We are continuing our “Top 10 Worst Injuries from Essential Oils” from the past year of collecting injury reports. These we have listed are the top 5 worst cases from our upcoming report, due out in February 2015. This is Part 2 of a two-part series.
Here are 5 examples of direct quotes (excuse grammar) from our new Injury Report, scheduled to come out in February 2015.
Read more about this ongoing project to spread information on safety and the costs of misuse.
Stop the unsafe use of essential oils! Save yourself, your friends and family, babies, and animals. Stop the insanity.
See Part 1 for cases 6-10.
Here are summaries with quoted text directly from the testimonials we received. We are not identifying any companies in this blog. You will be able to see the details of each entry we received when the report comes out. Most all of these were due to bad advice from misinformation.
5. Diluted blend to a baby’s feet slows breathing. “blends X & XX were used on separate occasions on my son at 13mo. The blend was very diluted (topical on his feet), he was 13mo, and I was informed it was ‘safe’. His throat started closing on him and his breathing slowed to a very dangerous level. After further research, I found out they both contained eucalyptus & Rosemary, both unsafe for kids under six. We had applied it & diffused it around him before his reaction, so it wasn’t his first exposure to it. Very scary holding your child while they are helpless.”
Please help us prevent well-meaning moms from harming their babies. We recently published a journal article in the International Journal of Childbirth Education on safety when using aromatherapy in pregnancy, childbirth, and childcare. We have a free download available with the essential safety information in that paper.
4. Multiple topical undiluted and oral use causes rashes. “It took months to accumulate in my system, but once the rashes started, I could no longer use any oils without the rash coming back. I was told by XX Reps that I was detoxing and that I should use more oils. I was told to try different oils for the rash. I was told to take sulfur. I was told that it’s impossible to be allergic to the oils. I was told that I must have a defective gene which is causing the rash.”
Please don’t buy this and other myths. The essential oil chemistry expert Dr. Robert Pappas recently addressed this myth last January on his Facebook page for Essential Oil University. He’s got a lot of great things on this page, so check it out.
3. Vaginal yeast infection leads to permanent scarring. “Was advised by a consultant to soak a tampon in tea tree oil, insert it before bed, wear it overnight and by the morning my yeast infection would be cleared up. Before bed that evening I put 5 drops of Tea Tree Oil on the tip of a tampon (I was worried about soaking the tampon as she instructed & using too much), I inserted the tampon and soon noticed a warm sensation. I called the representative as she told me it was normal and how I knew it was working. I went to bed and woke up about 6-7 hours later feeling like napalm had been poured into my vagina. I could not remove the tampon myself the pain was so bad. A neighbor drove me to the nearest hospital; They removed the tampon immediately and treated me for chemical burns with a prescription of burn jelly to continue using for the next 10 days, and more antibiotics to prevent the burn from becoming infected. At the 30 days check the tissue had scabbed over & partially healed. The 60 day exam the scabs were all gone but he noted I may have scars remaining and at the 90 day exam he told me scarring was present and would likely not completely heal.”
OUCH is all we can say!
2. Undiluted blend to 6-month-old’s chest resulted in 2 febrile seizures. “…Fever was only 99 and stopped breathing, foamed at the mouth; after 10 min violent seizing, turned purple and stopped breathing. Companies need to start warning about the seizure effects with wintergreen, eucalyptus, fennel, etc! My son doesn’t have epilepsy or any medical conditions. Once I removed his shirt and washed his skin at the hospital 45 min later he stopped seizing and returned to normal.”
Very scary and hard to imagine going through this with a baby. If you haven’t checked out our free safety sheet download yet, this is just one more reason to make sure you become educated about safe use of essential oils.
1. Ingested “Morphine Bomb.” “protocol was to use 4 drops each of frankincense, copaiba, and balsam fir. They advertised it could be used via inhalation, on skin or ingested. I trusted this combination would [alleviate] my pain due to their claims. Within a few hours of ingesting the oils, I began having racing heart, shortness of breath, pressure in my chest that radiated to my back, up my left jaw, and down my left arm. The symptoms continued and I eventually experienced cold sweats and nausea. The symptoms did not go away. I went to Hospital, they gave me an EKG, blood work and a CAT Scan. They determined I was having a heart attack. I remained hospitalized for 3 days and underwent a heart catheterization.”
We were downright shocked by some of these cases. They’re getting worse, and, the saddest part is, they’re totally avoidable.
We have to stop this from happening. You can help.
Share essential oil safety information with your friends! You never know who has been fed incorrect or incomplete information. There are a lot of voices of reason in this situation–make sure you’re listening to them!
We also partner with Upward Spiral Center to provide FREE safety classes to the local community in Tampa Bay, and we regularly post blogs on safe essential oil use. The next class is on February 18. We urge others to host SAFE Use Classes too! Use our fact sheet, spread the word!
We released our Annual Safety Report in February 2015, which features cases like these.
See this REPORT 2015 here.
This is Part 1 of a two-part series. Here are 5 examples of direct quotes (excuse grammar) from some of the adverse effects from our new Injury Report, scheduled to come out in February 2015. These are short quotes from the reports, not the report or our words. You will be able to see the details of each entry we received when the report comes out. Most all of these were due to bad advice from misinformation. This is why we believe that education is the key to safety.
We love our essential oils and our fellow humans, and we want to help put an end to dangerous and unsafe practices. Most all of these cases were better once the oil use was discontinued.
Here is a list of the 10 Worst Adverse Effects we received this past year. We’ve included a summary and quoted text directly from the testimonials.
10. Undiluted oils applied to small sore: “blend/frankincense” was used and next day skin turned red, bubbled up and peeled. When concerns were voiced she was told it was “detox, that there’s no way to be allergic or have a bad reaction to the oil since they are natural.”
Most qualified aromatherapists will not acknowledge the claim on “detox” to be true. Dr. Robert Pappas has busted this myth on this page. Read it here.
9. Undiluted on wrist: Two drops of clary sage and ylang ylang were used on wrists several times a day for about 10 days. Wrist started itching, broke out in red blotches which turned into blisters which spread into an area of approximately 3 cm x 4 cm. After a month with no oils and jojoba it cleared up. “Lesson learned: Always dilute your oils and never use neat oil application to the skin.”
YES! We love this lesson. Read about this and more in our new FREE safety sheet available for download in our store.
8. Undiluted on mouth sores: “Between 25-35 drops of essential oil on canker sores in mouth on tongue after being told it was safe. This resulted in a trip to ER because of racing heart, panicking, gagging, dry heaving, extremely hot, fever, dizzy and sick and high blood pressure. “I thought I was going to die.”
It is so heartbreaking to read these sometimes. But it is our mission to spread this information so that we don’t have any deaths due to misuse.
7. Undiluted long term leads to sensitization: Used essential oils since 1997, and by 2005 got small reactions. Finally by 2014, found help to understand sensitization and the safe use of essential oils. Now she can only use in low dilutions (if at all) and have turned to hydrosols & flower essences, but “now have A LOT of sensitivities and allergies to a wide range of fragrances and EOs.”
Though we can become sensitized to a single oil, we can also become sensitized to many single oils and blends. By overusing now, we deprive ourselves of being able to use in the future. Remember the saying, “Less IS more.”
Read more about sensitization.
6. Oral use: Due to ingesting a “lot of” oils – multiple drops multiple times a day – of lemon and grapefruit in water, this person now has been diagnosed with stomach problems, chronic digestive upset, and is looking at possible gallbladder removal.
How sad it is to read these stories of people who are looking for alternative health care, possibly to save money or avoid surgery, who then cause even worse problems for themselves or their families.
Knowledge is power, never forget that it is in your hands.
We’re so thrilled to see that the use of essential oils for health and healing has gained popularity over the past few years. Essential oils are a great way to keep your family healthy and happy, but as we know too well, they are not universally safe.
As our injury reporting shows, unknowing moms with the best intentions are sometimes advised by equally unknowing and well-intentioned salespeople to use essential oils on their children. One report we received concerned a baby who stopped breathing twice after the mom applied an undiluted blend to the feet–and all because someone said it was pure and therefore safe! But no matter how pure they are, oils like Eucalyptus and Peppermint are known to cause a child’s throat to swell and close.
This mother wrote in her testimonial to us that it is “very scary holding your child while they are helpless.”
We agree, and we believe these instances are totally avoidable if the right information gets out there.
In other instances, equally unknowing and well-intentioned health professionals apply undiluted essential oils to children and sell known irritant oils for moms to apply at home! Read more about that here.
In an effort to spread better information, we recently published an article in the International Journal of Childbirth Education on the safety issues concerning the use of essential oils in pregnancy, childbirth, and early childhood.
So, you want to use aromatherapy with babies?
Please read our article first to learn the best safety practices. Download for free below!
I’ve used aromatherapy for 40 years for myself and my family as preventive care. Over those years, I’ve also used them as internal remedies when the need arose, which was usually because of the flu, viruses, or systemic infections. I do not, however, use or promote the daily use of essential oils internally for preventive care.
I believe an aromatherapy lifestyle keeps us healthy especially when used in the air and in skin and body care on a regular basis. My husband is healthy and never takes a sick day, leaving his co-workers jealous and confused. When asked why he doesn’t get sick, he blamed it on living with me and aromatics for 35 years! But for anyone who works in the public or has a kid in school, it’s hard to avoid picking up germs from others at one point or another. As a result, my family would occasionally need to use the “big guns” to fight infection. That’s what I call the most anti-infectious oils (like oregano, thyme, clove, cinnamon, etc), because they’re just that powerful.
During a bad cold or flu, for example, I use blends created to kill germs, relieve congestion and ease symptoms. For a serious infection, I may use a dose orally at the onset, a topical application, inhalations from diffusion, aromatic baths, and suppositories.
WHAT? Yes, I said that last one!
To fight an acute infection, we need to bypass the liver and get the oils into the gut. Of course both topical applications and the suppositories consist of low-dose, diluted and anti-infectious essential oils that have little irritation potential.
Another oral remedy I use is a spoonful of raw, local honey and a drop of peppermint for stomach aches. One of Nyssa‘s friends has a fond memory of this as she often had a tummy ache at our house and this is what she remembers most! This is great for kids or adults.
And these are just a few examples of internal use. Of course, before using essential oils internally, it’s necessary to learn how to do so safely–otherwise you could inflict damage on yourself and others. There are many safe and efficacious ways to use essential oils as natural aromatic medicine and it is up to the user to know what is safe. Often companies selling oils will recommend undiluted and oral use with no safety precautions and this has resulted in adverse effects. We teach safe internal use in our live classes, and in the Aromatherapy Practitioner Correspondence Course, because it’s a part of using natural oils for aromatic medicine. Internal use has also been mentioned and outlined in my Aromatherapy Practitioner Reference Manual since 1994.
When used as necessary and in a safe manner for illnesses, essential oils have tremendous healing potential that can add greatly to our natural remedies. To repeat what I said earlier, I see no need to take any oils daily in my water or food. The oils can cause harm if overdone, which I see far too often in the Atlantic Institute’s Injury Database Report. I get my flavor from real fruit if I need an occasional change to plain distilled water–because once again, there is NO additional nutritional benefit when lemon or orange essential oil is added to water. I also don’t advise taking capsules for allergies when topical and inhalation are much more effective for this condition.
Instead, I use essential oils daily in the air of my home and office, in my daily skin and body care, in my own perfume, and on my clients during treatments. I’ve seen the benefits of this type of treatment for 40 years, without adding in daily internal applications. Then, when I get sick and the need arises, I can treat more strongly. This process is quite cost effective because I don’t use up all my precious oils through undiluted or oral application. The air diffusion and skin care are effective preventatives, which is why I have used these methods for so long! Essential oils work very well diluted, sometimes better as seen in anti-infectious trials and diluting saves you money over time.
Interested in learning how to use essential oils safely?
We have free local safe use classes in addition to our one-day and weekend workshops on our Calendar. We also have industry-leading books and other resources in our shop.
Please use safely! I don’t want to read about your injuries in my database!
Photo by Kalle Gustafsson via Creative Commons.
Remember this song by Waylon Jennings: “Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys. Don’t let ’em pick guitars or drive them old trucks. Let ’em be doctors and lawyers and such.”
Well, right now, the problem isn’t your children growing up to be cowboys. The real issue is that they will be doctors and lawyers with severe sensitization to essential oils. And the doctors can treat the others from the same generation, and lawyers can get a class action lawsuit suing the sales reps and companies promoting dangerous use to the moms who did this to their children. Sounds scary, doesn’t it? Then why haven’t you heard about this issue before? It is well documented in the industry that certain oils are not to be used on the skin without risk. In addition one can develop an allergy from overuse of any essential oil. It is an allergic reaction set up by overuse. See here and here for references on sensitization; and here for more safe use info including an Injury Report first summary with details of cases in the download.
Unfortunately, so many well-meaning moms go onto the internet and find blogs that instruct them to apply all sorts of aromatic undiluted formulas to kids for everything from the sniffles to ADD, ADHD, and more. The scary part is, these blog writers and groups often have no training or safety data information, and yet they’re giving harmful advice about essential oils to anyone who reads.
I know now what drives moms to take advice and medicate children without seeing if it is safe. It is possible they were told to do so because they were looking for alternative ways to help children, and oils can help in some cases. Essential oils are potent and even “pure and natural” can harm; it is dose dependant as the links above state. If you were to keep putting undiluted essential oils on your children’s feet (like many mommy blogs instruct), besides lifelong sensitization, your children can develop an aversion to smells like peppermint and clove. One mom reported her child said “No more feet, mommy!” which made her stop. Please listen and stop hurting your own child on a sale rep’s advice. Before doing something recommended, ask is it safe, look at the sites above or send me an email! Here is a condensed page for quick reference on safety.
And what will this do to our next generation? Besides hurting the children instead of helping them, this practice also strips aromatherapy of its healing properties. By putting undiluted essential oils repeatedly on your children, or allowing medical professionals like chiropractors to do so, is there being creating a generation of children who are overly sensitized to essential oils as gentle as lavender? As an aromatherapy expert who has repeatedly seen the healing power of these oils, it’s tragic to me that so many will not be able to benefit from its effects.
So, where does this push to use undiluted oils for every type of ailment come from? You might be dismayed to know that it comes from essential oil companies who hope to sell products by making claims of every kind. In reality diluted oils are more efficacious and way more cost effective in home use, which is the point of using natural products. By saying the oils are “natural and pure” and can be used undiluted daily for health effects, these companies are selling tons of oils while actually increasing sensitization in their customers.
And as someone who has put so much time and effort into practicing safe, healing aromatherapy, this makes me very sad.
What do you think? Do you agree or disagree?
Recently, I read this story from a mother who found out what worked for her child and what didn’t–mainly with lavender essential oil. This mom realized that not all recommended oils work like they’re supposed to. She has allowed me to share her story so that it might help others, and I am thankful to be able to do so.
Here’s her experience, in her words:
“I just wanted to share with you all just how important it is to research EOs before using them, especially on children. I’m a huge researcher, but even I missed this. My 7 year old has epilepsy, and it originates in his frontal lobe so, of course, ADHD comes with the territory. It’s been difficult, so I started researching ‘EOs for ADHD.’ I only paid attention to the homemade blends that used oils that I knew were safe ‘in general’ for a child his age.
A little over a month ago, I tried a blend with Vetiver, Lavender, and an MLM blend that had just a few other oils in it that were not contraindicated for children his age. By day 3, he was like a different child, and it was not in a good way! He was wired, disrespectful, hitting his baby brother, and extremely restless. I posted here for help, and someone mentioned how children with ADHD could have opposite effects with the oils meant to calm the body. It made sense to me because he has an opposite effect with Benedryl. So I stopped using the blend and my sweetheart returned.
I still needed to figure out a way to help him to focus and not be so impulsive, though, so I tried a different blend with only 3 single oils: Cedarwood (2 drops), Frankincense (1 drop), and Lavender (2 drops). I put this in a teaspoon of unscented lotion and massage it into his back (whatever’s left on my hands I rub on his feet just b/c he likes a foot massage). I started this on Friday. By Monday (day 3), he was out of control. He even pretty much told me he hates me, and my son has NEVER said that to me a day in his life. I was keeping a behavior log, so I knew it was the oils. And the one oil both blends had in common was Lavender. So, the researcher that I am, I searched high and low until I found out why Lavender oil would change my child’s personality so much. I found this:
‘For those with epilepsy, be aware that several essential oils may trigger an epileptic seizure and these could include Lavender, Fennel and Rosemary.’
Now, I never stop at one source. I searched more and actually, the type of Lavender in question is SPIKE Lavender. Some sources credit regular Lavender as an oil that calms epilepsy. However, knowing that epilepsy presents itself in different areas of the brain, it should be expected that each situation will have different reactions. This information is enough for me to avoid ANY type of Lavender oil on or around my son permanently. It’s not safe for him. I stopped using it yesterday, but it’s still affecting him today. He is so restless, it’s unreal. However, I’m glad I know WHY he’s had such a terrible few days. And why he would tell his momma that he hates her.
I check multiple sources for good and bad. Also, once I introduce anything new to my children (natural or not) I keep a journal on their behaviors, because sometimes you just never know what’s going on and what could be causing it….This is proof that the oils are indeed strong and capable of affecting a person negatively if used incorrectly.”
And then she posted this update later:
“I just wanted to update you all on how he’s doing after I stopped using Lavender on (and around) him. The last day we used it was Tuesday. Today, he is back to my sweet little boy, and it’s obvious that he has a very clear mind now. He even told me that he feels like ‘a new boy’ and that he knows how to make better choices. He was able to complete over 2 hours of school review worksheets in an hour because he was just that focused. It’s crazy to see just how that one oil had such a negative effect on him. I know it’s not a common reaction, but it is obviously his reaction and I’m glad to have the sense enough to know that not all oils work the same for every individual.””
This is an excellent story that shows how each one of us is different. Though Lavender seems harmless and calming, it had the opposite effect in this case. It took a courageous mom to research and find out what was causing the problem, and thankfully she did. So, all mothers looking for EOs to help with your children’s behavior, take this as a serious warning to make sure to do your research first!