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AFNOR standards are set by The Association French Normalization Organization Regulation. The International Standards Organization (ISO) adopted the AFNOR standards for essential oils and provides ISO standards and guidance for essential oils.
There is no company that certifies essential oils. Ethical companies will use these guidelines and other standards including their own internal standards to make sure that the oils they are creating will preserve the properties and integrity of the plant through testing and other factors; and therefore, body systems and emotional wellness are supported. Oils produced for fragrance, these rules don't apply.
Did you know that the standards were developed by Dr. Herve Casabianca along with other scientists at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) so that inferior and top quality oils could be differentiated by Chemistry? Yes, so for instance, oils like Lavender and Frankincense essential oils that are commonly adulterated can be tested and analyzed to determine if it has synthetic compounds!
This is very valuable information for oil producers and consumers because no organization regulates whether a company is meeting those standards! So it is up to the company to test and analyze then accept or reject each batch of distilled oil to make sure it meets the standard!
As I said in the essential oil facts section the GC equipment must have a column length of 50 or 60 meters to accurately determine the oil constituents according to the certification process.
This isn't a foolproof method however; chemicals like linalyl acetate can be found in nature and are made synthetically. So chemists must be properly trained and really understand the entire process of analyzing essential oils.
Companies that do not analyze their oils and adulterate their oils are not only being deceptive but irresponsible. After all, synthetic compounds in oils such as synthetic linalyl acetate and propylene glycol are harmful to the body and place the consumer at risk. Please do not support these companies!
Here is an example of an AFNOR Standard. I chose Lavender essential oil because it is one of the most adulterated oils on the market today.
It is also sold as a hybrid, Lavandin which has a high level of camphor that is a skin irritant. True Lavender is excellent for the skin but lavandin can be irritating to the skin in certain circumstances and should not be used.
Lavender Essential Oil (lavandula angustifolia)
Constituent (Minimum-Maximum Percentage)
So you can see from this profile that the maximum amount of Camphor allowed is 0.5%!!!!! Lavandin contains 5-11% camphor and therefore may not be supportive of certain skin applications because of the camphor level.
Again, this is helpful but it is not everything because companies have learned how to pass their oils through this testing procedure by adding synthetically made constituents.
It also doesn't factor in how the plant is grown, distilled, and of course, harvested. This is just as important!
Therapeutic oils should be bottled directly from the still and sealed in non-reactive, air tight dark colored bottles as well. And still there are many other factors to consider!
What about USP-NF?
The United State Pharmacopoeia (USPC) was first established in 1830 to bring standards for medicinal preparations of any kind. The National Formulary (NF) was set up to set codes for the inactive ingredients that are used in medicine. Today, these organizations have merged and publish a book the USP-NF "Red Book" that provides the FDA enforceable standards for quality and strength of health care products.
Did you know that the 2005 Edition started to incorporate some standards for alcohol tinctures such as Peppermint spirit and Ginger root and Valerian root? It includes not only the chemical constituents but also the distillation requirements as well. So this is good!
NF is currently looking at standards for distilling, growing and packaging of essential oils in hopes to incorporate them in this book.
So let us hope that they do in fact follow though with this effort. It would really help minimize much of the fraud that is associated with essential oils, especially in the United States. And this could turn out to be a really good resource for us to use as well!
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