Trust No One: Essential Oils are NOT Always the Antidote.

Do Terra is everywhere in Australia. If you're anyway interested in the broader 'wellness' community, you'd have heard of them, and quite likely, someone you know is peddling their oils, touting them as cure alls and superior to any other oil on the market.

I have always had a healthy skepticism for such claims, whilst at the same time, totally in love with the intoxicating scents of essential oils and the power of plants to heal in all kinds of ways.

It is the marketing of essential oils and the continued deceits of big companies that rile me and compel me to research everything I might be tempted to use.

Doterra uses multi level marketing - you sell products, and recruit people to sell products so that you get a share. The scheme relies upon your own sales, as well as a percentage of the sales group you recruit. No wonder every Doterra saleswoman I meet is almost ruthless trying to get me both to buy their oils, as well trying to recruit me into becoming a seller myself. And no wonder woman on low incomes get hooked into the idea - their tiered system suggests that if you reach the level of a 'Diamond' seller, you can average 16,000 a month. Hell, I'd quit my professional teaching job for that amount of dollar. Yet, as an investigation found out, reported by Australia's 'The Project' this month, many woman were trying to make up their sales to maintain their level by paying for their own products, losing thousands in the process. You can listen to their report here.

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Image by ChristinHumePhoto on Unsplash.

It is the need to push the sale of these essential oils by sellers that have given risen to some pretty legitimate concerns. I'm first to be a little cynical about broad and sweeping statements such as 'frankencense cures cancer', and, running the group Natural Medicine here on Steemit, I'm never, ever going to resteem or upvote your post if you are making claims like that without backing it up with some serious research. This kind of misinformation is misleading and downright dangerous.

As much as I might be wary of centralised, regulatory bodies that insist on controlling access to alternative medicines, in some ways, these regulations are necessary to prevent the spread of misinformation, such as ingesting essential oils. They are incredibly potent and concentrated (did you know that 1 drop of peppermint oil is equivalent to to 26 cups of peppermint tea?) so much so that you cannot always control the dose and can experience toxicity such as kidney and liver damage. Whilst some can be safe, it's important to understand that they may not be safe for all of us, such as children, pregnant woman, the elderly or those with allergies.

Oregano oil, for example, can seem harmless and has been touted as useful for infections and safe to be taken internally, can cause skin rashes, vomiting and can irritate the eyes, or cause an allergic reaction in those that might be allergic to it and other plants such as mint, sage, or lavender. Some citrus oils can cause photosensitivity. And with the growing understanding that gut health is the most important factor in all kinds of issues, including mental health, taking essential oils internal have the potential to disrupt good gut bacteria. Sure, they have incredible potential, giving hope for an alternative to drug resistant pathogens1, to prevent spoilage in foodstuffs2 or to alleviate depresssion3 amongst many other things but caution must be exercised.

Don't get me wrong - I am absolutely the kind of person to *douse* myself in essential oils - lavender and tea tree have always, always been in my medicine cabinet. Australian's Thursday Plantation sells them fairly cheaply at the chemist. Lavender helps me sleep and calm me down, and is amazing for burns, and tea tree is great for cuts and skin infections. I swear by the effects of essential oils, such as the beautiful rose, to lift me out of a depressed mood. I use them in ritual, cleaning, and meditation, just like my ancestors likely did before me.

But I am never going to make wild claims about dosage and their ability to 'cure' without backing myself with research - and I'm not a medical practitioner, so even then, I'm going to be wary about it. And I am well aware I do so at my own risk. I would suggest anyone touting any alternative medicine as a 'cure' might want to write a disclaimer at the end of their posts, begging people to consult with a practitioner and do their own research before doing anything with such potent medicine.

'Natural' is always good for you. One person's cure is another's poison. It would be wise to keep this advice in mind next time you see a wild claim from your Instagram friend extoling the benefits of a Doterra essential oil.

Be safe. Research. Trust no one.

Further Reading

How Essential Oils Became the Cure For Our Age of Anxiety

A great article by the New Yorker. I found the language it used interesting, because it bugs me when people are dismissive of the wellness industry and dismisses them as quackpots. However, it makes an interesting point about how the wellness industry, essential oils included, relies on modern anxiety about our health.

Wellness is often dismissed as frivolity, another way for wealthy white women to spend money and obsess about their bodies. But you’re just as likely to find essential oils in a small-town drugstore in the Midwest as in an organic market in L.A., and their appeal is often less about indulgence than about anxiety.

It also digs a little deeper in the person behind 'Young Living', and validates my skepticism about big essential oils companies and the people behind them. It a reminder to always do your research into essential oil companies before buying from them.

Essential Oils and What you Need to Know about Do Terra & Young Living

Written from the perspective a naturopath, Maslen's blog post goes into the potential risks of essential oils if not used properly. She contests Do Terra's claim that taking an essential oil is the same as ingesting the herb itself. If you don't believe anything I said, read something written by a practitioner.

What essential oil companies do you use?

Do you trust claims about them or do you do your own research?

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Great post! I recently took a class by the owner of Savitur Botanicals who we get our oils from at the Apothecary. She goes around the world and ensures heirloom soil and seed and only works with farmers who have Organic farming in clean soil. She does her own gas chromatography tests and requested some from Doterra and they refused to give her any. She also explained how different strains of the herb, for example frankincense has 2 main strains and they do completely different things, and doterra just mixes all the strains together. It is a huge concern to ingest oils and she explained how to do it properly and very cautiously. For instance you can rub one drop of lavender around the edge of your cup so it isn't a full drop of oil just sitting in the water, when you rub it on the edge you are only getting flavor and some of the oil. Either way I agree it's super scary and people just believe these sellers, and when people are selling to make money and not out of a true desire to help things can get scary. Thanks for bringing this important topic to light 💜

They mix the strains?? See I always just had a bad feeling about them and trusted that, but what you say just confirms it. How good you got to take a class! There ARE a lot of good, ethical small companies I would rather trust. Thanks for commenting!

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Yes!!! They do mix them and it's super scary what happens when you pull parts of a plant away from the other parts. We all got ravaged by a tummy bug last week. Using my essential oil cleaner I make to clean everything lol!! I love our oils from Savitur. Thanks for the great post 💜

Nice article, well written, it's important that people understand the very real risks.
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Thanks so much! I appreciate your kind words!

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Unfortunately, part of my own jaded feelings towards TCM was that 100% of my clientele were the "worried well"..... very wealthy, very privileged, very educated, very white.... and very very angsty! 😉

Well, they can afford to be...they all seem to go hand in hand don't they? Did you ever feel like doing community consults for free or reduced cost, or is it that classic case of 'that doesn't pay bills?'. My naturopath always says that if she won tattslotto, she'd fund a community clinic. How cool would that be!

Well, they can afford to be...they all seem to go hand in hand don't they? Did you ever feel like doing community consults for free or reduced cost, or is it that classic case of 'that doesn't pay bills?'. My naturopath always says that if she won tattslotto, she'd fund a community clinic. How cool would that be!

It is good for a person to be skeptical of claims intended to market products, and I am glad to read this caution to folks to do so. I could not agree more.

"'Natural' is always good for you. One person's cure is another's poison."

From the context, I believe you omitted the word 'not' between is and always.

Thanks!

I occasionally use Peppermint and Lavender essential oil from Young Living, it's okay, sometimes it does help to ease the pain especially when using the Peppermint. I'm not sure how safe they are but so far so good.

I'm sorry that you feel like that about doTerra. I have been doing using doTERRA essential oils for over 3 years now and I love everything about doTERRA, especially how the oils are made and what doTERRA stands for.
I would truly not trust any essential company if it's not doTERRA because of how these products have changed my life and my whole families lives and I don't ever imagine living without these oils/products. I have not made any money with doTERRA but that doesn't stop me from sharing these awesome oils with others, because I know they work and they can help others.

I really appreciate your you sharing about the awareness about essential oils and how important it is to do your own research because the biggest miss conception about essential oils is that they are all safe and they all work, which is far, far from truth, and I have tried few of them including YoungLiving.
DoTERRA is not just some essential oil company, but it is a company that consists of biologist, scientists, physicians and researchers, and we work with many universities and all the oil batches go through rigorous testing through our company and then third party testing, making sure the product is what is says it is. That is why the company is growing so rapidly, not because we are selling products but because the product really works and that is why people are constantly buying them because they love them.

I'm glad you find them useful - that's the main thing. When you say 'we', do you work for them? I think I'll still go for small batch, local Australian companies that I really like and have done my research into. I'm never that keen on huge companies like this and the multi level marketing scheme they use. There is just too much controversy about them which has all my alarm bells ringing.

DoTerra does my head in - such honestly AVERAGE grade oils, and they are so GOOD at suckering in people who don't THINK. Loved the cartoon of the soldier. :)

A really important post. Nice one. The "Trust No One" was a weird curve ball though.


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I know, I've never been that keen on them and totally distrusted their marketing and wild claims. And if you don't like them, that's another reason to confirm they're not all that!

totally. agree!

Oh hello you!

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oh hello!

Where have you been all my (last year) life? Anyone would think you were doing cool stuff and being an instagram star or something, and building stuff.

Thanks for the heads up!
I am skeptical too and will do more of my own research before jumping on certain claims for "cure". That being said I do have my essential oils that work well for me when certain conditions arise and I make sure I have a suppy on hand! Most of them I just love to smell!