This month....

May 2019

May & that wonderful month of growth & overgrowth. A hint of warmth in the air, green shrubs, hedges & trees bursting with the heady smell of creamy white flowers. Intoxicating.

What would we do without it? In a month of protests & discussions on climate change we're all urged to do our bit - & then a bit more. Where does that leave us in the aromatherapy field with our carriers & essential oils? Does it matter whether our oils are sustainably sourced as we only use a few drops each time?

According to the CBI the aromatherapy industry is expected to grow annually by just under 10%. 85% of sales are for essential oils, carriers & essential oil blends. Use is not only for independent aromatherapists but clinics & spas, cosmetic products such as skin & hair care & products for relaxation. Western Europe is a major market. It's estimated around 20% of essential oils imported into Europe are used in aromatherapy oils and cosmetics. Essential oils are also used extensively in the food, flavouring & perfumery industries as well as for medicinal purposes. Should we care where the oils come from?

As consumers or users of essential oil products we can ask for traceability & certification which will tell us something about the source. As aromatherapists we can ask for gas chromatography certificates detailing the constituents of an essential oil which can indicate whether there has been adulteration. Is this important?

Of course it's important! No one should be applying impure products of any kind to their skin.

Three oils that are particularly endangered are those of sandalwood (Santalum album) from India, frankincense (Boswellia carterii) from Somalia & rosewood (Aniba rosaeodora) from Brazil. Trees that have been harvested for years are now under threat due to the inability to meet global demand. This has resulted in overharvesting, weakening of the trees & ultimate destruction.

Projects are currently under way to produce sandalwood oil in Australia which is proving successful, encouraging sustainability & lab testing in the case of frankincense harvesting & a project to plant young rosewood trees in French Guiana.

These precious trees prized for their wood as well as their aromatic & medicinal properties are now being protected but still in danger. How tragic if their wonderful aromas were unknown to future generations.

© Susan Mumford, 2019