What Is a Therapeutic Grade Essential Oil?

I’ll be doing a series of posts to explain some common terms that you may have come across.

It’s important to understand what these mean because:

  • Some terms don’t mean what you think they mean. Sounds confusing? Don’t worry, you’ll understand what I’m talking about further down this post.
  • Different types of oils have different uses.
  • Different types of oils have different prices.

Lavender flower and oil

Lets begin!

So today, I’ll start with the most popular question – what is a therapeutic grade essential oil?

Or a variation of it – what is a certified therapeutic grade essential oil?

What do Certified and Grade mean?

The words “certified” and “grade” can be misleading. There is no regulatory body that “certifies” an essential oil to be of a certain “grade”. So if you’ve assumed that these words mean that the oils have gone through some kind of grading by an external regulatory body…

Put that idea out of your head!

Many essential oil companies, at least the good ones, ought to have put their oils through rigorous tests and inspections. The oils that pass are “certified”. It’s an internal certification based on internal standards.

It doesn’t necessarily mean the standards are low. The standards could still be very high. Just keep in mind that the “certification” standards are internal and so they could be different for different companies. Also, remember that the certification does not imply the stamp of approval from a regulatory body such as the FDA.

Same goes for the word “grade”. There is no formal grading by any regulatory body, okay?

What does Therapeutic mean?

This term may also be a little misleading though not as much as “certified” or “grade”. Simply put, “therapeutic” means that the oil is suitable for improving your health or mood.

Oils can also be sold to, for instance, the food and perfume industries to flavor food and create perfumes. But most essential oils sold in the retail market (i.e. to us consumers) are usually for “therapeutic” purposes.


1. You can safely ignore the words “certified” and “grade”. They’re marketing terms that are meaningless in the world of essential oils.

2. Broad guidelines exist but formally, there is no regulatory body that establishes “laws” or standards on essential oils. To ensure that you’re buying “good” essential oils, you need to do some research on the vendors (and read my posts, which I hope can help a bit 🙂 ).

3. Oils can be for improving health or mood, for making perfumes and personal care products or for adding to food. We should use oils that are suitable for improving health or mood.

4. “Therapeutic” means the oil is suitable to be used with the purpose of improving your health or mood. However, it does not necessarily mean you can ingest (eat) the oil. To read more on how you can take in (use) essential oils, see this post.

Shall we chat?  Do you think essential oil companies should use the words “therapeutic grade” in their labeling and marketing? 

2 thoughts on “What Is a Therapeutic Grade Essential Oil?”

  1. As an Aromatherapist, I find too many times clients are buying fragrances vs real therapeutic oils. What makes me the most nervous is they are using them on their skin! I personally would not even diffuse a fragrance oil, but that’s why we have great articles like yours, to help people understand the important information about Essential oils. Great article!

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