A Survivor’s Guide to the Essential Oil Craze

“…there’s an essential oil for that,” they say…

“People who know me, know I love America and Americans, but on the question of essential oils, I am knocked to the ground by the method of selling and exploiting these precious plant medicines and by the conflict that seems to exist within the aromatherapy world itself.
It makes me very sad.”
~ French Herbalist, Cathy Skipper (quoted from this article)

It is with great love, concern and respect for the plant kingdom that I write this post. As a Community Herbalist, I feel it is my responsibility to offer information to the community I serve. Please read this post and SHARE if you resonate with what I write.

(For the record, I do use essential oils ~ but *very, very* sparingly. For example, in one quart of herb-infused oil with melted beeswax to make salve, I would use about 10-13 drops of lavender essential oil. The reason I am posting this on essential oils, is because ~ just like everyone else ~ I am exploring right relationship with this type of herbal preparation.)

There is a deep, rich, long line of herbalist traditions on every continent of the planet.  Most of these traditions use plants in their raw form, infusing plant material in vinegars, wines, honey, milk, alcohol, and water for their healing affects on the body. Traditional herbalists use their personal experience and senses, draw on traditional lineages, and tap into folk medicine ways.  As well, many American Herbalists read empirical literature of Ecclectic & Physio-medical physicians for their understanding of plants and the human system.

Collectively, these practitioners write and speak with a balanced perspective on essential oils as they are not associated with a company nor do they typically sell essential oils themselves. That is where I draw my information from, as well as listening to my own intuition on the matter based on my relationship with plants. Considering that most of what is written about essential oils comes from the companies that create them (or representatives that sell them), I urge us all to use caution with these preparations.

I am a steward to plants. It all began when a traditional herbalist gave me a tincture to take ~ some 12 years ago ~ that helped me with arrhythmia, insomnia, and dizzy spells. This formula also gave me enough space in my life to make dietary changes and lifestyle changes to continue my healing process.  I knew that after such deep healing had occurred for me, that I wanted to steward a positive and loving relationship with plants. They helped me take the first steps to heal my heart and I am forever indebted.

My studies began with the insight and relief from that healing experience 12 years ago.  Since then, I’ve studied with some amazing herbalists in this country.  After the long road of bringing my mind, body, and spirit back into balance, I felt that I could return the favor and help people bring plants into their lives and encourage a balanced relationship with them.  (Check out the resource linked at the bottom of the page to find out what herb teacher, school, or conference is in your area).

With that said, I have been listening to what friends have been telling me about their experiences in their respective communities with essential oil representatives from big companies. More and more women are coming up to me to voice their concern over the growing hysteria around them.

Just within the past two days, two concerned women came up to me to ask me about my opinion on essential oils. They said that many in their peer groups have become evangelical in their approach to essential oils and these two women were feeling ‘hazed’ ~ to say the least ~ by representatives from different companies.

My response was:

1 – do not take them internally (unless administered or prescribed by a clinical herbalist or a licensed medical practitioner with proper training)

2 – use them topically only and diluted well in a carrier oil and/or via inhalation; use very small amounts

3 – stay away from the use of essential oils derived from endangered and threatened plants (unless you have a lineage-based relationship with that plant, meaning you are a healer from the region that plant comes from)

4 – use flower essences for mood and emotional/energetic qualities instead of essential oils (much gentler and kinder to the plant kingdom and very effective)

5 – PLEASE get to know the plants yourselves and take your time with them

6 – use essential oils that are from common and overabundant plants like lavender, rosemary, eucalyptus and peppermint

7 – do not give to your children orally and use *very* small amounts topically, diluted in a carrier oil or salve (however, when you can, use an oil infused with whole plant material which is ideal for children in regards to safety)

8 – when you are able, purchase essential oils from small-batch distributors that are not anchored in tiered marketing

9 – use essential oils at last resort or only for a very specific purpose and situation that whole plant material cannot be used (for example, I know of some herbalists who did medical relief work in a tropical environment and essential oils were key in treating some bacterial infections and issues)

10 – enjoy exploring other herbal preparations:  infusions, decoctions, infused oils (using whole plant material), teas, flower essences, tinctures, glycerites, dream pillows, sitz baths, smudge bundles, etc

The bottom line is that essential oils are extremely powerful and sacred. They traditionally were used to anoint oneself and divine objects during religious ceremony or ritual. They have a special feature in that the medicine from the volatile oils gets into the bloodstream via the olfactory system ~ which makes this preparation unique.

There is a specific time and place to use an essential oil. Jen Landry, who wrote the first article linked to below says that, “I have used essential oils in my practice and in my first aid kit, but based on these concerns I have drastically reduced their presence. I have come to the realization that an essential oil is often like ‘using a sledgehammer to crack a nut’.”

There are many ways to work with and prepare herbs. The first approach with plants needs to be the most gentle on the plant kingdom and your body. Unless you are in a critical situation that points directly to essential oil use (based on the recommendation by a trained, medical adviser), there are many other ways to take plants into your system.

The most subtle way is sitting by the plant and not disturbing it and just basking in its presence. The next is rubbing it’s leaves for scent (if it is an aromatic plant) or nibbling on a leaf or petal. The next is making a flower essence from the blossoms. The next is harvesting some and making a tea, infusion, or tincture.  And so on and so forth…

Essential oil production happens to be the most invasive form of herbal preparation that I know of. For example, to make 1 pound of rose essential oil, 5000-10,000 pounds of rose petals need to be gathered and distilled. To me that is a tragedy on the plant kingdom when maybe all someone needed to do was smell a rose or sip on some rose petal tea.  Rose petal tea is just divine, sweeten it with a little honey and experience how your mind shifts with this legendary plant ally.

It’s our responsibility to take care of our plant allies. Our relationship with them has everything to do with our humanity and our place in the web of life.  To me, restoring our humanity by tapping into our heart-ethic will make us feel good, not the exploitation of an herbal ally due to marketing schemes.

Again, the bottom line of this article is that essential oils are one of MANY kinds of herbal preparations.  They truly have their place in the spectrum of plant medicine uses and applications.  They are extremely potent and need to be used in an ethical, strategic, and skilled manner.  This blog post serves to high-light these points and deepen our exploration of working with plants.

An incomplete list of essential oils and herbs, to avoid due to threats to the species (list below is mostly summarized by common name or genus but some threats are species and/or location specific for detailed information go to Cropwatch Threatened Species list):

Rosewood oil
Amyris oil
Sandalwood oil
Thyme oil (Thymus moroderis, Thymus baetigus, Thymus zygis gracilis are threatened)
Jatamansi oil
Chaulmoogra oils
Gentian
Kenyan cedarwood oil, Himalayan cedarwood oil, Cedrus atlantica (Cedar atlas oil)
Agarwood
Greater wormwood oil
Anise scented myrtle oil, Havoso tree oil, Origanum oils (species include Origanum barygli
Origanum dictamus, Origanum vetter)
Buchu oils (Agathosma betulina, Agathosma crenulata)
Cinnamon oils

For further reading on essential oils ~

Please read this well-written and comprehensive article by Jen Landry

Herbalist Paul Berger commenting on Essential Oil Use

Friends Don’t Let Friends Drink Essential Oils

Essential Oil Safety:  Documented Side Effects

Why Are All the Articles that Suggest Ingesting Essential Oils Written by Young Living Sales Reps?

Essential Oil Safety ~ a comprehensive textbook on the subject

Essential Oil University on Facebook

Mountain Rose Herbs Hazards, Warnings, and Guidelines on essential oil use

Aromatherapy United files complaint pointed at Young Living and doTerra

Ethical Aromatherapy is a FB group discussing the safe and ethical use of essential oils

For those of you interested in herbal medicine ~

Sites, list-serves, conferences, resources, and herbalists in your area

HerbMentor.com and LearningHerbs.com

Henriette’s Herbal

Rosemary Gladstar’s Home-study Course

Susun Weed on the 7 Rivers of Healing

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140 thoughts on “A Survivor’s Guide to the Essential Oil Craze

  1. I am personally not against using essential oils sparingly, but I have seen the way eo’s are produced, how much plant material is needed to make just an ounce of product, and it’s simply not sustainable. I used to use essential oils internally, and after personal experience with my digestive tract, I will never do that again.

    I did a lot lot lot of research with different companies and I have found that the term “therapeutic grade essential oils” is a marketing phrase only. Lots of other ethical issues besides oil quality need to be met before I will purchase anymore essential oils for my practice or for myself.

    I think each person needs to check within and see what “right relationship” and “sustainability” and “safety” means to her. Developing a loving relationship with plant allies changed my entire perception around how I work with the plants to create medicine.

    I am very aware that those little bottles are so portable and handy and easy to use, but the bigger picture of both safety and sustainability made me choose to develop right relationship with the plants and work with them in safer and more intimate ways.

    Deep peace,
    Dana Tate Bailey

    • Thank you for adding your voice Dana ~ considering that you do body work and work with plants ceremonially ~ ~ ~ I really appreciate you describing your process on this topic!

  2. Thank you so much for writing this! I have been approached by a number of people who want me to be on their MLM EO teams, and I’ve had to decline.

    While I think they are good people with good intentions, I see way too much casual HEAVY use of EOs for pretty much everything, often when something much simpler like a cool compress or garden weed will do just as well.

    Recommending children take EOs internally for stomach issues is one of the grievous thing I’ve seen recommended, along with non-stop diffusing of EOs. One very popular EO blogger casually mentioned how it was “very easy to go through a bottle or two” with a certain diffuser. I cringed. EOs are powerful medicine, and should be treated as such.

    • Thank you for your comment Laurie! The use of diffusers really disturbs me as well. I’m hoping that this article will be of some use for those navigating the marketing hype around essential oils!

      • Full disclosure – I did join a local branch of an EO MLM, based on the recommendation of the organic farmer who cultivates our cropland. Within the organization, I was unable to get answers to some very basic scientific questions, other than what’s already displayed in their promotional material. Like you, I still use them, but only very sparingly. We need bacteria to survive, and if an oil blend is powerful enough to kill every bacteria sample in a lab when diffused into the room, I can well imagine what it can do the naturally occurring healthy bacteria in our bodies.

      • I agree that I find it strange that you are disturbed by the use of diffusers… that is certainly the safest way to use essential oils. And quite frankly, far less toxic than almost all candles or “plug-ins”, perfumes, etc. “Disturbed” seems to be an overstatement.

      • I am disturbed because of the amount of essential oil consumed in a diffuser. An alternative is to have an eye pillow with said herb ~ or to infuse an aromatic whole plant into an oil and rub that on the body… Again, maybe a cup of tea or tisane? It really is not that difficult to understand from a plant stewardship point of view.

      • that makes more sense.. could be helpful to clarify that point with those details as “disturbed” seemed like a harsh sentiment. Those things seems like great alternatives.

      • I will add that we had mold from a leak in our downstairs that directly affected our son’s room. We moved out of the downstairs for 3 weeks as we spent $4000 on a very specific and all-encompassing mold-remediation treatment. I have since been concerned of any rain or musty-smells that downstairs tend to have and feel confident that diffusing Thieves with its anti-mold properties that I am taking the most natural route to combatting that.
        I agree about being very careful not to diffuse unnecessarily and sparingly.

    • I have a feeling that the disturbing diffusers are the ones that you hook directly on to a bottle of oils. I have seen those, and my opinion of them is they are a clever way for the company to sell tons of oils. I believe it is over use, and potentially toxic by overdosing.
      One drop diffused in 1/4 cup of water over a 20-45 minute time period is more effective, in my opinion, and what I believe after reading and studying oils on my own.
      I am aligned with a new EO company that is promoting training, education and responsible use of the powerful healing properties of the oils.

  3. Thank you so much for this insightful article! I, too, have been approached by several people to sell and/or purchase EOs and I’ve had serious resistance to the craze of it all. The points you make here resonate deeply with me and I’m grateful you were able to put my gut reactions/intuition into words. I will be sharing this article, happily 🙂

    • Melissa ~ thank you for your feedback! I plan to update the article as I gather more thoughts and feelings on the topic. Hopefully, this post will become a resource for those struggling for clarity on the topic.

    • This is exactly how I feel. I’ve always felt there wasn’t something right here. This was a beautifully written article. It allows me to take a step back. Take a deep breath and really evaluate which direction to take our family in regards to health, healing and prevention.

      • Thanks Andie ~ more than anything ~ I wish for this article to be affirming for people in terms of what the plants have to offer us. They have SO much to offer us. And, on a spectrum of preparations from plants ~ essential oils are just one type of preparation (and the most potent) ~ so we need to use them sparingly and with a very specific purpose. If you have time, please read this article on the 7 Rivers of Healing by Susun Weed. Although not directly about essential oils, she talks about how to start with the most subtle form of medicine first and use the most invasive at last resort ~ http://www.susunweed.com/herbal_ezine/January09/healingwise.htm

  4. Thank you so much for this article! I am signed up with DoTerra, but haven’t started using their oils much yet… I am shocked when people suggest using the oils internally, or neat on the skin. There is SO MUCH of the plant in one drop, it seems ridiculous to use so much… However, lavender essential oil was the only thing I found to ease pain after I had a large 2nd degree burn last summer, and I know it is powerful. I hope to share healing with others, while also teaching respect for this very concentrated form of medicine.

    • Great Sammy ~ also get to know turmeric, elder leaf, and burdock leaf for treatment of burns. There are actually quite a few common herbs that can be used to dress burns effectively.

      • Raw honey is also amazing for burns. My husband had a run in with a hot tiller motor last spring. We started with plantain oil with a couple drops of lavender EO, and then used honey the next two days. The rate of healing was amazing.

  5. Brilliant article – well said. I do sell for a “tiered marketing” (in my case NYR Organic, the direct sales arm of Neal’s Yard Remedies) but I understand your point – *we* are an exception to the rule in my opinion.

    One critique – you say “use them topically only and in a carrier oil (or as aromatherapy)” – topical use is Aromatherapy. Aromatherapy is defined as ” the inhalation and topical application of true, authentic essential oils from aromatic plants to restore or enhance health, beauty and well-being.” — the Alliance of International Aromatherapists

  6. This saddens me to read. Unless you have devoted your whole life, traveled the world, risked your life for research on essential oils, distill the purest essential oils in the world I don’t believe you should say such negative untrue things about them.

    • With all due respect Kalie, there are more sides to the story on essential oils than a passionate diatribe by the company’s own CEO… And, I am not the only one saying this. There are many herbalists that are putting information out right now about essential oils and their proper use.

  7. Sorry totally disagree. Inhaling, topical administration and oral ingestion of Young Living oils has transformed our family over the past 3 years. My children are healthier, off all allergy meds and happier! And I want to know where my oils came from and that they are of the purest quality which is why Young Living is my choice!

    • Nova ~ it’s not about agreeing or disagreeing ~ it’s about being open to listening to the plants and the plant kingdom…having some compassion and considering a company’s affects on our herbal allies. There are no right and wrong answers. However, what I find so disturbing is the zeal in which people promote companies that produce essential oils without having a relationship with plants first. Almost all information is coming from the companies themselves ~ like a preacher from a pulpit. And, people just believe with blind faith without having an understanding of plants and human physiology on their own. Since you have had a healing experience, I encourage you to form a relationship with each plant involved in your transformation…get to know their habitat, growth cycle, region they were extracted from, and plant some in your own garden.

      • I do not know you or your life, but if you require all who use essential oil to have a “relationship” wih the plant that the oil was distilled from then you should also require that same relationship with all the things they eat, drink, and use. Without sounding sarcastic or rude do you have a “relationship” (knowledge, history, understanding of its affects on the earth in general not just on its herbal allies) with every fruit or vegetable you ingest? Do you have a “relationship” (have you gone through and done your research) with every river or stream that your water comes from, what about the cotton that your clothes are made of? What about the furnature you sit on? Now it’s easy to attack essential oil because they use more to make a small bottle but is that in comparison to other items we use more frequently and in greater quantities, even then if you’re asking everyone who uses essential oils to have almost a perfect unsterstanding of each and every oil then you must require that in all areas of your own life and of your readers without exception. All of this passion and idealism is great in theory but impossible in practice! We all do the best research we can when giving our children medicine… Not just having “blind” faith in one doctor or pharmesuitical company, or essential oil company, many do research from bloggers like yourself and that is great that you encourage the research, but I’m sorry I can’t have a relationship or know everything about each particular oil I use just as much as I don’t have a relationship with all that goes into a Tylenol or the trees I waist when I read a book nor do I know where all of my food comes from even if it is organic or from a farmers market, the knowledge to know it all is impossible! Keep encouraging good research but do not be so judgement of those who use essential oils regularly or those who have found something that works for them and their family. Thank you

      • I gather my water from a spring down the road by hand. My friend has a CSA and that’s where I get my food. I’m very much part of the local food movement. I have a beehive I keep for honey and just because they are amazing creatures and I want them to do well esp with so much CCD happening. I make my own herbal preparations. My furniture came from thrift stores – LOL 😉 I hear what you are saying… But, life and healing are all about relationships…how we create them, maintain them, part with them… By relating to things close to the source ~ as close as we can ~ our hearts and spirits begin to sing… It is a worthwhile thing in this day and age to aspire to form relationships with the living world. What else is there to do, really? All the best ~

      • I was going to stay out of this….but, madhupamaypop …u are soooooooooooooooooooooooo spot on…” Almost all information is coming from the companies themselves ~ like a preacher from a pulpit. And, people just believe with blind faith without having an understanding of plants and human physiology on their own”. Oh man have I said this a million times…Sorry to be so blunt, put minds me of Jim Jones. Young Living oils and doterra…(Same leaders) I believe went to jail? Anyway…..the agents will not listen to anything…get all defensive………not saying the oils are bad..or the agents….but, there is more than one story and more than one good oil…..Thank you for your article, spot on!

      • I was going to stay out of this….but, madhupamaypop …u are soooooooooooooooooooooooo spot on…” Almost all information is coming from the companies themselves ~ like a preacher from a pulpit. And, people just believe with blind faith without having an understanding of plants and human physiology on their own”. Oh man have I said this a million times…Sorry to be so blunt, but reminds me of Jim Jones…follow like sheep…
        Young Living oils and doterra…(Same leaders) I believe went to jail..then went with doterra? Anyway…..the agents will not listen to anything…get all defensive………not saying the oils are bad..or the agents….but, there is more than one story and more than one good oil…..Thank you for your article, spot on!

      • I love this article, as well. It spoke to me. We most definitely should have a relationship with the things that we use. That is what is wrong with so many things about our society. Your responses are eloquent and kind. Thank you for your wisdom.

  8. I’m with Nova…my husband and I have had such wonderful transformation of our health using Young Living oils and products. Amazing! My GERD is healed! I suffered for years with it as a result of antibiotic treatments for sinus infections destroying my stomach flora and taking Nsaids for pain relief. I also have gone 7 months now without a sinus infection or serious allergy issue (when typically would have had at least 2 severe SI’s in that time. My husband and I both have not had a Claritin or any other pharmaceutical for our allergies in over a year now! I diffuse oils daily and sometimes all night in our room. It helps with sleeping and my husband no longer snores when using the oils! I awake feeling refreshed and breathing is rarely congested. Our faith in God and believing He created the plants on the 3rd day…he knew we would need them for healing and anointing. James 5:14 says: “Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord.” Oils are referenced in the bible hundreds of times. The book “Healing oils of the Bible” by Dr. David Stewart is an awesome book to read, as well as his book “Chemistry of Essential Oils”. Don’t get me wrong…we love our herb teas and drink them often…and sometimes with a drop of essential oil. I also used all natural products, herbs, herbal teas, etc. for my GERD and they helped to some degree, but I still had to take pharmaceuticals for the symptoms. The oils are just more potent and very healing for us. And…yes, with the oils you need to follow instructions and we too believe in using a carrier oil along with most of the EO’s. A person should also buy only from a reputable company, and for my family it’s Young Living. And really, what does it matter if it is a MLM company…if the oils do help you…and they do! We would much rather have our purchase help a friend that is a rep for a company like YL, than to line the pockets of the pharmaceutical companies that could care less about us or our family. Young Living is a company that would rather bless thousands of individuals/reps with commissions/bonuses/free oils than to put all that money into paid advertisements. Word of mouth and testimonials of better health and healing is worth its weight in gold to a lot of folks. We choose the brand of Young Living because of the research we’ve done and found that they have a rigid level of high quality standards when it comes to processing their oils, as well as their marketing programs. They hold each rep to high levels of ethical behavior and those that don’t have it are no longer distributors. Personally, we like the “oil craze” – because we are seeing much happier and healthier friends and family. Oils were the first medicine here on earth…and is so written in one of the oldest history books. Oils are a very necessary thing in a very toxic world we live in and because of that, I’m glad they are making a comeback. 🙂 I smile, because even my 80 year old dad uses them daily and his health has vastly improved. We have the right to choose our healthcare and the freedom to choose. The oils are a gift from God and to Him be the glory. Thank you for allowing me to share my feelings. God bless.

    • Kim B, What you have been told about ‘oils’ and the Bible are lies. There were no essential oils in Bible times. There was no technology for it. The ‘oils’ referenced in the Bible are infused oils, meaning the whole herb soaked in a vegetable oil for a period of time. Aromatherapy was not(could not be) used in Biblical times, but herbalism was.

      • The Hebrews used frankincense essential oil in their anointing oil. Yes, many of the Biblical references to plants are to herbs, but there is ample reason to believe many of them were to essential oils. The ancient Egyptians had the technology to distill essential oils, and this pre-dates much of the Bible.

      • I was referred to this article by my cousin because I have been looking into using EO’s. The article was a nice counter-opinion to the articles I have already found praising the benefits of EO use. I found Kim B’s comment to be a nice testimonial of the pro’s, and while it was written with a Christian undertone – who cares? She was touting the benefits that she and her loved ones have experienced, and it just happens to be that she uses a particular brand from a company that participates in the MLM business model. (which, by the way, is just a public form of what happens in the corporate world, anyway….do you not think that internal sales managers get bonuses for selling to as many stores as they can?) With that said, madhupamaypop – your comment to her was quite rude. Your sarcasm and disrespect negated any and all of the intellectual comments you had made thus far. Speaking your mind doesn’t need to be mean-spirited.

      • I mis-typed….I meant to say that your comment to Kim B. “THREATENED to negate the intellectual comments you have made thus far” – not that it HAD.

  9. clearly your opinions and perceptions of what u need to do are right for you. i don’t think that any person is qualified to be telling someone else what to do and what is right for them. neither are you. I’m not judging you for your options and your stands however i don’t agree you telling other people that they should feel this way because of your fear based approach. I wonder if you were ever sick or experience any serious disease. let me tell you oils have saved my life and i have no desire to talk anyone into buying anything or talking them into any kind of what you consider MLM schemes. I do however want to offer a better alternative to people who r interested in it. if you want to help people maybe phraze stuff as your opinion and your experience but don’t be making generalized claims. u r doing more harm then good and really u r just imposing your beliefs on other people. if u r into helping people that is not what i call helping. u r just projecting your stuff. anyone of us can find proof about what we believe. so i’m sorry weather someone sells the oils or not is not what is important. what is important is to help people to learn how to listen to what’s right for them and offering alternatives. not to impose your limiting beliefs.

    • Erika ~ If I write something as a blog post, I am expressing my opinion. That is clear and apparent with anything written by any author. And, I also drew from other respected Community and Clinical Herbalists on the topic. It is up to each individual to create their own relationship and understanding and I surely won’t hold back my opinion. So now, the information is out there and people can use their own senses, intuition, instincts and reasoning to navigate their opinions. For the record, there is a difference in ‘fear-based approach’ and precautionary principle ~ http://environmentalcommons.org/precaution.html. I have noticed in many comments in this thread that people are using buzz-words such as “fear-based approach” and “negative.” I’m not sure where that is coming from…because my article stems from my deep love and reverence for plants and people ~ and encouraging a balanced approach to how people utilize and form relationships with members of the plant kingdom.

  10. Thank you for posting this. I’ve grown very allergic to EO’s after a bad run-in with Poison Ivy a few years back. Since have been shocked at the abundance of mis-guided information out there.

  11. IF our intestinal flora were being killed off, we would not be digesting well. Stomach ache, diharrea, constopation, etc, much like following antibiotics.
    This article sounds as if written by a Bach flower essence person.

    • J ~ did you read the article and visit the links? If not, please do b/c your statement suggests that you have not read them. And, I wish I were a Back flower essence person ~ that would be fun. I do make my own flower essences, though…and really love the process and relationship I am able to form with the plant. Here is a great video on how to make them yourself ~ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q6NYNgcfXNU

  12. I’m sorry you feel this way. Essential oils from YL have changed our lives in the best possible way. You must not be aware of the reforestation of rosewood trees in Peru that Young Living is spearheading. You must not know of the schools that have been built at our farm in Ecuador for the community and employees of the farm who are now employed with sustainable wages and get healthy meals as part of their employment. You must not be aware that the employees are told to have happy hearts while they are harvesting the farm trees and plants to assure the best possible energy as they touch our plants. You are surely not aware of the changes these oils have made in countless lives like one boy in my organization who takes oils internally and neat, who began to speak for the first time in years. Or the boy who was about to be institutionalized at 11 years old because he was violent, vaccine injured and a danger to the family. It was only after the family reached out for prayers that I offered a calming oil to help their stressful situation. Long story short, the boy was never institutionalized because the oils relieved the turmoil within this family.

    I’m not sure what you have against so many people being able assist others in health and wellness while bringing in monetary commissions into their family through this network marketing. Do you only live off the land and never shop in a grocery store or home improvement store? Those are larger distributors of products. YL and other network marketing companies help bring a product to the consumer in a similar way. Your fear mongering of these companies is unfortunate. So many people have benefited from them in so many ways. I see it every single day and have for the last 8 years.

    By the way, I introduced a pediatrician to these oils years ago and she now sells them in her office and recommends them for a variety of ailments. There are numerous studies from U.S. universities with researchers who use the oils to treat cancer. Dr. H.K. Lin from the University of Oklahoma is one who has published studies on Young Living frankincense and bladder cancer cell lines producing apoptosis of the cancer.

    If you think all the MLM’s are dangerous, why would a large university use Young Living’s oils in a cancer study? Your article boggles my mind!

    • If you read the article, you will see that I am not against essential oils. I am simply encouraging right relationship AS WELL as a balanced approach to the various forms of herbal preparations => essential oils being just one of the many possibilities (and one that is being WAY over-marketed). There are plenty of studies about plants in general ~ from teas, tinctures, food stuffs to essential oils. The bottom line is, knowing which preparation to utilize at any given moment is key in one’s work with plants.

      • Feel free to delete anyone who opposes your view. It just solidifies that you choose to dismiss and diminish the healing others have had with oils that are not of your choosing. Also, the facts that I cited in my first post regarding reforestation, employment for those in 3rd world countries, and income for those in MLM’s is something I guess you want to ignore and belittle. Young Living is more than a fad. 20 years as a company with 9 farms around the world is not a fad. But good luck with dealing with only those who praise your words.

      • Francesco ~ considering that my background is not only in herbal medicine, but also in working with the environmentalist movement, at-risk communities, and in the realm of social justice, I did not just skip over that part. I have never read an article outside of the YL or DoTerra community (or even film or documentary) that covers its worthy endeavors. I am well-versed in mission and vision-driven organizations. I’m also aware of mission-driven businesses and their efforts. My life has been dedicated to communities and the environment for years. But this blog post is not about that. It’s about the impact large companies are having on the plant kingdom…and the reckless abandon in which essential oils are being sold and sprinkled on and in everything without much thought and consideration. It’s the responses I get back from people like you ~ which are so inflamed and intense ~ that confirm my suspicion that something strange is going on with this cohort of people. Again, the reason for my deleting anything on this blog is ONLY IF YL and DoTerra reps begin flaunting their brand all over the blog post I wrote. This is not a time for marketing or branding ~ this is a time to be constructive, critical, and compassionate. I really wish that some small-batch producers of essential oils would chime in. It would be interesting to reflect on what they had to say.

      • I think you are doing a great job standing strong and doing so in a thoughtful way. One of the things that I simply can’t wrap my mind around is how cult-ish some of these organizations are. If it was really about sharing knowledge and healing then those healing would say “xyz” blend is comprised of these herbs and this is why they work” and truly educate. Instead I usually see comments that are more like “Oh if you have these issues PM me and I can tell you which oils to buy from me.” That doesn’t sound like advocates of health but simply trying to corner a possible customer. If the products are so great they will sell themselves so there is no need to be secretive. Seriously anytime someone mentions using restraint these days they are villainized and I don’t know why people are on the war path when you are simply advocating for more educated use and to use caution and balance.

      • Thank your thoughtful response. And yes, it does seem that there is some kind of knee-jerk reaction to stewardship of something (or, as you say, restraint)…

      • I, also, find the territorial attitude of some of these EO rep’s to be irritating. I personally feel that if we are all part of a sub-culture that is interested in learning the most we can about a potential positive addition to our families, then we should SHARE the information we learn either by way of personal experience or through others. I have found that unless you are in someone’s “downline” you are excluded from being a part of their “private group”.

  13. I am a real estate agent and breast cancer survivor (using all natural therapies- no chemo, drugs or radiation) and used the essential oils as part of my therapy and help me pull out into the clear… cancer free and most cost effective compared to other protocols I have used and definately most enjoyable part of my healing and most bonding part of my healing… While your article refers to essential oils in general I agree with you as far as caution especially if you dont know where there come from or preparation…. In my case I would only use Young Living and my looks of it your article while not meant too and based on the comments on this thread is working more against you then for what your intent of the article is supposed to be. I went to Young Living Farm in Utah and Convention because I do my homework when it comes to my health and got even more sold on Young Living and the care they put in preparing the oils and the care they put in reforestation…. just a fraction of how they contribute to the enviironment and world….having said that and based on my research and knowledge your article has lots of inaccuracies and doesn’t relate to Young Living oils and makes your credibility look bad.

    • Congratulations on your recovery Doris ~ thank you for sharing. I feel that people who read the article can come to their own conclusions on what feels right to them.

    • Did you go to the frankincense farm too? Or how about the bergamot flower farm? One field of lavender does not make a company credible or honest. If you did your homework – you would never have written this post because you could not be singing the praises of this company. Helping the environment? They are destroying the rainforest with their monoculture projects!!

  14. I am sorry you are being attacked by YL zealots and I am DEEPLY grateful to you for writing this even though you had to know you were going to be vociferously disagreed with by misinformed people. ❤

    • Thanks Artemisia ~ some of the comments have been quite intense and I appreciate your support… There have been almost 10,000 views in the past 2 days…so I’m pleased to know that the message is getting out there at least!

  15. I agree with you on *over the counter essential oils*, but I have shared and experienced so much healing with doTERRA essential oils…too much to type on this page. They are a beautiful part of my healing tool bag. I have researched and tried many oils and these are what resonated with my Spirit! I felt their power and yes they are powerful, so we proceed gently and with grace in using them. They are not the end all tool as there always has to be a balance with all things, not matter what method of healing you choose. BUT I also think we should also be balanced in our opinions, representations, and blogs too. 🙂 doTERRA provides the education and science behind their oils(from the chemists and experts in the field)and we must listen to our inner wisdom when we are drawn to something from nature so strongly. I first and foremost share with people that being quiet and still is number one, then pure diet and lifestyle is number two, then yes when I need an alternative to help with a struggle or challenge in my being or life, I many times reach for my oils instead of meds and use them accordingly. I am just fine with taking some of these internally(only doterra), using them on my skin, and aromatically when needed. I have never felt better in my 51 years of life! 🙂 Of course using any precautions necessary when doing so, once again…balance!! I am forever grateful for this amazing company that is sharing with so many around the world and helping those less fortunate and without access to meds and aiding them in healing, and yes providing jobs in growing/harvesting things like Vetiver in Haiti and providing clean sustainable water sources(the list goes on) …we have a gal over in Haiti right now through our healing hands foundation helping the sick…it is truly beautiful to experience…we are also working hand and hand with the traditional medical world in many cases with doctors, nurses etc and that too has brought miraculous results….it is exactly what needs to happen with all alternative methods and traditional…working hand in hand!!! It is time for all of this so again balance in our opinions and sharing as so many are being healed with these oils!! God bless 🙂

    • And now enter DoTerra. I am beginning to feel that my blog post has been officially co-opted by the essential oil industry. I am considering deleting any post from someone who also mentions the brand they represent. It would be preferable to have people talk about essential oils that are trained herbalists and are not invested in a company.

      • I haven’t decided yet… But, if it gets too out of hand ~ I may just do that b/c I don’t want the comments section to become a battle between DoTerra and YL reps.

      • Actually, go ahead and remove. I posted with genuineness , kindness and the truth of my soul and what resonates with me(doterra or not), thanks so much and happy healing!!!

      • PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE do yourself – and your readers – the courtesy of deleting the obvious company shill comments posted here. They have nothing of genuine value to add to the conversation and you really should not allow your blog to be utilized as yet another avenue for brand promotion and direct marketing schemes. I think that I speak for everyone when I say that we are all sick to death of being non-stop marketed to by the legion of company reps posing on the internet as hopelessly devoted brand-loyalists.

        Thanks in advance,
        Amanda

      • I hear you Amanda… That is my intuition as well… If others feel the same, I will surely take them down.

  16. I feel that this article could have nearly come straight out of my mouth. Thank you for writing it. I, too, consider myself a Community Herbalist (although I could use the term Clinical Herbalist as well) and love to hear others use the term. In that role I feel compelled to share knowledge of herbs so that people can reconnect with them in their day to day lives in simple and sustainable ways. I know that some may feel I am anti-EO but in fact I am not. I think there is a time and place for everything but many treat EO as a silver bullet not understanding the true risks or side-effects. I cringe when marketing types talk of how essential oil is the “blood” of the plant and the only part that heals. Really!? I also thought of chlorophyll as the blood of the plant since it is essential in some amount for plants to live. 🙂 And does that mean that the hundreds and hundreds of herbs that do not contain essential oils have no “blood” and do not heal? I strongly encourage people to buy the book Essential Oil Safety by Tisserand and Young (not the same Young as YL Oils). It has a wealth of information. It is a bit pricey but your family’s health is worth it. Personally I fear the years to come when people begin to have health issues because of excessive use of EO. Their friend that sold them the oil will have moved on to something else and they will be left not understanding why their health is in the state that it is. Whole herbs for whole people. 🙂

    • re – “Personally I fear the years to come when people begin to have health issues because of excessive use of EO.

      Their friend that sold them the oil will have moved on to something else and they will be left not understanding why their health is in the state that it is. ”

      —-
      kate,

      sounds like inappropriate or excess use
      could be a lot like pharma meds that suppress the symptom without healing the underlying issue

  17. Lindsay, I agree with you wholeheartedly about the EO craze of late. While they do have their place and their uses, I believe the “boom” in EOs is a result of just another faddish multilevel marketing scheme (MLM). Most of their sales force is ignorant about the product and only parrot what the company says. I recently attended what was billed as a “learning workshop on essential oils” and what turned out to be a DoTerra sales pitch. I went with a friend who, though she is not an herbalist per se, knows a great deal about healing plants & herbs, and she asked some pointed questions of the consultant. It was clear the consultant didn’t know what she was talking about…she encouraged internal use and “neat” use of the oils (w/o a carrier). We were both furious that this “workshop” was misleading for a sales pitch. I researched DoTerra later, and found out it was a splinter business from Young Living. Basically, it is another MLM business born out of a feud between brothers.

    The YL and DoTerra folks ALWAYS have the same MO to their posts on any forum I’ve visited on EOs (LOTS). Here’s how they post: They or family member had catastrophic illness/health issue, used some EOs, and voila, they’re cured, and it’s was all the EOs and now that’s all they do, and it will work for YOU, too, blah, blah, blah. Nevermind that it could’ve been a combination of things that “cured” their ailment, but that’s beside the point. They are brainwashed. And I don’t appreciate them trying to pass themselves off as “experts” or “herbalists” because they are not. Bottom line: they are salespeople, trained to make a sale. They may seem like they want to help your problem (and I believe some of them genuinely DO want to help), but bless ’em, they truly don’t know how.

    Here is what I don’t understand: so many people are completely willing to put their health in the hands of rank amateurs, based on their “miraculous” experience with EOs. EOs are highly volatile and must be used with extreme caution and utmost respect. The DoTerra rep was encouraging people to put 11 drops of lemon EO in a glass of water vs. lemon juice, because if juice is good, then that much more of it in a concentrated form must be that much better, RIGHT???? My friend and I wanted to walk out right then, but the door was blocked…anyway, someone else at this event brought up questions about contraindications for certain oils if you were on certain prescription meds, and the rep just blinked a few times, didn’t answer, and passed around another oiI. She was a smooth talker and a great salesperson. 🙂

    I respect the plants that we have on the Earth to use to our benefit, but I am going to
    research ANYTHING that I ingest or put on my body, and with regard to EOs, that includes a talk with an experienced herbalist, holistic pharmacist, or aromatherapist that I trust…NOT someone whose primary objective is to sell a product and only knows what the company says. There are respected, truthful, knowledgeable suppliers out there. I do believe in the healing properties of these oils, but would rather be cautious in my approach, vs. “here, rub this on your skin! Doesn’t it smell great! Add this to some water! It’s great for you!”

    On a side note and off-topic, I ABHOR MLM businesses, because they prey on people and give them false hope that they can start & run their own successful business. Unfortunately, the majority end up losing mucho $ in the process (not to mention friends & family). Thanks for doing your best to educate people and bringing attention to the subject; your words are very wise.

    • Wow. I really appreciate your feedback, Amy. Yes, I feel that we modern people can get really swept away by new and faddish things. What I do like in all of this is the enthusiasm for plant medicine and people considering that they can take charge of their health. What I don’t like is the almost pre-adolescent intensity at which people are approaching plants. There’s a lot of blind-spots and a lot of manipulation happening around essential oils. You’ve done a lot of good research ~ thank you for sharing!

      With that said, when I began my herbal training back in 2004 or so, I’m glad that I started learning from traditional herbalists. Since everything was new to me, I was rather vulnerable to all the information swirling out there. By studying with a couple herbalists in California, they set me on a balanced path with plants. Since then, my world has been opened to an entire, decentralized world of herbalists and teachers that work with plants. The interesting thing about this community is that even though we are scattered across the US and not in alliance to anything in particular, our approach and relationship with plants are very similar.

  18. I have been using EO off and on for various things over the last 15 years, before the EO craze blew up, and I have to say that the fervor and zeal with which these are being pushed today is very scary. I feel that there are merits to the use of EO, but people really must educate themselves and not many people take the time to do that these days, since we are an instant gratification society. I also worry about the impact on the environment that the demand of EO will bring. I think your blog was spot on. Full disclosure: I do own some of the aforementioned product and I used to be a part of a MLM company which did not sell EO.

  19. I am a large proponent of essentials (no brand in particular) and have been amazed at some of the positive healing effects they have had, such as watching a bug bite disappear before my eyes with a bit of lavender oil. That said, I am new to this venture and know very little about the plant kingdom. I feel like those who are so quick to judge you didn’t read the article closely and are being reactionary and protective, as though you are saying eo’s are an awful thing and don’t work. I have had some of the concerns myself that you mention. Essential oils are a product of plants used to heal themselves when they are in need of it. When we harvest plants in abundance to take these precious oils, we are potentially throwing the plant kingdom out of balance, depending on how sustainable that particular species is. Of course with the hype and sudden popularity of EO’s, the demand may exceed the supply, which is a sad thing. I love my EO’s, but will begin looking into when it is appropriate to use them and what remedies may be a better alternative. Thanks for helping enlighten me, and sorry for the strong feedback you’re receiving. Bias is a powerful thing. More powerful than open mindedness much of the time, unfortunately. 🙂

    • Hi there Jen S ~ thanks so much for your thoughtful feedback. And, you wonderfully articulated the essence of my blog post… Thank you for hearing me… And enjoy your journeying into the plant kingdom! There is so much to learn, delight in, grow, protect, and nourish… And, it has been an interesting experience putting myself “out there” this way on (apparently) a loaded topic. I have learned a lot in the process and will continue to deepen my understanding.

  20. Thank you for this. I’ve had a child have seizures to “safe” oils. You know what mlm reps say when they hear that? “Well, it’s because X brand is the only pure one.” Fools.

    • I have read so many scary stories like yours, Chicken Little. I’m sorry you & your child had to go through that! More proof that the MLM reps have no clue as to the potencies/purpose of “their” product. Blame the “inferiority” of the oil (no doubt a competitor’s). And as Dana Bailey pointed out in the first post, there is no such thing as “therapeutic grade;” that’s an MLM invention to make it sound good to people who don’t know better. All the more reason for people to dig deeper, do some reading, and consult some REAL experts.

  21. Disrespectful to the company that saved my life..how can u slam such an amazing company and post a picture of thier oils on the top of your page.. I am sickened.. go to smaller distilleries..what! I dont trust anyone but yl.. I take them internally, diffuse and topical. .4 years ago I had no immune system..these oils saved me.. believe what u want but I guarantee u will choose yl if ur life depended in it.. I think I need some digize to get over the emotional distress you just put my tummy thru.. and maybe some forgiveness oil to move past your stupidity.. to my fellow yl family.. we have the best oils in the world!

    • …always concerning when someone can point to a “company” for saving their lives and not the plants themselves. Please, I urge you to get to know the plants and work with them directly. If you have taken a plant as an essential oil, one herbal elder urges us to get to know that plant ~ intimately ~ for at least one month => starting the plant from seed, growing it in the garden, buying a starter plant or propagating it from someone else’s plant if possible, visiting it in the forest, buying it dried, sipping on it, nibbling on it, relating to it… And, the comment about “forgiveness oil” ~ how about just practicing forgiveness from our bad-ass, radiant hearts that we were born with? It’s true ~ sometimes conditions are severe with the heart (its wounds and bruises, its grief and despair), and we need an herbal ally to move us through or augment heart function… But, your comment does not reveal a situation where an herbal ally needs to be leaned upon for support.

      • OMG, I heart you!!!!

        I love natural methods to healing. They are my preference and I start with food… let food be they medicine, and all. And I also completely agree that one should utilize the least invasive treatment that is effective. (Usually most cost effective as well.)

        In my case, I am a hot mess and require more hard core treatment than most. I have been slowly deteriorating over the last 20+ years due to undiagnosed Lyme disease. That stuff is brutal! Even an expert who was a part of a group touting Tisserand’s praises (he was a part of our oils group but I left because of the negativity directed toward and coming from both YL and DT reps) sent me a PM indicating that on rare occasion internal use is justified and needed… but RARE, along with a treatment protocol that my body isn’t even yet ready for (I listen to my body). She did not put it out there for all to see because of the blind misuse of the oils. But why is anyone surprised by this excessive use? We see it in pharmaceuticals usage and in so many other areas. People blindly follow any self-described expert.
        (Full disclosure: I am “technically” a rep for a major line and a newer, minor but vibrationally strong line, but only because I love certain products they carry that are not all EOs.) I have used EOs here and there for years moderately, but last year they turned around a serious bout of the illness for me that had thrown me right into shingles. I was so sick I needed help to use the restroom and was confined to my bed. However, I feel as in the case of cancer patients, and their use of chemo (which kills all kinds of stuff, good and bad) and how society would never recommend it for a cold, people should realize how powerful essential oils are. They were truly helpful for me and getting me back on my feet, but now I am back to using then sparingly. I am grateful to them and I pray when I make up diluted blends and I feel what resonates with me (I can literally feel the draw or the repel when working with them and other natural tools, vitamins, supplements, etc I use to keep me going) and so thrilled that diluting a blend on the big toe of my then 8 year old daughter (who deals with autism) after 12 weeks stopped wetting the bed for good. In the first 6-8 weeks I forgot once or twice, and she wet the bed. But she has not wet the bed since the 3 month treatment and we now celebrate a year free of bed wetting. It was one drop of an already diluted blend further diluted, and these plants working together brought about her healing. I do not negate the love factor here, where nightly she was given extra love and attention, and prayer, but know the old blend treatment was an important piece of the puzzle.

        Overuse is costly in many ways. But I do feel there is a time and place they can be used responsibly. They are not the end all, but they have been extremely helpful for me and my family in certain situations. (I won’t list them all here. It isn’t necessary.)

        This blog post was nicely written. I am concerned about the heated responses you are receiving and it does lend itself to a cult-like atmosphere, which is one reason I pulled away from one of the above companies even when I saw benefit by what I chose to use. As some formulas changed, I became concerned as supplements had even more EOs added and whereas they had been very helpful to me with this disease, began to make me sick. People need to learn to pay attention, listen to their own intuition (learn to identify it), and stop getting so frickin offended. That’s really not good for your personal vibrational frequency. We all have one, and they need some fine tuning, I am thinking.

        Anyway, off to enjoy a horizontal pause. All my best to you and also my hat off to you for how graciously you are handling the comments. Goodness sakes people! Not many things make you look more ridiculous and brain-washed than comments that ooze frantic energy to defend your perspective. If it is your perspective and if it really needs to be heard, have you considered blogging yourself? Just a thought. Bye now! 🙂

  22. Hi, thanks for taking the time to write this article. I let my family use some eo because the medical studies done on them, peer reviews, third parties and such. I’m not sure if you have access to online medical journals or not as they can get pricy but I would love it if you could link some accredited studies done on this subject. Something with a little bit more lab research rather than other peoples blogs would be so great. Thanks!!!

  23. It would be very difficult to convince the person who has renewed health from using Young Living oils that they are not to be taken internally. The friend I have in mind suffered from diabetic neuropathy, pulmonary fibrosis, atrial fibrillation, and several other serious and life-threatening diseases. His doctors tried 7 different medications, 2 ablation procedures and was told his atrial fibrillation was “unfixable” and that he would have increasing heart disease. He could barely walk due to his diabetic neuropathy and was on oxygen 24/7 due to the pulmonary fibrosis. After only a few short weeks of using Young Living oils, he has dropped from 11 meds to 5, all under his doctor’s supervision, is walking, driving, no longer on oxygen and is living a fulfilling life free of heart irregularities. His family feels that they have their former father back from nearly the dead, and his day nurse has been so amazed, that she is signing up with Young Living to recommend these miraculous oils to the other patients in her care. That is just one of thousands of testimonials to the effectiveness of Young Living essential oils. I personally had a major surgical procedure cancelled after using the oils for the first time and my illness was resolved, as well as being off all prescription meds. Being a former hospital supervisor, no one could have been more skeptical than I. But I had been in such severe and increasing pain, I was willing to try the oils before going in for surgery. The results were immediate, complete and lasting…it has now been 2 1/2 years and I have never experienced any further symptoms. Several hospitals in the US have now integrated essential oils in their therapeutic regimines, including using them with children, but only Young Living, incidentally, into their protocols, including Donna Karan’s integrated health facility in New York City in conjunction with Beth Israel Hospital, among others. Perhaps you are also unaware of the years of study of using genuine essential oils medically in France. As far as sustainability, I can only assume that you are also unaware that a few years ago, Young Living learned of unscrupulous use of the Brazilian Rosewood forests by others who were illegally using the trees for use in furniture, musical instruments, flooring, etc. and chose to no longer use Rosewood essential oil in 35 of their products. Imagine the cost to any company to reformulate and repackage 35 products, yet this was the choice of Young Living due to their commitment of being responsible stewards of the environment, preserving and protecting our natural resources. I have personally heard our founder and CEO state, “Always do what is right, even if it costs you money.” And finally, regarding essential oils not possibly being in the bible, I respectfully refer the readers to the terra cotta distiller on display at the Taxila Museum in Pakistan, the oldest known distiller in the world, circa 4,000 B.C. I am grateful for your being open-minded to our comments, and thank you for the opportunity to share my personal experiences with you.

    • An interesting article linked to by another commenter on this page re: ancient essential oil use:

      “ESSENTIAL OIL MYTH #5: Essential oils were used in Biblical times and even found in King Tut’s tomb.

      FACT: Of course aromatic materials were used in Biblical times for various medicinal, religious and ceremonial purposes but these materials would not have been essential oils, at least not by todays definition of being steam distilled products. This would have been impossible given that steam distillation had not yet even been discovered! Most people attribute the discovery of true steam distillation to a Persian scientist named Avicenna (Ibn Sina) in the 11th century. There was certainly no steam distillation over 2300 years earlier in King Tut’s time. Aromatic products used during these ancient times would have been of a crude solvent extracted nature using fats and pressed oils and the like and would not have been very concentrated (not to mention that extracted products yield very different chemistry than distilled products) and therefore their use cannot really be related to how we should use the steam distilled essential oils of today.”

      Source: https://m.facebook.com/EssentialOilUniversity/posts/10151564837493083

  24. Lindsay, I would like to congratulate you on the amazing way you placed your heart and your love for the plants into a blog post that is traveling the world and gaining so much passionate feedback!

    No matter what key word or phrase is posted on this page, the words can only make this blog better! *think Google search* *grin*

    If there were as much love and passion and protection around the plants that created the essential oils as there obviously is for the companies who distill from the plants, imagine what a well loved world we would have, my darling friend. And we can do that. We can inspire people to love the PLANTS.

    Trust me, I have absolutely No problem with MLM companies. I have an absolute favorite MLM company, and I use just about everything in their wellness line because they are that good. And I am a fussy, picky, critical person when it comes to what I put in my body and on my skin (as you well know). I will not be throwing stones at really great companies that produce superior products. I use them gladly.

    I hear so many stories (and some have been shared here as well) about how using essential oils internally saved someone’s life or healed someone completely, etc, and I am so happy to hear that all went well for them. When I used essential oils internally years ago (because I was told by the rep that it was completely safe), I developed serious gastrointestinal issues that took me multiple years to heal completely. Everybody’s body is different. I can only speak from my personal experience.

    However, I have to give gratitude for that experience with essential oils, because it started me on a journey of healing with our plant allies. I have developed such a love and deep connection with them, and that relationship could never have come from a bottle of essential oils. I was so happy to see you encourage people to give thanks to the plants and not the essential oils… to develop right relationship with them and to learn their growth habits… when we love the plants, we will protect their habitats so we don’t lose them.

  25. I already commented on this on facebook, but I saw a reference to the negative comments you were receiving on this post and popped on over to add my voice to those supporting you, the content here, and the spirit in which you’ve shared it. This is exactly the sort of thing that herbalists are meant to speak up on, since the plants can’t speak for themselves (well, at least not in ways that the typical modern American, disconnected from nature, can hear and understand), and since our culture is conditioned to a level of excess that often leads to serious imbalance. You’re holding a really important space here. Much love and light to you, and love and light to our plant allies–fads will come and go, but they will remain.

    • Thanks dear ~ I appreciate your reflection and your support. I really got tired of explaining the issues around essential oils when I taught classes (or when folks randomly came up to me secretly expressing their concern)…and decided to write this article to have something to point to.

  26. Your article very much resonates with me
    and has given me so much to think about.
    One thing I wish you would share is the tincture
    you were given for insomnia and dizziness. The
    dizziness is not fun and thankfully I only deal with
    it once or twice a month when I’m getting close to
    starting my monthly cycle. I don’t like it though as it’s such an unsettling feeling.

    • Michele ~ for me, the tincture was of hawthorn (leaf & flower) and passionflower (all above ground portion of the plant). I suggest breath-work, dietary changes, and relaxation exercises as well. The reason I didn’t post what I took is that I try to stay away from “this plant does that” type of mentality. Sure, plants have affinities and characteristics ~ but each of our constitutions and the source of our symptoms can be very different. The formula worked for me and the source of my ailments, is all I am saying. If things kick up for you near your cycle, maybe look into liver or lymph function ~ is there any stagnation or heat in the liver? See if there is an herbalist in your area or TCM practitioner that you can work with. Blessings to you!

  27. As a herbalist I understand why you wrote this. With that said I absolutely love my oils and they have a place and I use oils from a company that respects the plants. I will tell u they are a great options for those who aren’t going to go out and harvest and tincture themselves so with that point I don’t like the article as it my sway those away from oils and to me a oil over a prescription any day is a good day

  28. I have family members who have concerned me as they have been using EOs to the exclusion of other methods. I was gifted with some from them and added to a group that discusses them as a result. My concern is that just like the big pharma attitude of “use a pill for that” exists, instead of looking to things like diet, environment, etc., they have the attitude of “use an eo for that.” My family has used so many things like diet, EFAs, etc.for our ailments over the years. One son has been on the autism spectrum with a variety of issues and we were able to reverse them through diet and enzymes. Not an eo in sight. I also don’t like the idea that only one company in the world could possibly be the only one that makes decent EOs when there are other ethical companies out there quietly selling EOs and other herbals. I’ve had success with EOs from some of these quiet companies. I will be quite happy when this craze is over!

    • I failed to add that I have been impressed with your polite response to the many vitriolic posts.

    • Thank you for adding your voice. Yes, that is the main concern that catapulted me to write this blog ~ that many are using EO’s at the exclusion of other preparations and at the expense of the plant kingdom. And congrats on your son’s healing! Did you use the GAPS protocol (Gut and Psychology Syndrome) or something similar? Just curious…

      • No, I don’t even know if the GAPS protocol existed then. It was over 10 years ago. We used ideas from Breaking the Vicious Cycle, the book Enzymes and Autism by Karen DeFelice, and just about anything we could find from other moms on the Internet.

  29. I don’t agree but respect your OPINION. I’ve been looking for a natural way to aid my health ailments and essentials oils have been my answer. I use only doTERRA essential oils and know they are safe to take many, not all, of them internally and topically. I have never had an adverse reaction. In fact it’s the opposite. .. It has already helped heal MANY ailments I’ve had as well as friends and family. I understand we must use several things in life in moderation. I stand being the usage of doTERRA and know many and most oils on the market cannot be used internally.

  30. an awesome blog, thank you! I think it is educational to leave up the comments by the MLM proponents, as it might be educational for those who are not familiar with the rhetoric and sales pitches from these organizations. As you can see from their comments, the language, the miraculous healing stories….all eerily similar. Use your common sense people…..whether we are talking vacuum cleaners, the next miracle diet, or EOs…..if it sounds too good to be true….you know the drill! Thank you again for the thoughtful article!

    • Yes, kls ~ I’m leaving them all up ~ thanks for the feedback… I think the most effective way to use essential oils for severe health conditions is to work with a trained medical practitioner who would be knowledgeable about direct and skillful application. I don’t feel that any flashy story is needed to sell something as much as proper guidance from a skilled practitioner. Ultimately, I am not saying that they don’t have their place in terms of assisting the healing of certain severe health conditions…it’s just that that’s not what they are largely being used for. They are being used for unnecessary things many times ~ things that whole plant material would be better suited for or maybe a nice, long walk…

  31. You bring up very important points and I appreciate your perspective as an herbalist! I also greatly admire your respect, grace and composure in responding to certain comments here. I know just how emotionally draining it can be to deal with commenters that lack said respect/grace/composure and you have my empathy. Please delete comments that are rude to you in any way – you do not need to put up with straw man attacks – and don’t lose a wink of sleep over it.

    • Thanks Lauren ~ I appreciate it! I’m glad this is blog is encouraging discussion. I’m sure there is much more dialogue going on than on this comments page. Many herbalists have told me that they are going to use this blog post as an educational resource. Whatever stimulates balanced discussion, critical thinking, heart-felt ethics, and plant-lovin’ ~ I’m happy to participate…

  32. What I am observing are people ‘medicating’ themselves with oils to help with heart burn, digestive issues and so on. But what is being over looked is WHY that is happening in the first place. It is not a lack of lemon oil that is causing your heart burn or lack of ginger oil that is causing your digestive issues. So, why did it begin in the first place and what is truly going on inside your body to be sounding its fire alarm (symptoms)? Just because it is ‘natural’ doesn’t mean it is any different than taking prilosec or any other medication to rid of symptoms. If you are only focused on controlling the symptoms vs. correcting the cause, you will never heal no matter what type of ‘medication’ you are taking.

    • I understand where you are coming from but what you are missing is that essentials oils often do the “healing” you are referring to… and that’s the point. I’m not saying it’s always the answer, and it shouldn’t be void of other lifestyle changes, but from my experience and research that is why you would choose essentials oils over pharmaceuticals in the first place..

      • The point being that lack of (blank) essential oil wasn’t the cause in the first place. People are self medicating and choosing to be their own ‘doctors’ when they can’t see the whole picture of what the true cause of the illness is. The WHY behind the WHAT. You will not get heartburn simply because you aren’t taking lemon oil. You are getting heartburn from either something you are eating or lack of good bacteria in your gut. So IF lemon oil does rejuvenate the cells in the stomach but the bad habit still remains or lack of good bacteria still remains….what is the point of the lemon oil? The symptom will only be shut off and the body never actually heals. The problem still remains.

  33. As an herbalist, I would like to know your opinion on medical marijuana or CBD oil. By your logic, you wouldn’t encourage people to smoke or eat (i.e. ingest internally) marijuana to heal or prevent an ailment, right? Does that same logic also apply to CBD oil? Maybe it’s a tad off topic, but I am genuinely curious about how someone in your field would explain the difference (given the hype around medical marijuana, and it’s clear connection with being ingested internally).

  34. I greatly appreciate your contribution. Your words indicate a profound love and respect for nature, and bring forward what is much needed in the sacred arts of healing; consciousness awakening or awakening consciousness.

    Unfortunately, many people using essential oils are looking for a magic trick, a quick fix to their health problems. Who can blame them? After all they have been programmed to seek solutions outside of themselves, feel justified to do so, and do what they do best; unconsciously consume everything and anything in hopes of feeling better.

    This phenomenon is not new as we can recall the traveling snake oil salesmen selling “hope in a bottle”. People need to believe in miracle cures, no matter the consequences. Because of that, there will always be magicians selling magic tricks to the masses. These people always have an interesting story to tell about someone who has healed using snake oil, but in the end they are more interested in making money than learning about the sacred arts of healing. It’s very unfortunate to see how these people have hijacked this blog post for self-promotion, but I guess it has the advantage of revealing how these oil companies function; including the level of consciousness of their representatives. It is clear they didn’t get your intervention.

    Looking towards the plant kingdom for a solution to illnesses is not a bad idea per se, however it does not get at the root cause of disease, no pun intended. The root cause is what sick people should try to finding, and why this new “essential oil craze” is so dist-HERB-bing. If more and more people turn their attention towards using essential oils without proper etiquette, then we’ll be facing more abusive practices in both the usage of, and production of essential oils. Let’s face it, we’ve been pushed into the “more is better” mentality that has created disastrous consequences at so many levels, including our physical, emotional, and spiritual healths. Never mind the state of our environment!

    As strange as it may seem plants are conscious beings who understand what is making humans sick. They have enough in them to help in the healing process, but they do so in their own terms. In other words, what we believe is happening in the healing process is not exactly what they have consciously chosen to partake in. We humans can often be very arrogant when it comes to our belief systems, and this is manifested in the medical community who have barely begun to really comprehend this thing we call disease, this thing we call medicinal herbs, this thing we call consciousness, or this thing we call respect and love for ourselves. Remembrance though consciousness awakening will reveal many important things that will change everything we have mislearned to believe.

    Perhaps one last thing needs to be addressed here if we are going to better use and respect the plant kingdom, and especially essential oils, in the healing process. I myself make essential oils by steam distillation of wild medicinal plant materials that I harvest locally. What you said about getting to know the plant environment was very wise in so many ways that it’s almost impossible to fully appreciate the meaning. When I am out there I see, smell, feel, touch, and cognate the entire plant universe. It shares space and time with all the insects, animals, plants, soil and water elements living under the stars. My being there is a healing process in itself, and I have learned so many important things regarding the sacred arts of healing that most people will never get by simply buying oils from the shop or over the Internet.

    When I harvest plant material I can’t help but see the sacredness in everything. It’s with deep respect and gratitude that I sparingly collect a few branches or leaves here and there as to not damage the plant’s capacity to continue to thrive. I always spend time apologizing for disturbing the herb, and giving it thanks on behalf of the people who will eventually be using it for healing.

    And because everything I do when I make essential oils is done with great awareness, I know that it is very unlikely that such an endeavour, when done properly, can be lucrative. It takes many hours to find, collect, and prepare the plant material, and many more hours to distill if done properly. In the end, large quantities of plant material are needed to produce very small amounts of oils. My time alone does not justify selling essential oils on in the current market. This is why I suspect some major compromises must have occurred for large oil companies to be profitable, especially when they function under a system that also brings in money for middlemen/distributors. These companies tell a good story when they talk about replanting trees or building schools for the local indigenous children, but one day we’ll certainly get to see the darker side as has occurred for large scale forestry operations, or even the manufacturing of electronic goods such as I-phones and I-Pads.

    By making essential oils with deep respect for nature and the plant kingdom (i.e. no ethical or spiritual compromises) I find that they must first be diluted in a carrier oil to possibly reach economic sustainability. Having said that, for every ounce of essential oil several gallons of hydrosol are produced. It would go a long way in helping to fix the errors of this craze if we could manage to introduce hydrosols in the healing space that occupy essential oils.

    Peace, love, and light.

    • Oh Robin ~ thank you for your thoughtful response. I was hoping a small-batch essential oil maker would add their voice. And, I agree with your comment about the introduction of hydrosols. I am actually working with someone here locally in MS to do just that. He is very attuned to the plant realm and listening to them for guidance.

  35. Thank you for sharing this post with all of us! I am a new Herbalist, still learning everyday and while I do use essential oils in salves or oils or insect repellents I PREFER to use a plant in its most natural form. Meaning taking that fresh plant and infusing it to drink or tincturing it to preserve or in oils to use in salves and lotions. As herbalist we are trying to get away, far away from Western Medicine and drugs with terrible side effects, drugs that were originally created from plants but changed with chemicals and fillers and things we don’t need. To me, while I know essential oils are good for topical issues, it is again something that was taken from nature and placed in a lab to be made stronger and as you, Madhupamaypop mentioned sometimes you just need to smell that rose to feel better rather than one drop of something that took hundreds of roses to make. May I reblog this on my blog?

  36. Sure thing ~ feel free to reblog if you wish! Yes, I find that Western Herbalists have a spectrum of potential herbal preparations to draw from…knowing which one at what time is the art & craft of herbalism. Herbalism is a wonderful life-long journey… Be well!

  37. Reblogged this on Bella Vista Farm and commented:
    After recently having a class on aromatherapy at our Herbal weekend, I thought this post was fitting especially with all the info, good and bad out there. GREAT POST!!! Enjoy – and please comment if you’d like. 🙂
    Anne-Marie

  38. Excellent. Sharing and pinning. Thanks for your warnings. I think these things need to be said frequently.

  39. Pingback: The Disturbing Truth About Essential Oils | Botanical Coach

  40. I, too, have had grave concerns that EOs are on the shelves with little knowledge of their potency for the buyer and the sellers, alike. Having worked with EOs for decades, now, and my training having been with many including PhD chemists whose sole focus was aromatherapy, I understand the concerns. Sustainability is a very big issue, given the vast quantities of industrial grade and ‘pure and natural’ or ‘therapeutic’ grade being thrown about. I feel fortunate to have known early on that ‘genuine and authentic’ grade is all I wanted to use. What I can say, is that internal use ought only to be prescribed by a trained professional aromatherapist. Most definitely, there is a use. When in India and Jordan, I would have succumbed to great sickness without cinnamon bark oil. Less is more. And as for diffusion, I have been most grateful when there has been a respiratory illness to treat etc. All in all, yes, let’s be very careful with these powerful medicines. And yes, let us always take into account the sustainability, the knowledge that they are ‘real’ EOs without adulteration and so on. I am happy for Nadine Artemis’s response on facebook and the posting of the studies. As one who had used homeopathy and herbal remedies for many years, prior, I am delighted to be with, use and offer up these jewels of life and with reverence for the plants, the land, the distillers, the farmers, the chemists, the parfum-ers and to all those who have come before us through the centuries with their vats and their bottles and their rosewaters. Smell the rose..yes I do, but one drop on the chest of a grieving client and the shift is palpable. Blessings and thank you all.

  41. I appreciate the points in your article, as I want to learn more about herbal medicine and related treatments. The intro in particular was especially intriguing as you mentioned a practitioner who made you a tincture to address palpitations, dizziness and sleeplessness. My husband has what seems are identical symptoms which doctors keep dismissing as possible stress. Can you share what was in the tincture so that I can research it further?

    Thanks so much!

    • Hi there Nicole ~ the tincture was passionflower and hawthorn. Also, look into MTHFR ~ a genetic mutation ~ you can get blood work done by a medical practitioner or do saliva swab via 23andme (http://geneticgenie.org/). Along with the tincture, later came dietary changes, meditation and yoga…and emotional awareness… Blessings to your healing journey!

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  45. I am currently studying for my certification as an aroma therapist & bodywork practitioner. When I first started researching essential oils on the internet I found so much contradictory information and was uninformed about purchasing EO’s. Not so now, I learned quickly. I see the craze too and understand the concern.
    I am very ‘disturbed’ by the MLM companies and the lack of education and safety with essential oils in general. These reps are passing on harmful usage instruction to the consumer. I am horrified at what I read. These companies will ravage the plant world in the name of profit and greed. Your article and perspective is bang on and I agree wholeheartedly. Thank you for your insight, it has also given me something to think about as I use EO’s in my practice.
    Enlightened in Ontario, Canada

  46. I began using essential oils in the early 80s. I fell in love with the oils and love the plant world.
    I thought I was going to create a small business. I taught classes, introduced people to essential oils. Unfortunately or fortunately, I retreated once the mass marketing started to take over.
    I realized back then what was happening.
    I know you said this is not about agreeing or disagreeing, it is about getting this information out. This is about getting the word out.
    There is no way production, quality and sacredness of the ‘life’ blood of these plants can be distributed in the volume the way it is being done. Think about it.

    If you think about production.. look at the growers. The crop isn’t always going to give the same yield. Like life things ebb and flow. In business with contracts, etc, these original growers couldn’t keep up with the market. Who can.. it’s not the way things work.

    The oils’ power was changed. Do you think if you are a grower and have a bad yield with so much investment you might cut corners. You might adulterate some of the oils in order to meet your production. This was the point it was reaching decades ago. I could no longer depend on the healing of the plants sacredness because it wasn’t meant to be mass produced.

    Any kind of farming knowledge will tell you this. The soil makes a huge impact on what type of properties are going to be in the plant and therefore the oil.
    How is the oil taken from the plant? It can’t be ripped out of the plant.

    The only answer is going to small growers caring for these sacred healers that we have on this planet.
    I am so relieved this information is being discussed.

    In order for us to empower ourselves – we need to have equipment, safe equipment for us to diffuse and create our own oils, or buy from small community people who know how to be with our plants. We need to know that all that is, is alive and needs to be cared for.

    • Hi there Genie ~ well said and I agree ~ working close to source and getting to know the plants or at least the farmers…is so important…scale is important too… Plants are our allies and we have a sacred relationship with them…

  47. Reblogged this on Veronica59’s Blog and commented:
    I was going to stay out of this….but, madhupamaypop …u are soooooooooooooooooooooooo spot on…” Almost all information is coming from the companies themselves ~ like a preacher from a pulpit. And, people just believe with blind faith without having an understanding of plants and human physiology on their own”.
    Oh man have I said this a million times…Sorry to be so blunt, but reminds me of Jim Jones…follow like sheep…
    Young Living oils and doterra…(Same leaders) I believe went to jail..then went with doterra? Anyway…..the agents will not listen to anything…get all defensive………not saying the oils are bad..or the agents…but, there is more than one story and more than one good oil…..Thank you for your article, spot on!

  48. Pingback: Snake Oil or Miracle Cure? What Essential Oils Can’t Do

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  50. Pingback: What to rethink about the essential oils craze - The Life Upgrade

  51. The majority of essential oils and absolutes produced are for the fragrance and flavor industry, not herbalism. There are farmers and producers of oils all over the world whose livelihood depends on these plants, and their heritage goes back as many centuries as herbalism. I respect their knowledge and passion, and I love the products they create. I also tincture, infuse, distill and enfleurage many plants to extract the scent and the healing properties.

  52. Pingback: The War in the Natural Health World

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