Guest post by Lea of Learning About EOs
This is a continuation of yesterday’s post about common myths and mistakes people make in the aromatherapy world…
Myth #6 – Applying oils to your feet will fix a problem in your head
It’s pretty common to hear recommendations to apply essential oils to the feet. We are told there are more pores in the feet. But is this logical? Our feet contain some of the thickest skin on our bodies – can rubbing anything into them actually get through and make it into the bloodstream? Perhaps they can.
However, has anyone considered that as the pores in our feet are sweat glands, this isn’t going to work very well? As I listened to Robert Tisserand speak last week, I learned that since water and oil do not mix, it’s not very likely that essential oils are absorbed through our sweat glands.
Now have some people found it to be effective to rub essential oils on the feet? Yes. The explanation is due to the fact that as you apply them to the feet, the essential oils are being inhaled. Inhalation is a very effective way to use essential oils.
Myth #7 – Essential oils can be used as a “preventative” measure with no negative consequences
I’ve seen people comment that they consume up to 30 or even 70 drops of essential oils daily, in their water, just to “keep themselves healthy.” They don’t even have any specific health issues, but they think that consuming all those essential oils daily will increase chances of longevity.
Essential oils are a wonderful choice for alternative medicine, if you are trained to use them as such. But blindly drinking oils “just because” is just not smart.
There are risks to everything we do, and some essential oils can have serious negative effects when consumed internally. I can’t imagine, over several years’ time, what their liver is going to have to say about their liberal use of essential oils, if they have ulcers, kidney issues, or even cancer.
Remember, the higher the concentration, combined with a longer duration, increases the risks of negative effects.
A two-year study done on rats showed the difference in a .05% diet of a constituent (I believe it was safole) compared to a .5% diet. Where the .05% diet showed only “slight” liver damage and “no” benign or malignant tumors, the diet which was .5% of this constituent presented “severe” liver damage, “11%” benign tumors, and “30%” malignant tumors.
So please, please, please, only use what you need, and no more. If 1 drop will do, why use 10?
Myth #8 – Your skin reaction is simply a “detox” phase
If only this were true.
Unfortunately, the reaction you are seeing on your skin is either skin irritation, or more commonly, an allergic reaction. This sort of reaction is more common when using undiluted oils.
Continuing to apply oils when you are reacting negatively to them could lead to sensitization – which is irreversible.
Sensitization is described as “a delayed-sensitivity reaction which manifests often as severe irritation which involves the immune system…Sensitized lymphocytes are then cloned and localize producing an inflammatory reaction. Further contact of the same compound or a chemically related substance with the skin or any other part of the body can cause irritation as described above. ” (source)
People with sensitive skin, dermatitis, or eczema are especially prone to sensitization. Although there are essential oils known to be sensitizers, such as Aniseed, Cassia, Peru Balsam, and Spearmint, there are even more which are suspect. It is important to keep in mind that anyone could become sensitized to any essential oil at any time, and not just on the first use.
Diluting essential oils before applying them to your skin will go a long way to lessen the risk of a negative reaction.
See dilution guidelines here.
Myth #9 – You don’t need to know the Latin name of the essential oil you are purchasing
Many companies sell essential oils without any indication of the Latin (botanical) name. As there can be several species of Eucalyptus, Lavender, and Rosemary, not having a Latin name available can present a problem.
Purchasing a bottle labeled “Lavender” is not going to tell you the kind of Lavender you have. If you want to use it for headache relief, you could find it not working if you don’t have the correct species.
Occasionally a supplier will label Mentha arvensis as Peppermint, when it is actually Cornmint. The constituents are very different, and present different safety issues. Checking the Latin name before making a purchase is a wise move.
Read this: Latin Names Do Matter.
Myth #10 – GC/MS tests are worthless and unnecessary
A GC/MS (Gas Chromatography–Mass Spectrometry) test is used by reputable companies to see the constituents of a specific batch of essential oil they have obtained from their suppliers. Although it’s not within the reach of consumers to spend $100 to test a $12 bottle of essential oil, companies who sell essential oils can more easily absorb that kind of cost when they are purchasing essential oils by the drum from their suppliers.
The purpose of this testing is to see what exactly is in the essential oil. Is it a pure oil? Has it been tampered with? Is it mis-labeled?
Some companies prefer not to perform this testing, and instead rely on their suppliers to provide them with a quality oil.
The harm in this blind trust of the suppliers is that, because the constituents in essential oils are always varying (as they are natural substances), you could get a Lavender essential oil quite low in linalol – or at least not high enough to be as therapeutic as your customers are used to.
Essential oil constituents (and therefore, therapeutic properties), are affected by so many factors: climate and altitude where grown, quality of soil, amount of rainfall, how it was stored before distillation, the plant parts used, etc. (read more: Determining Essential Oil Quality).
Although the details of the growth of the plants are not revealed to us, they can be reflected in the GC/MS test that is run.
The readers of LearningAboutEOs have now raised funds, three times, so that we can test various brands of essential oils. Why? We wanted to know if we really need to pay $80 for a bottle of Myrrh, or if the $15 bottle would be as good. Our first round of testing revealed the $15 bottle tested even better than the $80 bottle!
We also wanted to know what other affordable brands would pass the testing. Our second round revealed an adulterated essential oil, and one that did not pass (poor quality).
We will have results for round three any day now.
Also view our 3rd Party Results Master List
Do you want to learn more (much more!) about using essential oils and herbs in your home? The Herbs and Essential Oils Super Bundle is available for 6 days only! It includes $400 worth of handpicked resources for a whopping 92% off! Learn all about the bundle and see what’s included HERE.
Note from Erin: To learn more about essential oils, I am hoping to take the Essential Oils and Natural Health eCourse from Vintage Remedies! Vintage Remedies is a widely-known, reputable source of natural and alternative health education.
Have you made any of these common essential oil mistakes? What have you learned about essential oils that you can pass on to other users?
Lea Harris is a Certified Aromatherapist who blogs at LearningAboutEOs.com. Get her FREE ebook, “Using Essential Oils Safely” by subscribing to the newsletter.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting this site!
Top image from pixabay.com