Essential oils have wonderful capabilities that address almost any ailment you've heard of. But that doesn't mean that essential oils are harmless, lifesaving magic. Behind all the miraculous stories of "How Essential Oils Cured My Insomnia" and "What Essential Oils Can Do For My Home", there are also unheard stories of essential oil poisoning and even death by it.
While essential oils have been often touted as natural, that doesn't mean that it is safe. Likewise, what may help with your health, may not necessarily yield positive effects if used incorrectly.
A warning letter issued by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to a well-known essential oil brand giant that have been marketing their essential oils as dietary supplements, states that essential oils, given their toxicity and other potentiality for harmful effects, are not safe to use except under the supervision of a practitioner licensed by law to administer it.
In a separate excerpt from PubMed records a case where a 58 years old chemist suffered intense delusions, acute lung and heart injury, tachycardia, and hypertension. This was caused by the seemingly low dosage of consuming 4 to 5 drops of Eucalyptus essential oil in order to self-medicate.
Such cases are not rare and articles like these can be found all over the internet with the right search, but the question here to all of us is, are we aware of the dangers of essential oils?
The big no-no with essential oils
Ingestion of Essential oils
One of the biggest misconceptions that people have with essential oils is that they are safe to consume. That is absolutely false information that has been passed down from one unsuspecting victim to another. Even a single drop of essential oil diluted in your drinking water can reap undesirable effects on your health in the future. Thankfully, there is a growing number of users who have rightfully educated their peers against this dangerous act.
Prolonged consumption of essential oils can lead to irreversible liver, stomach, and respiratory damage. The explanation is pretty simple if you look at it this way - essential oils and water don't mix. When you add essential oil into your water and drink, this very essential oil does not go down with the water. It goes right into your mucosa, damage your esophagus and leave ulcers in your stomach lining. And because essential oils are not soluble in water, they are even harder to metabolize. The repeated ingestion of essential oils causes stress to your internal organs, and right before you know it, you're in the emergency for acute essential oil poisoning.
Topical Application of Essential Oil
The second essential oil danger would be applying essential oils neat onto the skin. Sure, a bit of Lavender oil on my cuts can help in preventing inflammation, or Tea Tree to soothe my acne. But then a bit of Bergamot in the sun will also give you a terrible sunburn too.
So why the contradicting advice?
Essential oils are all different in compositions. Bergamot and other citrus based oils like Grapefruit and Mandarin contain a compound called "Bergaptene". This compound causes photosensitivity, which isn't actually harmful until you are out under the sun. This is why it is advised not to go out in the sun after applying essential oils onto your skin to prevent the sun from causing damage to the applied area.
Applying essential oils onto the skin also requires prior dilution and not just applying neat onto the skin. Carrier oil such as Jojoba oil is a suitable base to use when diluting essential oils. All you need is just a few drops of essential oils into your carrier oil, and you are free to apply it on your body.