It’s been quite a rollercoaster of a day over here on my end – and – not to be completely dramatic – but it was about…essential oils.
I wrote a post last night about my 5 favorite essential oils and how I use them, and it was meant to be a light-hearted and fun introduction to essential oils, since I’m just getting started learning about them and I’ve really been enjoying them so far. Especially my essential oil diffuser – it’s been making my apartment feel like a healing sanctuary.
I sent out an email this morning with a link to the post, and I was just smiling away, ready to move onto the next task.
Little did I know (but I QUICKLY found out), essential oils are a topic of extreme controversy.
In the post, I said that sometimes I put a drop of lemon oil, peppermint oil, or oil of oregano into a glass of water and drink it. That is true. Many of my friends and wellness colleagues use a drop of peppermint oil in their water when they are having digestive issues, use a drop of an oil in a recipe, and swear by ingesting a drop of oil of oregano in a glass of water when they’re coming down with something.
The only things I’d ever heard about ingesting essential oils were positive. One person had commented to me on instagram a little while back and asked if I had any concerns with ingesting the oils, and I said, no, as long as they are the ones labeled specifically as OK for internal use by the company (not all of the oils are suitable for internal use). I had done a lot of research through the essential oils company site itself, and I trusted the information there, as many people I respect and look up to use those oils.
When I posted that blog, I got a lot of feedback immediately from people who feel very strongly that essential oils should *never* be ingested – and warnings that I was spreading dangerous information. I had never heard that before, and I was immediately taken aback by how strong the opinions were and how many responses I got at once. It’s totally cool to have strong opinions, but I was just really surprised!!! I honestly had no idea how controversial essential oils are.
When I bought the essential oils, and in all of their literature, putting a drop of essential oil (the ones that are approved for internal use) into water was one of the main remedies recommended everywhere. When these comments started coming in, I was thinking, if so many people are taking a drop of essential oil internally and feeling good, and if so many great essential oil companies are encouraging responsible internal use of essential oils (1-2 drops) in recipes…could they really be SO dangerous that I could be possibly sending people to the hospital by saying I put a drop of peppermint into my water?! I was honestly shocked, and felt scared. I almost deleted the blog immediately.
I was at a coffee shop with my friend when the comments and emails started rolling in. We had been about to leave to go get lunch, but I was so shaken up by this unexpected flurry of warnings, and I knew that thousands more people were about to open up an email from me and read the blog. I was overwhelmed with an immediate need to fix whatever was happening. I told him I had a blog emergency and I needed to go home and take care of it (I’m sure he thinks I’m a total loon). I FaceTimed my boyfriend as I walked home to tell him what was going on, and as soon as I got inside my apartment door and locked it, I burst into tears.
I cried because of 2 things.
1– I was startled. I cry sometimes when I get really startled. I’m a bit of a sensitive one. :(
2– I genuinely care — A LOT — about giving people misinformation, especially dangerous or harmful information. I don’t care if people disagree with me – I’m a blogger and I share my experience, and I don’t encourage people to take it as medical advice. Disagreeing with my opinion is fine, and I welcome a healthy debate. I know some of the things I experiment with in the health and wellness world will always be a little controversial — and that’s actually exciting to me. But I know that I’m also considered to be a health practitioner, and that does come with responsibility. If I’m actually giving out harmful information that is going to send people to the hospital…?! It made me feel sad and ashamed that I hadn’t even mentioned any words of caution in the blog.
I dried my eyes and added disclaimers like a madwoman.
I was also really bugged, because although I can be quick to jump on a bandwagon when I think something’s awesome (for instance, Bulletproof coffee or essential oils), I am also a REALLY good researcher. Not bragging, I just really do love researching, and I typically like to give a really balanced overview of what I’m writing about. I am not afraid to give the alternative viewpoint — even when it comes to something I stand to make money from. (Hey, look – 2 viewpoints – Why Wellness Experts Drink Bulletproof Coffee, and then, 3 Reasons Bulletproof Coffee is a Bad Idea) ;)
In the essential oils post, I didn’t do that.
Because I really didn’t know there was another side to the story. I should have known, there always is.
My promise for the future is this:
I will always strive to give you guys varied viewpoints on topics I share, and I will strive to give you enough information to begin formulating your OWN informed personal decision about it.
In the essential oils post, I only shared the information about the oils that I got directly from the essential oils company, and I only provided links to their site to learn more, because I thought their information was pretty extensive. I didn’t share any other information or viewpoints, so that was sloppy research on my part, and I appreciate the people who brought it to my attention.
My goal for this blog when I started it was always to give people things to QUESTION.
To give people ways to figure out what they personally believe in, and to make their OWN informed decisions.
My goal was and still is never to give people medical advice, only to share my experience with health and wellness, and the knowledge that I have learned, as something to think about. I want to encourage others to explore the information, and I have never claimed to be an expert.
That being said, I’m not just going to shut up and hide when a controversy strikes. I’m going to dig. I’m going to stand in the center of the fire and not shrink back.
Here, I am going to provide you with both sides of the equation when it comes to internally using essential oils.
Pro-internal use of essential oils (used in a minimal way, usually 1-3 drops):
This post advocating internal use and addressing this exact controversy is very well written and was sent to me by a reader (thanks, Tali!)
I received this email tonight from a reader, who said:
“I wouldn’t worry about using internally if you use doTERRA. I’m studying towards traditional Naturopathy and have been using/studying essential oils for a few years. I use the lemon, lavender and peppermint internally for my allergies and Digestzen when rubbing on my tummy just doesn’t cut it. I also do a drop of OnGuard under my tongue as well as on the bottoms of my feet when I feel something yucky coming on. The OnGuard+ capsules are “the bomb”! All my family and friends swear by them! There are a lot of people that will give you a hard time because they don’t leave themselves open to internal consumption. They work very well aromatically and topically, but sometimes it is good to do internally, as long as you use common sense. ;)
The doTERRA list showing the essential oils that are safe and unsafe for internal use
Here is what doTERRA says about internal use of essential oils.
What the Atlantic Institute for Aromatherapy says about taking oils internally
Information about essential oils being added to chocolates, desserts, and other food products
Recipes that use drops of essential oils — All of them use around 1-3 drops of an essential oil into any recipe. This one here literally says to dip a toothpick into the essential oil and then swirl it into the dip…to ME that seems ok. To me. If it does not seem ok to you, do not do it.
This site by Dr. Axe says, “Essential oils can be used as a powerful form of medicine but it should be remembered that again, essential oils are powerful. Most essential oils are safe for internal use but a little bit goes a long way. Usually 1-3 drops is plenty mixed with water.”
Articles against internal use of essential oils:
3 Reasons To Avoid Ingesting Essential Oils (nice and lively discussion in the comments section here)
Risks and Uses of Essential Oils (“they should only be taken internally in situations where they are absolutely needed and with extreme care (and under the guidance of a trained professional.”)
This site, Mountain Rose Herbs, says here, “do not take internally unless working with a qualified and expert practitioner” when referring to their ginger oil.
I honestly don’t know what the “definite truth” is about ingesting essential oils, and I will most likely continue to use the essential oils the way I have been, for now. Just because there are vastly differing viewpoints on this doesn’t mean I am going to automatically jump completely to the side of essential oils being dangerous internally across the board. I don’t know enough yet, and, we could be having the same kind of debate about anything – medical marijuana, supplements, gluten, a million topics. How do we know who to believe?
I rarely use essential oils internally anyway, so I will probably continue to experiment the way I have been – a drop internally here and there, based on what feels good for me, and based on what I learn as I continue to research. For instance, I really do feel that a drop of oregano oil in water is a game-changer when I’m starting to feel sick, and that’s so seldom that I can’t imagine it being that big of a problem. And, to be honest, it excites me to think about experimenting with one drop of cilantro or basil oil in a recipe. I am not encouraging you to do the same, though. I am developing my own opinion and would absolutely encourage you to make your own informed decision for yourself.
Just for full disclosure, I signed up for a wholesale account with the doTERRA essential oils company so I could get cheaper prices on the oils, and yes, with this account you can sell the oils too — and there are a lot of people online who are upset about the MLM aspect of their business (along with Young Living too…can anyone tell me why nobody actually mentions these companies by name in any blog posts!? Everyone says, XX company or “those 2 companies” or something like that. They are like Voldemort! ….”he who shall not be named…”) But either way, I don’t care if I never make a dollar off of selling essential oils, I would rather just give you guys an adequate view of what’s going on. I am really enjoying the oils I’ve purchased from doTERRA and I do trust them as a company so far, but I will not let my association with the company change what kind of information I share here.
Because this is such a controversial topic and I’m highly interested in it, and because most blogs I read say, “refer to a qualified aromatherapist” when it comes to essential oil safety, I am now planning to take an aromatherapy/essential oils course (maybe a certification), so if you have a specific course/workshop you recommend, ideally an in-person course that’s held in an awesome location, please let me know.
Things are getting SERIOUS!
Thanks for being here for the ride, guys. I’ll always try to get to the bottom of situations and let you know what I’m finding. I really don’t want anyone to be duped…myself included. I hate duping.
And lastly, if you do use essential oils in any way, please treat them with love and care, as if they are medicine, do your research, and use them responsibly.
And, in turn, I promise to do my best to blog responsibly… :)
Today was difficult for me as a blogger, but it woke me up and made me feel alive, and passionate, and curious. I’ve learned so much today, and hopefully other people will read this and get some insights from it.
I encourage the comments section on this blog post to be a healthy place for discussion on either side, for curiosity, findings, experiences, stories, or general inquiry about essential oils. This is not a place to attack anyone with a different viewpoint, but simply to share resources. If you have any great info to share on either side, I will approve all comments, as long as they aren’t nasty.
Tomorrow’s blog may be something a little more light-hearted… ;)
I really didn’t plan on staying up til 2am blogging again! Sigh…
One more night. One more time.
Thanks for the memories.