Aug 092010

Samara Botane Products You may think if you are a natural perfumer,  aromatherapist, massage therapist, or other alternative practitioner using essential oils or other raw botanical extracts or materials in your practice, craft or art,  that this bill will not directly affect you. At least you don’t think so.  However, you could be dead wrong.  If you are not a licensed doctor (M.D. or D.O. have the broadest authority) who can legally write a prescription, then you may be at risk under H.R. 5786 if you make essential oil blends or synergies for your clients or natural perfumes sold to clients (the general public). Thus far, essential oils have not been legally designated as either prescription or over-the-counter drugs.  The definition most used is, “A volatile oil, usually having the characteristic odor or flavor of the plant from which it is obtained, used to make perfumes and flavorings.”  In other words, they are manufacturing ingredients.

In H.R. 5786 (subchapter B), the definition of ‘ingredient’ reads:

“The term ‘ingredient’ means a chemical in a cosmetic, including – –
(A)  chemicals that provide a technical or functional effect;
(B)  chemicals that have no technical or functional effect in the cosmetic but are present by reason of having been added to a cosmetic during the processing of such cosmetic;
(C)  processing aids that are present by reason of having been added to a cosmetic during the processing of such cosmetics;
(D)  substances that are present by reason of having been added to a cosmetic during processing for their technical or functional effect;
(E)  contaminants present at levels above technically feasible detection limits;
(F)  contaminants that may leach from container materials or form via reactions over the shelf life of a cosmetic and that may be present at levels above technically feasible detection limits;
(G)  the components of a fragrance, flavor, or preservative declared individually by their appropriate label names; and
(H)  any individual components of a botanical, petroleum-derived, animal-derived, or other ingredient that the Secretary determines to be considered an ingredient. 

It is probably worth your while to ponder these definitions and take in their full impact.

Here in Washington state, the definition of ‘manufacturing’ in the state revenue code (RCW) reads:

"Manufacturer" means every person who, either directly or by contracting with others for the necessary labor or mechanical services, manufactures for sale or for commercial or industrial use from his or her own materials or ingredients any articles, substances or commodities.” (RCW 82.04.110)

"To manufacture" embraces all activities of a commercial or industrial nature where labor or skill is applied, by hand or machinery, to materials so that as a result thereof a new, different or useful substance or article of tangible personal property is produced for sale or commercial or industrial use . . . “

As you can see, this definition applies to the individual ‘person’, whether they are registered or incorporated as a business or not.  We can find similar manufacturing legislation in every state of the Union.  There is no exemption for individual practitioners, as many would define themselves.

I urge all my customers and clients, whether large corporations, small businesses or individuals to become more aware of the growing legislative efforts across the world that may affect the use of essential oils.  Please join the other 3,593 (and growing) signers in the advocacy efforts to oppose H.R. 5786 and make a point to stay abreast similar legislative issues.  

Thanks for listening,


 Posted by at 7:50 pm

  4 Responses to “Advice for Aromatherapists and Natural Perfumers re: H.R. 5786 Safe Cosmetics Act 2010”

  1. Marcia,
    Thanks for the information re H.R. 5786.
    Your statement, ” If you are not a licensed doctor (M.D. or D.O. have the broadest authority) who can legally write a prescription, then…” is misleading and does not provide the correct information.

    Nurse Practitioners (NP) can legally write prescriptions and have been providing quality primary care for decades. In addition, many have earned doctorate degrees in nursing practice (DNP) and are addressed by the title “Doctor”. They are professional nurses. Physicians have also earned doctorate degrees- in medicine (MD) and, therefore, can also be addressed as “Doctor”.

    Additional information regarding the NP profession can be found here http://bit.ly/4xe3cr and here http://bit.ly/94Y1MA
    Johnetta Miner, MPH, MSN, NP
    Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner

  2. Hi Johnetta,

    Thanks so much for taking time to make your comments.

    You are absolutely right. Technically, a Nurse Practitioner is but one category of Advanced Practice Nurse. Other APNs (like Clinical Nurse Specialists) can also prescribe medications used within their area of specialty. Requirements vary depend on the particular state licensing agency, and may require additional coursework (advanced phamacology for example); but it is not limited to NPs. I did leave out this important advancement in the medical community.

    This oversight was inadvertent and I apologize if you were offended by the omission. My comments here were to point out that essential oils being used by the medical community in hospice care, oncology and myriad areas where they are tools for integrative medicine are also used for stress relief, relaxation and other mitigation by massage therapists and alternative practitioners. And, they are used by the individual for various applications in the home or for personal care. Therefore, the lines are a bit muddied as to “what” they really are when it comes to how they interact with we humans.

    Clearly, under the law, they are classified as manufacturing ingredients. This was the point. To make sure that my readers understood the legal ramifications and were made more aware of the good reasons to oppose H.R. 5786.

    Thanks again for your comment, and for the helpful links to understand more about the role of Nurse Practitioners.


  3. ANYBODY can legally WRITE prescriptions. What was probably meant above was whose prescriptions can legally be FILLED with items restricted to dispensing by the order of certain practitioners.

  4. Hi Robert,

    Thanks for your comment. The operative word here is “prescribe”, I believe. Interesting turn this discussion has taken.


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