Ouch! How NOT to use essential oils
Let’s start off by saying that my intention is never to tell people what to do. I’m not an expert, and I certainly don’t know it all.
The aim of this blog has always been to share honest, impartial information from a professional perspective. There’s so much bad advice out there – I just want to balance out the argument. What I hope is that people can absorb information from all angles and then make an informed choice.
Some issues are not clear-cut – such as essential oil ingestion, or usage with babies and children. And it’s certainly not always appropriate to be too dogmatic about what’s “right” and “wrong”.
That said, there are a couple of things that I do feel are worthy of being placed in the “No, Never” category:
- Essential oil tampons
- Essential oil eye drops
In case you’re wondering if I’ve gone crazy, these are both concepts that are actually promoted online – not by professional aromatherapists, but by people who sell essential oils.
Essential oil tampons
When it comes to yeast infections or urinary tract infections, you’ll often see recommendations to soak a tampon in NEAT essential oils (usually tea tree) and use internally.
These kind of “essential oil hacks” are all over Pinterest, and I’ve seen this tip recommended for everything from ovarian cysts to infertility (see image below)
You might remember this horrific story from 2015, when a 24-year-old woman was advised to soak a tampon in tea tree oil to treat a yeast infection. Long story short, she ended up being treated in hospital for chemical burns and now has lifelong internal scarring.
Or how about this pregnant lady who was advised to soak a tampon in 30 drops of essential oil (including oregano) diluted in just 1 teaspoon of coconut oil?
Some of these Pinterest recipes are just toe-curlingly awful. A personal lubricant made with peppermint and black pepper, anyone? She describes it as “tingly” – yep, that’s one word for it!
Now, should tampons or pessaries ever be used for internal application of essential oils? Sure, this is sometimes prescribed by clinical aromatherapists – but no professional would tell you to soak a tampon in NEAT essential oil.
There’s a reason why most reputable essential oil brands state “Do not use internally” on the label. Because internal use is not something to be taken lightly. Essential oils are extremely concentrated and have the potential to irritate our sensitive mucous membranes. Personally, I don’t want to apply neat essential oils externally, never mind internally!
I would strongly advise you to only use essential oils internally this way if under the instruction of a professional aromatherapist.
Essential oil eye drops
You might wonder who would deliberately drop essential oils into their eyes. Amazingly, you WILL come across online recipes that use pure essential oils as eye drops.
This practice is claimed to improve eyesight, relieve dryness and treat macular degeneration. Notably, the majority of this advice derives from Young Living reps, supposedly because the late Gary Young used this treatment at his clinic in Ecuador.
This same recipe has been copy-and-pasted all over the place, as you can see in this Pinterest image below. Incidentally, I love how she advises us not to store the blend in a dropper bottle because “the oils will cause the rubber to disintegrate” – but you’re happy to put them straight into your eyes?!
There’s also a myth floating round that clary sage can be used to improve eyesight and treat various eye-related ailments. This appears to stem from the fact that clary sage was referred to as “clear eye” by English herbalist Nicholas Culpeper in the 1600s. This is yet another example of people extrapolating properties of the herb to its essential oil. Just because the herb was used to relieve eye problems doesn’t make it okay to apply the essential oil directly into your eye.
To anyone tempted to drop essential oils in their eyes, I would suggest consulting ANY aromatherapy textbook or professional website. Every ‘Aromatherapy Safety 101’ will tell you that essential oils should never be used in the eyes. You’re not just risking severe pain but potentially serious damage.
Aromatherapy is not a black-and-white subject, and there aren’t always rigid rules to follow. There are many grey areas that are up for debate. BUT, I do believe there are few professional aromatherapists who would ever think it’s wise to drop essential oils in the eyes or insert undiluted tea tree on a tampon.
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