Warning: Essential oils are NOT risk-free

Essential oil factory in Vietnam

A while back, I wrote about the “commercially inspired over-enthusiasm” for essential oils.

In response, I received a flood of vociferous hate mail.

Hate mail to PlantWisdom.org? Yup. That’s part of the word we live in.

Unfortunately, most of what appears online and elsewhere about essential oils comes from people who manufacture and sell them.

That said if you dig even a little – Google: “essential oil dangers” – you’ll find a lot of thoughtful, detailed articles about their risks…very often followed by a pitch to buy some more. (The Internet is anything but a commercial free zone.)

There are four things I’d add to the info that is generally available:

1. Some people cannot tolerate essential oils in any form

There are many people in this world with varying degrees of chemical sensitivity. This means their bodies are less able to tolerate the extremely toxic world we’ve manufactured than “normal” people can.

Essentials oils actively injure these folks.

Also, if someone is “borderline” chemically sensitive, the regular rubbing of essential oils into their skin or the breathing of essential oil vapor is a sure way of pushing them over the edge into a serious, chronic and highly debilitating condition.

2. Diffusers are only safe if you use them safely

Diffusers should only be run in well ventilated spaces and never more than 30 minutes at a time with frequent long breaks to allow the room to return to zero.

People and pets who do not want to be exposed to these fumes – because that is in fact is what they are – should be free to leave the space and avoid them.

3. Rubbing vast quantities of essential oils onto people’s spines, really?

The now-trendy practice of rubbing quantities of essential oils no matter how “pure” up and down the spines of individual clients on a regular basis is a practice that should be seriously reconsidered.

After all, what’s the therapeutic need for such a practice? If there is a risk associated with this – and there is – then why are you doing it? Also, are you aware of the risk to yourself of being constantly exposed to the fumes, pleasant as they might seem?

4. Many pets are not tolerant of and can be seriously injured by essential oils

Pennyroyal oil for flea management? Count on liver and kidney toxicity.

Tea tree oil on your furry friend’s abrasions? Make sure you have the emergency number for your local pet hospital. Watch for tremors, weakness, vomiting, depression and poor coordination.

Bottom Line

Though they are made from plants, in fact, essential oils are highly concentrated manufactured products that have the capacity to seriously injure or even kill people if consumed internally in high doses. That should be an indication that they need to be taken seriously – more seriously then many essential oil merchants do.

The reality is that essential oils do not in anyway come even close to the safety of using plants directly in their natural form and all the glossy pictures of bottles of essential oil posed with sprigs of lavender won’t change that fact.

Please share widely and if you use these products yourself and expose others to them, please inform yourself deeply about this subject.


Can aromatherapy produce harmful indoor air pollutants?

“The absorption of essential oils by the nose is as fast as an intravenous injection.”

– Ken McCarthy