shows you what percentage of that oil is linalool, linalyl acetate, camphor, etc. i.e. 40% linalool, 38% linalyl acetate, 3% camphor, etc.
The chemical component can vary depending on where the plant was grown, what time of year it was grown, when and how it was harvested, and a multitude of other factors. An essential oil can have as few as ten to more than two hundred individual components, some in percentages as small as .001% are documented on the report. The exact analysis of the essential oil is critical because that is the information we use to know the therapeutic properties of that individual oil and avoid any potential safety concerns related to that particular batch of oil.
It is important to note that there is also other data revealed in the GC/MS report, which would include:
whether or not the oil was adulterated.
whether it is a low quality oil with low chemical constituents.
whether the oil has been prepared in the way claimed. (i.e. steam distilled vs. chemical extraction).
All of these factors will affect the potential therapeutic properties of the oil. Synthetic oils have no therapeutic properties. Low quality oils have less therapeutic properties than oils distilled from plant material grown in its optimum environment and properly distilled. Steam distilled or CO-2 essential oils are prepared without the use of potentially dangerous chemicals and supply only the plants natural therapeutic properties.
I am known for my thriftiness. My husband is fond of saying I can 'save us into the poor house'. I love a good deal, it comes from growing up in poverty and doing without. However, when it comes to healthcare the long-term cost of saving money on cheap supplements and essential oils is too great. Just like free advice is worth what you pay for it, cheap essential oils are as well. Independent GC/MS testing is a considerable expense for a business. Each test runs between $100-$300 and the cost is absorbed by the supplier. That just makes sense if they have 2-3 kilos of a single essential oil from the same batch. They can send in one sample for testing and divide the cost of that test across the whole batch of oil they're selling. Dividing the cost of $300 across one to three kilos is nominal.
Not just any chemist can run these tests because those that want to fool the test are getting more crafty each day. It requires someone very knowledgeable about plant genus to recognize that while they're conducting a test on Lavendula angustifolia and finding high concentrations of linalool the linalool in the Lavendula angustifolia may not be from lavender at all it may be from Ho wood. This is what makes third party independent testing so important. It usually requires a chemist with advanced GC/MS technology (Calling Abby Scuito and "Major Mass Spec.") and an extensive high quality database to identify if an essential oil is pure or has been adulterated in some way.
For example, imagine you're at the farmers market and a semi-local supplier has a great deal on lavender essential oil grown in state. They're a small business so they don't do GC/MS testing. They tell you its "lavender" and you think you're getting Lavendula angustifolia...but what you're actually getting is Lavendula x intermedia aka Lavender grosso. This may or may not have an impact on you. It depends on whom you're using the grosso lavender with and exactly how sensitive they are. I always err on the side of caution, 'Primum non nocerum' --First do not harm and 'Verum caste, sancteque vitam meam, meamque artem tuebor"--But in purity and holiness I will guard my life and my art. This commitment to purity and safety is why I am so militant about working with suppliers that provide GC/MS reports on the same page as the essential oils that they're selling.
©2017 Cynthia Tamlyn-CCA
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