Bhutanese organic essential oil hits the market

Kingdom Essences began with the motive to support the Nubi Menjong Nyamley Tshogdey (NMNT) in rural Trongsa comprising about 150 households by helping with income generation through value addition of local produce.

Kingdom Essences (K.Essences) are tiny bottles of natural local made-in-Bhutan essential oils. The products include caraway essential oil which is good for seasonal allergies, digestion and can be applied as an antiseptic whereas Mugwort oil is good for flu and headaches. Juniper and pine essential oil works as a good antiseptic, helps with arthritis and fights cramps and Thinnye (Sichuan Pepper) essential oil has strong anti-inflammatory benefits.

Kingdom Essences produces 100% pure and natural organic essential oils from local medicinal plants that are either purchased from the rural community members or sustainably harvested from the wild. Kingdom Essences extracts their oils from local raw materials like thinye (sichuan pepper), khempa (mugwort) to Juniper berries and leaves.

The project initially began in November 2015 when co-founder Kuenga started an organic farm in his village after graduation. During the same year, there was an unutilized community facility centre (CFC) which upon inquiry, Kuenga Dhendup was able to lease from the NMNT cooperative. Pema C. Gyaltshen, his partner, joined the business in 2016.

Kuenga Dhendup, 27, is from Kaba village in Nubi Gewog under Trongsa had graduated from Royal Thimphu College in 2014, whereas Pema C. Gyaltshen, 28, is from Tsamang; Monggar and graduated from RTC in 2016.

The journey started in August 2017, when both received His Majesty the King’s kindhearted blessing and were given the opportunity to receive training at Mae Fah Luang University in Chiangrai, Thailand.

The professors from the University’s cosmetic school taught them how to develop products using essential oils. Ever since then, the duo has been researching on local medicinal herbs and conducting experiments on developing safe and effective products suitable for the Bhutanese market.

The oils were extracted through distillation of these natural ingredients, resulting in an extremely concentrated products packed with healing benefits. Zanthoxylum Armatum (thingye or Sichuan pepper) and Caraway are locally grown and purchased directly from a rural community group NMNT.

The team collects some plants like Mugwort, Wintergreen, and Pine needles and others like Juniper and Cypress leaves. The wild raw materials are sustainably harvested by pruning the trees, which helps with the growth of the tree.

From holistic healing treatment, body massages to simple application, there are many methods of using essential oils on a daily basis considering its concentrated formula. As of now, the company is able to produce only a small number since it struggles with expensive packaging that it has to import from India and China.

Kuenga said their products are high quality/high end so it has proven to be a little expensive for the local market. “Most are not willing to take the risk of using essential oils for well being as the idea is still very new in Bhutan.”

He also added the availability of synthetic products that are affordable at very low prices compared to pure essential oils is also a reason why customers prefer to purchase the cheaper products. “We are trying to spread information on the benefits of pure essential oils to as many people as we can.”

“One must be firm in decision making, accountable for the results of his decision and be gentle to the environment as opportunities come along every day” he said.

Kuenga says that the youth especially must know that it is the Great Fourth who left the treasures of the nation to be discovered by its youth. “It is our time to find the best approach to monitor and sustainably utilize the nations’ wealth. This is how you as an entrepreneur can make all the difference. Look for ways to solve a problem instead of following the crowd.”

Currently, Caraway Essential Oil costs Nu 600(60ml) and Mugwort oil Nu 920.

Tshering from Thimphu