Are Essential Oils Too Popular For Our Own Good?

Did you know that essential oils are not harmless?

Essential Oils have been, in limited circumstances,  a good thing. Some have useful healing properties when used medicinally in very specific and temporary ways, but too much of anything is not a good thing. Essential oils  are now used and diffused everywhere, and have become more of a serious health hazard than something beneficial. Indeed,  for an ever growing percent of the population they have become life-threatening accessibility barriers.

They can be sensitizers and allergens, and can cause other serious health problems too.
They can emit and create hazardous air pollutants. Some are made with synthetic ingredients, or from pesticided plants, and are processed using toxic solvents.

They are WAY over-used and over-promoted, and any beneficial uses the organic oils may have, risk being lost due to this careless over-use.

They should not be used as a popular way to make money the way they are now.

They should be kept for medicinal use under the guidance of qualified, trained professionals, and  not the MLM (multi-level-marketing) folks who are inventing new ways to use them so that they can sell more product.

Some people have severe adverse reactions to them, and their proliferation is causing new barriers to access, meaning people can’t access food from health food stores,  other essentials, or even alternative health care, because the oils are so prevalent and contaminating everything (1st, 2nd, and 3rd hand) in what should be healthy places with clean, fragrance-free air.

Fore more information, here are a few links to check out:


The safety issue in aromatherapy 18 pages PDF
Aromatherapy Science (ISBN: 0 85369 578 4) © Pharmaceutical Press 2006

The Safety Issue in Aromatherapy

  • Introduction
  • General Guidance for Essential Oil Purchase and Storage
  • Toxicity Testing in Animals
  • GRAS Status/NOELs
  • Poisonous Chemicals
  • Toxicity in Humans
  • Toxicity in Young Children: A Special Case
  • Selected Toxicities of Certain Essential Oils and Their Components
  • Abortifacient and Teratogenic Oils
  • Antifertility Oils
  • Genotoxic Oils
  • Neurotoxic Oils
  • Absolutes and Concretes
  • Phytols
  • Interactions Between Essential Oils and Conventional Medicines or Medical Conditions
  • The Phenomenon of “Quenching”: True of False?
  • Possible Dangers of Novel Essential Oils and Plant Extracts
  • Dangerous Practices of Some Aromatherapists
  • ‘Safe’ Essential Oils and Their Toxicity
  • Possible Dangers of using Essential Oils Internally and Externally in Large Doses
  • Reporting of Adverse Effects by Aromatherapists
  • Safety Warnings in the Aromatherapy Industry
  • Legislation: Present and Future
  • Conclusion:

““In the past essential oils have been considered to be relatively safe, with a few exceptions, but with new technological advances in the manufacture of synthetic components and ‘designer’ essential oils to suit every pocket, there is an increasing danger of toxicity, which can manifest itself as sensitisation. New legislation has now become a reality, and warning consumers of the dangers of essential oils on bottle labels, as well as the labels on other cosmetic products, is imminent. The next stage could be the restriction of sales of concentrated essential oils to pharmacies, under the supervision of pharmacists and medically qualified personnel only.”


Tea Tree and Lavender Oils: What We (Don’t) Know

Integrating Aroma
Cautions and Considerations


Primary Products Emitted From Evaporating Essential Oils and Potential Secondary Pollutants From Their Reactions With Oxidants

Stability of Essential Oils: A Review

Can aromatherapy produce harmful indoor air pollutants?

Interesting facts about lavender

The use of herbs is a time honored approach to strengthening the body and treating disease. Herbs, however, contain active components that can trigger side effects and interact with other herbs, supplements, or medications. For these reasons, you should take herbs with care, under the supervision of a health care provider qualified in the field of botanical medicine.

Some people may develop an allergic reaction to lavender.

Nausea, vomiting, headache, and chills have also been reported in some people after inhaling or absorbing lavender through the skin.

Lavender applied to skin may cause irritation in some people.

Oral use of Lavender may cause constipation, headache, and increased appetite.

Lavender oil is toxic if taken orally.

Pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid using lavender.

Possible Interactions

  • CNS DepressantsThere are no known scientific reports of interactions between lavender and conventional medications. However, because lavender promotes relaxation, it may make the effects of central nervous depressants stronger. These drugs include narcotics such as morphine or oxycodone (OxyContin) for pain, and sedative and anti-anxiety agents such as lorazepam (Ativan), diazepam (Valium), and alprazolam (Xanax). Ask your doctor before using lavender with these and other sedatives.

Essential Oil Safety
The second edition of this book is virtually a new book. It is the only comprehensive text on the safety of…   (google books extract)

AAFA Explains: Can Essential Oils Help Asthma?

…”There is no evidence that essential oils can help asthma. In fact, breathing in the particles released by the oils may trigger an asthma attack.
The strong odors emitted by essential oils contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOCs affect indoor air quality, just like incense, air fresheners and scented candles. Poor indoor air quality can make you sick with asthma, allergies and other illnesses.”


American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology
Essential oil diffusers and asthma


Essential Oils Safety: 30 Ways You Shouldn’t Use Essential Oils


Effects of essential oils on the formation of formaldehyde and secondary organic aerosols in an aromatherapy environment

This CEO Wants You To Know Your Essential Oil Air Freshener Has Hundreds Of Chemicals In It
“That includes the chemicals ordinarily glossed over with catch-all phrases like “natural ingredients” or “essential oil.”

“In an infographic, SC Johnson laid out just how much most people don’t know about “essential oils.” from Huffington Post

However, for a growing number of people, there is NO safe level of a carcinogen, or any other pollutant, sensitizer, or allergen.

The essential oil industry is no different than the rest of the fragrance industry in how low they will go, they are members of and represented by IFRA:

“IFRA North America represents over 90% of all fragrances developed and sold in the United States and Canada. Our member companies create and manufacture fragrances and scents for home care, personal care, home design and industrial and institutional products, all of which are marketed by consumer goods companies. IFRA North America also represents companies that supply fragrance ingredients, such as essential oils and other raw materials, used in perfumery and fragrance mixtures.”

There are even  more cautions, but seriously folks, this should be enough to make a reasonable person understand that they totally should not be promoted or used the way they currently are.

There are a significant number of people having serious adverse reactions to EOs (which vary widely in quality), even with those that are certified organic. And there are  surprised reactions and even complete denials of the possibility of these adverse effects from those who promote their over-use.

Fragrance-free policies are taking effect in more and more places due to these adverse effects, and essential oils are being marketed as  fragrances in addition to thei “therapeutic effects” as “alternatives to” drugs.

You can’t use fragrances (even EOs) in places with scent or fragrance free policies, and you should never force other people to inhale your drugs.

To become a qualified practitioner using EOs requires more than a few weekend workshops and more than reading a few downloads or books on the subject. It can take years of study under teachers who have years of experience. This is medicine, folks, and it’s not a substitute for a basic healthy life “style”.

The fragrance industry seems to have successfully brainwashed people into believing that everything has to be scented and boosted to be complete, but this is simply not true. It’s a way to sell more product now, regardless of the future consequences (many of which have not been explored yet).

We now have serious antibiotic resistance in the world due to massive and unnecessary over-use of antibiotics. Some farms are turning to essential oils and plant extracts as antibiotics, and we can all too easily lose these benefits through over-use too.

Please think carefully before buying and using EOs. Use them only when really needed, not just because they are there. Use them with full awareness of the pros and cons that we already do have access to, while realizing that we do not know everything.

If you use them medicinally, do so in the privacy of your own home,  do not subject others to your medicines.  And do what you can to prevent the problems they might be useful for solving, instead of applying them willy-nilly because you can. In other words, please use them cautiously and responsibly.

What we do and use now has an  impact on others, now and in the future. We are all in this together. Can we try to live as if our children will have a future too?

(P.S. that last part applies to everything we do and use, not just essential oils)

If you are using personal care, laundry, and cleaning products that claim to be natural, organic, and use essential oils, please be aware that the air pollutants and VOCs they emit are not significantly different that the emissions from regular chemically fragranced products.

“72.6 % were not aware that even so-called natural, green, and organic fragranced products typically emit hazardous air pollutants.”

Your Favorite Personal Care and Cleaning Products Went to the Lab, and They Came Back With This:

– Comparing the most prevalent compounds in green and regular products, four out of five are the same (d-limonene, β-pinene, ethanol, and α-pinene)

– Terpenes react with ozone to generate a range of secondary pollutants including formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, secondary organic aerosols,and ultrafine particles

– Of the most prevalent VOCs, 80% are the same between green and regular products, and of the most prevalent classified as toxic or hazardous, 75% are the same between green and regular products.

Please take care

77 responses to “Are Essential Oils Too Popular For Our Own Good?

  1. regarding comment “Our study provided a strong evidence to suggest that high levels of fine particle and formaldehyde might be produced when coexisting with emission of essential oils emissions and low concentration oxidants in the air, and consequently result in adverse health concerns for those using essential oils in general indoor environments”
    In a nutshell does this mean it is not safe to use 100 % organic essential oils for medicinal purposes please Linda?

  2. I have to say, as a qualified and experienced aromatherapist, that one should not use aromatherapy without consulting a qualified aromatherapist first for medical or cosmetic etc. purposes.

    A qualified aromatherapist should first do a very extense first consultancy taking into consideration any health conditions or illnesses the patient has to ‘confirm’ or ask for acceptance for treatment with the patient’s medical doctor or expert who is treating them! This is mandatory and very important!

    Then they will also test for any adverse reactions; sensitivities, allergies, intolerances, etc. and keep control and records of the latter so they can check the constituants to asses with other EO’s with similar chemical make ups that should be avoided. They should know how to provide you with truely ‘organic’ EO’s (no pesticides, safe methods of extraction, where and how the plants are grown must all be taken into consideration), the proper doseage (this is of upmost importance also and like any other medicine must be assesed and adjusted to each individual and case), the method of application (absorbtion, inhalation, etc.) and they should never be taken orally as this can damage the delicate lining of the stomach and mucous membranes.

    EO’s are VERY CONCENTRATED and can react or interact with many other substances. There are EO’s that photosinthesize, react to sunlight even. They should NEVER be used without presciption and instruction from a qualified aromathetapist (medical doctors do not have enough knowledge to prescribe these, they can only refer you to a properly trained and qualified aromatherapist if they suggest you can use them).

    A qualified aromatherapist will also be insured, if they are not qualified they will not be able to find any insurance that will cover them and are not reliable. Only a qualified aromatherapist can instruct you on how to use aromatherapy safely!

    What is happening is similar to getting prescription drugs over the counter or from the supermarket with no control over quality and doseage and this can be extremely harmfull.

    Thank you for raising awareness, like with any other ‘natural’ products there exists many cautions, especially in quality and doseage. ‘Organic’ is not equal to ‘natural’ and in EO’s even just the altitudes the plants are grown at or the environment in which they grow and the way they are handled changes the chemical makeup within the same species.

    Great article Linda♡♡♡

  3. Thanks for putting the info out there so we can make informed decisions. Yesterday, I was out to breakfast and a woman at another table heard me mention to someone about my chemical sensitivities. She said that all three generations of them at their table ranging in age from 2 to 58 were chemically sensitive. Have we learned nothing since Rachel Carson wrote “Silent Spring”?

    • The research into epigenetics is showing that the chemical injuries of one generation can be passed on to the next…

      Regarding learning, some people have learned a lot, but can’t get the message out… Look at what happened to Rachel Carson when she tried… And what other messages came out from industry…

      The book and film “Merchants of Doubt” explains a bit…

      While I do know that some who promote EOs are doing it with good motivation, they have been misled by others into believing these things are harmless and can be used like candy… I think they also haven’t read the research that candy too should be consumed as rarely as possible and can be made with all kinds of questionable ingredients…

      EOs are being promoted in the same mass consumption way that consumer culture does, without regard to consequences.

      We need a few paradigm shifts, for people to learn how to respect the earth that sustains us, the gifts of the earth, our bodies, and each other…

      • It is tough to keep up with every product that one uses. I don’t react that I have noticed to my laundry soap but I finally looked it up at EWG to find out that although some products from that company get an A rating, my particular laundry soap gets a D rating. Time to find something “better” to use.

        Moderation seems to be a word that has been lost from our everyday vocab.

        • It’s odd how sometimes we tolerate a product like that. I tolerated a shampoo for several years after I lost tolerance to most other products. It must have used a different set of chemicals, or something in their life-cycle was different.

          Regarding moderation… consuming toxic chemicals and allergens in moderation doesn’t cut it for a lot of people :/
          I wish EWG rated “no data” or “limited data” as a red 10 instead of as a green “0”. Aside from that (and a few other lapses), they are a very good starting point.

          I hope you can find a safe for you and the environment way to do laundry soon <3

          I wish the so called "green" products, especially (but not only) those that use essential oils in them, weren't also emitting hazardous VOC's like Dr Steinemann found in her latest research.

          The profit motive and competition over price has made for too many corners being cut…

          • Industry/Government have left us in the dark so we need to constantly educate ourselves about every single product we use. This as you know is a daunting task. I have a science degree and I can’t decode most of the labels. In a perfect world every chemical used in the product would be listed and it would be followed by a code that let us know it’s environmental and health impact/hazard. This should be our right as humans and not be negotiable.

  4. Sorry I did mean assessed not assesed and photosensitize not photosinthesize : ( My spelling still gets muddled up : ( I hope the rest is clear and understandable at least!

    • I used to be a very good speller… but after years on fb with severe brain fog, I’ve noticed my spelling has suffered severely… Fortunately the computer puts bright red marks all over the place when I do that, so as long as I look at the screen before I hit enter, I can correct them :D

  5. Dear Colleen, I guess there are some of us that are extremely chemically sensitive because I can’t even imagine ‘going out’ for breakfast. Apart from not having teeth to eat with I need to wear a carbon breathing mask to ‘go out’ of my environmental control and could not take it off in a public place here to ‘have breakfast’. Wish I could!!!
    Maybe we can get better enough to be around others again, or venture out of our environmental control without any breathing aids, yeah I guess we can at least hope! Must be nice : )
    Awareness will maybe help this happen and prevent others from getting so extremely sensitive or TILTed : ) definatley to make ‘informed decisions’ !
    Big hugs ♡♡♡

  6. I got involved with a MLM company and then started to see what they were promoting was downright harmful to people. I still know people who are taking lemongrass or lemon oil in water DAILY imagining it is helping them detox or helping with interstitial cystitis. then I learned that oil and water doesn’t mix (Duh) and when you drink it it separates and can affect the esophagus and stomach adversely. Marketing strategies to buy more oil is something these companies are good at.

  7. Essential oils cause “bizarre reactions” that mimic carbon monoxide poisoning in a daycare!!!

    “Our Kids Daycare manager Robin Hagaman said 12 toddlers went down for a short nap at about 11:30 in the morning. When they woke up a teacher told Hagaman that the childrens’ pupils were huge.

    “And so I came in and I checked them and I’m like okay they’re all dilated,” Hagaman told KTVB. “You need to get them out of here, we moved them to the other end of the building.”

    She opened up all the doors to ventilate the room. She says the children
    were very hyper, and then they crashed. Two teachers also had headaches and felt nauseous. Hagaman says at that point it seemed like they were experiencing carbon monoxide poisoning.

    Firefighters believe that essential oils being diffused in the back room
    while the kids were sleeping caused the bizarre reactions.

    “We’ve got some essential oils to kind of help with the different smells
    in the room of toddlers and to help with the viruses that are going around
    and stuff,” Hagaman said. “We had it up here on top of the little shelf,
    and it was going pretty steady.”

    Firefighters say with a main ingredient being cinnamon, the oils were
    potent at that level, causing the children and teachers in that back room
    to become nauseous, light-headed and spacey.

    “They’re thinking that it had no place to go and so it just built up, and built up, and built up,” Hagaman said. “They’re thinking we may have put too many drops in it and ran it too long.”

    According to essential oil safety guidelines, the oils are a very concentrated combination of multiple chemical ingredients. They say you must dilute certain oils in order for them to be safe and effective.”

  8. For the use of PURE (100%) Organic Essential Oils to be SAFE and effective they must be used as PRESCRIBED by a ‘Qualified’ Aromatherapist. Using Aromatherapy on children can be very dangerous!!! This should be constantly controlled by a qualified aromatherapist and Parental Consent is obligatory in such a situation.
    Overdosing on Essential Oils can in itself cause MCS/EI or TILT, etc….!!!
    Would you let your teachers ‘medicate’ your children without a doctors prescription or supervision???
    A qualified Aromatherapist would never prescribe cinnamon oil for children because of it’s toxic potencial, there are various ‘safe oils’ that USED IN THE CORRECT DOSEAGE can offer the ‘therapeautical effects’ you mention.
    A Qualified aromatherapist should always be consulted before using any form of aromatherapy!
    Please tell your kids Daycare manager ♡

  9. Here’s a really interesting new article (and development)

    The Maker Of Glade Air Fresheners Calls B.S. On ‘Essential Oils’

  10. “Our study provided a strong evidence to suggest that high levels of fine
    particle and formaldehyde might be produced when coexisting with emission of essential oils emissions and low concentration oxidants in the air, and consequently result in adverse health concerns for those using essential oils in general indoor environments.”

  11. “Spas that offer massage therapy using fragrant essential oils, called aromatherapy, may have elevated levels of potentially harmful indoor air pollutants such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and ultrafine particles, according to an article in Environmental Engineering Science, a peer-reviewed journal published by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.
    Fragrant essential oils, derived from plants, may release various VOCs into the air. VOC degradation caused by the reaction of these compounds with ozone present in the air can produce small, ultrafine byproducts called secondary organic aerosols (SOAs), which may cause eye and airway irritation.”

  12. For the life of me I cannot get people to understand that my having mast cell disorder is a ticking time bomb for anaphylaxis. EOs and scented hand sanitizer are my worst enemies. Even if I can’t directly smell it I still have reactions.

    • People have been brainwashed to believe EOs are harmless. I hope that soon we have a public consciousness breakthrough, so our health is no longer threatened by ignorance and corporate greed.

      • I’m on day three of dealing with this allergy response. I can send you pics

          • I’m still trying to get information on what oil or mixture it was.

            Since then I have had another allergy attack due to the company relocating everyone and not enforcing the policy that no fragrance products be on the call floor. I also went to a different ER which treated me promptly with the correct medications as I present atypically and I got tired of arguing with doctors and PNs who refused to follow my allergy plan.

            There is a very stereotypical view of anaphylaxis in some of the medical community and think that you are only to administer epinephrine when the throat is nearly closed and your BP is dropping through the floor!

            • I can’t wait for people to realize that health (including the health of others) is more important than products. And that the imagined right to use products doesn’t give one the right to hurt others with them.

              I hope that you are able to get the necessary help to have the policy enforced, as well as someone to teach those who would disrespect the policy a lesson on basic human decency.

  13. It seems some people are unclear about what fragrance-free means!

  14. Absolutely. Scented product use is an addiction no different than other drugs. EOs in the wrong use is no different than prescriptions drug abuse. Most people cannot even smell properly because they have destroyed their neurons.
    Test yourself smell a house plant.can you smell the soil mix, the leaves?

    • You made me think about how we (society) used to be able to smell when a food was going off… Now people can’t even taste when coffee beans are burnt and other foods/products need so many flavoring agents or people complain there’s no taste.

      I can smell a bowl of apples in the other room!!! No need to spend money on products to scent up the air or to cover up other odours when we lead (as much as is humanly possible now) a pollution-free life!

  15. Essential Oils Company Sentenced for Lacey Act and Endangered Species Act Violations to Pay $760,000 in Fines, Forfeiture, and Community Service, and to Implement a Comprehensive Compliance Plan

    The Justice Department announced today that YOUNG LIVING ESSENTIAL OILS, L.C., (the Company), headquartered in Lehi, Utah, pleaded guilty in federal court to federal misdemeanor charges regarding its illegal trafficking of rosewood oil and spikenard oil in violation of the Lacey Act and the Endangered Species Act. The Company voluntarily disclosed its rosewood oil violations and has been cooperating with government investigators.

    Pursuant to the terms of the plea agreement, the Company was sentenced to a fine of $500,000, $135,000 in restitution, a community service payment of $125,000 for the conservation of protected species of plants used in essential oils, and a term of five years’ probation with special conditions. The conditions include the implementation of a corporate compliance plan, audits, and the publication of statements regarding its convictions.

    “The importation of illegally harvested wood and timber products harms law-abiding American companies and workers and threatens forest resources around the world,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey H. Wood of the Environment and Natural Resources Division. “Our Division was proud to work alongside the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the District of Utah, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Department of Homeland Security to bring this case to a positive conclusion.”

    • From an asthmatic friend, in response to someone who shared a slick video YL put out in response to these issues (shared with permission):

      As stated in the release by the Justice Department, that this crime was intentional. Wait, I’ll say it one more time, intentional. Not an accident. No, 86 illegally harvested TONS of Peruvian rosewood was NOT an oops.

      AND as stated in the DOJ release, that in Dec 2016 [5 months AFTER Young Living completed their own internal investigation] the Federal Investigation then discovered that Young Living Essential Oils AGAIN attempted to export spikenard oil illegally, without a permit.

      THEN in March 2016 to make matters worse, after the fact, YL filled out a permit application to cover up that illegal activity.

      So no, I’m not enamoured by a slick promotional video by a Billion dollar company that pats themselves on the back for doing what should have been done long, long ago. The DOJ report states clearly “The Company lacked an internal compliance program or formal procedures, training, or means to review and resolve problems and identify and stop potential violations.” As the above video states, Young Living “burgeoned into a billion dollar plus” company in the past two decades. Twenty years and a billion dollars is plenty of time & money for a responsible ethical company to have created a stringent compliance program to evaluate and assure that this company was legally acquiring resources for their products.

      That sunshiney video conveniently skips informing customers regarding their lack of effective internal compliance program and the subsequent March 2016 internal cover up of ongoing illegal activity AFTER their own investigation.

      And last, but not least, our tax dollars were required to support SIX separate Federal offices/divisions to investigate and prosecute this case. All of the above is quite relevant to asthma sufferers who many times don’t have enough money for all the needed medications, testing, procedures and doctors visits,]. Many end up bankrupt and homeless after being denied disability. Might help if billion dollar companies just followed the law so our tax dollars could be better spent taking care of the asthmatics that need health care and disability assistance.

      Trust is earned. Companies are in business to make money…BILLIONS apparently per the YL video above. As an asthma sufferer, where we choose to place our hard earned resources is important. And for us, it’s not just about money we spend. We are risking our current health and future health when we purchase products from a proven unethical company. As stated in the release, this company is on FIVE years PROBATION. Not likely irrelevant if probation was issued. Just providing our community with the necessary information to make informed choices

  16. Insights into the cult of EOs

    How Essential Oils Became the Cure for Our Age of Anxiety
    Aromatic oils have become big business. But are they medicine or marketing?

  17. Young Living fined for using illegally sourced essential oils, highlighting issue of supply chain transparency

    Young Living, a multilevel marketing company that sells products based on essential oils, has entered into a plea agreement for illegally trading in oils from endangered species. The company will pay fines totaling $760,000, the Justice Department announced this week.

  18. More on the #cult of #essentialoils.

    …”Each oil has a unique aroma that believers claim can help with physical and psychological symptoms: One Facebook salesperson posted yesterday about her “child-safe air purifying blend” which she says “has powerful antiseptic, antibacterial, antifungal and sanitizing properties. It purifies and cleanses the bacteria in the air, neutralizes mildew, smoke, and other noxious odors.”

    So can essential oils really clean the smoke out of the air? In a word, no, says Jeff Williams, an air pollution specialist with California’s Air Resources Board. “I don’t see any benefit to using a diffuser.” In fact, he says that experts agree that these devices can actually add more volatile organic compounds—toxic air pollution particles—to the air. For people with respiratory problems, that could be dangerous.”

  19. Pingback: Help for How to Be Fragrance-Free | Seriously "Sensitive" to Pollution

  20. This links to a thread with a lot of relevant links in the comments:

  21. Constituents of volatile organic compounds of evaporating essential oil

    Hua-HsienChiu Hsiu-MeiChiang Cho-ChingLo Ching-YenChen Hung-LungChiang


    Essential oils containing aromatic compounds can affect air quality when used indoors. Five typical and popular essential oils—rose, lemon, rosemary, tea tree and lavender—were investigated in terms of composition, thermal characteristics, volatile organic compound (VOC) constituents, and emission factors. The activation energy was 6.3–8.6 kcal mol−1, the reaction order was in the range of 0.6–0.8, and the frequency factor was 0.01–0.24 min−1. Toluene, 1,2,3-trimethylbenzene, 1,2,4-trimethylbenzene, n-undecane, p-diethylbenzene and m-diethylbenzene were the predominant VOCs of evaporating gas of essential oils at 40 °C. In addition, n-undecane, p-diethylbenzene, 1,2,4-trimethylbenzene, m-diethylbenzene, and 1,2,3-trimethylbenzene revealed high emission factors during the thermogravimetric (TG) analysis procedures. The sequence of the emission factors of 52 VOCs (137–173 mg g−1) was rose ≈ rosemary > tea tree ≈ lemon ≈ lavender. The VOC group fraction of the emission factor of aromatics was 62–78%, paraffins were 21–37% and olefins were less than 1.5% during the TG process.

    Some unhealthy VOCs such as benzene and toluene were measured at low temperature; they reveal the potential effect on indoor air quality and human health.

  22. The effect of essential oil on heart rate and blood pressure among solus por aqua workers


    Aromatherapy is widely used around the world for stress relief. Whether exposure to essential oil increases the risk of cardiovascular events is still unknown. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of essential oil on heart rate and blood pressure among solus por aqua (spa) workers.


    For the times from 15 to 60 min after start of exposure, we found that the VOC level was significantly associated with reduced 15-min mean BP and HR. After exposure for more than 1 hour, from 75 to 120 min after start of exposure, we found that the VOC levels were associated with increased 15-min mean BP and HR.


    Exposure to essential oil for 1 hour was found to be an effective method of relaxation, as indicated by decreases in the HR and BP. Prolonged exposure for longer than 1 hour to essential oils may be harmful to cardiovascular health among spa workers.

    (note that other populations might find the relaxation effects, or changes to BP and HR harmful to their health)

  23. Chapter 167: Hazardous Household Chemicals: Hydrocarbons, Alcohols, and Caustics

    Hydrocarbon compounds include petroleum distillates (lighter fluid, kerosene, mineral oil, naphtha, gasoline, butane); plant extract oils, also referred to as terpenes (turpentine, lamp oil, menthol, eucalyptus oil); camphor; inhalants (toluene, chlorofluorocarbons); and organic solvents (toluene, xylene, benzene).

  24. Note that “likely safe” does not mean = safe… and most of the adverse effects I am aware of were not discussed at all…

    Do Essential Oils Work? A Sales-Free Look At The Research

    Often times it’s unwise to take the word of those who actively promote and sell them… making an unbiased answer to this question hard to come by.

    To sum it all up… Do essential oils work?

    As is the case with many “health” foods and supplements, essential oils are not useless, but their effects are extremely overrated.

    This is to be expected when you consider that almost everyone who recommends them gets a commission.

    Many varieties will likely help clean wounds and treat skin infections, but once we venture into more serious health claims the proof starts to fall short.

    The strongest evidence available indicates that essential oils can help with headaches, sleep quality, and probably facial acne to a noticeable extent. Effects on anxiety, depression and other psychological health aspects are very underwhelming at this stage.

    Claims they can help treat or cure cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, asthma or any other serious medical condition are seriously exaggerated and unproven. And dangerous too, quite frankly.

    Inhaling or applying essential oils to the skin in small doses is likely safe, but neither the oils nor the aromatherapy industry is regulated by a governing body. Some people will suffer adverse reactions and many varieties can be highly toxic if ingested.

    While this scientific perspective answers most questions, it cannot account for every single oil nor every single use… There is so much that has not yet been studied.

    My best advice before you buy is to ask questions and think critically about how extreme the health claims are. If it sounds too good to be true, unfortunately it is.

  25. Keep in mind that EOs are ACCESSIBILITY BARRIERS.

    Their use (which is not essential or necessary) actually PREVENTS people (who do not use EOs themselves) from accessing essential health care, food, and other necessities of life when other people use them!

    EOs are NOT APPROPRIATE substitutes for fragrance, they are NOT fragrance-free. Their use (or use of products with EOs) is NOT appropriate in places with fragrance-free policies.

    Also, don’t share your meds if you are using them medicinally!
    Other people can die from meds that are inappropriate to their needs.

  26. Hey Linda ♡
    Interesting articles and notes. I absolutely agree on this,
    “Don’t share your meds!” just because it works for you doesn’t mean it will have the same effect on someone else. We know about that all too well, many of us with EI develop an intolerance to all farmaceuticals (synthetic meds), at whatever doseage (even the ones prescribed by professionals), making any ‘conventional’ treatment impossible.The same applies to EO’s.
    Generic meds are dangerous to most of us, even those prescribed by a doctor, so why should EO’s be any different?
    The difference I see is that professional aromatherapists, unlike most doctors, are taught to assess each client as an individual taking into consideration his/her particular health issues, family, work and environmental issues, etc. thus making an individualized holistical decision on what E.O.’s can be used and at what doseage to each particular individual at any given time or for any specific symptoms. Doctors will just prescribe generic or ‘over the counter’ meds (at least here in Spain). The latter could compare to most comercial EO’s sold generically, over the counter, probably not 100% pure or organic without a prescription or any assesment or vital info on doseage and contra-indications whatsoever, not advised!
    Aromatherapy , like meds, may not ‘cure’ illnessses but it aids in the healing process in many specific ways and aleviates symptoms.
    It is always our own bodies innate defence system that can ‘cure’ us of disease or illness.
    In their purest natural form, 100% pure organic EO’s are medicines, created by God ♡ (not man-made or synthetic), for us to “make good use of” to “help us heal” and to protect against harmfull pathogenes etc… for this reason I can not say they definately don’t “cure cancer” just as I can’t affirm they can cure cancer : (
    I believe that like everything, it really depends on the “useage made of” or “abuse” of anything that makes it good or bad depending on the situation and/or individuals.

  27. Just for the books, I’m not ‘recommending’ the use of EO’s, especially to anyone with a serious illness or without their doctors approval, just as I wouldn’t ‘recommend’ chemotherapy to an EI sufferer either, and I definately don’t make any “profits” selling EO’s. This is good information, from my own experience as an aromatherapist with an International qualification (issued by a well respected board of examiners).
    100% Pure & Organic EO’s are natural fragrances. Natural fragrances exist everywhere, a drop of 100% pure/organic lavender EO is like standing in a field of lavender flowers, a drop of 100% pure/organic pine EO is like breathing in the aroma of a pine forest, etc… they may not be an appropriate “substitute” to synthetic fragrances ‘in certain situations’ but in others they may be more than appropriate substitutes for synthetic fragrances. Again it’s all in the good use or abuse of and respect of accessability of course.
    EO’s are volatile (fragrant) so obviously not “fragrance free” but all fragrances are not bad for us. It’s important to know that difference. For some of us EO’s could be the only treatment tolerated for many conditions, like myself, and I thank God for this knowledge ♡♡♡

    • I have nothing against people using them medicinally, at home, in ways that don’t saturate their hair and clothing when they go outside, when they are under the car of a qualified aromatherapist.

      I do have serious issues with people who use them in ways that affect the public in any way shape or form.

  28. There is an underlying issue of the lack of common sense and respect for others, and all life on our planet, that has become a growing concern in our society and explains the need for laws to reinforce our rights to not be harmed by certain toxic substances that we are inadvertantly exposed to : (
    We are brainwashed into believing that all these synthetic chemicals and/or man made products that can be patented and bring in huge profits are harmless or even good for us, because it’s in their interests to have us believe them, but they are misleading or simply greedy liars, the destructors of life on our planet, the evil seeds, the Anti Christ : (
    They would enjoy to have us blaming each other rather than look their way.

    Love and respect for one another and all life on our planet is the way to go ♡♡♡
    Luv u Linda ♡

  29. ENDO 2018: Chemicals in Lavender and Tea Tree Oil Appear to Be Hormone Disruptors
    Mar 2018

    A new study lends further evidence to a suspected link between abnormal breast growth in young boys—called prepubertal gynecomastia—and regular exposure to lavender or tea tree oil, by finding that key chemicals in these common plant-derived oils act as endocrine-disrupting chemicals.

    Lavender and tea tree oil are among the so-called essential oils that have become popular in the United States as alternatives for medical treatment, personal hygiene and cleaning products, and aromatherapy. Various consumer products contain lavender and tea tree oil, including some soaps, lotions, shampoos, hair-styling products, cologne and laundry detergents.

    An endocrine-disrupting chemical is a chemical in the environment that interferes with hormones and their actions in the body.

    Male gynecomastia occurring before puberty is relatively rare, but a growing amount of cases have been reported to coincide with topical exposure to lavender and tea tree oil, and the condition went away after the boys stopped using the oil-containing products, Ramsey says. Researchers at the NIEHS, including Kenneth Korach, PhD, a co-investigator for the new study, previously found laboratory evidence that lavender and tea tree oil have estrogenic (estrogen-like) properties and anti-androgenic (testosterone inhibiting-like) activities, meaning they compete or hinder the hormones that control male characteristics, which could affect puberty and growth.

    Under Korach’s direction, Ramsey and his NIEHS colleagues went a step further. From the hundreds of chemicals that comprise lavender and tea tree oil, they selected for analysis eight components that are common and mandated for inclusion in the oils.

    Four of the tested chemicals appear in both oils: eucalyptol, 4-terpineol, dipentene/limonene and alpha-terpineol. The others were in either oil: linalyl acetate, linalool, alpha-terpinene and gamma-terpinene. Using in vitro, or test tube, experiments, the researchers applied these chemicals to human cancer cells to measure changes of estrogen receptor- and androgen receptor-target genes and transcriptional activity.

    All eight chemicals demonstrated varying estrogenic and/or anti-androgenic properties, with some showing high or little to no activity, the investigators reported. Ramsey says these changes were consistent with endogenous, or bodily, hormonal conditions that stimulate gynecomastia in prepubescent boys.

    “Lavender oil and tea tree oil pose potential environmental health concerns and should be investigated further,” he says.

    Of further concern, according to Ramsey, is that many of the chemicals they tested appear in at least 65 other essential oils.

    Essential oils are available without a prescription and are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

    About the Endocrine Society

    We are a global community 18,000 strong …

    • “From the hundreds of chemicals that comprise lavender and tea tree oil, they selected for analysis eight components that are common and mandated for inclusion in the oils. Four of the tested chemicals appear in both oils: eucalyptol, 4-terpineol, dipentene/limonene and alpha-terpineol. The others were in either oil: linalyl acetate, linalool, alpha-terpinene and gamma-terpinene. Using in vitro, or test tube, experiments, the researchers applied these chemicals to human cancer cells to measure changes of estrogen receptor- and androgen receptor-target genes and transcriptional activity.

      All eight chemicals demonstrated varying estrogenic and/or anti-androgenic properties, with some showing high or little to no activity, the investigators reported. Ramsey said these changes were consistent with endogenous, or bodily, hormonal conditions that stimulate gynecomastia in prepubescent boys.

      “Lavender oil and tea tree oil pose potential environmental health concerns and should be investigated further,” he said.

      Of further concern, according to Ramsey, is that many of the chemicals they tested appear in at least 65 other essential oils. Essential oils are available without a prescription and are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Thus, the public should be aware of these findings and consider all evidence before deciding to use essential oils. The NIEHS Division of Intramural Research funded this study through its support of Korach.”

  30. “72.6 % were not aware that even so-called natural, green, and organic fragranced products typically emit hazardous air pollutants.”

  31. “Haluka is among a growing number of people turning up with chemical burns, allergic reactions, respiratory issues, and other side effects from the popular fragrant plant extracts.

    In the past year alone, U.S. retail sales of essential oils soared 14% to $133 million — up from $55 million in 2015 — according to market research firm SPINS.

    That’s not including tens of millions in sales from multilevel marketers who bypass retail shelves and sell directly to people via independent distributors.”

  32. Where there is “lots of money to be made” corruption is never far away.
    Aromatherapy is more of a science, like farmaceuticals or medical. It deals with concentrated plant extracts and their therapeautical application. A truely qualified ‘aromathetapist’ should be the only one who can ‘prescribe’ the personalized use of EO’s and provide ‘safe’ information on doseage, useage as well as provide advice, ‘safe’ brands of organic produce and methods of application and is trained to avoid and/or detect adverse reactions by follow ups, etc. To be a ‘qualified’ aromatherapist you must hold a valid professional qualification which allows you to be insured, if just anyone could ‘practice aromatherapy’ it would be like anyone could buy farmaceuticals or drugs without prescribed advice from a qualified practitioner.
    Unfortunatley, like generic meds, there has been a rise in the ‘generic useage’ of aromatherapy which can be very dangerous for so many obvious reasons. Where there is so much money to be made there is always corruption, of qualities, information, ingredients, methods of extraction, origen, etc., even in what we believe to be true ‘organic produce’.
    Is anything truely ‘safe’ in this world/society we live in?

    Always better to be safe than be sorry!
    Thanks again for keeping us updated
    Hope you’re as well as possible
    Big hugs♥♥♥

    • Thanks Therese.

      Unfortunately the MLM’s have a very cult-like method of making their sales force believe these are the answer to everything, and with the inequality we see increasing globally, some of the vendors are desperate to make money and are inventing all kinds of dangerous new ways to use them to increase sales… and those of us who have (even serious) adverse effects from them “just aren’t using the right/pure ones” (because if we were, we’d be healed) even if we can’t be within 20 feet of anyone who uses… any of them… and the supposedly smarter people have still been sold a lie, believing they are safe and harmless and are a great substitute to regular fragrances… and anyone who tells them different is the problem :/

  33. Volatile chemical emissions from essential oils

    Essential oils, widely used in society, emit numerous volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Some of these VOCs are considered as potentially hazardous under federal regulations. However, essential oils are exempt from disclosure of their ingredients on their label. Thus, the public may lack information on emissions and potential hazards from essential oils. This study examined VOCs emitted from a range of commercial essential oils, including tea tree oils, lavender oils, eucalyptus oils, and other individual oils and mixtures of oils.

    Using headspace gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS), the study analyzed 24 commercial essential oils, including 12 with claims of being “natural” or related terms, such as organic, 100% pure, or plant-based.

    Results identified 595 VOCs emitted from the 24 essential oils, representing 188 different VOCs. The most common VOCs emitted were alpha-pinene, limonene, acetone, linalool, alpha-phellandrene, beta-myrcene, and camphene.

    Among the 589 VOCs identified, 124 VOCs, representing 33 different VOCs, are classified as potentially hazardous. All natural and regular essential oils emitted one or more potentially hazardous VOCs, such as acetaldehyde, acetone, and ethanol. Toluene was also found in 50% of essential oils.

    Moreover, for the prevalent VOCs classified as potentially hazardous, no significant difference was found between regular and natural essential oils. This study provides insights and information about emissions of commercial essential oils that can be useful for public awareness and risk reduction.

    #essentialoils #notbenign #VOCs #accessibilitybarriers

  34. I hope I didn’t come across as a ‘believer’ that EO’s are safe and harmless, I’m sure I didn’t say that, more like the contrary, alas my insistence that only a qualified aromatherapist should be able to prescribe (generally with doctors approval) personalized treatments with EO’s. A qualified aromatherapist would never claim to ‘heal’ with aromatherapy, it is an alternative therapy that provides support in many conditions ‘where suitable’. Obviously there can be many situations where no aromatherapy or any kind of even the purest of EO’s are suitable and could even prove life threatening if misusage occurs : (
    EO’s are an accessability boundry as they are concentrated plant extracts containing VOC’s and should be considered so just as so many others.
    I need to use a breathing mask to be out of my environmentally controlled ‘safe place’ , except when I go for a walk with my dog in natural habitats with no people around, so I have to create my own accessability (my breathing mask) to go shopping, to the doctor, to talk to a neighbours ect….
    There are so many potencially hazardous VOC’s around us that we are being inadvertantly exposed to I just can’t imagine accessability at any safe level anymore : (
    God bless you all ♡♡♡

    • I know you take good precautions! You’ve shared a lot of great info about EOs here in previous comments. Good aromatherapists are not in business to sell oils, but as health practitioners – health is the priority, not sales.

      Regarding accessibility, a lot of people no longer tolerate masks and filters and air purifiers, and this will increase as mass production increases and quality decreases.

      The solution is to regulate that spaces be accessible and toxic chemicals (that cannot be made inert) are banned from everyday products and materials.

      The single use plastics industry is contaminating everything now… The oil, gas, and chemical industry are causing the planet and all living things to die preventable deaths.

      The essential oil industry is not the solution. They too are causing environmental and health destruction.

  35. I agree, can see where you’re coming from. Health practicioners should not be in the business for the profits of selling products, but sadly in most cases this is not true. Industry is never really a good solution and mostly does run hand in hand with corruption and destruction : (
    Everyone seems to be out to make money on their ‘miracle cures’ that don’t really exist as you point out in this case.
    Will the solution you refer to ever materialize? Will it be too late? Is it even possible without Divine Intervention?

    P.D. I have skin reactions to my carbon mask, I get rashes and pimples around my mouth if I sweat. A bit of cotton or nontoxic papertowel or similar can be fitted between skin and mask to absorb the toxic sweating. I

    God bless you Linda ♥♥♥

  36. Interesting video from an ex-wellness-associate…

    Not sure if it will embed in a comment:

  37. Pingback: How NOT to Do a Scent (or fragrance) Policy | Seriously "Sensitive" to Pollution

  38. Pingback: Are “Natural” Fragrances Really Any Better? | Seriously "Sensitive" to Pollution

  39. So they were going to medicate all children regardless of individual medical needs… Good for that one parent who stood up against this infringement…

    “Milford School principal Sue Cattell announced in the school’s 14 March newsletter that all classrooms would be getting diffusers with essential oils.

    She said some classes had trialled the diffusers in 2018 and there was a noticeable difference in behaviour and illness reduction.

    “Shortly every class will have a blend called OnGuard which supports immune function and a blend of Wild Orange which is uplifting for mood and energy. These oils are diffused in water and waft through the air – we hope to see wellness improve for everyone! We will hold a parent information session on this initiative later this term.”

    But the oil plans came to a halt on the same day the diffusers made it into classrooms, after a parent sent a letter to the school warning the diffusers could impact their son’s health.

    “The principal made the decision without consideration of adverse health affects for students who suffer from allergies or who have asthma.

    “I will not have my son exposed to these products in the classroom.”

    The parent also raised concerns about the company making the oils, doTERRA.”

  40. Essential Oil Poisoning Is on The Rise.

    “As is often the case with natural remedies, it can be easy to oversell the benefits while downplaying the risks. Around the world, medicine regarded as alternative sits at a “crossroad” of regulation, seeking the benefit of science’s stamp of approval without the sense of control and authority.

    Knowing just how to categorise and regulate the use of essential oils as a medical treatment is therefore easier said than done.

    The researchers have some places we could start.

    On an individual level, we can all start by simply seeing essential oils as potentially dangerous substances.

  41. Hi Linda
    I was glad to see that you provided (above) a link to the 2018 article by A. Steinemann et al “Volatile chemical emissions from essential oils”. The published article is available only for a fee. If anyone would like to read the entire article for free, there is a link on Dr Steinemann’s website to a Pre-Publication PDF copy of the article, listed under “Publications”
    Emissions from Essential Oils (both regular and organic)
    ​Nematollahi N, Kolev SD, Steinemann A 2018.
    Volatile Chemical Emissions from Essential Oils
    Air Quality, Atmosphere, and Health 11(8):949-954.
    Obtain a Copy of the Article
    Obtain a Copy of the Article (accepted pre-publication version)

    Pls excuse if you have the full article link and I missed seeing it.


  42. Along with other good info

    “Most essential oils are extremely flammable — particularly tea tree, clove, frankincense, eucalyptus, lavender, lemon, and peppermint — requiring extra precautions when disposing of them or cleaning up a spill. Flammable oils are considered household hazardous waste in small quantities, and the containers holding those items cannot be recycled unless the oil is washed from the container. Some cities require that containers of flammable liquids be thrown in the trash rather than recycled, as even trace amounts of flammable liquid can pose a danger to recycling plant workers.

    That being said, removing essential oils from a previously used container must be done carefully. Many oils — including the same ones listed above as flammable — are toxic to aquatic life, and can have long-lasting impacts on marine ecosystems according to their MSDS sheets. Most also come with a warning that the oils themselves should not come in contact with a water supply or groundwater, meaning they should never be dumped down the drain or toilet.

    If an oil is contaminated or rancid and cannot be used, it must be disposed of through a hazardous-waste collection service. Most cities offer hazardous household waste programs, which can be found through local waste-management programs.

    Container recycling can also pose challenges. All quality essential-oils products come in glass containers, since pure essential oils can degrade plastic. Glass bottles can be recycled in most cities, though some cities, such as New York, require all glass that previously held flammable or hazardous materials be thrown in the regular trash. With 106 kilotons of essential oils produced in 2014 alone, that’s a lot of glass bottles potentially ending up in the trash! Essential oils sold to consumers come with a plastic lid and either a rollerball or drop-dispenser — due to recycling constraints, these typically end up in landfills as well.

    So how can essential oil aficionados best reduce their waste? Some companies allow customers to return bottles for recycling. If that service isn’t available, the best way to recycle essential-oils packaging would be to dispose of the oils following the recommendations of your local waste-management company.”

    (While there is some good info in this article, their closing paragraph (not copied here) is a bit lame, it doesn’t go far enough re what needs to be done, which is that this industry needs to be regulated to stop causing all the harm they are causing, because it has become abundantly clear that they won’t stop, they’ll just cause more harm, when left to their own devices.)

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