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Essential Oil Quality

old message Essential Oil Quality Darrell Miller 12/07/05


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Date: December 07, 2005 04:19 PM
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Subject: Essential Oil Quality

Essential Oil Quality

By Lou DeMers, Quality Assurance, January 7, 2005 The Importance of Species The quality of an essential oil, or the perception of this quality, involves many factors. One factor has much to do with the specific plant species used. When obtaining an essential oil, one must look past the common or trivial names and insist on the Latin binomial or scientific name. To do otherwise will result in the purchase and use of a material that is of lesser or no therapeutic value, and certainly of different aroma. Take, for example, Sandalwood essential oil. The highest quality oil is derived from the East Indian Sandalwood tree species Santalum album. This essential oil has been vigorously analyzed to determine that it contains 16 major components, the chief being the alpha and beta Santalols at not less than 90% of the total content. There are 12 other sesquiterpene analogues of Santalol, which also lend to the overall characteristic aroma associated with this essential oil. Additionally, much of the therapeutic value is attributed to the two Santalol isomers and their high content. Another sandalwood essential oil is the West Australian Sandalwood derived from the tree species Eucarya spicata, also called Santalum spicatum. While this essential oil does contain alpha-Santalol, it also contains other sesquiterpene alcohols that are not analogues of Santalol. Interestingly enough a typical analysis will state the free alcohol content (calculated as Santalol) as not less than 90%. But this is deceiving in that the actual Santalol content is much less than this at around 60-65%, and only the alpha isomer and not the beta isomer is present. A third lesser-known sandalwood is another Western Australian sandalwood called Santalum lanceolatum. The essential oil from this species contains no Santalol whatsoever. In conclusion, the Santalol content of the three sandalwood essential oils accounts for their very different aroma and therapeutic values, and care should be exercised to ensure the desired product is obtained. You can be assured that the NOW Quality Assurance team is looking at these issues when deciding how to source our raw materials so you can be assured of the highest quality products in our label.

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