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
- 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
- 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
““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
Cautions and Considerations
INJURY REPORTS Aromatherapy
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.
CNS Depressants — There 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.”
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.”
– 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