As many of us in the industry are aware, fragrance oils masquerading as essential oils are rampant. But forget the “industry”. Of course WE know, that’s our job. The people I want to get this message to are the consumers. Consumers of “all-natural” beauty products, “pure” essential oils, “wild crafted” oils, “organic” (notice I didn’t write “certified organic”) oils….these are the people that I want to share this information with. Most consumers are shelling out extra money for natural, organic, wild-crafted, whatever it may be, because they want the real health benefits that these plants offer.
When Boswellness first started distilling frankincense we were surprised to learn just how much resin was required to get a decent amount of essential oil. We hydro-distill our essential oil, which means we just use water, heat and resin to produce our oils. We prefer not to use solvents, which we feel compromises the quality of the essential oil. Our GC/MS analysis of our oils show high concentrations of alpha-pinene followed by limonene in our Boswellia carteri essential oil. The former is known for its anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial benefits. The latter for aid in digestion, detoxification, and even anti-cancer properties. Analysis of our Boswellia frereana shows a very high concentration of alpha-thujene, known for its anti-cancer properties as well. Having this information is all well and good and sounds soooo sciency (I made that word up), right? But what am I really trying to get at? In a nutshell, REAL essential oils have REAL medicinal benefits, but REAL essential oils don’t come cheap.
So, when we started out and realized just how much we would have to charge for our frankincense and myrrh essential oils we figured people would accept it for what it was, since these were the real thing. Oh how naive we were! We came to realize that everyone was promoting their frankincense as “the real thing” and at a fraction of the cost of what we were offering. How could this be possible? We know it takes x tons of resin to produce x kgs of essential oil. So how could they be offering their frankincense essential oil at less cost than the raw material required to produce that amount of essential oil? Slowly we began to realize that we were up against some serious challenges in getting our essential oils into the market. Our best tool for attracting customers was education and creating awareness. It’s still something we struggle with to this day.
There is virtually no regulation for the natural products industry, which means you can say something is “natural” even when it contains synthetics. I have also seen the word “organic” used for some essential oils, without having any documentation to back up that certification. Natural, organic, wild-crafted, etc. are such buzz words right now that they are used quite liberally in product marketing. As consumers, we have to dig a little deeper if we want to truly gain the health benefits that we’re searching for in natural products. Ask for proof of organic certification, read label ingredients, ask for proof of whatever certifications the company claims to have (i.e. wild-crafted, fair trade). And know that if the price of an essential oil looks too good to be true, then it probably is.
I hope that someday, there will be more regulation and oversight over the Natural Products industry. I hope that claims of “all natural” will actually mean something, and that claiming something is “organic” or “all natural” will not be allowed where synthetics are present. There, I’m done. That’s my preachy preach for today…and for a while. I promise. Next time, let’s talk about something more uplifting. Like Somaliland and our work there!