Essential oils can be lovely—but they can also be dangerous.
Someone recently told me that her chiropractor has been applying neat Lavender to her four-month-old child two times a week for some time now. Not long ago, the chiropractor suggested she buy and use Lemon oil in her own water. The chiropractor also suggested applying undiluted Lemongrass oil to her child because it might “loosen ligaments.” While this chiropractor provided a page from a multi-level product book as evidence, that same page also says, “Extreme skin irritant. Do not use on children under six.”
That chiropractor is setting her patients up for a lifetime of sensitization, if she hasn’t caused it already. Applying undiluted Lemongrass to a baby is bordering on child abuse, since the oil can have such adverse effects.
Undiluted oils are not recommended on young children due to the possibility of irritation, sensitization, or allergic reaction. By using undiluted Lavender oil over and over, the child may become sensitized to Lavender. This could lead to a lifetime of issues. Once allergic, any contact may cause rash-type symptoms or even more severe reactions, including breathing issues and shock.
Another mom recently reported that her four-and-a-half-month-old child was ill. She asked if essential oils could make a baby vomit. The chiropractor sold her oils and recommended she put a drop of Lavender, Lemon, Peppermint, and a “blend” (containing known sensitizing oils) in the palm of her hand; she then massaged her baby four times a day on the feet, chest, and back. She also diffused the same blend all day. By nighttime, the baby had become violently ill. An ER visit proved fruitless since the doctors and nurses didn’t know about the essential oils. They deemed that the baby okay and sent the mother and child home. Luckily, this was a small, diluted amount, and hopefully the baby recovers just fine. But the stress this mom went through is needless and alarming.
What can we do about this?
I don’t fault either mother in these cases; they were following the instructions of respected and licensed health professionals. But how ethical are those professionals? And how much does this damage the respectability of chiropractic medicine—a branch that has fought for a long time to be a serious and licensed health profession? To sell and promote essential oils in this way is dangerous and unethical.
What can we do about this new problem? Why are health professionals selling essential oils with no education other than product marketing? Why are they recommending such hazardous things? If we were to report them to their boards, would they lose their license? I would genuinely love to hear some answers.
I understand that many of them just haven’t been educated. However, the information has been available for such a long time. If they ever went to court due to injuries, it would probably be considered negligence. If using a known irritant or telling moms to use them on young children isn’t criminal, then I don’t know what is.
So what can we do? The answer: spread the word. Ask your health professionals where they received their training before buying their products and doing what they say. Ask them if they realize they are sensitizing themselves at the same time. Show them the safety pages here and the Injury Report. Keep yourself and your children safe. Do your research when it comes to essential oil sensitization.