Essential Oils (Therapeutic)
We've used essential oils in our household for years without promoting them to other people. We just knew how we enjoyed using them, and knew they worked for us -- in particular, peppermint is always a no-brainer for anyone with digestive issues. (A little on the belly goes a long way!) But we've also used products like Thieves (Young Living), Purity, Lavender, etc.
In fact, we have purchased from both Young Living and DoTerra (the two best known "referral" programs) because we have friends in each. We even became Young Living distributors just to get the best prices on the oils.
Despite all this, I knew there were a lot of questions about the quality of Young Living oils, and I questioned whether the prices of either company were justified. I know with referral programs, most companies mark products WAY up in order to pay people for referring them. Any time I personally refer products, I want to know that they are competitive with retail pricing, and these were not.
Now I've done my own due diligence and found the following:
1) While there seem to be international standards for what makes an oil "therapeutic" (what many doctors use overseas), there are no such standards in the United States because our society doesn't consider essential oils medicinal, and adulteration seems to run RAMPANT in this industry, even among those claiming to have the very best essential oils.
If you see the word "fragrance" or "perfume" on a bottle, you know it is definitely NOT therapeutic, and you don't want to use it in any way for health purposes.
Even those that just use the plants will often use only the best tasting parts or naturally flavor them to appeal to the senses without regard for the therapeutic impact. When you want premium therapeutic grade essential oils, you have to bypass your preference for taste and go with oils that are made from the most therapeutic parts of the plant. Obviously. But that's not what a lot of companies do. So if it's "yummy" rather than "herby," beware.
2) Because there are no required standards here, people make a lot of unfounded claims about essential oils and refer to testing that can actually skew results, especially if done by the company itself.
3) There is even debate about what color glass should be used for storing essential oils. One source says that colors don't matter except for with very specific (and rare) oils since most are not photochemically active, but it seems that this source is also known by others for adulterating many of his oils. If you buy into the idea that there are essential "energies" to therapeutic oils, it may be that these are what many companies try to protect with the colored glass. Some will argue that blue bottles are the best for retaining these, but again, I have no way to test this personally.
4) The best essential oil companies will tell you the exact species of the plants included in an oil and where they were grown. This is important because plants from some areas provide better oils than the same plant grown elsewhere. This affects price but also an oil's therapeutic quality.
5) Some experts tell you to never use an oil undiluted on your skin and NEVER to use them orally. That's probably good generic / conservative advice, but actual use will be a personal decision. I have used peppermint on my tongue to freshen my breath (finger on the top and a quick shake, the a finger rub on the tongue), and we even use it undiluted on the belly for stomach aches. But that's me. Always err on the side of caution with children and definitely babies, and do your research before using anything when nursing or pregnant.
What to Buy:
My bottom line suspicion is that there are a lot of good companies out there. I'm cautious about NOW oils only because they are so much less than every other company, and I don't understand why that's the case. I've had extensive conversations with someone associated with Native American Nutritionals and trust the quality of their oils.
Oils with Test Results:
The only ones I know, however, that have gone through an alternative testing modality and shown amazing results are Plantessence essential oils, which we used to sell, but now I'm just linking you straight to the brand's own website. Other oils might also yield good results from this testing, but these were created specifically with this testing in place in order to yield premium oils.