The English Aromatherapist

Dec
31

Top 10 Truths: Essential Oils

Top 10 Truths About Essential Oils

I felt compelled to write this post after seeing some absolute shockers online this week. If you follow my Facebook page, you’ll see that I inadvertently got caught up in a heated debate on the topic of drinking essential oils (read more about my opinions on drinking essential oils in water here).

So, in a world of utter nonsense, I feel there are some truths that need to be pointed out:

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1.Not all ‘Drs’ are medical doctors

The internet is full of “Drs” – but not all of these are medical doctors. You’ll often see self-proclaimed “experts” using the title of “Dr” – especially when it comes to health-related topics. Anyone remember Dr Gillian McKeith from You Are What You Eat? Despite implications, it transpired that she actually had no accredited qualifications in nutrition or medicine. In fact, her “Dr” title was purely academic and based on unrelated subjects.

I’m not going to name any names, but there are a couple of well-known “Drs” who love to share essential oil advice online. But they are not medical doctors, they are chiropractors. It’s also worth pointing out that an “ND” is not the same as a medical doctor. As Wikipedia states, “Licensed naturopaths do not receive comparable training to medical doctors in terms of the quality of education or quantity of hours”

So, next time you see a “doctor” touting essential oil advice – check out their credentials.

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Not all Drs are medical doctors

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2. Oils will not cure everything

Don’t let anyone tell you that essential oils are the ONLY thing you need in your medicine cabinet. The light-hearted saying “I’ve got an oil for that!” now seems to have evolved into the mentality that every problem in life can be solved by essential oils, from broken bones to cancer. Yes, aromatherapy is amazing. Yes, essential oils are wonderful natural resources. But it’s important to remember that aromatherapy is not always suitable. There are times when medical help is the only appropriate option. I’ve seen some truly horrifying stories about parents refusing to take their sick babies to hospital, or attempting to cure their own life-threatening infections with home remedies. In addition, it’s definitely not a good idea to repeatedly apply essential oils in the hope of preventing illness. Sensitization is real.

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3. ‘Therapeutic grade’ is a myth

Ah, this old chestnut! In case you’re not already aware, there are two major essential oil brands that claim to be ‘therapeutic grade’. Supposedly, this makes it acceptable to ingest or use them neat on the skin. I’ve actually had one of their “wellness advocates” inform me that my Essential Oil Blending app ‘doesn’t work’ with her oils. Apparently, the purity of her essential oils makes them safe to ingest, which conflicts with the safety advice in my app. You’ll often see reps validating spurious advice on the basis that their essential oils are ‘certified pure therapeutic grade’.  Actually, this is nothing more than a self-awarded marketing term. There is no industry standard that defines ‘therapeutic grade’ essential oils. Any 100% pure essential oil is technically therapeutic grade. Obviously, some oils will be of a higher quality than others. But to suggest that all other essential oils are worthless is pure fiction. And while I’m on the subject of ingestion, saying that essential oils are GRAS (Generally Recognised as Safe) does NOT make it safe to casually ingest whole drops on a daily basis (read more about this here).

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4. There is not only ONE good brand

There is so much propaganda about essential oils. The world of aromatherapy is becoming increasingly divided between the MLM-ers and the non-MLM-ers. You won’t find many (if any) professional aromatherapists using MLM essential oils in their clinics and salons (see more about why I don’t use MLM brands here). People who can see beyond marketing hype have realised there is more than just ONE credible essential oil brand. You don’t need to pay those prices to get quality oils.

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What is the best essential oil brand?

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5. “I’ve done it for years and I’m fine!”

How many times do you hear this argument? I’ve had messages from people insisting that they’ve been drinking essential oils for years and feel fabulous. I’ve had comments from people claiming to have received numerous Raindrop Therapy treatments with no adverse effects. This is all very interesting, but it does not constitute a scientifically valid argument. It’s a classic anecdotal fallacy.  A smoker could argue “Well, I’ve smoked cigarettes for years, and I don’t have lung cancer!” – but it doesn’t take away from the fact that we know smoking does increase the risk of lung cancer.

If you think it’s acceptable to recommend using neat oils on the skin on the basis that “you always do it and you’re fine!”, I would advise you go and look up the term sensitization.

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6. Get some perspective!

Who is giving you essential oil advice? Are they trying to SELL you something? How many times do you scroll to the end of an article only to find an affiliate link for their essential oil company? Can this person really be trusted to provide impartial advice? Perhaps there is cause for concern if the only people who share your opinion are those who have a profitable interest in it. Let’s take the whole “drinking essential oils in water” debate. The professional aromatherapy industry says NO. The sales-driven MLM rep says YES. Who do you trust more?

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Get some perspective

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7. Do you dare to question the cult?

If you’ve ever challenged anyone who has strong pro-MLM beliefs, you’ve probably been on the receiving end of a rather aggressive – possibly abusive – tirade about how you’ve “got it all wrong”. No cult likes to be questioned. If you dare to question the cult, you will find yourself excommunicated (or removed from a Facebook group, in my case). They will only believe what they want to hear, which makes it almost pointless to even try and share your view. It’s essentially brainwashing on a grand scale.

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8. They will try to blind you with science

When challenged, these people will often try to bombard you with scientific jargon in an attempt to sound credible. By throwing in a load of medical terminology, they somehow assume that you’ll be impressed and think “Wow, this person clearly knows their stuff!”

But more often than not, they will take one fact and use it to justify an invalid argument. Facts can be taken out of context or used selectively (the classic cherry picking fallacy)

Unfortunately for them, a qualified expert will eventually come along and expose the flaws in their argument. For a great example of this, check out this “scientific” argument for drinking essential oils – with a brilliant rebuttal from experienced aromatherapist Mark Webb.

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9. Don’t trust blogs

The internet is full of nonsensical blog articles that are full of misinformation. The beauty of blogging and social media is that everyone has a voice – but this is also its downfall. Anyone can dish out advice online and, for the most part, it’s pretty much unregulated. I’ve seen some truly shocking advice about essential oils on the internet – to find out more, read Why You Can’t Trust All Blogs.

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Bloggers

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10. Experience counts!

In the words of Einstein, “the only source of knowledge is experience”. Only a fool would take a short online course in aromatherapy and assume the role of an expert. If your whole approach to essential oils is based on what your upline tells you, perhaps it’s time to widen your perspective. Several times, I’ve had MLM reps tell me that my knowledge of aromatherapy is outdated. “Times have changed!” they say. “You need to open your mind!” another said. “I used to think you couldn’t ingest essential oils, but now I’ve seen the light!” Ironically, if anyone needs to be more open-minded it’s those people who believe all the marketing hype. One so-called expert had the gall to dismiss Robert Tisserand as someone who is “not a credible expert” and merely teaches “old science”. So, 30 years of aromatherapy research counts for nothing? Please. She was the same person who called my articles “idiotic” and told me I should “go back to school”. As Tisserand pointed out, he spends a couple of hours each week reading new research. He is hardly going to sit back, put his feet up and say “That’s it, I’ve ticked aromatherapy knowledge off the list! Nothing else to learn there!” Education never ends. Knowledge is continually evolving over time. It’s up to all of us to educate ourselves with the facts.

What do you think? I’ve love to hear your thoughts. Let me know in the comments below.

 

What to read next: Why You Can’t Trust All Blogs

 

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23 Responses to Top 10 Truths: Essential Oils

  1. I love your take on things and am generally in agreement 100% of the time – however…….. please do not dismiss the online courses as anything short of eye-opening and the perfect way to cultivate further education. I understand you said “…short online course and…..” but if all of the fools would take JUST a CREDIBLE, short online course, you might be surprised at how many would back down from the “cult mentality”. My initial “short online course” served to challenge me to learn more, listen more openly and become a true student of Aromatherapy. I’m no where near an expert for that but I am SAFE in any advise or product I give and that is huge.

    Outside of that – I love your information and candid commentaries!

    • Thanks for your comment, Celeste. I agree with you – I am not against online courses per se, they can be very useful and certainly have their place. I was more referring to people who have only done a very basic course and start writing as if they know “everything” on the subject. Certainly, any education is good and we all have to start somewhere.

  2. Love this article, especially the quote about smokers. It is so true. I fell into the MLM trap until I decided to do some research because I was being advices to use oils with my babies and when it comes to anything to do with my babies I research ot to death and so glad that I did

    • Thanks for your comment, Kristen. Yes, it does worry me when I see some of the advice about using oils on babies 🙁 I’ve even seen advice to use wintergreen undiluted on babies – absolutely shocking!

  3. I am really saddened by the whole thing that is happening with the essential oil craze and the crazies, it has become over the top and so much misinformation it’s like wading through sludge. I find the beauty of the aromatics and the plants who give these amazing oils is also being buried under this sludge. I began my journey of learning about essential oils, absolutes, hydrosols and anything associated with them about 7 years ago and decided to enroll in a certification course a couple years ago to compliment my reflexology. I am so glad the mentors I had introduced me to the books and teachings of real experts, like Robert Tisserand, Andrea Butje and several others. I never once was drawn to the MLM essential oils businesses because their credibility was lacking and I did not want to associate myself with the feuds of DT & YL. And the lies about their beginnings and ‘Seed to Seal’ how they farm like not one else does…oh please enough with the bull poop. I don’t want to be associated with a company who basically trashes other essential oil companies as inferior to theirs. Sure one can make some money but eventually the well will run dry and then one is left always searching for a target to sell to. I have never been drawn to any MLM business model.
    I prefer to be associated with credible aromatherapists and experts so my learning will continue to evolve. I am pleased I found the English Aromatherapist to follow and I enjoy your blog posts. Those that dis the real experts can go jump in the lake or better yet bath in a pool of ‘hot oils’. Lol

  4. Loved and agreed with you on all points.

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  7. Excellent article. Important points very well made. This was brougjt to my attention by one of my students after we had a pretty similar discussion in class last weekend

  8. Spot on! I have been formulating for 9 years, studied herbalism and aromatherapy for the same period, have diplomas in Chinese Medicine, Body Massage, Anatomy & Physiology, a certified aromatherapist who is constantly reading, practising, learning, yet I don’t even consider myself an expert. The world of herbalism and aromatherapy is huge. Learning from different teachers and finding new ways of using an oil &/or a herb takes years of experience. Even full time herbalist won’t know all the herbs in the world.

  9. The world of herbalism and aromatherapy is huge. Learning from different teachers and finding new ways of using an oil &/or a herb takes years of experience. Even full time herbalist won’t know all the herbs in the world. A credible short course will improve your knowledge. But it takes more than a short course to master aromatherapy. Lots of practice, lots of constant learning from different teachers, lots of relearning about the same herb or oil as there is always new ways of using it that you could have overlooked.

  10. This was a great article. I went to a YL seminar and came home and started research on oils. YL trademarks some of the verbage on theit label this is why they are the only ones allowed to make some og the claims they do. In research i found a company called RMO and am very satisfied with their product and the information they share about their oils. Thanks for the great article.

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