There is hardly anywhere you can turn without hearing about essential oils. From relaxation to cleaning, migraines to massages, essential oils are often touted as the modern-day natural solution to almost anything. Coming out of a generation that became warped by its over-reliance on pharmacological medications, it’s pretty easy to understand why people, especially Millennials and Generation X, would want to adapt into a more natural and healthier lifestyle.
But, how far is too far? When is natural simply not safe?
When people ask me about Scents the Moment, they usually ask if our products are “all natural,” to which I reply our products are where “nature meets science.”
Unfortunately, because of the all-natural wave in the last decade, many holistic companies and individuals have become fear-mongers, touting falsities about “all natural” that is, at best, wrong, and at worst, deadly. An example of when holistic goes too far is the anti-vaccine brigade which has instigated the resurgence of dormant diseases, specifically measles, mumps, and rubella, all on the false claims that vaccines cause Autism.
The claims I have heard about essential oils, especially from the two major multi-level marketing (MLM) companies, are downright scary. In this blog, I hope to do some essential oil myth-busting, putting our trust in actual science.
- MYTH: Essential oils are better and safer than fragrance oils in my cosmetics and skincare.
- Actually, this is not the case. In fact, there are some essential oils, such as eucalyptus, which can actually burn your skin, or citrus essential oils which cause phototoxicity. Fragrance oils, specifically phthalate-free fragrances, have been specifically formulated to be consistent with replication and safe for the skin. I would dare say they are safer since they are being created and duplicated from an actual formulation as opposed to varied crops and seasons that can affect essential oils.
- MYTH: I can ingest essential oils.
- What!? No! As my brilliant, and certified aromatherapist friend, Kayla Fioravanti says, “Beware of anyone who tells you to ingest essential oils either by putting a few drops in your water or putting them into a capsule. The only cases of death, organ failure, and hospitalization in the history of aromatherapy have been caused by ingesting essential oils. It is THAT dangerous.”
- MYTH: I use essential oils around my pets and babies to keep them _____.
- Please stop! Many essential oils are toxic to both children and pets. For example, tea tree essential oil can actually send your cats into toxic shock and seizures. Have a nice essential oil blend diffusing in your baby’s room? You could actually be triggering asthma and allergies.
- MYTH: Essential oils come from plants, so they must be safe.
- The FDA says it best: “Sometimes people think that if an “essential oil” or other ingredient comes from a plant, it must be safe. But many plants contain materials that are toxic, irritating, or likely to cause allergic reactions when applied to the skin.” Think of it this way: Poison ivy is a plant, do you want to rub it all over yourself?
- MYTH: My essential oils are “therapeutic grade,” so they’re higher quality.
- Yeah, sorry, NOPE again. There is no such thing as “therapeutic grade” essential oils. As explained by aromatherapist Jade Shutes, “therapeutic grade” essential oils is only the use of clever marketing to imply that some oils are better than others. However, when you study the language, anything that claims to be “therapeutic” is implying medicinal practice, which is just plain dangerous, especially in the hands of untrained essential oil distributors.
- MYTH: I can just mix essential oils with water and use it as a cosmetic.
- Yikes for so many reasons.
- Water grows mold and bacteria. Unless you have included a preservative, the essential oils in water are just as susceptible to growing mold and bacteria.
- Most essential oils need to be diluted in another carrier oil for safety. Because some essential oils are so potent, they can cause major skin irritation, burning, or worse, unless diluted. As we know from basic chemistry, oils and water don’t mix (without an emulsifier), so you’re putting whoever you’re spraying at major risk for burns.
- Yikes for so many reasons.
- MYTH: I use special blends of essential oils to sanitize and disinfect my home.
- While mixtures of essential oils can be decent for gentle cleaning and odor refreshing, as far as sanitizing or disinfecting – nope. Depending on what you need to sanitize or disinfect, you still need bleach or hydrogen peroxide.
- MYTH: I only burn essential oil candles because they’re healthier.
- Sorry to be a downer, but no again. Actually, because essential oils have such a low combustion rate when mixed with the fire of a candle, the fire is actually changing the chemical compound of the essential oil – this means that burning it could literally make it a) combustible b) flammable, or c) poisonous. Essential oils not only burn poorly in candles, they make your candle more likely to spark and even explode, turning them into a major fire hazard. Plus, they really stink at being scented candles since their chemical compounds change and the scent changes along with it.
- MYTH: Lavender and Tea Tree essential oils will make my son grow breasts.
- If we take a look at the actual BBC study that has become the root of this claim, we find that they did not even use essential oils, but instead used various components and chemicals that can also be found in these oils. Dr. Robert Pappas of Essential Oil University explains most of this on his Facebook page.
- MYTH: Essential oils are part of my chemical-free lifestyle.
- You can’t be chemical-free. Water is comprised of two hydrogen particles and one oxygen particle = chemicals. All things have chemicals.
Do you have any other questions about aromatherapy or essential oils?
*For further reading, I recommend Kayla Fioravanti’s book: The Art, Science, and Business of Aromatherapy: Your Essential Oil and Entrepreneurship Guide