ARE ESSENTIAL OILS SUSTAINABLE?
The popularity of Aromatherapy in recent years has helped discovering how incredibly healing essential oils are and how they can be a natural alternative to over the counter medications. What is unique to essential oils, is the ability of interacting with the limbic system very gently, creating a beneficial and immediate effect on the mood and general well-being.
On the flip side, there has been an enormous increase in the production of essential oils, to satisfy not only occasional consumers' demand, but to supply the ever growing users that abuse essential oils and take them on a regular base as supplements or use them irresponsibly.
Sadly, some essential oils brands rush to meet the consumer demand without taking into consideration that supply will not be endless, as not only climate change but also over harvesting some aromatic plants that are in grave danger, will push many plant species close to extinction very soon.
Like the case of the Amazon, natural habitat destruction has contributed to certain species becoming endangered, and the implications involve the whole eco-system.
We want to share with you a 2020 updated list of which aromatic plants species and are officially declared endangered, or threatened or vulnerable.
At Native Essentials we never use any endangered plant and our suppliers are certified and local government approved, like the case of our official supplier of Indian Sandalwood essential oil.
What can we do as consumers?
- be informed - these are some useful resources IUCN, CITES and FOREST LEGALITY
- buy responsibly essential oils from trusted and ethical suppliers
- use less essential oils and use them only when necessary and for their therapeutic properties.
THE 4 CLASSIFICATIONS
Based on conservation & environmental impact status, plants are classified as:
Not all species of a particular plant are usually endangered or threatened. So for instance Sandalwood - some species are endangered but there are many more sustainable. Here is an example:
ENDANGERED AROMATIC PLANT SPECIES
Agarwood, also called Oud wood, (Aquilaria crassna and Aquilaria malaccensi) is considered one of the most expensive woods in the world, it is created when a fungus infects the wood pulp. It is indigenous of South East Asia.
Cedarwood Atlas essential oil is derived from the wood of Cedrus atlantica. which grows mainly in the Atlas mountains of Marocco.
Holy Wood or Guaiacum officinale is a resin used to make essential oil. Grows in South America and in the Caribbeans.
Rosewood (Aniba rosaeodora) is harvested from the dwindling forests of the Brazilian Amazon and Madagascar.
Spikenard Nardostachys jatamansi (Nardostachys grandiflora) essential oil is derived from the rhizomes of Nardostachys species , whose habitat is the Himalayas (India and Nepal).
Hinoki (Chamaecyparis obtusa) is a conifer native to Japan; Taiwan Hinoki (Chamaecyparis formosensis) grows in Taiwan. They are both considered endangered.
Sandalwood Santalum macgregorii, and Santalum freycinetianum
THREATENED AROMATIC PLANT SPECIES
Cedarwood Atlas essential oil is derived from the wood of Cedrus atlantica. which grows mainly in the Atlas mountains of Marocco. Cedrus, Juniperus, and Widdringtonia species have lowering populations, including Cedrus deodara, Cedrus libani, Juniperus procera, Juniperus cedrus, Juniperus thurifera, and Widdringtonia whytei
Holy Wood or Guaiacum sanctum is a resin used to make essential oil. Grows in South America and in the Caribbeans. Guaiacum sanctum is near threatened, and Guaiacum coulteri is vulnerable.
Hawaiian Sandalwood Santalum ellipticum, Santalum freycinetianum, Santalum haleakalae, Santalum involutum, Santalum paniculatum, and Santalum salicifolium
VULNERABLE AROMATIC PLANT SPECIES
Indian Cedarwood essential oil is derived from the wood of Cedrus deodara. which grows mainly in the Himalayas.
Copaiba Copaifera officinalis, Copaifera langsdorffii, and Copaifera reticulata. grown in the Amazonian forest and the oil obtained is from the resin.
Frankincense (Boswellia sacra, Boswellia ameero, Boswellia bullata, Boswellia dioscoridis, Boswellia elongate, Boswellia nana, Boswellia popoviana, Boswellia socotrana, Boswellia ovalifoliolata, and Boswellia ogadensis) trees grow in Oman, Yemen, and the Horn of Africa, including Somalia and Ethiopia. The oil is obtained by collecting the resin; over-harvesting of the resin is common and can kill a frankincense tree.
Myrrh (Commiphora Myrrha) is being increasingly over-harvested and 50 species of the genus and vulnerable.
Palo Santo (Bursera graveolens) from Peru and a sacred tree, is vulnerable.
African Sandalwood Osyris lanceolata of Africa is listed as vulnerable.
Juniper berry (Juniperus communis) from Morocco.
Holy Wood or Guaiacum coulteri is a resin used to make essential oil. Grows in South America and in the Caribbeans. Guaiacum coulteri is vulnerable.
Indian Sandalwood Santalum album, was once listed as endangered, is now vulnerable. However, sustainable Santalum album is offered by Indian Government licensed resellers.
Sources: The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) , Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)