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Are Essential Oils Potentially Dangerous? A Look Into the World of Health Promotion

By: Jenn Moss

If you’ve seen the new documentary series titled (Un)well, you may have been educated about the other side of essential oils, the side that is hidden from society. Big essential oil companies make billions of dollars a year in this industry, claiming that their products will increase the health of the individual. But is what they are doing and promoting ethical and safe?

Unfortunately, as expressed in the series, these companies operate as multilevel marketing companies. Also referred to as a pyramid scheme, revenue is made by employing the marketing strategy of word of mouth, and recruiting others to buy the products, and persuading them to join the team as well. Then, these same people are incentivized to recruit even more people, making a commission, and the cycle continues.

So now that we know how a good number of essential oil companies do business, how do we know we can trust the product? Although we'd like to think these companies are telling the truth, there has been little to no research done by the FDA to back any health claims.

With this in mind, here are some potential risks that you may want to be aware of:

1. Safety Surrounding Ingesting Oils

Some essential oil companies claim that their product is so pure, you’re able to consume it internally. The claims are that you can add it to your food, and water, in replacement of other ingredients. For example, some claim you can use lemon essential oil in replacement of a real lemon. But be very, very cautious of this. Although essential oils have been shown to decrease anxiety, and help with certain infections, consuming the oils orally can be toxic. Additionally, you may experience severe allergic reactions. Children and those on multiple medications should be even more cautious about this.

2. Allergic Reactions

Speaking allergic reactions, introducing new products onto your skin can cause your body to react negatively in attempts to protect you. Essential oils that don’t contain any carrier levels are highly potent and should be diluted before reaching your skin. Before applying it all over your body, it is suggested to a small patch test on your skin, and taking note of any adverse reactions. If you notice that your skin is becoming dry, cracked, scaly, bumpy, or burning, it is possible that you are experiencing a reaction to the oil. Some more scary, and life threatening allergic reactions can also occur.

3. Can Trigger Asthma Attacks/Lung Related Issues

Diffusing essential oils in the air can be relaxing, but if you’re someone who struggles with Asthma, or has trouble breathing, it can produce the opposite effect. Breathing in these fumes may trigger an attack, or make it feel like you are incapable of taking in any air. On the contrary, essential oils may actually be beneficial for others to breathe, such as using peppermint oil to open up the sinuses.

When it comes to your body, it is always important to do the proper research when trying a new product. Consult with a doctor, a specialist, and do a deep dive into the essential oil company of choice. Keeping these three potential risks in mind, be smart, and don’t be fooled by a multi- level marketing company whose best interest is not in your health.