As a child, experiencing nature, picking flowers, and collecting leaves and stems was my pastime. I remember crushing the petals and leaves in my hand and feeling elated by the release of all the beautiful and interesting smells–it was plant magic! Those amazing aromas are nature’s gift: essential oils. 

Since then, I’ve spent over 30 years studying health science and specializing in essential oil therapies. I use the knowledge I’ve accumulated to help people get healthier, but it has been life-altering for me too. I’ve struggled with a chronic autoimmune disease, and essential oils were at the heart of my healing journey. I continue these therapies every day, and it’s a simple daily habit we can all do to get healthier.

The role that essential oils play in plant biology are typically that of disease resistance. Simply put, they are the plants’ immune system. They find impurities, toxins, and pathogens to put up protection against threats and keep the plant healthy. 

But they don’t just help plants! These botanical powerhouses have been used to take care of humans since the beginning of time. Essential oils consist of 1000’s of natural chemical compounds found in the seeds, bark, stems, roots, flowers, and other parts of plants. With various choices of delivery methods—aromatic, topical, and internal—they allow us to lift our emotions, cleanse toxins from the body, regenerate cellular activity, increase energy, and support healthy inflammatory responses and aid digestion—all of which improve overall wellness.

Now, maybe you’re skeptical about all this. Many people are when it comes to essential oils. You might have heard them called “pseudoscience” or encountered them in dubious advertisements. I get it. The confusion and mystery alone is enough to make you doubt their efficacy. But this bad rap comes back to an important characteristic of essential oils: the quality of the oil itself and how it's sourced, harvested, and tested. Low quality oil won’t provide a meaningful result—but high quality oil will have notable effect. 

In fact, today pure essential oils are being used to boost the mood of medical staff and patients in hospitals and clinics. At the world-renowned Johns Hopkins, researchers have been studying the efficacy of essential oils in combating certain infectious diseases. With this developing information, we understand more than ever that quality, potency, and purity of the oil is key to safe, positive results. 

Before you buy essential oils, it’s important to understand how to discern high quality from low. Some companies use only pure, high-quality plants to produce their essential oils, while others use synthetic fillers to cut costs. This can be potentially harmful, as cheaper oils haven’t undergone the proper testing methods to ensure safety and purity. 

So, If you’re ready to get yourself some essential oils, look into the company you’re about to buy from, and ask these 3 questions first:

  • Does the company provide information about where their oils come from and how they’re made?
  • Does the company test their oils for contamination before selling?
  • Does the company use unbiased, third-party testing? Do they share test results publicly? 

Equipped with this understanding of quality, the next step is to find the right oils for your health needs and goals. 

Robin Steinfeld is a holistic health educator with a specialty in essential oil therapy. She graduated from NYU with a Masters in Health Science & Education and has 30 plus years of experience in the education, practice, and science of essential oils. Her inspiration to explore natural healing came with her own experience dealing with life-long autoimmune disease. She has dedicated herself to healing naturally, using essential oils, and the results have been astounding.

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