Essential Oil Stories


As we look back at the essential oils that caught extra attention this year I think of the Butterbur as a new entry to our repertoire and I also think of the shortages that were a telling event in 2016 aromatherapy. While the Cape Chamomile and Moroccan Chamomile shortages were certainly the ones most noticed I am also worrying that some of the staples we used to be able to procure from smaller distillers in Provence may be in the process of disappearing. Yet their disappearance might not be noticed as immediately, even though it would be a severe loss to the diversity of the oils we have available. Let me explain.

As I write this I am looking at three half liter aluminum bottles, one with Thyme oil of the paracymene, thymol chemotype, one of the ultra mild geraniol, linalool chemotype and one of Mountain Savory. What makes these so special is that they were all harvested in the wild, in the plateaux of Haute Provence.

And yes it is true, there is enough Garden (Summer) Savory cultivated to supply us with  stimulant Savory oil which is so perfect to remedy cases of mild asthenia. There is enough Thyme cultivated to give us an anti-infectious oil with a good thymol content and there is also sufficient cultivation of clonal Thyme linalool to allow us to formulate mild antiseptic acne formulations. And yes, cultivating these essential oil plants is generally the environmentally sound way to ensure supply of these precious commodities.

Still I have a rough time imagining that at some point I might be restricted to oils produced in larger batch sizes either by efficient Coops or by larger specialized enterprises. In the 1990s when “l’aromatherapie exactement” had just been published, there were those distillers in Haute Provence, the Drome and Corsica who made the oils that Franchomme and Pénoël had written about. They had written about these oils, practically by default, because those were the oils they had available, those were the oils they used in their treatments and explorations.

Now I am not saying that, as the original sources of wild crafted oils from Provence and Corsica become less abundant, we will not have therapeutically valid new entries into the repertoire. Oregano from Morocco or Hungary is highly effective against bacterial pathogens and Myrtle from Albania is almost as gentle as the one from Corsica. And I also believe that in terms of therapeutic activity we can always explore new oils from aromatic plants that have not been the focus of current trends. Nonetheless I feel nostalgic about the very radiant oils from Provence. And maybe I am overly concerned and new distillers will fill the void when our lifelong friends enter their well earned retirement.

But for now we are holding on to these wildcrafted oils and treat them as the precious rarities the truly are. For now, we are offering these oils, wild Mountain Savory 145, wild Thyme linalool/geraniol 220 and wild Thyme thymol/paracymene 703 on the regular essential oil menu of the OSA site. Once these batches are gone these oils, from the three above mentioned containers, will move into the rarities section.

But true joy can only be had if it is shared. So every once in a while, at a special time we shall offer some of these precious extracts. They can be found in the rarities section on the OSA website. But please do not order these oils if you are looking for bargains, GC/MS reports or larger quantities. One should only ponder buying these oils if they can be seen in the same way one would see a rare cabernet from Napa Valley. These oils offer the ultimate in generosity and finesse and these are qualities that the GC/MS will not recognize.

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