Sunday, December 9, 2012

Comparing Essential Oil Brands

One of the questions that comes up all the time is: what makes doTERRA better than the other essential oil brands you can find? In many cases, there are cheaper essential oils to be had, and if you have the mindset that all essential oils are the same, why bother paying more for doTERRA? I've got a few interesting anecdotes to tell that hopefully will clarify the situation, but the short summary is: not all oils (or essential oils) are created equal. For some things, it might not matter, but in cases of health I think I matters a lot!

Anecdote #1: My wife bought me a gift for Father's Day to go to a balsamic vinegar tasting, which cost $20 but came with a free coupon for a 12.7 oz. bottle of one of the oils/vinegars. The shop had a variety of straight and flavored olive oils and balsamic vinegars, and they brought out about five or six dishes for us to try that had just a bit of an oil or vinegar added to the mix. One was a white lime flavored vinegar with Greek yogurt, there was a chocolate cake drizzled with another vinegar, crackers with some cheese (Bree I think) and a third vinegar, etc. If you go into this tasting with the initial thought that all balsamic vinegars (and extra virgin olive oils) are the same, I can guarantee you will leave with a different opinion.

Costco sells a large 1 liter bottle of 2-year-aged balsamic vinegar for something like $10, and for roughly twice the cost we got half the amount of an 18-year-aged balsamic vinegar. The difference in price is quite shocking I suppose, but just as striking is the difference in taste! You could go through life using the cheaper mass-produced Costco stuff and be happy with it -- it still tastes quite nice -- but once you've tasted a true high quality aged balsamic vinegar, you will always remember that there's something better out there. The same goes for the olive oil; the difference was a bit more subtle I would say, but even though we have Kirkland brand extra virgin olive oil, it tastes nothing like the "real" stuff.

Anecdote #2: A couple years back, my wife had some health concerns and a midwife recommended she take an oregano essential oil to help with the problem. She went to Super Supplements and paid, I believe, something like $45 for a 30ml bottle of Oreganol -- which you can find on Amazon for around $33. I balked at the cost, but she was firm in her request and so we had her little bottle.

The instructions were to take I think five drops twice daily under the tongue, swish it around the mouth and swallow, and then take some water and swish that around and swallow. I did it with her (misery loves company, I guess -- or else I was being a good husband), and it tasted really nasty -- like a really strong oregano. After a few weeks of doing this, she basically didn't feel like it was helping at all, and so we stopped using Oreganol. She got a different recommendation, but my first encounter with essential oils wasn't very positive.

Flash forward to today and we still have a bit of Oreganol left, and I saw it the other day while cleaning out the fridge. This got me thinking: would I notice a difference between Oreganol and doTERRA's Oregano essential oil? I decided to do a head-to-head matchup.

First, I placed a drop of each on my tongue, starting with the Oreganol. It still tasted bad and strong, but that's basically what I would expect of something like an oregano oil. After washing my mouth out, I put a drop of the doTERRA Oregano on my tongue -- straight with no dilution. The difference was immediately noticeable -- the doTERRA oil wasn't just strong; it was HOT! I like spicy foods, but this was super potent and I quickly reached for some water, swished it around in my mouth, and swallowed. The heat stayed with me for a few minutes, and there was clearly a difference in concentration of whatever essence is extracted from oregano!


That's not the only difference; the oils also look different. In the above photo you can see that the Oreganol is quite a bit more yellowish in hue. The smell different as well; both have an oregano scent, but the Oreganol to me smells a bit more like weeds or hay, and it's not quite as strong smelling.

Finally, besides the taste, smell, and appearance, I've put doTERRA Oregano on my wrist once or twice, as somewhere I read that it could help with carpal tunnel syndrome. I only did it once or twice, however, as the strength of the oil is enough to cause some discomfort -- almost an itchy, burning feeling. When doTERRA says Oregano is a hot oil and should be diluted, you had best believe them! Oreganol on the other hand didn't do much when placed on my wrist other than make it smell like Oreganol. I placed two drops each of doTERRA Oregano and Oreganol on my arms as one final challenge. I can feel the difference, but just by looking, can you guess which arm has Oreganol and which as Oregano?
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Okay, hopefully you can at least see some difference between the arms, but which one looks like the oil is doing something more? I don't even feel anything on the arm with Oreganol, to be honest, while the other arm is tingling a bit, and slightly uncomfortable -- remember that doTERRA recommends diluting Oregano, as it's such a strong oil. The answer is that the arm on the left (my right arm, see blow) got the doTERRA Oregano while the arm on the right got Oreganol. It may not show up as well in pictures (thanks to the flash and other influences), but in person my right arm is now noticeably redder than the left. [Note: I flipped the image just so it was different from the above pattern, so in the picture my right arm is shown on the left -- any my wedding ring on is on my left hand.]

Wrapping things up, 30ml of Oreganol online will cost you $33. 15ml of doTERRA Oregano (note that the bottle shown earlier is a 5ml Oregano bottle!) costs $24 wholesale. But like the olive oil and balsamic vinegar, there's a qualitative difference between the two oils that you wouldn't know just by looking at the labels. A quick search at Amazon gives thirteen different oregano essential oil brands; most of them cost a lot less than doTERRA and/or give you more oil, but having personally tested two brands priced above $15 / 15ml (0.5 ounces), I'm certain you won't get the same quality of oil from the $5 to $10 brands.

I've mentioned this before, but doTERRA tests every batch of their essential oils with mass spectrometry and gas chromatography; that costs money but it ensures two things. First, there are no weeds, chemicals or other pollutants in doTERRA's essential oils; they're truly 100% pure. Second, it guarantees that all the right compounds that are supposed to be present are present. Not every apple tastes the same, and not every batch of oregano leaves (or lemon peel, cypress trees, frankincense sap, cinnamon bark, etc.) is going to be the same. doTERRA harvests each plant from a region where it grows natively and optimally, at the peak of the growing season, in order to guarantee quality. If you just want any old essential oils, there are lots of alternatives out there, but I wouldn't be surprised if most of them don't work nearly as well as doTERRA's products, and I wouldn't try taking most other brands internally (due to the potential for unwanted pollutants).

--== doTERRA Skeptic ==--