Can Essential Oils Make You Sick?

Can Essential Oils Make You Sick?

It is easy to see why people treat essential oils without the proper attention and due care they demand. After all, they are just natural products from plants and flowers. Because of this people underestimate the chemical properties of essential oils and risks associated with incorrect use.

Most people tend to be introduced to essential oils in a casually promoted in-home presentation, with a “wellness advocate” who claims that oils are harmless natural products that can treat everything from minor skin irritations to autism. They claim to be “therapeutic grade” so they can safely ingested and liberally applied directly to the skin or taken with a glass of water.

Because of this, a growing number of people are 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.

Essential oils are concentrated hydrophobic liquids with chemical compounds from plants that are easily evaporated at normal temperatures  Essential oils are also known as volatile oils, ethereal oils, aetherolea, or simply as the oil of the plant from which they were extracted, such as oil of clove. They are extremely concentrated chemical compounds, from nature, yes, but chemical compounds nonetheless, that need to be used with caution.

Many essential oils companies are nothing more than multi-level marketing agencies whose primary sales come from their “associates” rather than customers. These associates are not trained sufficiently or fed the wrong information which they take at face value. This means most do not understand the properties of the essential oils or products they are recommending to their customers.

This leads to reckless recommendations like swallowing essential oils. This increases the chance that they will interact with medications, cause an allergic or toxic reaction. Even diluted as a few drops a day in a water bottle can lead to fatigue and headaches. Taking in large amounts of tea tree oil, wintergreen, and camphor oils, for instance, can cause throat swelling, a racing heart, vomiting, and even seizures, according to the Tennessee Poison Center, which saw the number of toxic essential oil exposures double from 2011 to 2015.

So, yes essential oils can make you sick.

Should you stop using essential oils?

No! Essential oils can be very effective and beneficial when used correctly. Increasing research on particular essential oils shows they can be used to treat or alleviate many symptoms, or even side effects of medication.

Essential oils have been around for thousands of years with practitioners using oil-infused lotions on the skin, where the compounds are absorbed into the bloodstream. There is a growing number of studies that determine how they work with hospitals and clinics starting to use the oils more and more for stress relief, pain and nausea relief, even to prevent bedsores. Or they are diffused into the air where once inhaled, they bind to smell receptors and stimulate the central nervous system.

Further studies show of 300 patients found that those who breathed a mixture of ginger, spearmint, peppermint, and cardamom had much less nausea after surgery. While other research shows that lavender oil can lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and inhaling lemongrass before a stressful event can prevent anxiety. Studies also show that tea tree and oregano oils can fight microbes, making them popular treatments for dandruff and toe fungus. Others can be used as an anti-inflammatory.

So, essential oils, used properly are safe can be effective for many routine issues but due to inappropriate advice, people are making themselves sick using essential oils. If you are using essential oils you need to understand the risks and potential benefits of the oils you’re using.

When in doubt go to a licensed aromatherapist, not just a distributor for a company.

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