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Melissa Adulteration

Melissa officinalis (melissa), or lemon balm, creates a unique oil that has more natural and geographical variations than other essential oils. The location and harvesting time can change the chemical composition of the oil. With the common variations, adulteration of melissa oil can be extreme.


Melissa oil can be adulterated with related oils. The common compounds in melissa can also be found in other oils. Citral can be taken from lemongrass, litsea cubeba, or lemon myrtle. Synthetic citral can also be used to increase the percentage of citral in melissa oil. Beta-caryophyllene can be taken from fractionated clove oil or copaiba balsam. Germacrene D can be taken from fractionated ylang ylang or black pepper oil. All of these can be taken to add to melissa oil.


Unrelated components can also be used to adulterate melissa oil. Solvents, like hexane, ethanol, or toluene, can be used to increase the volume of oil. Carrier oils or heavier fractions of essential oils can also be used to increase volume. Synthetic fragrances are commonly used to boost the scent of oils. Jasmonal, ethyl vanillin, and ambercore are common synthetic fragrances.


The unrelated components are commonly not detectable by short GC-MS runs. Heavier components take longer to run through the GC and therefore are not detectable unless the GC-MS runs longer. APRC runs for 110 minutes, which allows us to see everything present in an oil.



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Aromatic Plant Research Center (APRC) is a state-of-the-art laboratory that utilizes a variety of methods to detect adulteration and confirm the purity of natural products. Our executive advisory board is internationally renowned for quality control testing and expertise within the aromatic plant industry.

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