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Essential Oil Ingestion: Documented Side Effects, Injuries, and Deaths

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Lee Tea is an investigative journalist with a focus on essential oil consumer advocacy.

The technology-driven infancy of the 21st century spawned a virtual wild west of sorts—a vast and uncharted expanse first staked out by curious individuals seeking the simple comforts of connection through communication.

"Hello?"

That old familiar greeting with a new twist, the visual component of instantaneous text, echoed off of digital walls and bounced around down invisible halls leading to the common folks' first sparsely populated chat rooms.

"Hi! :)"

And just like that our first personal cyberspace connections were made. Seemed innocent enough. As the days went by more and more people came, chat rooms were abandoned like old school houses for expanded groups, then networks of groups, where crowded halls no longer efficiently funneled the traffic between them and, seemingly overnight, burst open onto faster paced highways. Super highways.

Information super highways.

Information no longer made up of timid requests like, "Is anybody here?" The people were here, the chatter was clear. Some spoke on impulse. But others—an ever growing population of others—spoke from rehearsed script. As casually as the rest, they chime in a friendly message, off-the-cuff message with a goal in mind and precision rhetoric.

The sales reps had come. Their territory now a new vitural one, the fascinating infrastructure of personalized channels of communication enchanted an untapped market leaving us all like sitting ducks, playfully splashing in the waters of an information flood.

We felt refreshed. We felt special again! We felt alive! And, we weren't going anywhere.

When profit-driven motives like multi-level marketing met the rise of personalized technology in the first part of the 21st century, the volatile design of freshly fascinating communication channels flooded with unrestricted, unverified information, cutting through a sea of aimless anybodies with dollar signs for heads, whose collective desire was to rebel against an institutionalized regimen they had convinced each other was concocted solely to destroy them, these conditions combined to create the perfect storm.

Case in point: the volatile liquids sold in little dark bottles that can replace our poisoned medicine and cure whatever ails us. I'm referring of course to essential oils...

...perhaps you've heard of them?

Like most successful ventures, essential oils owe due credit to their parents. Part of these oils' natural appeal comes straight from their source. Essential oils, or rather the easily evaporated aromatic liquid that can be extracted from some plants, are created naturally by some of our favorite fruits, flowers, and herbs. Relatively speaking, there are very low amounts of naturally occurring essential oils in a serving of fresh, whole food. Dried botanicals often contain a concentrated amount of essential oil, which is why you generally use half as much dried basil in your pot of spaghetti sauce compared to what you use fresh. These variations in concentrations are also why eating fresh fruit or drinking herbal teas does not pose the same risks as eating the potent, extracted essential oils straight from the bottle. Whole food preparations have the added benefit of offering parts from the rest of the plant—phytonutients, fibers, even water—that can act as synergists and buffers to help the body to gently and effectively process the active ingredients found in a plant's essential oil, and to help handle toxicities that may be inherently present.

Of course, that's not to say all plants are safe to eat or make into a tea. Some plants and their parts like nightshade, oleander, yew, jasmine berries and daffodil bulbs are poisonous and should not be consumed at all. But in regards to food we can comfortably eat, the essential oil content within a single serving is much lower in concentration than the essential oil extracted from literally pounds of a particular plant.

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For over 40 years, Robert Tisserand's research and writing have turned a scientific eye to the properties of essential oils and their individual constituents. In 2007 he presented his report, “Challenges Facing Essential Oil Therapy: Proof of Safety," to the Alliance of International Aromatherapists (AIA) at their Denver, Colorado, conference. The article documents recorded injuries sustained by adults and children through varying degrees of essential oil use, in contrast to a commonly held belief by a prominent portion general public that the effects of essential oils can only be beneficial or benign by nature, and the practice of whole-heartedly defending this notion against those who propose otherwise. He reports:

“...in the context of foods ... [essential oil] is not regarded as dangerous, because of (a) the very small amount present, and (b) the co-presence of antioxidants and antimutagens. Our bodies have evolved to deal with small quantities of “toxins," which is why we have an immune system, antioxidant enzymes, base repair enzymes, etc.”

On deaths caused by essential oil ingestion Tisserand cites, "eucalyptus and pennyroyal oil, for example, have been fatal in 1 oz doses," and mentions the accepted traditional dosage for wormseed essential oil "was sometimes fatal to the child” as well.

Tisserand delves further to reveal constituents, components of an essential oil identified, named, and classified through the science of chemistry, noted to be responsible for seizures when essential oils containing them had been ingested in moderate doses. Some of the essential oils noted in his report to cause seizures include:

  • Hyssop (2 doses of 10 drops)
  • Sage (1 dose of 12 drops)
  • Thuja (5 doses of 20 drops)

The National Capital Poison Center educates the public on the risks of essential oil ingestion. Poison Control warns that tea tree oil can be dangerously poisonous in less than 30 minutes if swallowed and advises one to contact the Poison Center (at 1-800-222-1222) right away if ingestion occurs. They back their information citing reported instances, like this one in which the ingestion of a small amount of tea tree oil fed to a child resulted in coma.

In an ongoing effort to raise awareness of the risks and responsibilities of using essential oils, certain organizations specializing in their use like the Atlantic Institute of Aromatherapy (AIA) have launched campaigns to collect individual accounts from consumers that experienced negative effects from their use. In 2014 the AIA documented 34 cases from volunteered reports involving adverse essential oil interactions. Of those reporting, 100% were female, mostly adults using the oils undiluted by mouth. Unwanted side effects occurred mostly from oral and/or topical use and included migraines and headaches, dizziness, throat and mouth irritation, gastrointestinal upset including nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, rapid heartbeat, itching, hives, and cognitive dysfunction (delusions). The AIA released its most recent annual report in April, 2015.

Documented Cases in Scientific Journals

Over the years, dozens if not hundreds of scientific articles and journals documenting actual cases of essential oil fatalities have been published, some reports dating over 100 years. For example, just a few of these include:

  • Pilapil VR: Toxic manifestation of cinnamon oil ingestion in a child. Clin Pediatr (Phil) 1989
  • Webb NJ, Pitt WR: Eucalyptus oil poisoning in childhood: 41 cases in south-east Queensland. J Paediatr Child Health 1993
  • Jacobs MR, Hornfeldt CS: Melaleuca oil poisoning. J Toxicol Clin Toxicol 1994
  • Seawright A: Comment: tea tree oil poisoning. Med J Aust 1993

and even this one from 1898:

  • Kimball HW: Poisoning by pennyroyal. Atlanta Med Weekly 1898

It is no secret that some of these oils can kill you. But in the recent hype of direct marketing, we seem to have casually forgot. It seems as though, somehow, common knowledge has been hidden from the masses and replaced by a maniacal enthusiasm for one's essential oil brand of choice, an old game used up salesmen have grown tired of playing and is now newly repackaged as a source of side income for mainly stay-at-home moms excited about organic and natural products.

Haddad and Winchester’s Clinical management of Poisoning and Drug Overdose, 4th ed., Chapter 101, “Essential Oils”, concisely reports on the toxicology of common essential oils, along with injuries and deaths that were a result of their use.

To begin, a reported dose of just 4mL of eucalyptus oil resulted in the death of an adult. In another case, 30mL caused seizures and death of an 8-month old. In a review of eucalyptus oil fatalities, common symptoms of early on-set poisoning are documented. Note that these are not potential factors for hypothetical circumstances - this is the information harvested from actual fatalities from eucalyptus oil poisoning that have already occurred.

Additionally, the chapter notes these specific, actual, and documented instances of internal essential oils use resulting in injury and/or death:

  • Cinnamon Oil at 2.5mL/kg caused gastrointestinal symptoms, lethargy, rectal burning and dizziness in a 7-year old.
  • Pennyroyal (Squaw Mint) Oil at 30mL caused poisoning and death of a young woman trying to induce abortion and was cited in the death of another 24-year old woman.
  • Tea Tree Oil ingestion at less than 10mL of a prepared solution caused mental confusion and ataxia in a 23-month old boy. 1/2 cup of the straight oil resulted in coma in an adult for 48 hours.

Now, yes, 1/2 cup is a relatively large amount of essential oil to encounter. But in context, 1/2 cup is not an unheard of amount of food or drink to consume. Believing the ingestion of essential oils is safe without side effects, 1/2 cup should be as safe as a couple of drops. However, as demonstrated by the documented instance above, this is not the case.

  • Menthol, as found in Peppermint Oil, caused unconsciousness in a 2-month old after drops were administered nasally.
  • Ingestion of Clove Oil was responsible for coma, seizures, and liver damage in a young child.

Another article posted by the National Center for Biotechnology Information reports on the near fatal overdosing of a 3-year old that ingested 10mL of eucalyptus oil. It further notes that death has occurred in adults after ingesting just 4 to 5 mL, and lists the side effects of essential oil ingestion including mouth and throat burning, abdominal pain, vomiting, respiratory and central nervous issues.

Poison Center Data Collection

For over 30 years, the American Association of Poison Control Centers has issued an annual report which publishes data collected by the National Poison Data System (NPDS). Basically, if an event was called into a poison control center, it is documented in this annual report.

The reports can be found published in their entirety online and are available for public review. Each year, the report includes a table called "Demographic profile of SINGLE SUBSTANCE Nonpharmaceuticals exposure cases by generic category", in which "Essential Oils" is one of the catagories listed in the table. Essential oils included in the report year after year include cinnamon, eucalyptus, tea tree, pennyroyal and clove, with the additional category "miscellaneous oils" accounting for the bulk of injuries reported.

In 2010, over 10,000 cases of essential oil poisoning were called in to poison control centers, over 8,000 of those cases involving children age 5 or younger. Over 2,000 cases reported undesirable effects, with over 130 being moderate or major outcomes, and 1 death from eucalyptus oil.

In 2011, 168 moderate-to-major outcomes were reported, up 38 from the previous year. In 2012, 180 moderate-to-major outcomes, up 12 more. This is proof that not only does poisoning occur from essential oil ingestion, but the number of major poisonings is rising each year.

This information was derived from the American Association of Poison Control Centers' Annual Reports of National Poison Data Systems (NPDS). The 2012 report can be viewed here: https://aapcc.s3.amazonaws.com/pdfs/annual_reports/2012_NPDS_Annual_Report.pdf. Reports for previous years can also be located online through search engine searches.

Scientific Breakdown of Essential Oil Toxicity

Many people wonder how something born from nature can cause such severe results. Remember, essential oils are the straight extract of a whole plant, and it takes several pounds of plant material to produce even one ounce of essential oil. So while the oils themselves are all natural, their potentcy is, however, not a natural amount of essential oil to consume.

The chemical composition of essential oils often includes toxic constituents, even in the most popular oils. The toxic components vary from oil to oil, and as a result, so do the negative side effects one oil can produce over another. In addition to adverse reactions like allergies, and unwanted effects on nursing/pregnancy, young children and the elderly, some essential oils contain toxins that can cause seizures, respiratory failure, and kidney failure regardless of age or circumstance.

For example:

  • Roman Chamomile Oil (Arthemis nobilis) includes tiglic acid, which can cause gastrointestinal upset, allergic reactions, bronchospasm, and can stimulate the uterus.
  • Cinnamon Oil (Cinnamomum zeylanicum) includes cinnamic aldehyde which can lead to hypersensitivity, dermatitis, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dizziness, and oral lesions.
  • Clove Oil (Syzygium aromaticum) includes THREE toxic components: eugenol, caryophillin, and vanillin. These can cause oral and skin irritation, allergic reactions, nausea, vomiting, respiratory symptoms, and notably, seizures.
  • Eucalyptus Oil (Eucalyptus globulus) includes 1,8 cineole (eucalyptol) and hydrocyanic acid, responsible for vomiting, abdominal pain, respiratory depression, dizziness, headaches, ataxia, obtundation, coma, and again, seizures.
  • Pennyroyal Oil (Mentha pulegium) contains pulegone, responsible for nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and even kidney failure.
  • Peppermint Oil (Mentha species) includes menthol and menthone, reported by the University of Minnesota to cause breathing to stop in young children. These constituents can also lead to hypersensitivity, ataxia (a lack of voluntary muscle coordination), and myalgia (muscle pain).
  • Pine Oil (Pinus species) is comprised of monoterpene, aromatic pine oil, and other hydrocarbons responsible for respiratory failure.
  • Tea Tree Oil (Melaleuca alternifolia) includes Terpinen-4-ol (as does Juniper Oil) which can cause ataxia, stupor, and sores.

Ask your doctor if essential oil ingestion is right for you! (He'll say "no").

This information was recorded in Clinical Management of Poisoning and Drug Overdose, 4th ed. (2007) in "TABLE 101-1 -- Selected Essential Oils and Their Toxicities."

Essential Oils Throughout History

From ancient times to today, humans have realized the value of the scented and volatile oils of plants. Called "essential oils", they were first obtained by placing plant material in fatty oils, a method encouraged by alchemists of the time. It was the Arabs that first distilled essential oils, and this method of collection then spread throughout the European countries during the Middle Ages. By the 1500's, distilled essential oils like cedarwood, rose, rosemary and sage were a feature of European apothecaries. As the spice and tea trade expanded, an ever-growing list of exotic spices and herbs were run through the distillation process in hopes of extracting the plant's essential oils, and by the 18th century the essential oils of over 100 different plants had been introduced.

From the late 1800s to the early 1900s, chemists studied these oils and vastly increased scientific knowledge of their chemical composition. Essential oils were found to be largely comprised of organic isoprene units called "terpenes". In addition, individual oils can be mostly made up of other compounds, like methyl salicylate in wintergreen and d-limonene in orange. Anywhere from dozens to hundreds of individual compounds may make up any one essential oil.

Over time, methods of steam distillation, cold-fat extractions (enfleurage), and hot-fat extractions (maceration) developed to extract the essential oil from the plants, depending on which plant was being distilled and the characteristics of its essential oil. For example, jasmine oil is too delicate to steam distill - it evaporates too quickly - so it must be harvested through enfleurage.

Throughout the 1900s, as essential oils became more readily produced and available, their use in medicinal preparations largely gave way to their use as scenting agents in cosmetics and perfumes, and as a flavoring agent in food and beverages.

This is the history of essential oils as reported in Encyclopedia Britannica. If it doesn't match what you've been told, take it up with them. Far be it from me to argue an encyclopedia.

In the late 1900s, sales and marketing companies began to offer essential oils through direct sales campaigns, and the information relayed in these one-on-one sales settings has become a hot topic of debate. These essential oil companies have become well-known for promoting the internal use of the straight essential oils, claiming ingesting the pure essential oil straight from the bottle is safe without side effects. However, as history has demonstrated, the internal use of essential oils, some very well-known and familiar to even lay-people, can result in side-effects, injuries, and even deaths. Though these cases are properly and professionally documented, easily obtainable and available for public review, people still demand proof of their existence while defending their decision to ingest straight essential oils to improve and maintain health.

Thankfully, this is not a new field of knowledge, and over 500 years of essential oil use as we now know it has provided a vast and rich pool from which to harvest information regarding the use of essential oils and the results of this use. In particular, this article will demonstrate that ingesting essential oils has led to side effects, injury, and death, a point of fact not up for debate.

To begin, you can obtain biomedical information regarding essential oil use, including both harmful and helpful toxicity (like the potential some essentials oils have for killing cancer cells) at the U.S. National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health’s website. Their archives are home to over 12,000 scientific and medical abstracts and over 10,000 full text journal articles regarding essential oils. Some articles ask you to pay to view the report in its entirety, which usually prompts me to visit the reference section of my local library.

Which leads us to another source for reliable information: your local library.

For more targeted, specific information regarding the safety of ingesting specific essential oils, review the essential oil chapters in Haddad and Winchester’s Clinical Management of Poisoning and Drug Overdose books. These publications concisely review the toxic constituents of a handful of popular essential oils and their effects on humans (both potential and recorded). Additionally, the chapter on essential oils in the 4th edition cites 60 additional sources of information on the toxicity of specific essential oils, including documented reports of injuries and deaths from their use.

Of course, these are not all of the reliable sources reporting on essential oil side effects, just a handful to get you started in the right direction.

In Conclusion...

This article demonstrates that side-effects, injuries, and deaths resulting from the internal use of essential oils have in fact occurred, have been documented, and have been reported. Not everyone who eats a drop of essential oil is going to get sick or die, but people are poisoned by the hundreds from their improper use every year, dozens moderately to severely. Though buried by mounds of sales propaganda and aromatherapy gossip online, factual information on essential oil poisonings is available both online and in print.

Unlike essential oils, the conclusion of this article is simple and easy to digest. Essential oil ingestion carries with it the potential for side-effects, sometimes moderate to severe, including seizures and poisoning. It can, as it has in the past, be fatal. This point can no longer be debated - it is fact.

It is time to stop arguing whether it is completely safe to eat essential oils straight from the bottle. It's not. After reading this article, you may choose to continue using essential oils internally. You may argue that not enough people are injured by eating essential oils each year to really pay attention to the facts presented here. But you may no longer argue that the practice is completely safe without the risk of side effects. Besides, if you eat the oil, you forgo all the therapeutic benefits of the oil's aroma—specifically its vapors.

Floracopeia.com points out that inhaling essential oils (as is the basis of "aroma"therapy) isn't just a good way to benefit from essential oil use, but may be the best way:

"One of the recent discoveries of aromatic research is that the antimicrobial effects of essential oils are most potent not when the oil is used in liquid form, as when applying tea tree to a fungal infection, but when pathogens are exposed to the vapors of the oils.

This means that the most effective way of utilizing essential oils for reducing atmospheric contagion, neutralizing air-borne illnesses and enhancing immunity is through the use of aromatic diffusers. It has also been found that it is not necessary to have a high concentration of oil in the atmosphere for it to be effective; only a minimum amount of oil dispersed from a diffuser is necessary for optimum biological and immunological effects." - (Crowe, D., floracopeia.com, 20 May 2014).

So if inhalation is a safer, more effective use of the oils, what are you eating them for? Until instructed by a clinical aromatherapist to ingest, which would still most likely be via dilution, it's wise to forgo the unnecessary risks and use essential oils safely, especially if it is every bit as effective.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

Comments

Marsha Musselman on September 02, 2018:

Excellent hub, thanks. My sister's daughter sells the Dolterra brand and I've used it for mostly topical applications.

It makes sense that it's toxic in larger doses or for smaller children although I never thought of that before.

I use a migraine formula for arthritis in my thumb joints and it works wonders but I rarely injest any.

I will be sure to let my sister know about this although she may have read the cautions previously.

Maurice Glaude from Mobile on November 22, 2017:

I came here because I was looking for more on tea tree oil. I wanted to know if it could make dry skin worse or to have flaky skin on the face.

Andrea on March 15, 2017:

lol, oops, sorry. I meant Lee Tea

Andrea McCullough on March 15, 2017:

Hey Tee Lea,

I love you article. It is very hard to track down information backed with any actual data. I have a BS in Botany and an AS in animal medicine but still most of my education is in conventional medicine and genetics research, not plant compounding. I learned of oils through doTerra and YL. I new the info I was being given was skewed but felt it had some good basis. I have been ingesting oils for a few years on rare occasions. I ate a small mixture for pain after having my thyroid removed (oregano,white fir and frank) since I can not eat any narcotic medicine. I took these homemade capsules for three days then stopped. While I felt no pain and they seemed to work, I new that the oils in the capsules were considered "hot" oils as I had been taught. Hot oils are not rec. to be used on skin plain, are known to cause irritation and usually photosensitive. While I made the decision to eat this desperate for pain relief, I was very nervous about the possible side affects. I worried about killing all the natural flora in my gut! It prompted me to develop a home microbiology study to see the affects of the oils on bacterial colonies on homegrown agar plates. I have not gotten to do this yet.

That being said, I cook with my oils, eat peppermint mentha and apply topically to my skin undiluted. I have never had any negative results in three years (even with that scary pain pill cocktail I took and won't do again). I know many smokers don't get cancer either so I understand 3 years of seemingly good use practices can be deceiving. This is why I am always researching and looking for new info. I want scientific data which is difficult to track down. Do you have any sources you can recommend? I have not yet dug into your hub and intend to do so to see whats there.

Here is one last question. I love to make cream cheese peppermints. I use 8 oz cream cheese, 2 lbs sugar and 10 drops peppermint eo to make about 90 mints. I take these to parties, serve my family and give them away. Everyone loves them! I have never questioned giving people Peppermint Eo to eat as the amount is very small and I use peppermint in my mouth, on my neck and inhaling for headaches and nausea with great results, never feeling sick or worse. Am I endangering anyone in your opinion with my homemade EO mints?

Thanks, Long post I know. This is the first place I wanted anyones opinions after reading their EO article.

-andrea

Skeptic on February 18, 2017:

I like your article with all the info. I actual started using EO on the recommendation of my doctor who is an MD. She even has said to take certain oils internal. However she did caution to watch the amount you take. 1 or 2 drop and only certain kinds. As one person on here said its about moderation. Drinking a whole bottle is just plain stupid. Also People OD all the time on over the counter drugs thinking if I take 20 instead of 2 the pain will go away faster. Also not all EO companies/brands are the same. One company (YL) has now developed a line of that is safe to take internal and really hammers on its people to be safe and responsible. It also has received OTC status for some of its products from the FDA. I am not a full naturalist as I due believe Western medical doctors are still the best, but our drug companies and FDA really don't care about anything but profits. (I have a good friend who was a rep and can vouch for that.)

Just be cautious on what you do to your body and be your own advocate no matter what the healing method you use.

We need change on February 09, 2017:

This is a great article. I own many Young Living oils and I just attended a doterra info session where ingesting the oils was encouraged and samples were given. I have in the past put a drop of peppermint oil on my tongue, as recommended by an independent rep. I hated the taste so I only did it twice. Then I found an essential oil book I had and it said the oils in fact should never be ingested so I decided to proceed on the side of caution from then on. Until I attended the doterra session. There I was told they are the only company who carry Therapeutic Grade Certified products which are totally safe to ingest and also improve many ailments but some how don't react with any pharmaceutical medication, even when taken internally. Even with my limited education I find this hard to believe but I went along with it for the demonstration. At the session I drank one full glass of water with a drop of wild orange oil and I ingested a tiny capsule which contained the On Guard blend. By the end of the meeting I had a very uncomfortable pain in the very center of my abdomen. It was a very strange pain. Persistent and tight. Not bowel related and nothing like nausea. I waited about an hour and decided to try something to eat when the pain wouldn't stop. About 15 min after eating it started to ease up, but wasn't completely gone until morning. When I got home from doterra I decided to read my young living bottles. The actual label on lemon, basil, and orange, which are three oils people say you can supposedly cook with, it said uses: topical and aromatic. Nothing about ingesting. I think independent reps really need to do more personal research on the products they sell. I haven't yet gone to the doterra site to see if they actually recommend eating the oils but that's my next step in the learning journey. Thanks for your article. Perhaps you can do one on pregnancy and using oils because another thing they were saying at doterra was that these are all safe for pregnancy and no need to worry. I'm not so sure I'd risk it without doing my own digging.

for the record 'interested in knowledge ' on December 14, 2016:

Teatree can be toxic even externally... and even YL do not promote its internal consumption. A basic aromatherapy guide will also advise. Potent yes in its proper use..

Maria Hickling on December 14, 2016:

I think a point often lost as well that side effects can occur through inhalation of some oils.. irritation etc. Epilepsy... too much lavender can cause feelings of depression.. wintergreen isn't for direct or diffused inhalation. Antibacterial oils wiping good bacteria. Education is the key. I applaud the balanced research and informative write up. A little in EO is alot.. and too much of anything or taken incorrectly is not a good thing!

Maria Hickling on December 14, 2016:

Interesting reads, it is with most things the nature of humanity. . Wanting a magical pill to fix without change to cause of issue. I am a young living buyer, for a few reasons.. quality, species and environmental. However I am also a qualified naturopath and massage therapist long before i heard of YL. Natural therapists are refused ailment associated comments as well. However it also is upsetting across the board the amount of inconclusive statements made from magazines to self help books. The master herbalists who sell the curing herb with no mention of contraindications. The homeopathic blends that ignore hahnemann's core principles. Odourless garlic for colds... echinacea purpurea not angustifolia... mega dosing ascorbic acid.. vegetable oil... epilepsy and oils.

connie rrector on August 25, 2016:

your ex-boyfriends comment!!! made me chuckle

Lee Tea (author) from Erie, PA on August 14, 2016:

"Yet the author claims many and even hundreds have died."

Where? I provide documentation on fatalities that have occurred. The point here is that fatalities HAVE occurred from the use of essential oils, and a consumer deserves to know that before you take their money while telling them to rub it on their babies and feed it to their children. Quantifying it as a matter of opinion serves no additional use other than to sensationalize a solid report, so I don't.

"...the subjects in the case studies all ingested enormous amounts of oil (i.e. 10mL...)"

I know "enormous" is in the eye of the beholder, but that's 2 teaspoons of liquid. If you think that's enormous, I have some ex-boyfriends you could visit and seriously brighten their day. Just plantin' seeds...

"...and the only thing that happened is he got a little dizzy."

I assume you're referring to this reference from my report: "Tea Tree Oil ingestion at less than 10mL of a prepared solution caused mental confusion and ataxia in a 23-month old boy." Your referring to Tea Tree as "melaleuca" tells me you're a sales rep, likely for doTerra. Regardless, mental confusion is different than "a little dizzy", it's a cause for immediate concern ESPECIALLY in a toddler, and ataxia is a loss of muscle control likely due to impairment or damage of the brain, nerves or muscles. Reps writing off emergency situations like these as no big deal, particularly regarding other people's children, are what keep my articles in demand.

Casting unsubstantiated doubt of my work that doesn't check out only discredits you as a source of any information worth considering. That's why I cite my sources - so readers can review my references, in context, and draw their own conclusions of the info presented here. Not about me and my work - what anyone thinks of that is usually irrelevant, until some righteous idiot comes along and wastes my time making me address it even when then sources are cited for all to review for themselves.

People like you show up here, skim my work, and blurt out whatever you can think of to persuade readers not to trust me. You could be using your time more wisely to make your next sale thougb, as I already tell my audience not to trust me - or anyone - in this debate. Feel free to read the past 50 comments here that already address academic level research requiring 3 independent sources to verify fact (of which it's my honor to be one of those sources everyday consumers rely upon to be a worthwhile, informative and insightful reference), thoroughly explain the motives and effects of weak comments from doubt casters like yourself, and the conclusion paragraph to this article that simply states, "It is time to stop arguing whether it is completely safe to eat essential oils straight from the bottle. It's not. After reading this article, you may choose to continue using essential oils internally. You may argue that not enough people are injured by eating essential oils each year to really pay attention to the facts presented here. But you may no longer argue that the practice is completely safe without the risk of side effects. "

That's right - all that research is designed to verify that simple, solitary thought at the end. You may no longer tell people EO ingestion is completely safe without the risk of side effects, and be telling the truth. Adjust your sales pitch accordingly.

You really think I ought to do your fact checking FOR you, too? Citing my sources wasn't enough, you need screenshots of the actual text as well? Infantile. All right buddy you got it - but it's not going to be pretty.

Give me a few days - some hack job has entangled my network in a botnet running on 5 months now and my work has been reduced to punching out messages one letter at a time on a Kindle Fire. Thanks for the uncalled for hassle though - you're awesome.

Interested In Knowledge on August 01, 2016:

Everyone should look up the supposed "documentation" of essential oils causing death provided in the article. Not one actually supports that claim. Yet the author claims many and even hundreds have died. So strange that people don't actually read the research done by actual scientists. Essential oils are from food. If you dilute pure oil and then only use it safely, there should be no problem. In the "documentation" provided above, the subjects in the case studies all ingested enormous amounts of oil (i.e. 10mL of melaleuca by a 2-year-old) and the only thing that happen is he got a little dizzy.

Lee Tea (author) from Erie, PA on June 22, 2016:

Hello everybody! Thank you for writing. Let me respond to the past couple here -

- SF Cline: I'm sad to hear of your emergency. Honey may have helped the cinnamon bark oil to disperse more evenly, whereas there's no emulsifier in a smoothie that would do the same, unless the drink was made with milk. Consuming EOs, whether for flavor or medicinally, requires a precise formulation to assure you're not swallowing an oil in a concentration that could harm you. Typically the EO is dispersed in an emulsifying agent, like a fatty oil. When used as a remedy (not as part of a recipe) it's also often contained in an enteric capsule to prevent the release of contents until it reaches the stomach.

Add to that recent industry reports of purity issues regarding cinnamon bark oil, and the variety of constituents and potency from one supplier's batch to the next, and you'll realize (well, general "you" - your personal experience has already taught YOU you I'm sure) that ingestible EO formulation is best left to experienced and educated professionals who can advise the best practices for your specific situation, are guided by related industry safety protocols and accepted practices, and, maybe most reassuringly, held to their company's liability insurance policy should one of their products-for-sale cause injury to a customer following their instruction.

You're right about the article offering more caution than is usually offered in a sales situation. It is strongly focused on what is left OUT of a sales pitch, which is why people perceive it as biased, but I figured you've all heard about the benefits of EO use, so, here's the rest of that story... information that was intentionally withheld from you by businesses with a profit motive attached to your actual well-being. Now you have ALL the information you need to decide what's best for you and yours.

They'll tell you to trust them. I tell you to trust no one. Cross reference, three times minimum, unaffiliated sources. Some social network groups may help you find your way towards credible research, but they're slowly and slyly becoming aligned with biz interests, too.

I'll put this out there because I don't think I've mentioned it yet - one reference I like to check is Lorann oils, who supplies essential oils for both flavoring and aromatherapy. Their information is aligned with ethical EO sales practices that don't needlessly jeopardize consumer well-being, they've been doing it a long time, they're an established reputable business and walk a fine line with good intent.

But for the most part it's buyer be aware like always. And don't eat essential oils, they're not really for that.

You're very welcome for the research AND the links - the ability to see for yourself where the research comes from is just as important as the info itself in finding credible, reliable information you can bank your health on. Thanks for recognizing that - that made my morning.

SF Cline on June 02, 2016:

I ended up in the ER having an anaphylaxis episode after using two small drops, very small, of cinnamon bark oil in an 8oz smoothie. There was plenty of dilution but it continued burned my throat, stomach and intestines for days.

I had used it several time before w/o issue but in the Apple cider vinegar, honey and lemon juice drink. So I'm unclear as to why it happened in a smoothie but it did and won't be ingesting any others.

Now I seem to have a problem with any cinnamon which is very disappointing.

So, it does happen and thinking it could happen to a child scares me to pieces.

I didn't feel your article sounded biased but felt it was offering information, food for thought, worth considering and using more caution than is usually given in these situations.

Thank you for posting your research and links.

Diane on May 17, 2016:

This is an excerpt of an interview with Dr. Robert Tisserand in Dec. 2014 on a Texas radio station with Labron Allen. He doesn't seem opposed to responsible ingestion.

" And by the way, I have never said you should not ingest essential oils. You may think you heard me say that today. I have not said people should not ingest essential oils; I don’t believe it’s an absolute no-no. What I do believe is that you need to know what you’re doing. You need to know why you’re doing it; what dose you are taking; how long you are going to be taking it for; what the reason is. I don’t think essential oils are substances that we should use just pro-actively, because if you do get a viral infection, if you do get a serious illness and then you want to use aromatherapy and you have been dosing yourself with large amounts of essential oils for years, well now what are you going to do? Because your body’s already now habituated to these oils you have been taking. If you’re talking about very small amounts as you would use in food flavors – if we’re talking about one or two drops a day – that’s fine, that is OK, but if you’re taking a therapeutic dose of essential oils, if you’re taking 10 drops, 20 drops a day just because somebody told you it was a good idea, it’s not a good idea.

LA: So your recommendation would be for individuals to treat an essential oil as far as ingestion more like a pharmaceutical, with the same respect as?

RT: Yes. The way I’m looking at is if you’re sick, you take medicine and then you get well. That is the scenario that I’m picturing, so if you’ve strained a muscle then you apply a liniment, you apply a salve to that muscle, to that skin over that muscle and they often contain menthol and camphor and other essential oil constituents that goes through the skin to the muscle and it does what it does, but once the muscle ache is gone you don’t need to keep applying it, and it’s similar to the way antibiotics are taken. You take antibiotics so long as you need to, you take the course of antibiotics and then you stop. I’m not suggesting that we should be taking antibiotics at all, but it’s the same situation with essential oils. If you have an infection, if you have a respiratory infection, then yes you can inhale essential oils, you can apply them to your chest, whatever, while you’re sick and then you stop. That’s the picture that I am trying to paint."

Connie on January 26, 2016:

I am a believer in E.O's and I am not a professional. I am also a little nervous of internal use. I have researshed byself sick with the arguments between MLM companies. I do know that the best trickle down payment without overhead is MLM so I don't know why that shuts people down. As well as being educated, I think that is up to the individual. A good company will have all the information you should need. All products, like soaps, bleaches, knives and sissors, should be kept out of reach of Children and some seniors and for the person that thinks their exotic dresser top purfume is safe,or the candle wax, think again. If you want to use a product, read the label, and do the research. I find the Doterra site has the best updated info and their University of info can break it all down much better than that bottle of pain killers in your medicine cabinet. Please stop the arguement. That is the confusser. People are so worried about loosing their own business. If you believe in yourself you don't have to bash. I also don't see the Doterra people bashing anyone. I use to buy bread at the bakery until I learn't to make it myself. Please aromatherapists you are not threatened by oil companies it is a sign of the times.

Lee Tea (author) from Erie, PA on January 24, 2016:

Your local library.

MJ Degno on November 22, 2015:

Any suggestions on getting schooled in the Herbalism area? That is actually what started all this for me.

Lee Tea (author) from Erie, PA on November 20, 2015:

MJ I wrote my first article on EO sales and safety almost 2 years ago, and that alone took me 2 years to research, edit, and publish. It was supposed to be all the info I had learned at the crossroads of herbalism and marketing that applies to this matter - I did dive into a couple other areas to address specific questions from readers afterwards - but basically the matter didn't go away so I'm still here saying the same old thing.

But along the way, people offered their insight on the matter and so the information that's accumulated in the comments sections of these articles alone is likely more than any one person would ever think to come across in their lifetime. Then opening up the facebook page allowed even MORE people to weigh in on the information being provided, and we've gained the insight and experience of almost 2500 lifetimes...

We live better together :)

I don't ingest either (surprise! no? not surprised? ok then, moving on...) Since I learned natural remedies beginning at the whole plant level I was always taught they just weren't for that - teas, tinctures, oil infusions, vinegars, and foods that fit the bill were, and to me EOs have always held a separate, particular place in the overall realm of nature's helpers. But since then I have also learned why, like citrus oils are potent solvents and mints can slow breathing and body functions. And as my audience grew, the professionals in our community made sure I was aware that exceptions to the basic rule of "do not ingest" may come into play. Proper preparation of the oil to reduce risks, an inventory of a persons individual circumstances, and monitoring their safety are all a part of that.

Inevitably years of research on a specific topic will present some facts you didn't set out to find in the first place, like how limonene is a supplement and the ways that it as a solvent is properly prepared to reduce irritation, expanding our understand, or that peppermint is also offered as a prepared product.

But overall the safe use rule of simply "do not ingest" has always seemed a wise place to begin your understanding of ways to use EOs while protecting your well-being, which is probably the reason you set out to learn EOs in the first place. I of course suggest you study the whole plant first and go from there but by addressing the profit product of aggressive marketing companies I inadvertently meet people who've been thrown into the deep end of herbalism already drowning in oils who had never even considered that EOs are just a very small part just one tool, in the whole world of what nature provides us to take care of ourselves - and just one discipline to learn from the school of human history and what we as a species have learned along the way. Guess it is what it is.

So yeah, lots of info. More than you'd ever care to learn.

Lee Tea (author) from Erie, PA on November 20, 2015:

Danielle - thank you for taking the time to write. Your reply immediately brings to mind a couple tip