Essential Oils and the “Therapeutic Grade” Myth

If... therapeutic grade is real, then so am I!

The launch of PURE™ Essential Oils at Convention 2015 in May was met with tremendous enthusiasm, and Melaleuca has been absolutely thrilled with the phenomenal customer response. Tens of thousands of customers, many of whom were already familiar with and using essential oils, are now enjoying the uncompromising purity, guaranteed quality, and aromatic excellence of PURE Essential Oils.

While the use of essential oils is commonplace for many people, others are new to the experience. It stands to reason that customers would have questions about essential oils: What are they exactly? Where do they come from? What are their benefits? How are they used? Since May, Melaleuca has fielded numerous questions like these.

One of the most common questions customers have asked, is whether or not Melaleuca’s essential oils are “therapeutic grade.” Others have heard the term “therapeutic grade” and want to know what it means.

If therapeutic grade is real, then so am I! Unicorn

The term “therapeutic grade” sounds technical, official, and impressive, as if it were an industry-recognized certification reserved only for the highest-quality essential oils. If that were the case, and this term was in fact used to grade essential oils, then Melaleuca PURE Essential Oils—which are 100% pure—would easily qualify for the distinction.

The problem is that the term “therapeutic grade” and another like it, “CPTG Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade,” are nothing but marketing ploys. They were made-up by essential oil companies to help sell their own products.

Differentiating one product from another is a critical aspect of marketing. However, there are times when this differentiation is a “certification” fabricated in an attempt to elevate a product as the market’s “gold standard.” This was the tactic used in 2007 to create the term “therapeutic grade.”

"The truth is that there is no such thing as therapeutic grade" - National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy

Prior to 2007, the term “therapeutic grade” did not exist in the essential oil market. This term is not an independent or third party endorsement of purity and quality, but a trademarked marketing term created by a company selling essential oils. This 2007 creation spurred a greater fallacy, the term “CPTG Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade.” Again, this term sounds technical, implying the product has been “certified” to be pure and of therapeutic grade. But, like its predecessor, it is nothing more than a made up, trademarked phrase.

What’s more, these fabricated terms are defined by the very companies who invented them. Where there should be consistency, “therapeutic grade” seems to have different definitions. For example, some sources list as many as seven tests to determine “therapeutic grade,” while other sources list only two tests for the same “certification.”

Currently, there is no governing body that certifies essential oil quality and production, or designates a standardized grading system for essential oils. Making up terms like “therapeutic grade” and “CPTG Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade” implies that there is such a controlling entity, and Melaleuca believes that this practice is deceitful and unethical.

To put it succinctly, these terms have no real certification or quality value. They are complete myths.

That being said, Melaleuca is committed to ensuring that PURE Essential Oils are always the highest quality, purist oils available on the market. In the absence of a central governing body, we rely on two entities that provide reputable quality specifications for many essential oils: the Association Française de Normalisation (AFNOR) and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). In the event that there is no AFNOR or ISO standard upon which to grade our essential oils, we compare them to historical testing data from essential oils experts.
There are other terms used to describe the quality of some essential oils. These terms include “medicinal grade” and “aromatherapy grade.” Again, they do not have any actual certification value.

If therapeutic grade is real, then so am I! Nessie

Until there is a government agency or other official body that certifies or “grades” essential oils, the best and easiest way to determine the purity of any oil is to look at the label on the bottle. Melaleuca’s PURE Essential Oils are labeled as 100% pure. (That should tell you all you need to know, as nothing can be purer than 100%.) Each oil is certified not to contain any impurities or synthetic ingredients.

The other thing to keep in mind when it comes to essential oils, is that purity and quality are two different things. Just because something is pure doesn’t mean it is high quality. Look at it this way: How would you like a glass of 100% pure orange juice…squeezed from unripe, sour oranges?

PURE Essential Oils are also rigorously tested to meet stringent quality specifications. They undergo a battery of seven different quality tests to ensure they are always the highest quality available:

  • Chirality testing
  • Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry (GCMS) testing
  • Heavy metal/pesticide/herbicide testing
  • Microbial testing
  • Optical rotation and refractive index testing
  • Organoleptic testing
  • Specific gravity testing

In addition, each PURE Essential Oil is harvested through ethical and sustainable practices and traceable to its botanical plant source. The result is a line of essential oils of the highest standards.

If you have any additional questions about PURE Essential Oils, please refer to the Essential Oils FAQ page.


  1. Susan Gilbert on July 16, 2015 at 6:34 pm

    Thank you for that clarification and for being a company of quality and integrity

  2. Laurel Hendrick on July 16, 2015 at 8:39 pm

    I am interested in knowing how many PURE Essential Oils Melaleuca carries.

    Thank you

  3. Wanda Murray on July 16, 2015 at 8:56 pm

    thank you for this helpful information

  4. Connie Baltensperger on July 17, 2015 at 6:19 am

    Thank you for this much needed article! I have people who have had connections with other essential oil companies and this will bring education and confidence!

  5. Denise Goidman on July 17, 2015 at 9:14 am

    Excellent information. I love the Lavender oil and putting a few drops on the pillow helps me to sleep well!

  6. Charlotte Niedermayer on July 17, 2015 at 9:58 am

    I just received the Aromatherapy and Essential Oils book that was recommended by Melaleuca. On page 174 there is a recipe for Monster Spray…so, when I saw this presentation on my Instagram this morning…just a perfect fit!!! Thanks for all you do…

  7. Dalil on July 17, 2015 at 11:58 am

    Melaleuca carries PURE Essential Oils …
    25 Single Oils
    2 Carrier Oils
    5 Blends
    Pure Ultrasonic Humidifier and much More

  8. Evelyn on July 17, 2015 at 12:40 pm

    I always trust Melaleuca to only provide the best of everything~

  9. Cheri Orr on July 17, 2015 at 1:49 pm

    Thanks Melaleuca ! So important to use the correct language. Proud to be a part of such an ethical company. Love the graphics too!

  10. LaDonna Greene on July 17, 2015 at 3:36 pm

    Thanks for sharing and clarifying! This line has added a whole new avenue of possibilities!

  11. Jorge Muñoz Prado on July 17, 2015 at 3:44 pm

    Spanish please.

  12. Belinda Johnson on July 17, 2015 at 10:27 pm

    How do I get a copy of the Aromatherapy and Essential Oils book recommended by Melaleuca? I am very interested in all the oils. I have tried Vapor in the diffuser for bronchitis and Lavender at bedtime. Very excited to enter the oil therapy world.

  13. Cami on July 18, 2015 at 4:09 am

    What book did they recommend? I can’t seem to find that anywhere.

  14. Syble taylor on July 18, 2015 at 7:37 am

    I am 76 years old and have a lot of health problems. Would like to learn more about essential oils to help.

  15. Kazia Sodaro on July 18, 2015 at 8:54 am

    I was never into oils but would love to learn more about their proper uses.

  16. Carol on July 18, 2015 at 2:47 pm

    What book was recommended?

  17. Kristen on July 19, 2015 at 1:49 pm

    What is the book that was recommended?

  18. Shirley Kerr on July 19, 2015 at 3:06 pm

    Thank you for the clarification and confidence that the PURE Essential oils line is, like all the other products, such high quality.

    I have had a lot of customer interest and those “Therapeutic Grade” terms have been thrown around quite a bit.

  19. Resa Fulmer on July 19, 2015 at 8:39 pm

    May I have the exact name and author of the book that Melaleuca recommends? Thanks!

  20. evie ball on July 20, 2015 at 8:02 pm

    I want to know where I can find the Essential Oils book…..

  21. Kathy on July 21, 2015 at 11:37 am

    Would like to know what the difference is besides prices between Melaleuca and Young Living oils? ??

  22. Kathy on July 21, 2015 at 11:40 am

    Thanks! Am anxious to hear your point of view!

  23. Patrick Hayden on July 22, 2015 at 12:23 pm

    Do you have oils that contain any nuts ? or any kind of nuts added to them cause i have a nut allergy ?

  24. helen mcandrews on July 26, 2015 at 7:37 pm

    essential oils come from plants, not nuts. so no worries.

  25. helen mcandrews on July 26, 2015 at 7:38 pm

    essential oils are derived from plants. no nuts. so no worries.

  26. Trish on July 29, 2015 at 9:57 am

    I would like to know the name of the book and where I can purchase it.

  27. Carole Selness on August 3, 2015 at 3:12 pm

    Several of you are asking about this book. I called Melaleuca’s product question line (800-742-8094), and Melaleuca does recommend a book.
    They tell you about this in the July LIA Pg. 45. You can purchase this at It’s $19.00. Complete Aromatherapy & Essential Oil Handbook for Everyday Wellness
    by Nerys Purchon (Author), Lora Cantele (Author)

  28. Clara on August 9, 2015 at 11:14 am

    Except for the carrier almond oil. But you can always use the coconut oil as carrier instead.

  29. Debi on September 9, 2015 at 3:31 pm

    Are the oils Melaleuca sells ingestible? Not all oils are ingestible!

  30. Alli on September 10, 2015 at 12:12 pm

    Internal usage of essential oils is not necessary to achieve therapeutic benefits, in fact more often then not the risks outweigh the benefits. Inhalation/diffusing and properly diluted topical application are fabulous! Great insight from the National Association of Holistic Aromatherapy here:

  31. Yvonne Ruiz on February 17, 2016 at 12:01 am

    I have many friends involved with DoTerra, the number one essential oils company. At an essential oils class tonight I brought my melaleuca essential oils. One of the differences pointed out is that DoTerras oils are ingestible, and melaleucas are not. If melaleucas essential oils are truly pure, then why are they labeled for external use only? This concerns me, and may affect whether I continue to purchase essential oils through melaleuca. Please explain.

  32. stacey on April 11, 2016 at 8:52 pm

    I would love to know the answer as well. I have been trying to figure out the difference between Melaleuca and all the other essential oil companies.

  33. Kent on May 15, 2016 at 12:33 am

    Ingesting ANY brand of essential oil is risky. Too much of a good thing is bad; and ingesting essential oils (the oils being a VERY concentrated good thing) is a sure way to over-do it. If you choose to ingest oils, do so very sparingly. Topical use and applying to the bottom on one’s feet are a QUICK, painless, and tasteless way to obsorbe the benefits of all essential oils.