Dr. Christoph Streicher of Amrita Aromatherapy Sheds Light on Ingestion, Adulteration, and Overdose of Essential Oils *Plus* A Special Offer for Marvy Moms Readers
Amrita Aromatherapy is a recommended supplier in one of the aromatherapy groups I belong to on Facebook and I’ve seen them mentioned favorably in several places. I’m glad that I found this one to profile. Make sure you read through to the end for a special offer just for Marvy Moms readers!
I received products free of charge from Amrita Aromatherapy in order to write a comprehensive company profile that includes my personal experience with the oils/products. This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the affiliate links, Marvy Moms will receive a percentage of any sale. This does not affect the amount you will pay for an item or service and in no way changes opinions expressed by Marvy Moms or Marvy Moms writers. For more info, see Marvy Moms Disclosure Policy.
Owned by: Dr. Christoph Streicher
Person Interviewed: Dr. Christoph Streicher
Interview Method: Email
Number of Employees: 14
Location: Fairfield IA
Number of Single Essential Oils Sold: 117
Other Products Sold: Essential Oil Synergies, Roll-On Relief, Tri-Essence PowerBlends, Certified Organic Perfumes, Skin Care (Facial Crèmes, Facial Masks, Facial Serums, and Rose Hydrosol), Body Oils, Base Oils (Carrier Oils), Natural Deodorant, Bugs BeGone, Essential Oil Diffusers, Essential Oil Guides, and Clearance Essential Oils.
- Bergamot (Citrus aur bergamia)
- Cedar, Himalayan (Cedrus deodara)
- Eucalyptus Globulus (Eucalyptus globulus)
- Peppermint (Mentha piperita)
- Rosemary Verbenone (Rosmarinus officinalis)
- Pure Joy (Blend)
What’s on the bottle:
- Oil name
- Botanical name
- Cultivation status (Organic, Wildcrafted, or Farmed)
- Plant part used
- Lot/Batch number
- Country of origin
- Volume (number of ml AND oz)
- Mailing address
- Phone number
- Website address
- UPC number and barcode
- USDA Organic seal (on organic oils)
- “Made in the USA”
- “Certified Organic by Oregon Tilth”
- “100% Pure Therapeutic Quality Essential Oils.”
- “Keep out of reach of children.”
- “Caution, use by the drop.”
What’s in the bottle:
Each of the oils sent to me by Amrita are lovely. It’s great that so many of their oils are organic! Of the six they sent me, four are certified USDA Organic. The Pure Joy synergy makes me feel happy and relaxed just as the website description claims. Maybe TMI, but I’d say that there is a sensual quality to this synergy as well.
Is Amrita dedicated to supplying essential oils to the aromatherapy practitioner market and educated public?
“That is very important to us. Supplying EOs to practitioners keeps the therapeutic dialogue alive. They ask me regularly questions and we are learning from them too.”
Is Amrita on the small size and not a large corporation?
“While Amrita has been a small company over the last 25 years, we feel the need to grow and we are still growing. The reason is simple: It is very expensive to import from more than 70 different distillers in fairly small quantities. When the quantities get bigger, the importing cost per kg / pound gets smaller. That’s the only way to offer better prices to practitioners and other customers. One way, how we successfully managed to import larger quantities of a number of our oils and that way keep the prices within reasonable range, is selling certified organic oils to manufacturers of organic personal care products, in quantities from 1 kg to 180 kg (full drum). That way we get the oils for our small bottles also at decent prices.”
Note: Amrita has 14 employees.
Is Amrita owned by an aromatherapy practitioner or essential oil specialist?
“I think this is a necessity. The more the company knows about essential oils, including their chemistry, botanical background, effects on the physiology the better the job they can do in sourcing EOs and formulating blends. It took me 5 years dealing with essential oils to refine my first blends so I was comfortable selling them.”
Note: Dr. Christoph Streicher has a series of videos on YouTube that are all from the same seminar. Several of them talk about his Roll-on Relief line of products, and then there are some that are the Q&A portion from the end of the session. I especially enjoyed listening to the Q&A videos and here’s the first of those:
Do you have relations with your distillers?
“If oils are not bought directly from the distiller, there is always the chance of adulteration. EOs are commonly not adulterated by the producers, but by the current trade system which mainly supplies the fragrance, toiletry and personal care industry. That industry is largely not in need of a natural product but in need of a consistent and well-priced product. A trade system for the needs of aromatherapy still needs to establish itself. To go to the source is a necessity for us even though it means importing many different essential oils from many different sources. Sourcing is still a very big part of my work.”
Can Amrita readily supply a batch-specific GC/MS spec report on each essential oil it sells?
“Amrita has its own analytical lab. I believe it is very important to analyze the composition of EOs in house and not rely on 3rd party services or suppliers. When comparing several samples before making a purchase decision, 3rd party services can be costly and often purchases are time sensitive. Relying on supplier data is also not the very best thing unless a strong trusting relationship is established.”
Note: Amrita has GC/MS reports available for $20 per oil.
Is Amrita readily able to provide material safety data sheets (MSDS) as needed?
“That is a must. By law any supplier of such products must provide MSDS upon request.”
Does Amrita and do you (Dr. Christoph Streicher) have a strong unquestioned noncontroversial reputation in the field?
Have you been in the field for a number of years and are you well known to other aromatherapy practitioners and/or educators?
“I’ve been in the field for [over] 25 years.”
A few additional points from Christoph:
- “I think it is very important that the botanical names are printed on the labels including subspecies and chemotype where applicable.”
- “Since the AT industry is to a large extent concerned with purity and holistic health, organic essential oils verified by the USDA organic certification system is highly desirable.”
- “Education is most critical for the further advancements of AT (Thank you by the way for writing blogs like this). A good AT company should provide educational classes. I was planning to videotape my last class to create a video corresponding course, but the class did not happen because I fell ill. I hope I will get to that soon.”
My Impressions of Amrita Aromatherapy
Along with the oils, Amrita also sent me assorted literature describing their products as well as a mini-book written by Dr. Christoph Streicher and Karla Christensen entitled, “Aromatherapy for Every Day: A beginner’s guide to the use of natural essential oils for health, beauty and well-being.” The book is a simple and easy to understand overview of essential oils and aromatherapy for beginners. It starts off defining essential oils and aromatherapy, talks about extraction methods, how to read a label, basic safety, and storage of essential oils. It goes on to describe methods of use, including:
- Sitz, Hip and Foot Baths
The book then profiles 33 commonly used essential oils. For each oil there is a description of the scent, common uses, properties (such as antiseptic, decongestant, antiviral, etc…), and then lists other oils that it blends well with. These are short profiles to give a quick picture of each oil. The last portion of the book has a blending guide, a few recipes, an Easy Reference Chart covering properties, emotional/mental uses, physical uses, how to use, and cautions, and a Therapeutic Index that is organized by condition (such as acne, arthritis, back pain, etc…). Written in 2006, this book is slightly out of date, but the majority of the information is still relevant and helpful. For $4 to get a printed copy or $0.99 for a PDF version for your computer, it’s a great deal for a quick reference guide. A condensed and updated version of the booklet is available as a fold-out brochure called, “A Guide to Essential Oils and Synergy Blends.”
I had some questions regarding some of the recommendations in the booklet, brochure, and the website and so I emailed Christoph for further clarification.
Emily: “I love the charts you have in your brochure and booklet about uses of each oil and methods of using them. I was a bit confused, however, in the section about methods for each oil. I noticed that several of the oils list massage as a method, but not topical. Since massage is a form of topical application, I was wondering, why the distinction?”
Christoph: “Massage certainly is a form of topical application. We make the distinction because: a) massage has a purpose on its own; and b) EOs are used to support that purpose. Usually a larger area is massaged, if not the whole body. Therefore maximum dosage of EOs is 2%. Topical application in our sense here has just the purpose to apply the EO to a particular area, usually a smaller area. Therefore EO concentration can be higher.”
Emily: “Also, in your brochure, “A Guide to Essential Oils and Synergy Blends”, the additional method of Steam Inhalation is included, however, Fir, Balsam, Breathe Easy, and Invincible Immunity are the only oils/synergies you list for this method. I was wondering why you would not recommend any of the other oils in this list for steam inhalation (especially since some of the single oils not listed for steam are in the blends that are)?”
Christoph: “This guide certainly does not claim to be exhaustive. Inhalation (different from aromatic diffusion which targets the sense of smell), targets the respiratory organs. Oils like eucalyptus and rosemary and a few others are certainly suitable for it. Will add these when we print again.
Emily: “Realizing that the booklet was written nine years ago, I tried going between booklet, brochure, and website to compare and see if any info had been updated. Upon looking at peppermint, I see that the booklet and website list diffusion and topical uses, but the website lists “Bath, Diffusion, Inhalation, Topical.” From what I understand, peppermint oil is one that is not recommended for use in the tub.”
Christoph: “It is all about dosage. A little story: In a hospital in England (AT is used to quite some extent in hospitals there), a nurse was instructed to put 8 drops of peppermint oil into a bath for a patient. The regulations are strict there, peppermint is completely safe in the bath if dosage is observed. The nurse, not familiar with EOs, thought 8 drops could not do anything and she put 50 drops in. The patient suffered such severe irritation on his genitals that the hospital discontinued the aromatherapy program. Many many precautions in AT are completely overcautious because too many people are still not familiar with what works and what is too much and the sense for several decades in the US is to be rather safe and not endanger a fairly young healing modality.
A customer who bought our mandarine oil (an extremely mild oil) in a store, put the whole bottle into the bath. She was red like a lobster very quickly. When I heard of her experience, not being told about the overdose, I immediately wanted the bottle back to check whether a horrid mistake was made here (filling the wrong oil). Once I was told about the dosage, there was no need to see the bottle of course.”
Emily: “I was also surprised to not see any caution for peppermint on use with children due to high menthol content. I would expect similar cautions on oils high in 1,8-cineole such as Rosemary and Eucalyptus.”
Christoph: “Some therapists prefer cornmint (mentha arvensis) over peppermint with children, because it has less ketones. Menta arvensis has often a much higher menthol content then peppermint. It is not the menthol but the ketones. But still peppermint is safe for children, except for very young ones. I take the advice to put a warning on not to use it on children age 3 and younger. Same for the two oils below (referring to Rosemary and Eucalyptus).”
Note: Contact a qualified aromatherapist before using peppermint, cornmint, eucalyptus, or rosemary on children under 5-10 years old.
Emily: “The other thing I noticed is that there is no indication on either the bottle or the Amrita website as to the extraction method for each essential oil. Your booklet recommends asking your retailer about extraction method used (and I agree!), but I cannot readily find this information on your products. Am I missing something?”
Christoph: “One can put only so much on a small bottle, I think the botanical name and the country of origin is more important. Default is steam distillation and citrus are cold pressed. For lime we put steam distilled on the bottle, because here the difference is critical (phototoxicity for the cold pressed oil). Any deviation from the default we put on the bottle, like CO2 extraction). The new web site is still a work in progress. It will have the extraction method for all the oils eventually.”
Tri-Essence PowerBlends™ are a unique product offered by Amrita that are a combination of:
- Herbal extracts;
- Pure essential oils; and
- Flower essences.
Of course I had to ask Dr. Christoph Streicher about this product line, as a suggested use for many of them is ingestion.
Emily: “I love the idea behind Tri-Essence PowerBlends™ that plants are incorporated in three different forms. Your literature refers to NAHA’s recommendation to not use essential oils internally, however, these blends are clearly intended for internal use. Please tell me how these blends are different in regard to safety concerns. What is the dilution percentage of essential oils in these blends?”
Christoph: “Internal use is not recommended again because of the great risk of overdose and the use of unsuitable oils. The Tri-Essences contain up to 2% EO. More is not necessary to add significant potency to the herbal extracts and only mild, non-toxic oils are used. Even if someone thinks they need to swallow a whole bottle (like to jump start their immune system at the onset of a flu), no harm is done. But it is not recommended either.”
Some of the Tri-Essence PowerBlends™ are not at all recommended for internal use. For instance, the website description for Body Regenerator says, “Topical application only. Massage undiluted solution onto affected areas as often as needed. Use for full body massage, or add 1 tablespoon to warm bath for additional release of tension, or use as recommended by a health care practitioner.”
Each Tri-Essence PowerBlend™ advertised for internal use has specific instructions on amount to be taken and most for only a limited period of time. The dosage ranges anywhere from 20-50 drops, depending on the blend. Each blend tells how many times per day and for how many days or months to take it. One blend’s instructions are specific as, “Up to 10 days, then break for 5 days. Repeat cycle as needed or as recommended by your healthcare advisor.”
A Note About Ingestion: Although it is not a good idea to add a couple of drops of lemon oil to your water for flavoring, the statement “Never ingest essential oils” is not true. The truth is that there are situations and conditions where internal use of essential oils is acceptable or advisable. The trick is that not many people have the knowledge or experience to do this correctly. Many top aromatherapists ingest because they know how to do so safely and effectively. They use it for acute conditions for a limited period of time. And they know that topical use or inhalation can often be just as, or more, effective in most cases so will recommend other routes before ingestion. Considering the qualifications of Dr. Christoph Streicher, I’m putting him in the category of people that know what they are talking about. In addition to having his Master’s in Biochemistry and Ph.D. in Physiology, he also mentored with Jacques Paltz who is well versed in the internal use of essential oils. However, considering that every person has unique health considerations, I would suggest consulting with a qualified aromatherapist before taking any of the Tri-Essence PowerBlends™ internally. An aromatherapist will review medications, health concerns, and lifestyle factors to see what blend is right (or not) for you.
Amrita has the capability to do GC/MS testing on site. In addition to testing their own oils, they also offer this as a service to anyone that would like to have an oil tested. If you send them a 0.5 ml (about 10 drops) sample of your oil, they will give you the following:
- A graph of the GC analysis that identifies all compounds making up 1% or more of the oil.
- A table indicating the volume percentages of the compounds.
- A certificate of analysis with an interpretation of the findings.
You can also request a read-out of any Amrita oil for $20. Considering that Amrita has this technology in house, I do hope that they will one day provide this information for free on their site, however, it is reassuring that they at least have this information available for anyone that would like to pay for the analysis. I suppose this is a middle-of-the-road solution. Costs of testing and analysis of the test are offset by charging for the results. This keeps oils prices lower while still making the information available to those that need or want it.
The Amrita website is extremely user friendly and useful. A search box at the top lets you type in any word and choices will drop down as you type. Select an item from the dropdown or click enter for even more options. Notice in the image below that there are some items marked with a little “i” in a circle: these are informational articles on the Amrita website. In fact much of the information from the Aromatherapy for Every Day book, is available on the website in some form.
You can also search by symptom using two different dropdown boxes.
Within the site, each product has several informational tabs including:
- Therapeutic Benefits
- How to Use
- Dr. Streicher Says
- Blends With
A nice feature of the Reviews section is that you can add tags that make sense to you to easily find a product later. Good tagging improves search results making the website even more useful.
I’m a sucker for a good deal, so I especially love the Free shipping on orders over $50 and the Clearance Section of the website. While I can almost always get an order to $50 to save $4.95 on shipping, I like that the shipping under $50 is a fixed amount ($4.95) to avoid any surprises at checkout. No coupon is necessary for free shipping.
Overall, I have to say that I’m impressed with Amrita Aromatherapy. Even with all of his qualifications, Dr. Christoph Streicher signs his emails: “Christoph.” His emails have a friendly tone and he replied quickly to my additional questions. Founded in 1989, Amrita Aromatherapy is one of the longer-standing essential oil companies. They not only carry essential oils, but also products made from essential oils based on decades of experience. The fact that they mostly source organic or wildcrafted essential oils is another big draw for me. Dr. Streicher searches the world to source his oils and tests them for therapeutic value before selling them. This is one company I will be coming back to when I need more essential oils.
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