Dear Massage Magazine,

I submitted an article, which you published as a Guest Editorial on page 22 of your March 2010 issue, entitled Essential Oils: Premium Quality Yields Premium Results. On page 10, your Contents Page, this was listed as: Guest Editorial: Read about therapeutic grade essential oils in “Powerful Tools in A Small Bottle”, by Dawn-Mari Yurkovic, at www.massagemag.com/powerfultools. Don’t you agree this is a little weird? One person writes a two-page article, and a completely different person/article is listed on the Contents page of the magazine?
Dictionary Series - Info: dataIn my article I explain why “such terms as pharmaceutical grade, therapeutic grade or food grade have no meaning in relation to the quality of essential oils for aromatherapy.” But, at the end of the article, you inserted a box, with: Read about therapeutic grade essential oils in “Powerful Tools in A Small Bottle”, by Dawn-Mari Yurkovic at www.massagemag.com/powerfultools. OK, I can take a hint, even if it’s thrust in my face.

In Dawn-Mari’s pitch (she’s basically selling her classes and her essential oils) she makes the following comment: Only therapeutic grade essential oils should be used to ensure safety and that there are no synthetic or toxic chemicals being introduced to the body. Unfortunately, less than 2 percent of the essential oil found in health-food stores and the like are actually therapeutic grade, even though the label might say something like “100-percent pure”.

On speaking to Karen Menehan and Stanford Erickson, two of your editors, I was told that one role of a publication was to present alternative viewpoints. A fair point in principle, but I have read dozens of editorials, guest and otherwise, and don’t remember a single one that presented opposing views in this way. And, I’m still confused as to how my article was listed as someone else’s.

As for “therapeutic grade” essential oils, I agree with Dawn-Mari that synthetic or toxic chemicals are best avoided in aromatherapy. (Though I would add that these terms are not synonymous, and some essential oils naturally contain toxic constituents.) Also, I totally agree with the sentiment that essential oils used in aromatherapy should be of a grade suitable for the task. I’m just saying that there is no independent, industry standard that is known as “therapeutic grade.”

Tim Blakeley in Nepal

Aura Cacia’s Tim Blakely (center) helping with a distillation project in Nepal

And, I’m not at all sure where the idea that “less than 2% of essential oils sold in health stores are appropriate for aromatherapy” comes from. This is quite simply pure and unadulterated fantasy! Perhaps the most common retail brand is Aura Cacia, and if you go to their website you will find 27 organically certified essential oils listed. A very high percentage of essential oils now sold for use in aromatherapy is organically certified, and some of the ones that are not are simply not available as certified organic oils. This not only applies in the USA, the same is true in most regions. Is an organically certified essential oil not suitable for aromatherapy?

I was personally offended by the way my article was treated; at the very least you could have let me know your intentions ahead of time. And, I appreciate that you have apologized to me for this. As journalists, if you are going to present opposing views, I submit that it is your duty to do some fact checking. You have told me that, since you know nothing about aromatherapy, this would not be appropriate. I respectfully disagree, and in this instance you have contributed, perhaps significantly, to misinformation about essential oils for aromatherapy. Fact and fiction are not “differences of opinion.”

Sincerely,

Robert Tisserand