by Stephanie Chambers and Dr. Christoph Streicher
At Amrita Aromatherapy, we pride ourselves on having established an excellent list of high quality essential oil producers from all around the globe. We have been in business for more than 25 years, and some of our suppliers have been with us the whole time.
You may have noticed that sometimes after you order an essential oil, Amrita’s customer service staff notifies you it has been placed on “backorder.” If the delay in providing the essential oil looks like a prolonged one, we sometimes take the product off our website. This happens because essential oils are made from plants, and just like all other plants, sometimes harvests can be affected by droughts, floods, plant viruses and other issues. Sometimes, even political unrest or corruption can interfere with the farmer being able to get his crop to the distiller or the distiller being able to get his product to the USA.
Here are some examples of essential oils which have been hard to source at times:
Moroccan Blue Chamomile (blue tansy) is a wild crop. It has become very popular over the last 10 years, resulting in overharvesting, which in turn resulted in fewer crops the following year. It spiraled down over the last 4 years, and we were able to procure only a small fraction of what we were able to buy. Prices went up accordingly.
Our distiller has started to cultivate some of their own tansy in order to avoid this unfortunate situation. Harvest is expected this summer, but quantities will remain small and prices will remain high.
Because of this lack of availability of Moroccan Blue Chamomile, the demand for German Chamomile and Roman Chamomile substantially increased (even though technically Moroccan Blue Chamomile isn’t really a chamomile, it is a “tansy”). This has made Organic Roman Chamomile unavailable, so only conventionally farmed oil is available, and only at limited quantities and high prices.
Organic German Chamomile is also very limited. However, the producers of it have been very careful not to overproduce it as, being organic, these are special market products and demand is difficult to predict.
Our gas chromatograph tests have shown that up to 95% of the conventional Clary Sage and Bergamot essential oils currently on the market have been adulterated. This is because there are shortages of the plants themselves. The telltale sign of this for Clary Sage is a low sclareol content – the most important compound in Clary Sage. We always want to see at least 0.5% sclareol. We test all oils with our own in-house Gas Chromatograph. Recently we have seen oils with a sclareol content of 0.1% or less. We are waiting until the shortages end and Clary Sage oils are available with proper sclareol levels, because we refuse to sell impure oils. However, we do still have some supplies of Organic Clary Sage and conventionally farmed Clary Sage for sale.
There is a similar issue with Bergamot Oil. Adulterated Bergamot Oil can only be identified by chiral column analysis. Because we haven’t found any that appear pure after doing this test, we don’t have Bergamot oil available, but we do have some Bergapten-Free Bergamot Oil still available. But the good news is that we recently received some samples of good quality Bergamot Oil, so it too will be available soon.
Rosewood is an endangered species. As the harvests dropped, the supply dropped, and the adulations increased. For some time, Indian Rosewood was available, but now all Rosewood Oil from India is reconstituted with synthetics. For a long time, we did not offer any Rosewood Oil for sale because of the unethical industry (unsustainable harvesting practices and the way the commercial oil was produced). Fortunately, now we have found a producer who is planting Rosewood trees and running a sustainable plantation. Only branches and twigs are harvested, not the core wood. The oil is slightly different from the core wood, but it appears to have the same beneficial effects.
There have been similar difficulties with Sandalwood Oil from India, but we have found a supplier of Australian Sandalwood that is harvesting it in a sustainable way. It too has similar beneficial effects to the Indian Sandalwood. Recently, we have found a good quality supplier of sustainable Sandalwood from India, so it too will be available soon.
We hope knowing the issues involved will help you to understand why, try as hard as we might, there are sometimes delays in providing you with the essential oil you want to purchase.
Disclaimer: The statements made on this page have not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). They are not intended to diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. If a condition persists, please contact your physician or healthcare provider. The information provided is not a substitute for a face-to-face consultation with a healthcare provider, and should not be construed as medical advice.