Natural, organic, wild crafted? What do they mean?


When I think about this I am reminded of Humpty Dumpty in Alice. “When I use a word, it means exactly what I choose it to mean.”

“natural” is a word that in UK at least has no legal meaning. Often it refers to something that is anything but, “natural.”

This is why buying food, I nearly always go for, “organic.” This word has a legal meaning, though the exact welfare standards for animals, what treatments are allowed etc. vary between certifying bodies. Buying essential oils and carrier oils for my business, all are certified organic. Wild crafted, means the material the essential oils are distilled from comes from unmanaged land but it is not certified organic. I am happy to accept this as long as I can be assured that the company is environmentally responsible and not over-harvesting.

In contrast, “natural” is purely a marketing term. “Natural fragrance” can mean something that is almost wholly synthetic. “Nature identical” means a blend of  chemicals that is designed to produce close to the same mix as occurs in nature. In practice with essential oils this is never going to be an exact match because of the thousands of substances that are only present in trace amounts but in my view still contribute in some way to the therapeutic properties of the oil. Certainly they contribute to the survival of the plant in some way or evolution would have saved the plant the bother of producing them.

And for the chemists among you, I am well aware of the meaning of, “organic” when it comes to chemistry, i.e. the chemistry of carbon. While the substances used in organic chemistry mostly have their origins in living matter, (i.e. oil) many of the molecules produced either industrially or at laboratory scale have never existed in nature.

I even hesitate to call my bee keeping natural. In nature, bees to not live in angular wooden boxes but in natural cavities in trees or caves etc. What I do, is endeavour to keep my bees in an environment which is as friendly towards them as possible. I don’t artificially prevent swarming. I don’t rip the brood nest apart every week during the swarming season to see what is going on. I believe this helps to keep my bees friendly. (they only rarely sting and then it is usually my fault.) I also don’t treat for varroa mite. If I get a hive where this is likely to lead to the colony not surviving, I may have to review this but still won’t treat routinely.

If you want to book a massage from someone who cares about where their materials come from or buy a pot of handcream made from organic essential oils, olive oil and beeswax from untreated hives email dave@cambridgearomatherapy.com

IMG_0002 IMG_0003 IMG_0004And talking of swarms, here are today’s female escapologists. You can also email me if you know of any swarms in Cambridge that need collecting. Not too far out though and preferably South of the city as I don’t have a car!

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