French Lavender: In Great Distress
EDITOR’S NOTE: Since Gary Young’s passing, we have been taking stock of the tremendous contributions he made to the world by revisiting his presentations such as this fascinating fourteen-part blog post series that recounts Gary’s adventures with the worldwide lavender supply. Here’s Part I. This post was originally published in 2011, and is based on a presentation he gave to members that year.
What would I do if I couldn’t get pure essential oils? How do I know if the essential oils I am buying are pure? How can I know the origin and the species of the oil I am buying? Does this mean that I need to question whether all the oils I may be buying that I am told are pure are actually pure? Because the salesperson and the promotional literature says I’m buying lavender essential oil, for instance, does that make it so?
These are the questions that every person representing, selling, buying, or using essential oils should be asking. If you buy an oil from a broker who tells you it is pure, does it guarantee that it is? Absolutely not! Many essential oils come from countries far away from us, and visiting the distilleries could be very difficult.
An essential oil such as frankincense is one where people can easily be deceived. Even if you were to go to Oman and buy directly from the market in Salalah, the land of frankincense, could you be guaranteed that you are buying pure Boswellia sacra frankincense? Absolutely not!
But, you could more easily travel to France to see fields of lavender being harvested and distilled, or could you? That certainly was possible in years past, and tens of thousands of visitors have done just that. But what is happening today in France? Lavender, one of the world’s most favored essential oils, is currently in great distress. Many difficult circumstances surround this beautiful oil, and if you go to France today and buy directly from a producer, does this guarantee that you are buying 100 percent pure Lavandula angustifolia—pure lavender essential oil? Absolutely not!