The essential oil industry is booming and VERY lucrative, but is the use of essential oils safe for everyone? Who should you trust to give you educated and honest answers? These are just a few of the many questions you will want to consider before you purchase or use any essential oils.
Side Note: I do not sell essential oils, I am interested in teaching the safe and effective use of essential oils.
The largest distributors of essential oils are Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) companies. There are also many small companies that have reps who sell oils with zero to little knowledge of the product they are selling. You may ask, how do I know this. I have first-hand knowledge. My first experience was with an MLM company that I thought was the best place to purchase oils, after all, they were one of the biggest. I, therefore, believed they must be the best. I VERY quickly discovered their main function was selling, not promoting safety. It is impossible to safely use essential oils after just viewing a CD provided to “educate” an individual in aromatherapy. The company even provided a certificate showing I had been trained after viewing a very short video. This was a complete turn off to me. I realized this was not something I could be a part of. I wanted to help my own family use essential oils safely and the thought of providing oils to others for their benefit was very appealing. I discontinued my association with this company. I was referred to a second company which was not an MLM company. Their oils were touted to be of the highest quality with reasonable prices and I believed in them. It was about the same time I decided I wanted to become professionally trained in aromatherapy to learn how to use essential oils safely. It wasn’t long into my studies that I discovered I was hoodwinked again, this was getting old, who could I trust? The more I studied, I realized there were massive amounts of confusing and dangerous information in the essential oil community and on the Internet. My studies taught me how to look for reputable essential oil distributors who back their oils with scientific research as to the chemistry and purity of their oils by providing test results to the consumer. This test is referred to as a GC/MS report. If a company will not or cannot provide this report to you, I personally would not purchase any oils from them. (More on this a bit later)
How to Use Essential Oils Safely
Finding an individual who is professionally trained in aromatherapy is a step in the right direction. Is the person you are entrusting your safety to certified, registered, or a clinical aromatherapist? There are MANY individuals who sell essential oils without actual training at any significant level. There needs to be education to back their rhetoric. The education should be from an accredited school and should teach why essential oils work. This involves learning about the individual oils, their chemical make-up, what the chemistry of the oil means, human anatomy and physiology, Latin names as well as common names, why a gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) report is of great value and necessary for every oil and every individual batch of oil, safety issues, contraindications of specific oils, and much more. The study of essential oils is not an overnight learning experience. I currently have over 500 educational hours and know my learning experience is nowhere near where I want to be. The learning never stops.
Currently, there is a new Safety Report available to the public. Not surprisingly, the vast majority of injuries reported are from Multi-Level Marketing companies. There would most likely be many more reported if the public was aware of where to report these incidents. You can find the information on my blog, Did You Know There is an Essential Oil Injury Report? The reports are from individuals who were personally affected. I feel this report is a real eye-opener.
Unsafe Use of Essential Oils
The unsafe use of essential oils can be extremely dangerous and it gives the essential oil industry a bad rap. When essential oils are used correctly, they can do amazing things. Here are a few things to AVOID:
- Internal use – This should ONLY be done under the guidance of a trained aromatherapist with the level of expertise to assess the situation. From the Alliance of International Aromatherapists (AIA) – “AIA does not endorse internal therapeutic use (oral, vaginal or rectal) of essential oils unless recommended by a health care practitioner trained at an appropriate clinical level. An appropriate level of training must include chemistry, anatomy, diagnostics, physiology, formulation guidelines and safety issues regarding each specific internal route (oral, vaginal or rectal).” – In France, aromatherapists who are not doctors are not allowed to direct this type of usage. This shows how dangerous it can be.
- Undiluted oils on the skin – this is known as neat application. A carrier oil should be used with a dilution of the essential oils at the proper dilution rate (there are a few exceptions but the oils should not be used without proper knowledge)
- Raindrop Technique (RDT), Aromatouch, or a similar practice – this is a method of application that is very unsafe. Members of the Alliance of International Aromatherapists (AIA), The National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA), and the Aromatherapy Registration Council (ARC) are prohibited from using this method.
- Using essential oils without knowing contraindications with certain medications and medical diagnosis
- Stating essential oils can cure
- Making a diagnosis – this is NOT in the scope of practice of an aromatherapist – must refer to a medical or qualified health practitioner
Natural Does Not Mean Safe – Common Myths Used to Sell Essential Oils
- Don’t expire
- Can be ingested without worry
- Can be used undiluted (Neat Application)
- Are safe for everyone
- Can be mixed in water
- Can be used undiluted directly in your bath
- Are natural so they are completely safe
(A quick note, there is a true story on my blog, Severe Danger Using Essential Oils, about a severe burn received by a young lady who was given advise to use essential oils undiluted in her bath)
Factors to Consider When Using Essential Oils
To safely use essential oils, many significant factors need to be considered:
- Health Level
- Cancer Therapy
- Aromas (Good/Bad)
- Medical History
- And More…
Essential oils can do wonderful things when used safely. Many hospitals are now implementing integrative health modalities, including essential oils, into their programs with great success. The important thing to remember is to make sure you use the oils responsibly. They are natural chemicals, but that does not mean they do not have safety concerns. Consult a professionally trained, certified, registered, or clinical aromatherapist for your safety.
If you have any questions, send me an email and I will be happy to reply.