You know how whenever we write a tute here at CAGW that includes essential oils, we always tell you to do your own research and determine your own level of tolerance?
We say that because essential oils are no joke. Lots of them are great for lots of people, but if you’re sensitive to an essential oil, then inhaling it, putting it on your skin, or–heaven forbid–actually swallowing it can seriously mess. You. Up!
Don’t believe me? You will. Just check out the 2016 Atlantic Institute of Aromatherapy Injury Report. The report is a summary of individuals who have submitted claims about their adverse reactions to essential oils. Information that they have provided includes the type of essential oil, the brand, how they applied it, their symptoms, and other relevant data.
Many of the injuries consist of rashes or blisters to areas where essential oils were applied topically, while many others suffered migraines. There are, however, some very serious injuries reported. Some people reported rapid heart beat or dizziness. One woman in her thirties had delusions and was briefly held in a psych ward after using a lot of different essential oils in the space of a few days. Another woman also had delusions, as well as gastro-intestinal distress and abnormal blood tests.
There are a couple of relevant take-aways to this report. The authors note that there were no injuries reported by individuals who had consulted with Certified Aromatherapy Professionals or Clinically Trained Aromatherapy Professionals; there are, however, a LOT of injuries reported by non-professional people who have dosed themselves on their own or on the advice of other, non-professional people. The authors note that, in particular, ingesting or applying undiluted oils topically, without the consultation of a professional, can result in injury.
It’s important to remember that although some essential oils are safer than others, individual reactions can be very different. Personally, for instance, I know several people who apply tea tree oil neat, or put a few drops in their bathwater, or even drop it into their ear canals, but while I clean with heavily diluted tea tree oil, applying it neat to my own skin will cause that area to break out in painful, red welts. Many people, including myself, apply lavender neat to stings and burns, but when a friend put a drop on her son’s leg for the exact same reason, he broke out in hives.
So here we are at CAGW saying the same thing that we always say: do your own research into essential oils and determine your own tolerance, because different people can have different sensitivities.