By Allen Studzinski, NOW Quality Assurance Department
The Quality Assurance Department at NOW FOODS often becomes filled with an exquisite bounty of fragrant floral scents that bring with them feelings of energy, calm, hope, and enchantment that seemingly transport the whole department to some faraway exotic place. At these times the promises of Aromatherapy seem fulfilled as our staff Essential Oil Expert works his magic to produce the finest quality essential oils and blends available. Combining his 27 years of experience with the intimate relationships he has developed with the leading essential oil suppliers in the world allows NOW to obtain the highest quality material to meet our customers demands.
Our oils are guaranteed to be from the listed locale, but also - more importantly - from the listed species. For example, NOWs Rose Absolute is derived from Rosa centifolia flowers from Morocco and our Cinnamon is guaranteed to be Cinnamomum Zeylanicum from Ceylon.
Chemical Makeup & Purity:
Using Gas Chromatography, we check the oil for impurities and chemical makeup. For example, Anise oil needs to contain 75% to 90% trans-Anethole and our Mediterranean Oregano Oil needs 60% to 75% Phenols as Carvacrol and Thymol. Orange oil needs to be free of terebinthine. Other technical specifications (Specific Gravity, Optical Rotation, and Refractive Index) are confirmed. Other companies may deal with some unscrupulous suppliers and could end up selling oils adulterated with cheap chemicals. For example, lower quality Ylang ylang sometimes has diesel fuel added! Lavender is often spiked with up to 25% of chemically synthesized linalool and linalyl acetate, two added compounds that are naturally found in Lavender. To the untrained nose this product may appear to be a fragrant lavender, but we check for this kind of tampering and would instantly reject this adulterated chemical blend. That is the benefit of having our own lab!
Physical Characteristics, Extraction & Manufacturing Methods:
Checking an oil usually involves sampling and comparing the product with other known samples of that oil. Oils are checked to see that appropriate processing and distillation procedures are used. For example, multiple distillations are often used to produce a larger quantity of a desired scent, but may produce a flat aroma profile and poor depth. We would not sell these inferior oils to our customers.
Our Essential Oils are 100% Pure, Undiluted and of the highest quality. Often called therapeutic grade by other companies, they are appropriate for use in all aromatherapy applications. Due to the extremely powerful and concentrated nature of all essential oils, great care is advised in their use. In addition to general cautionary language, certain oils carry additional label concerns. For example, Bergamot and Lemon oils naturally contain Bergapten, a UV photosensitizer (that may make the user more sensitive to bright ultra-violet light), and certain essential oils such as Pennyroyal are labeled to indicate that immediate attention is required if ingested. Pennyroyal is also not appropriate for pregnant women.
A lot of people ask if our essential oils are edible. The answer for most is Yes, but... Essential oils are typically labeled For External Use Only as a warning to use them very cautiously, even such pure edible oils as those from lemon or orange peels. Essential oils are very strong and even non-toxic ones may be irritating or uncomfortable if not used carefully and sparingly. If you use a recipe, a greater measure of both success and safety is more assured. The book Aromatherapy for Everyone is co-written by a NOW herbal specialist.
Aromatherapy for Everyone