Lifting the lid on health and beauty products labelled as 'natural' and 'organic' that actually contain harmful chemicals found in antifreeze, oven cleaner and car oil
We are asking the giants of the beauty industry to stop misleading the public with false claims. These are just three of the products we found claiming to be 'organic' or 'natural' containing harmful chemicals or no organic ingredients.
To get the full story, read Soil Association Policy Director Peter Melchett's blog.
If you are concerned about a product and its organic claims let us know and we will follow it up, email
Organic produce 'better for you'
Organic produce is better for you than ordinary food, a major European Union-funded study says.
The £12m four-year project, led by Newcastle University, found a general trend showing organic food contained more antioxidants and less fatty acids.
But researchers did admit the study showed some variations.
The findings call into question the current stance of the Food Standards Agency (FSA), which says there is no evidence that organic food is better.
Researchers grew fruit, vegetables and reared cattle on adjacent organic and non-organic sites across Europe, including a 725-acre farm attached to Newcastle University.
They found levels of antioxidants in milk from organic cattle were between 50% and 80% higher than normal milk.
Organic wheat, tomatoes, potatoes, cabbage, onions and lettuce had between 20% and 40% more nutrients.
But the study, which is yet to be published in a peer-reviewed journal, also showed there were significant variations.
Project co-ordinator Professor Carlo Leifert said: "We have shown there are more of certain nutritionally desirable compounds and less of the baddies in organic foods.
"Our research is now trying to find out where the difference between organic and conventional food comes from.
"What we're really interested in is finding out why there is so much variability with respect to the differences. What in the agricultural system gives a higher nutritional content and less of the baddies in the food?"
He said he hoped the findings would help farmers in organic to improve the quality of their produce.
Final results of the project are due to be published over the next 12 months.
The FSA, the body which provides advice and information on food, currently states: "Consumers may also choose to buy organic food because they believe that it is safer and more nutritious than other food.
"However, the balance of current scientific evidence does not support this view."
But officials are currently evaluating organic food for nutrient and non-nutrient content, with a report due to be published next year.
However, the Soil Association said the findings of the EU project showed the watchdog should change its stance.
A spokesman said: "The FSA has always been quite sceptical of organic food when there is no need to be. This study again shows that and I would hope they change their stance soon."
L’Aromatherapie Exactement by Pierre Franchomme ISBN 2878190017
Essential Health by Kolinka Zinovieff ISBN 0952782502
Encyclopaedia of Essential Oils by Julia Lawless
Lavender Oil, Tea Tree Oil, Rose Oil and Rosemary Oil, all by Julia Lawless
A-Z of Aromatherapy by P. Davies
Aromatherapy Quarterly: Tel. 0181 392 1691
Positive Health: Tel. 0117 983 8851
Caduceus: Tel. 01926 451 897
Aromatherapy Organisation Council (AOC): Tel. +44 (0)181 251 7912
The Soil Association: Tel. +44 (0)117 929 0661 email:
To see all the different colours together are a beautiful sight, which has until recently, has been hidden by the use of brown glass bottles. This is due to the fact essential oils are light sensitive, i.e. they degrade slowly when exposed to Ultra Violet ( UV) light. To overcome this they have always been sold in dark coloured brown bottles, protecting them from light but also hiding their colours too.
Recently I was talking to a professional aromatherapist who expressed surprise at my statement that essential oils were different colours. So I set about looking for a safe way to be able to use essential oils while also being able to see their colours clearly. Hence the new range of organic essential oils in clear glass bottles protected from light by their metal containers from NHR Organic Oils, (patent applied for).
By packaging essential oils in clear glass bottles, and then inside metal tubes, it allows one both to see the essential oils colours, and protects them 100% from UV light degradation. Unlike traditional brown bottles that give only approximately 80- 90% light protection and hide the oils colour. It is vital to keep essential oils as fresh and pure as possible therefore retaining the strongest therapeutic effect. By storing them in light proof metal containers the oils will keep fresher and more vital for longer periods of time.
The Therapeutic qualities of colour
Colours have an important role to play when choosing different oils: What is fascinating is the colour of essential oils clearly illustrates the quality of oil as well as the therapeutic healing use of the oil. For example, the deep earthy brown of Myrrh relates to the base chakra, having a balancing and grounding effect or the blues of camomile relating to the digestive system and chakra. The relationship between the subtle healing side of aromatherapy and the physical colour of the oils, is an exciting and powerful way to intimately relate to and learn about essential oils.
Colour becomes as important as the aroma when choosing an essential oil. When the awareness of the colour is combined with the known physical therapeutic properties, one can make a more accurate and informed choice, using ones knowledge: known therapeutic use, and senses: sight and smell and of course ones intuition all together. Having more information always allows one to make a more accurate and informed choice.
New research into the effects and property of aroma are revealing that the spectrum of odour can be divided into two distinct areas.
Firstly: the chemical molecules that reach the nose are physically detected by our body and secondly the subtle vibrational or energetic level of aroma which equates to sound and colour. This relationship between sound and colour and aroma has long been recognised in many healing disciplines. Being able to see how sound or aroma effects the energetic body on a subtle or healing level. This leads us onto the relationship between colour and aroma and the physical body.
Traditional use: relates to the base chakra, connected to grounding, dealing with everyday survival, home, routine etc. Concerns with one immediate family group.
HEALING QUALITIES: Stimulating, warming, energising. Heat, excitement, action, warning.
ORGANIC ESSENTIAL OILS:
Which relate to the colour red are: Black Pepper, Cedarwood, Jasmine, Benzoin, Myrhh, Rose, Sage.
Traditional use: sexuality, connecting with a wider group than the family e.g local area, local church, individual interest group etc.
Healing qualities: Opening, releasing, joy, creativity. Lymphatic system, immunity, fluid systems.
ORGANIC ESSENTIAL OILS
Ginger, Carrot seed, Bergamot, Pine, Mandarin, Neroli, Orange, Patchouli, sandalwood, Benzoin, Cedarwood.
SOLAR-PLEXUS CHAKRA: which relates to the mind and intellect and connects to a wider group and concerns than the sacral chakra e.g. national or international interests and groups, charities etc.
Healing qualities: Strengthens the nervous system, Digestions, aids liver and gall bladder.
Emotional helps fear and is uplifting.
ORGANIC ESSENTIAL OILS:
Coriander, Citronella, Lemon, Lemongrass, Grapefruit, Basil, Fennel, Vetivert, Cedarwood.
The heart chakra is on a completely different level to the other chakra's, it has no interest group as it were, it is simply concerned with everybody as if they were oneself. There is little difference in the hearts concerns between ones own problems and others even though one is responsible for ones own well being and not necessarily others.
ORGANIC ESSENTIAL OILS:
Eucalyptus, Geranium, Silver fir, Peppermint, Verbena, Rosewood, Palmarosa, Melissa, Bergamot, Lemon, .
Connected with communication, expresses the other chakras depending on which is dominant at the time or period.
HEALING QUALITIES: By expressing oneself allows many forms of healing from empowerment to relief to laughter, the spectrum is huge.
Roman camomile, Marjoram, Thyme (white) Rosemary, hyssop, Cypress, Mandarin.
THIRD EYE CHAKRA:
Connected with intuition and seeing the inner world. How one uses this chakra is very much connected with ones motivation and which other chakra is dominant e.g base, Sacral, Solar Plexus or Heart.
ORGANIC ESSENTIAL OILS:
Tea Tree, Bay, Camomile.
Connects to the higher realm of spirit and brings down energy to the body (physical, emotional and energetic bodies)
ORGANIC ESSENTIAL OILS:
Juniper, Lavender, Frankincense, Peppermint, Hyssop, Carrot seed, Grapefruit, Basil Patchouli and Sandalwood.
Examples of a few commonly used oils and the colour properties.
Name of oil
Therapeutic quality in relation to colour
Relates to the earthy brown of the base chakra
Relates to the heart chakra, green often used for grief and bereavement
Calming, relates to digestion chakra as well as the throat, blue for calming.
Powerful fiery oil called the King of oils. But holds both qualities of feminine and masculine.
The use of aromatherapy is slowly but surely embracing the energetic therapeutic properties of essential oils, as well as the physical therapeutic properties. Essential oils have been used for energetic healing for 1000’s of years, and more recently there has been a revival of interest. See Patricia Davis’s book ‘Subtle Aromatherapy’ or ‘Fragrant Heavens’ by V.A Worwood, both explore the subtle energetic side of aromatherapy. A new and fascinating book recently published called Colour Scents by Suzy Chiazzari
This is an inspiring new book giving an in-depth description of the energetic and therapeutic qualities of colour in essential oils. Describing the relationship to the chakras and energetic body.
ORGANIC QUALITY AND PURITY
Using colour to check the quality of essential oils is a vital skill to develop. NHR Organic Oils continues an extensive research and testing program on sourcing the most potent certified organic clinical grade essential oils.
Including the use of the most up to date GC-MS (Gas Chromatography - Mass Spectrometry) laboratories in the UK and in France. Which can detect down to 0.001% trace substances.
It is important to test each oil individually to detect the exact proportion and quantities of correct components. For example when choosing an organic Lavender one would check the oil contains a proportion of esters "exprimes" in linalyl acetate varying between 35 and 55 p 100. on the GC-MS chart verifying a clinical grade oil.
It is of vital importance to check there are no adulterants present or chemical residues of any sort, guaranteeing that the source of growing is from a certified organic farm.
And to have reports of extraction methods, and farming techniques, keeping a close check on the crop quality and harvest over the whole season.
Is important as it indicates just how pure and balanced the oil is, a lost art in the aromatherapy world, due to the use of brown glass bottles which hide the oils’ colour.
Viscosity. Also how the oils feels on the skin. Texture and consistency Indicates the quality of the extraction method and therefore quality of the oil.
It is vital to carefully evaluate the aroma for its full note range. Using professional experience to select the purest and most balanced oils amongst the batch being tested.
The above testing procedures are vital for a company to ensure they are selling the purest organic essential oils because the purer the oils the stronger the therapeutic effect. Low quality oils simply do not work.
The other vital factor when choosing an essential oil is to know it is organically grown, which helps to ensure its purity and vitality. The majority of essential oils on the market are very low-grade oils and their therapeutic properties reflect this. Which sadly confirms many peoples suspicion that aromatherapy does not work. The simple truth is they have not used good quality organic oils. There are fortunately some exceptions, and it is possible to buy very high quality organic oils if one is discerning. To ensure the essential oils you are buying are of the highest organic quality you need to find a trustworthy supplier who follows certain stringent rules-
1. They should have a close relationship with the source i.e. farm and distillers
2. Each oil should be tested Using Gas Liquid Chromatography (GLC).
Ensuring there are no adulterants or impurities, and the many individual components are in the correct proportions. For example 'Clinical' grade Lavender oil should have 35-50% linalyl acetate (depending on type).
3. Tests for aroma, colour and age of the oils; and finally provide organic certification are needed.
When buying from a shop, you should trust your own sense of smell and the therapeutic effect of the oils you are using. Here it should be added that one of the primary advantages in buying only organic essential oils, is that these oils do not contain any pesticides, chemical fertilisers, artificial preservatives, adulterants or – especially now – do not come from genetically altered plants. It is true that such pure oils might cost twice as much as impure oils, but they are at least one hundred times more effective.
Essential oils contain an enormous range of components. This explains their extraordinary variety of therapeutic effects. All these naturally contained components are only found in high-grade organic ‘clinical oils’. If the natural balance of the oil is upset only slightly, through additives and adulterants, then not only will the oil's therapeutic properties be weakened, but the oil could be potentially harmful to the individual user.
It is far more expensive to produce pure organic 'clinical' grade oil, due to the expense of organic farming and a more thorough distillation process etc. For example during the distillation process of lavender oil, 75% of the essential oil is extracted after 25 minutes; however, it takes a further 1hour and 45 minutes for the remaining 25% of the oil to be extracted. Tempting less scrupulous distillers to save time and money by reducing the time of distillation, but the result is a low-grade oil.
Until recently organic essential oils have been very expensive and only available from a few outlets, and usually restricted to trained practitioners. NHR Organic Oils are changing this by selling the highest quality oils at affordable prices.
The main reason essential oils are sold clear glass bottles is to:
* To allow one to choose the oil by its colour.
An important therapeutic quality by itself.
* Tins protect the oils 100% from UV sunlight, preserving their potency (brown glass bottles only partially protect the oils from UV sunlight).
* To assure quality, the colour can tell you a lot about the age, purity and quality of the oil.
More and more professional aromatherapists and everyday users of aromatherapy are appreciating the potency and purity of certified organic aromatherapy oils. But for the many who have not used them or do not know about the benefits of using certified organic aromatherapy oils, this article will attempt to explain the importance of using organic oils compared with non organic ones.
It is vital that the oils have been certified by a recognisable body for example the Soil Association, because there are many companies who claim their oils are organic but with no certification to prove it, usually it is a false claim!
Most aromatherapy essential oils on the market are of very low quality: they are often synthetic or 'perfume grade'. This means they have little or no therapeutic effect – in other words they simply do not work. This unfortunately confirms the sceptics view that “aromatherapy has no effect whatsoever”. In contrast, the reason that pure, high grade organically-grown oils have such strong therapeutic qualities is because they contain a multitudinous variety of natural chemical components which remain pure and intact – whereas the low-quality oils have been adulterated to such an extent that these components are no longer present.
Organic Essential oils do not contain any pesticides, herbicides or chemical fertilisers and any other man made chemical residues. This makes the oils both purer and more potent in their healing effect. Also as the plants are grown to organic standards they are healthier and more vibrant, therefore resulting in a more powerful and richer oil.
6 reasons to use organic oils
There are many reasons for buying organic oils, one is simply that the aroma is much richer and fuller, but there are also sound health reasons for doing so. It has been shown in studies to be more potent and have a fuller range of trace elements etc than conventionally grown oils, and of course it will not have been treated with any noxious chemicals.
· It is safe, nutritious, unadulterated
· It does not use artificial chemicals, pesticides and fertilisers
· It is environmentally friendly
· It is produced without GMOs, which are prohibited within the Soil Association Standards for organic food and farming
· It reduces dependence on non-renewable resources
· It relies on a modern and scientific understanding of ecology and soil science, while also depending on traditional methods of crop rotations to ensure fertility and weed and pest control
Many individuals are not aware of the critical importance of the quality of organic essential oils; they simply go to their health-food shop, chemist or mail order catalogue and buy whatever is available. They can hardly be blamed for this, since, with the enormous growth in the aromatherapy industry world wide – from millions of dollars turnover only a few years ago to a multi-billion dollar affair today. Many suppliers are jumping on the bandwagon and sell low-quality cheap oils; they rely on the uneducated and undiscerning customer.
Happily, things are changing and there are some shining exceptions amongst the suppliers of essential oils: these few aromatherapy companies have carried out meticulous, painstaking research to find the best sources of high quality organic essential oils, and have selected only the purest and most potent oils from these specialist organic growers and suppliers.
HOW TO TEST THE ORGANIC OILS IS ORGANIC AND OF PURE QUALITY
For suppliers to be certain that the oils are sourced from the highest organic quality, suppliers need to follow some stringent rules: They should build up a very close relationship with the source i.e. farm and distillers where the essential oils are produced. Below is an outline of how we at NHR organic oils test all our organic oils before we choose a particular oil, for example we may have 10 different organic Lavenders to test before we choose the best one.
Include the use of the most up to date GC-MS (Gas Chromatography - Mass Spectrometry) laboratories in the UK and in France. Which can detect down to 0.001% trace substances.
Each oil is individually tested and analysed to detect the exact proportion and quantities of correct components. For example when choosing an organic Lavender, it would be checked the oil contains a proportion of esters "exprimes" in linalyl acetate varying between 35 and 55 p 100. on the GC-MS chart verifying a clinical grade oil.
* All oils are checked for any adulterants present or chemical residues of any sort, guaranteeing that the source of growing is from a certified organic farm.
* Reports of extraction methods, and farming techniques, keeping a close check on the crop quality and harvest over the whole season.
* Finally each organic essential oil is selected from numerous samples and reports, and are then meticulously examined for:
Highly important as it indicates just how pure and balanced the oil is, a lost art in the aromatherapy world, due to the use of brown glass bottles that hide the oils’ colour.
How the oils feels on the skin. Texture and consistency Indicates the quality of the extraction method and therefore quality of the oil.
Carefully evaluate the aroma for its full note range. Using our professional experience to select the purest and most balanced oils amongst the batch being tested.
For individuals who want to buy the best organic oil, there are several points to be aware of;
First of all, they must be discerning in choosing a supplier and only buy from a trustworthy source.
Secondly the supplier must be one who has carried out the relevant research and can produce reliable organic certification for example the soil association.
At the same time they should trust their own sense of smell and the therapeutic effect of the oils they are using. Here it should be added that one of the primary reasons for only buying organic essential oils is that these oils do not contain any pesticides, chemical fertilisers, artificial preservatives, adulterants or – especially now – do not come from genetically altered plants. It is true that such pure oils might cost twice as much as impure oils, but they so much more effective, and therefore more economical to use.
Until now, organic essential oils have been very expensive, only available from a few outlets and usually restricted to trained practitioners. NHR Organic oils aims to provide the purest organic oils at affordable prices by buying in large bulk quantities ad passing on the saving to the customer
NHR Organic oils has one of the largest selection of certified organic essential oils in the world and they are certified organic by the Soil association, one of the few companies in the UK to have their oils certified by them.
When a certified body like the Soil Association covers a company, they are scrutinised with great detail, for example every single invoice and organic certificate for each oil is examined and cross checked. Also Regular spot checks on stock levels and accounts by a Soil Assoc inspector.
On top of this a detailed log of every single time a bottle of organic essential oil is filled, every time a container is used to fill an oil and every item/oil that arrives and is dispatched has to be timed, dated and logged. It ads to the paper work, but should be reassuring for all customers that the Soil associations standards are refreshingly high. Even non-organic oils that we stock e.g Wild grown oils have to have GMO free certificate and are checked if used in an organic blend for example.
By choosing organic agriculture your are supporting the environment and your own health.
Certification of Organic Essential Oils
It is important to establish that your oils have been certified organic, as this certification process is a good safeguard against many of the unscrupulous practices that go on in this industry. There are many good certification bodies to choose from both in the U.K. and worldwide, Ecocert International covers the EEC. In the UK the Soil Association is one of the better-known bodies. NHR only sources certified organic oils where possible, over 95% of nearly 100 oils of our range are certified organic, there are a few oils that are impossible to certify because they only grow wild or in farmed conditions, for example the Boswellia tree resin, which Frankincense is made from. In these cases we always source from wild grown or untreated sources, and label accordingly. Meaning no pesticides or chemical fertilisers have been used.
Organic Certification: Professional Standards
Organic farming is a carefully devised system of production defined by EU law and is based on the following principles:
• Building soil fertility;
• Minimal use of non-renewable resources (no chemicals);
• Minimise pollution and damage to the environment;
• Working with, not against, natural systems;
• Respect for animal welfare;
• Minimal processing or additives
Organic farming is governed by EEC Regulation No. 2092/91, which defines the basic standards of production and processing and the requirements for control and policing. This Regulation is implemented in Britain by the UK Register of Organic Food Standards (UKROFS). The statutory requirements are:
• Two-year conversion period prior to full organic status is achieved;
• Adequate physical and financial separation of organic and non-organic units under the same management;
• Application to, inspection by, and certification with, an approved inspection body, such as Soil Association Certification Ltd;
• Maintenance of adequate records to demonstrate compliance with the standards;
• Annual monitoring and inspection by the approved certification body;
• Strict requirements for labelling and for the use of additives and processing aids.
Source: The Soil Association
Organic essential oils are usually priced at 50% –100% higher than normal high grade essential oils, but there is no rule as yet. The average price one should expect to pay for organic lavender oil is between £7 and £14 per 10ml depending on the type. It is expected that, from 2001 onwards, there is going to be a world shortage of many organic essential oils, especially Lavender. Demand simply outstrips supply and the demand for organic oils is growing twice as fast as the supply!
Aromatherapy magazine Essential Guide 0207 331 1000
Positive Health: Tel. 0117 983 8851
Caduceus: Tel. 01926 451 897
ATC Aromatherapy Trade Council Tel/fax 01473 603 630
ECOCERT International: sülte 20a 37520 Osterode, Germany
Tel: 00 49-5522-951161 fax: 00 49-5522-951164
The Soil Association: Tel. 0117 929 0661 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
NHR Organic Oils (Kolinka Zinovieff:), organic essential oils:
Please tel. (UK) 0845 310 8066 or Tel (USA) 1866 816 0195 or email at: email@example.com or see on the internet: www.nhr.kz
Kolinka Zinovieff qualified as an aromatherapist at the Institute of Clinical Aromatherapy and studied a postgraduate course in ‘Molecular activity and the therapeutics of organic essential oils’, based on the work of Pierre Franchomme, at the Institut des Sciences Phytomédicales (Body Treats). He also trained as a craniosacral therapist with the Cranial Osteopathic Association (CrOA) and the Upledger Institute. He runs a company called NHR Organic Oils, the main purpose of which is to sell pure, high quality, organic essential oils at affordable prices. (See Directory for more information). Tel .uk 0845 310 8066.
NHR Organic Oils
24 Chatham Place, Brighton BN1 3TN
DEPT. AA566, PO BOX 618001 DALLAS TX 75261-8001 USA