Environmental Impacts of Aromatherapy

July 16, 2022

Environmental Impacts of Aromatherapy

The world population is experiencing an exciting movement. The search for more natural remedies and preventative support – walking away from big pharma and synthetic remedies. Natural remedies such as herbs, acupuncture, massage, meditation, yoga, energy work such as Reiki, and of course aromatherapy are being sought after at ever-increasing rates. We are going back to the roots of wellness. Quite exciting! 

The practice of aromatherapy has been around for generations. The first book published on the topic was published in 1937!  The world population in the 1930’s was roughly 2,070 million. 

Fast forward to the 21st century. . . . As of 2015, there is roughly 7,324,782 million inhabitants of our wonderful blue marble. *

In our passionate search for aromatherapy wellness support, and the exponential growth in our population, could we potentially damage our environment? The answer is YES!

Essential oil production is a highly resource intensive proposition.

Farming Practices

Essential oils are from plant life. It goes without saying that how these plants are grown can have an impact.

Many of the popular essential oil companies receive their raw materials from large corporate farms that can produce enormous amount of plant material. Corporate farming may use pesticides in order to assure the volume of plants required of these companies.

Wild Harvesting of plant material is where the distiller goes into the wilderness to pick the plants used for essential oil production. While there is little chance of obtaining plants that have pesticides on them, the land can be damaged with heavy traffic and plant population can be depleted beyond recovery in that wild area. In addition, some plants used for essential oils are listed on the The International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.  Some of these plants that are on this list include:

  • Sandalwood (Santalum album) - listed as vulnerable
  • Rosewood (Aniba rosaeodora) – listed as endangered
  • Atlas cedarwood (Cedrus atlantica) – listed as endangered
  • Rosewood (Dalbergia abrahamii) – listed as endangered 

Amount of plant material needed to extract the essential oils is enormous. For a single pound of essential oil, it takes:

  • 10,000 lbs. of rose blossoms (equivalent to 60 roses for one drop of essential oil)
  • 250 lbs. of lavender
  • 1,500 lemons

Extraction Process

The process of extraction can be harmful as well.

Although most essential oils can be extracted using steam distillation or cold pressing, there are still some essential oils that require the use of solvents.  Essential oils that require solvent extraction are labeled as “absolutes”. These include: White Ginger Lily, Ylang Ylang and Jasmine.

Most growers/suppliers of essential oils use cold pressing and steam distillation if possible, however some still use solvents to extract the essential oils because it is faster and easier. Cold pressing and steam distillation take time and are more labor intensive.

It is important to note that not all solvents are created equally, and the reputable growers/distillers will use the least harmful solvents because the quality of the essential oil depends upon it (as does the environment).

The residual plant material produced during the distillation process is often not disposed of in a manner that protects the environment.

There is so much damage that can occur, should you still use essential oils?

The answer is YES, but:

Realize how precious each drop of essential oil is. The plant life that goes into each drop is valuable not only in terms of energetic, emotional and therapeutic effect – BUT in terms of resources, plant life, labor, time and the environment.

Use essential oils sparingly! Avoid companies that encourage frequent use of essential oils.

Check to see if a particular plant species is native to the land it’s grown on. If the plant is native it is less likely to negatively impact the environment as it is suited for soil, climate and rainfall of the area.

 How Mia’s Botanicals works to support the environment

At Mia’s we formulate our products using only the amount of essential oils necessary to provide the desired effective.

We change our aroma blend formulation if a plant has been moved to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. We did that a few years ago with Bliss – replacing Sandalwood essential oil.

We source carefully and establish long-term relationships with our vendors. We only work with vendors who buy ingredients as close to the source as possible; are mindful of sustainable harvesting and fair-trade practices.  

The essential oils we use are verified for authenticity and purity using advanced laboratory techniques to determine quality and potency.

For more information about our standards, please go to:



Photo by Hailey Frost @Frostifotos


* Reference: www.johnstonsarchive.net/other/worldpop.html


#miabotanicals #certifiedaromatherapist #naturestherapy #aromatherapy #essentialoils #plants #nature #flowers #plantsofinstagram #garden #plant #plantsmakepeoplehappy #criticallyendangered #conservation #extinction #endangeredspecies #brinkofextinction #climatechangeisreal #changetheworld

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