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Is It Safe to Ingest Essential Oils? What the Sales Reps Aren't Telling You


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

Essential oils are volatile, scented oils expressed mostly from herbal plants.

Essential oils are volatile, scented oils expressed mostly from herbal plants.

Every time I click a link to an online article about the possibility that ingesting essential oils could be safe, I find it's written by a sales representative of the essential oil multi-level marketing (MLM) company, Young Living.

Now, I don't sell essential oils, so I don't have a vested interest in where you get your oils from. I do sell products I blend myself from essential oils, like sprays and perfumes, but not the straight oils themselves. I was just taught to never eat them straight, and I want to assure you that your hesitation about ingesting essential oils is rational, sound, and safe.

Since a non-salesman like myself doesn't stand a chance against the pre-scripted rebuttals of MLM masters, I'm calling upon 15 years of professional experience in sales, herbalism, and media ethics to reaffirm that any reservations you have about eating essential oils, or putting them straight onto your skin, are justified.

If essential oil multi-level marketing companies like Young Living want to claim that it is okay to eat and apply essential oils undiluted, then I am here to claim it is also okay if it makes you nervous and if you don't want to do it. That is obviously the safer choice: Don't let a cleverly crafted sales pitch convince you otherwise!

Is the information in these Young Living articles trustworthy, sound, and rational as it relates to the proper use of essential oils? Why are sales reps giving medical advice? And how do they convince us that eating the pure, undiluted essential oil of a plant—as warned against by clinical aromatherapists and aromatherapy organizations—is perfectly safe?

Essential oils come from herbs like peppermint, basil, and thyme.

Essential oils come from herbs like peppermint, basil, and thyme.

Young Living representatives and employees regularly make claims that you can safely ingest some essential oils. Here are a few exact examples of these claims which have been made in writing by Young Living representatives and published online:

  • "Many Young Living oils are designated by the FDA as GRAS, generally recognized as safe for ingestion"
  • "Many physicians who are trained in clinical aromatherapy in France and other countries regularly prescribe oils to be ingested for sometimes serious medical problems..."
  • "The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) records 160 essential oils, oleoresins and distillates considered safe for direct addition to food for human consumption on the Generally Recognized as Safe list (GRAS), adding further evidence that various essential oils are harmless when taken orally" (Aromatopia).

Young Living sales representatives are apparently taught to use the transitive property of association in their sales pitch to convince you that ingesting some essential oils undiluted is perfectly safe and even approved by the FDA. First, they note that essential oils are used in cooking. Then, they state the associated fact that food is consumed by mouth. Finally, they conclude that eating essential oils is safe. Essential oils are used all the time in cooking. Does that mean they're safe to eat straight out of the bottle?

Absolutely not.

Equating the safety of straight essential oil ingestion to its safe use as a flavoring agent is irresponsible! Bleach can be used to sterilize your dishes when properly diluted—the instructions are right on the bottle—and you eat off your dishes, but is ingesting undiluted bleach safe? No way! Similarly, essential oils are highly concentrated plant oils, ingested extremely diluted if at all under the care of a qualified clinical aromatherapist, and you're being instructed on how to use them by a sales representative trained with deceptive wording and usually no clinical aromatherapy training on the matter.

Before we begin to examine the safety of ingesting essential oils through scientific explanation, let's break this issue down using a science most of us are experienced with: cooking.

When you cook with an essential oil, you diffuse it into the food. Typically you only use 1 to 2 drops per recipe. Lorannoils.com reports that , "in recipes calling for grated citrus zest or peel start with 1/8 teaspoon essential oil in place of 1 tablespoon of zest", and that, "[f]or most oils, one drop replaces a teaspoon of dried herb or spice". Anyone who cooks with dried herbs and spices knows that 1 teaspoon or less typically suffices to flavor baked dishes, soups, sauces, and entire pots of stew. That's because the flavoring agents, including their volatile essential oils, seep out of the dried plant material and into your dish, adding its flavor. One teaspoon of dried herb is also the serving size recommended for most teas and herbal teas.

So, where 1 teaspoon of dried herbs, or 2 to 4 teaspoons of fresh herbs, usually supplies enough plant oil to flavor an entire recipe, it takes 16 pounds of the fresh peppermint leaf to produce one ounce of essential oil! When's the last time you picked up a leaf? There's not much weight to one, really. Its been reported that a single drop of pure essential oil straight out of the bottle is the equivalent of up to 75 cups of herbal tea.

Each drop of essential oil out of the bottle is typically equal to 1/20th of a mL, or about 1/100th of a teaspoon. Using 1 to 2 drops per recipe, that means flavoring an entire dish usually meant to serve 6 to 8 people uses 1/100th of a teaspoon of essential oil, divided amongst the 8 dinner guests. So when you eat food containing essential oils, you're exposed to just over 1/1000th of a teaspoon of it. Each drop of essential oil straight out of the bottle is equal to 1/100th of a teaspoon, 10 times stronger than what you usually consume from food.

Needless to say, this is powerful stuff!

Did You Have a Bad Experience from Essential Oil Use?

If you've suffered an injury from the use of essential oils, the Atlantic Institute of Aromatherapy wants to know about it!

Follow this link to report your experience, and contribute data for the safe promotion and use of essential oils worldwide.

Of course there are substances of which you can eat 1/1000th of, 1/100th of, the whole thing or maybe two, and not notice any ill side-effects, but essential oils aren't one of them. Here's why:

  • When taken orally, essential oils are broken down by the liver into what are generally referred to phytochemicals, compounds that could affect health. If too many of these phytochemicals accumulate in the liver before the liver can properly process them, they could reach toxic levels. This is a potential side effect of essential oils MLM companies like Young Living and doTerra commonly recommend for oral use, like peppermint.
  • Ingesting essential oils can have potentially hazardous effects on pregnancy, nursing mothers, young children and the elderly. The University of Minnesota cites that, "[m]enthol - one of the major chemicals in peppermint oil - has caused breathing to stop in young children, and has caused severe jaundice in babies...", and that "accidental ingestion of amounts [of undisclosed oils] as small as a teaspoon has resulted in death."
  • "Because essential oils are immediately absorbed, they can shock your system, triggering a cleanse. This may include diarrhea, vomiting, fever."
  • "The purity of the oil does not change the fact that they are extremely concentrated plant material and can be easily overdosed." All cases of death involving essential oils were a result of internal use
  • As with any medicinal substance, herbal or pharmaceutical, there is the potential for interactions with other prescription drugs you are currently taking.

This last one may seem like common knowledge, but Young Living affiliates adamantly claim otherwise:

"I researched essential oil/drug interactions thoroughly when I was writing my Chemistry Book and was unable to find a single citation or publication that indicated any adverse reactions between drugs and essential oils anywhere. If there is a problem between oils and pharmaceuticals, it must not be a serious one since no medical reference I checked referred to the topic." David Stewart, credited as a PhD and Doctor of Natural Medicine.

I don't think I'll be reading Dr. Stewart's "Chemistry Book" anytime soon. Let's see what science does actually have to say about the side effects of ingesting essential oils.

We'll begin by examining one essential oil commonly recommended by Young Living for ingestion, peppermint oil (Mentha piperita).

An article published in Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics (Vol. 17, Issue 3, first published online 4 Feb 2003) explains how Peppermint leaf essential oil has been shown to slow intestinal transit, which may slow the absorption rate or increase the total absorption of coadministered drugs.

"In our study, pharmacodynamic proof that peppermint oil ... inhibit[s] gall-bladder contraction in humans was obtained for the first time." (pg. 449)

So to begin, there is at least a single citation or publication that indicates an adverse reaction between drugs and essential oils.

Let's continue.

The National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy actually lists three potential drug interactions for peppermint essential oil ingestion:

  • "Peppermint leaf essential oil ... may slow the absorption rate or increase the total absorption of coadministered drugs. (Goerg, K.J. and Spilker)
  • "Peppermint essential oil in large doses internally may inhibit a drug-metabilizing isoenzyme, leading to increased plasma levels of drugs metabolized by that isoenzyme.
  • "Coadministration of peppermint leaf essential oil ... and felodipine (a calcium antagonist drug used to control hypertension) moderately increased the plasma concentration of felodipine..."

Even though your Young Living representative has never heard or found evidence of contraindications for peppermint oil doesn't mean there aren't any. The bottom line here is potential drug interactions with the ingestion of peppermint oil do exist.

Now, let's compare directions for use of peppermint essential oil from a multi-level marketing business to the information provided by leading aromatherapy organizations both in the United States and internationally.

Want the Healing Power of Plants? Make a Tea!

One teaspoon of most dried herbs is all it takes to promote health and well-being. So if you want to consume the healing power of plants, simply steep the herb in a cup of hot water! You'll have the synergists and buffers that come along with the plant's active ingredients to help your body gently and properly process the active components, all the medicinal power you probably need, and a tasty beverage to enjoy!

As always, consult your physician before beginning a new regimen, especially if pregnant, nursing, or using prescription medication.

Directions for use of peppermint essential oil vary widely depending on who you ask. There does seem, however, to be a consensus amongst MLM companies like Young Living about how to use them that is in stark contrast to instructions and precautions offered by the world's leading aromatherapy organizations.

Young Livings' directions for using peppermint essential oil include:

  • "Massage several drops of peppermint essential oil on the abdomen..."
  • "Rub one drop of peppermint essential oil on the temples, forehead, over the sinuses (careful to avoid contact with your eyes), and on the back of the neck to relieve head pressure."
  • "Place 2 drops of peppermint essential oil on the tongue..."
  • "Apply peppermint essential oil to the back of the neck and shoulders..."
  • "...apply topically to your temples or neck, or put a drop on your tongue..."
  • "Another way you could take Peppermint oil is by putting some in a capsule" (quoted from a Young Living affiliated production).

Young Living also recommends getting your daily dose by filling vegetable capsules with essential oils.

In stark and alarming contradiction, The National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA) offers the following safety information regarding peppermint essential oil:

  • "When used orally, it may cause heartburn, perianal burning, blurred vision, nausea and vomiting."
  • "...even with enteric-coated capsules, anal burning, rashes, headache, muscle tremors, diarrhea, and ataxia have been reported. (AHPA Botanical Safety Handbook)"
  • "People with gallbladder disease, severe liver damage, gallstones and chronic heartburn should avoid the intake of peppermint oil."
  • "Menthol and peppermint oil caused burning mouth syndrome, recurrent oral ulceration or a lichenoid reaction, by contact sensitivity in the intra-oral mucosa, in sensitive patients.
  • "Peppermint oil should be used with caution. Doses of menthol over 1 g/Kg b.w. may be deadly."

As you can see, ingesting peppermint oil carries the risk of some serious side effects. If your essential oil sales rep doesn't mention that these are AT LEAST possible side effects, she's not giving you the whole story. And if you happen to mention it to her, she's likely to explain that those risks are associated with inferior and adulterated oils, like in the story that follows. But these are not the risks listed for inferior oils. These are the risks listed by the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy regarding the ingestion of pure, unadulterated peppermint oil - for instance, the ones sold by Young Living that they instruct you to drop on your tongue, twice.

Two drops of straight peppermint oil on the tongue would equal approximately 1/10 of 1mL. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports a medicinal oral dose of 90mg (just under 1mL) per day HAS been scientifically studied, but only when combined with caraway oil and administered with an enteric coating, a coating which holds the pill together to prevent stomach contact. Young Living's capsules are not noted to be enteric, and the NAHA safety information on the matter states that even with an enteric-coated capsule, burning, rashes, headaches and diarrhea have been reported.

The recommended dose for applying peppermint oil to the skin to treat a headache is a strongly diluted solution which only contains 10% of the straight peppermint oil.

Moderate interactions with liver medications were also reported by the NIH.

The purity and potency of essential oils are measured using scientific analysis. The composition of an essential oil is analyzed by gas chromatography, as used by the International Organization for Standardization for purposes of determining the characteristics "...of the chiral compounds contained in the essential oils." The composition of essential oils, including its adulterants if it has any, is further measured by mass spectrometry. Any reputable essential oil distributor will have the results of their GC/MS analysis available for your review.

Young Living frequently cites GC/MS testing to verify both the purity of their essential oils and to verify their claims of the existence of impure oils on the market. Their reps educate consumers about inferior quality oils by noting the price of the oil, and conjuring up the frightening idea that some oils could be intentionally adulterated with toxic additives and then mislabeled as pure. These two reasons are then used to reassure nervous customers that the straight consumption of essential oil is safe, but only if they are Young Living's high priced, "therapeutic grade" oils.

Let's examine some convincing arguments about spotting inferior and potentially adulterated oils by their packaging and cost. One Young Living rep claims, "[i]t is not possible to import the finest Frankincense resin ... then distill and bottle it for $20 per 1/2 oz." The rep convincingly suggests that prices lower than those of the Young Living oils, along with labels warning against their internal use, must mean the oil is inferior and/or adulterated with toxic chemicals.

"My first visit, a local, very popular, natural food store. I went straight to the essential oils and, yep, he was right…the price was cheaper. I pick up the bottle and ask a friendly employee…”can you take these internally”? She responded with a quick, no. This is not for internal use. Hmmmm. Okay. I look on the bottle and sure enough. "Do not ingest."

Well, well, well. There must be a reason why you can’t ingest these oils…right? As I began doing some research I found that many companies add things to enhance aroma, put chemicals on their plants, manufacture in a way that will take the “therapeutic” qualities out of the oil and so on. Let’s face it…it’s all about the bottom dollar for many companies." (quoted from http://granolaconvert.com/why-young-living-essential-oils 2 Mar 2014. Link broken and article removed June 2014).

"Even if the label says pure, natural, organic, it may not be. It may be adulterated with toxic chemicals like antifreeze, or other synthetic chemicals to make more profit."

"[M]any companies," writes the Essential Oil Cookbook, "add adulterants to stretch the oil for economic reasons. Some of these adulterants are toxic such as SD40 alcohol, propylene glycol, diethylenephalate and other synthetic chemicals."

Now it's true, many companies do add adulterants to essential oils to enhance and prolong aroma. However, these oils are then designated for their newly intended use, as is the case of "fragrance oils" which are sold as scenting agents for cosmetic, fragrance and perfume uses.

For instance, let's look at the list of chemicals they've mentioned above. SD40 is denatured alcohol, a common solvent. Propylene glycol is an FDA approved food additive, which is also used in antifreeze but is not antifreeze itself. As the FDA reports, "there is no evidence in the available information on propylene glycol ... that demonstrates, or suggests reason to suspect, a hazard to the public when they are used at levels that are now current or that might reasonably be expected in future."

Diethylenephalate isn't real, but if she's referring to diethyl phthalate, it's a common binding agent used in cosmetics and fragrances. These things are added to essential oils, but consequently they are no longer labeled as pure, "therapeutic grade" essential oils. Essential oils are a popular ingredient in many everyday household products like cleaners, soaps, and perfumes, and are blended with a variety of ingredients to serve their intended purpose.

It is entirely rational to assume that the "do not ingest" labeling on a bottle of essential oil exists because eating it straight from the bottle could be hazardous to your health. I'm still searching for a list of many companies who secretly adulterate their oils and still label them as pure, unadulterated essential oils. I did find one however who has been accused of such actions - the essential oil MLM company doTerra, in a messy court battle between doTerra and Young Living designed to edge out the competition and dominate the essential oil market.

"Well, well, well..." ... I guess it takes one to know one.

By the way, it is totally possible to buy a 1/2 ounce of pure, unadulterated, undiluted, therapeutic grade Frankincense essential oil for about 20 bucks a bottle.

In a convoluted twisting of facts, Young Living reps claim that their essential oils are the only safe ones to ingest because they are guaranteed to be "Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade". Let's now take a closer look at exactly what that means.

As any essential oil MLM representative will tell you, they sell 100% pure, undiluted, superior quality essential oils, typically designated as something like "Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade". They rationalize that because their oils are guaranteed to be "Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade," "Young Living Therapeutic Grade," "100% Pure Therapeutic Grade," or something similar, their oils are the only safe ones to ingest.

But Young Living is not the only provider of pure, unadulterated essential oils. There is only a limited amount of essential oil distillers in the world producing and providing pure, unadulterated essential oils to the rest of us, and common business sense tells you that they aren't just selling their oils to one customer! Young Living does not have a monopoly on the pure essential oils market. So, two clarities arise here:

  1. You CAN get pure, unadulterated therapeutic grade essential oils from sources other than Young Living, and
  2. if you research it, these official sounding, usually capitalized phrases like "Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade" are not terms you'll find in use anywhere other than these essential oil MLM companies. We'll cover why that is further on.

Young Living representatives claim there are 4 Grades of Essential Oils:

  • Grade A: Pure, Therapeutic grade
  • Grade B: Food Grade
  • Grade C: Perfume Grade, and
  • Floral Water

of course asserting that theirs are "Grade A" pure therapeutic quality, the absolute purest, highest form of essential oils available on the market.

The problem is, there aren't four grades of essential oils. There aren't any grades for essential oils at all. The reason is that no government agency or internationally recognized organization has a grading scale like this. While the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the AFNOR group are two prominent, internationally recognized organizations that develop, measure and publish international standards for substances, and do analyze the composition and promote the standardization of essential oils, there is no "grading scale" in place for the certification of essential oils. If this were the case, you would be able to find essential oils labeled as "Grade B", "C", and "D" quality. There aren't any. Either the oil is pure, or it's diluted and adulterated and no longer labeled as a bottle of "100% pure essential oil" by any reputable company.

As to why these Multi-Level Marketing businesses are the only ones selling "Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade" essential oils is merely a matter of marketing. The phrase "Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade" is a made-up, misleading term—a phrase trademarked and owned by the essential oil MLM companies - not a certification.

"*CPTG Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade® is a registered trademark of dōTERRA Holdings, LLC and represents internal standards of quality assessment and material control... [t]he CPTG protocol is not administered by government or industry regulatory agencies and does not imply regulatory approval of dōTERRA products."

By now it is no secret that the "Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade" label is a clever marketing ploy developed by essential oil marketing companies in the 1990s to convince you that their oils are the highest grade available, and better than all others on the market. Since coming under fire the phrasing has evolved and changed a bit amongst the individual companies, but you get the idea. These official sounding claims of purity are the primary reason MLM essential oil reps cite for why their company's oils are safe to ingest straight, and all others probably aren't. They're also the go-to rebuttal they use to overcome your hesitation of eating such a super-concentrated medicinal substance, assuring you that it is the extremely high purity and potentcy of their essential oils that makes them safe to ingest—the very same reason reputable sources advise against it.

Unfortunately, other reputable essential oil suppliers started using similar wording (like "therapeutic grade") to assert that their oils are equally pure and as fine a quality as the MLMs' oils. This makes navigating the world of essential oils very confusing to newcomers.

Generally speaking:

  • 100% pure, unadulterated essential oils are claimed to be therapeutic grade, both by MLM companies and reputable suppliers.
  • Essential oils are commonly sold for flavoring food. If you can use the essential oil to flavor food without it being toxic to human consumption, then it is considered "food grade". This is in contrast to essential oils that are absolutely toxic to humans and should never be used for ingestion, not even for flavoring food, like pennyroyal. It is entirely possible for an essential oil to be both "therapeutic" and "food" grade, though food grade oils with additives meant to enhance or prolong flavor would no longer be considered "therapeutic" and would not be labeled as a bottle of 100% pure essential oil by any reputable company.
  • Fragrance oils often have additives or are entirely made of synthetic chemicals intended to mimic natural scents and extend the lifespan of the scent vastly. While a fragrance oil may be used in a perfume to help the scent last all day, or used in a candle to scent a whole room, essential oils are extremely volatile, meaning they evaporate quickly. So using only essential oils in perfumes, candles, soaps, and sprays most often results in scents that don't linger very long. Because of this, perfumes and other scented items often use natural and/or chemical additives to enhance and extend their tenacity, or scent life, thus making them fragrance oils. They are then labeled as such.

As you can see, there are frequent instances where additives are added to essential oils. However, once this occurs they are no longer called "essential oils".

As always, as a conscientious consumer, you must distinguish between items that are 100% pure versus items that claim to have 100% pure ingredients IN them, but that is simply a matter of knowing that this can happen and accurately reading the label.

So when an essential oil sales rep tells you that their oils are the only safe ones to ingest because they are "Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade", or some other official sounding claim of superior grade quality oil only they can provide, the deception is two-fold:

  1. Their oils are just as potentially hazardous to eat straight out of the bottle as any other 100% pure, unadulterated, undiluted essential oil, and,
  2. "Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade" is a trademarked term made up by them which holds no credibility. It is not a certification bestowed upon them by an independent outside organization testing the purity of their oils.

They may have a third-party testing the purity of their oils, but they would not then certify them as "Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade", first because they don't hold the trademark to use that term, and second, because it's not a legitimate classification of essential oils. They might as well call their oils "Super Awesome Number 1 World's Best Oils", it would mean the same thing. But you probably wouldn't take much stock in that.

Besides, they're pretty excited about testing their own oils anyway.

Online research can easily demystify the "Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade" (CPTG) claim made by Essential Oil MLM companies.

Yet Young Living reps continue to claim that ingesting essential oils is safe. "Many Young Living oils are designated by the FDA as GRAS, generally recognized as safe for ingestion."

The designation of a substance as "GRAS", or "Generally Recognized as Safe" means it is not subject to FDA approval for its use as a food additive. "...[A]ny substance that is intentionally added to food is a food additive, that is subject to premarket review and approval by FDA, unless the substance is [GRAS]". The GRAS designation explicitly means the substance is NOT SUBJECT to FDA review. So while Young Living reps associate the safe ingestion of their oils with FDA approval, the FDA explains why this could not possibly be:

Q: "Must FDA approve GRAS substances?"

A: "No. If the use of a food substance is GRAS, it is not subject to the premarket review and approval requirement by FDA."

Furthermore, GRAS is a designation for the safe use of a substance as a food ingredient or ADDITIVE, as per its intended, historical, and common use, not to the complete and total safety of the substance itself!

Q: "If an ingredient is GRAS for one use, is it GRAS for all uses?"

A: "Not necessarily."

So if an essential oil is designated as "Generally Recognized as Safe" because it is typically used 1-2 drops at a time in a recipe, that does not automatically clear it as safe for straight consumption.

"Some essential oils have been approved as ingredients in food and are classified as GRAS (generally recognized as safe) by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, within specific limits. Swallowing large amounts of essential oils is not recommended."

"Aromatherapy is rarely taken by mouth..."

And, while we're examining the FDA's endorsement of essential oil ingestion, let's recall that their rules on the matter state that no dietary supplement, including essential oils, can claim that they treat a disease. When they do it in writing, like this...

"Peppermint Oil

  • "Medicinal Properties: Analgesic (for pain), anti-inflammatory (for inflammation), antiseptic (destroys and prevents germs), anti-infectious, antimicrobial (destroys pathogens), antispasmodic . . . fungicidal (kills fungus), nervine (strengthen and tone nerves), vasoconstrictor (blood vessels constrict) . . . . ..
  • "Peppermint is one of nature's finest digestives and peppermint herb is great to help oxygenate[s] the blood - therefore it assists invaluably in: healing of circulatory disorders, nervousness, insomnia, flu, headaches, fevers . . . . "
  • "Because peppermint herbs stimulate bile and digestive juice secretion, the peppermint therefore helps in relieving intestinal colic and other associated conditions. "
  • "Physical Benefits . . .

    • Arthritis
    • Asthma . . .
    • Colic . . .
    • Constrict capillaries
    • Headache
    • Hypotension . . .
    • Inflamed joints
    • Laryngitis
    • Migraine . . .
    • Scabies
    • Sinusitis"

      ...they are notified by the FDA to stop, like this:

"...Lavender Oil, Lemon Oil, [and] Peppermint Oil" are drugs...because they are intended for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease. Moreover, these products are new drugs,... because they are not generally recognized as safe and effective for their labeled uses. Under sections 301(d) and 505(a) of the Act, 21 U.S.C. §§ 331(d) and 355(a), a new drug may not be introduced or delivered for introduction into interstate commerce unless an FDA-approved application is in effect for it. Your sale of the above-listed "Therapeutic Essential Oils" without approved applications violates these provisions of the Act. Furthermore, many of the conditions for which these products are offered... are not amenable to self-diagnosis and treatment by individuals who are not medical practitioners; therefore, adequate directions for use cannot be written so that a layman can use these drugs safely for these intended purposes." —FDA

So if your Essential Oil Sales Representative is telling you all the wonderful health benefits of an oil, you can spot an unverified claim if he or she happens to directly name an ailment or disease. While it is alright to advertise that a substance can help "promote relaxation", it is not a justified claim to say the same substance can help "relieve anxiety", because anxiety is the name of an ailment. So while a sales rep may be trying to sell you products that promote well-being, remember, a sales rep is usually not a medical practitioner, which means they are not equipped to diagnose nor to treat a disease professionally.

Through my years of independent research on the uses of herbs and herbal medicine, I have found articles that report results of scientific studies that conclude the ingestion of some oils is safe, like peppermint. One such article is "Topical and oral administration of essential oils-safety issues", co-authored by Johnson and Boren.

The article, like many of its kind, reports on how specific herbs like peppermint have been documented to provide relief for gastrointestinal issues. It goes on to report that studies of products which use essential oils in their recipes, like mouthwash, have verified that these products are safe to use orally. It briefly reports on a handful of studies done on the topical application of some essential oils, and broadly summarizes a scientific study done on the oral use of peppermint oil:

"Studies examining the oral administration of peppermint essential oil indicate that it is well tolerated even among children" (pg 3).

"... in a small randomized, double-blind controlled trial of 42 children with IBS... [c]hildren received an oral solution containing 187 mg of peppermint oil three times daily" (pg 4).

"The harmlessness of oral ingestion of peppermint was confirmed." (pg 4)

In this very official looking document, the conclusion is noted as only an opinion of the authors that administering a "wide variety" of essential oils orally is safe, and is loaded with the names of reputable organizations well-known for their authority in such matters, like the FDA and German Commission E. Note how the first instances they cite as evidence suggesting the safe ingestion of essential oils don't actually document ingesting the straight oil, only studies of the products that contained them in dilution like mouthwash, and the association of uses of the oil's parent plants for herbal medicine remedies like peppermint.

That last study does claim that peppermint oil was administered orally to children, but this was as a prepared solution, suggesting it was not the straight oil of peppermint that was administered, but a diluted substance containing peppermint oil. This article also states:

"Furthermore, fennel essential oil is considered safe to administer orally to infants to alleviate colic." It completely fails to note that the study which concluded this used a 0.1% fennel oil preparation - again, not the straight oil.

Who is dosing children with more than twice the recommended daily dosage of peppermint oil? And who is suggesting to unwitting parents that feeding your infant child essential oil of any kind straight from the bottle is safe?

Though this document looks scientific and credible, the statements contained therein are inconclusive and deceptive. Turns out this particular article is co-authored by two employees of Young Living. One had actually been hired to supply the research for Young Living from which they draw their claims.

It is not the only credible-looking article of its kind, just a good example of the types of articles, studies, and books you will find while trying to do your own independent research. As the title of my article here points out, all of the articles I have found claiming safe ingestion of straight essential oils have turned out to be written by Young Living representatives, and they are not in short supply.

So if you find information claiming that ingesting essential oils undiluted is perfectly safe, or hear someone telling you this, remember:

"The International Federation of Aromatherapists Code of Ethics states -

No aromatherapist shall use essential oils for internal ingestion or internal application nor shall any aromatherapist advocate or promote such use of essential oils unless the practicing aromatherapist has medical, naturopathic, herbalist, or similar qualifications and holds an insurance policy which specifically covers the internal application of essential oils. (IFA code of ethics. Simply Essential, No. 11 December 1993)."

That last sentence has me wondering if Young Living Sales Representatives have to carry their own insurance, so when someone has a bad reaction to a reps recommended usage, Young Living is not found liable. Whether they do or not, sales representatives ARE liable for what you tell people to do with essential oils. So from an educated and frustrated marketing professional and herbal researcher, I say go on, sell and make money - but please, for safety's sake, stop advising customers to ingest essential oils.

Multi-Level Marketing businesses (MLM's) broadly range from business-casual to brainwashing. The former is comprised of the recent explosion of popular home-based businesses, like Thirty-One, Tastefully Simple, etc. The latter is an all-encompassing system designed to control how you think, what you feel, and what you say. I say this as a sales and marketing professional with over 15 years of experience having direct experience working for this type of intense MLM business, and it is no exaggeration.

(An example of how you are cunningly led through a sales conversation with an MLM rep is broken down for you in this article I wrote a couple years ago on "How to Compose an Engaging Script", a step-by-step guide on how to talk to someone to land that sale! Keep an ear out for some of these key methods the next time you talk to anyone trying to sell you something they didn't produce themselves.)

So when the "Tastefully Simple" rep meets the "Young Living" rep, they assume their training is much the same. They both have a product they are pumped up to believe in, are trained by their supervisors in marketing and sales methods, and are sent out to sell. But while the sales representatives of some MLM companies are just trying to find sales, what the Young Living rep is doing is two-fold both dangerous and manipulative to the customer. Here's why:

  1. While the Tastefully Simple rep is reciting 3 key points she's been taught to announce about her onion dip, the Young Living rep is reciting 3 key points she's been taught about her super-concentrated medicine. And while I usually know ahead of time if eating onions or things that might go into an onion dip might give me a bad reaction, as a typical home-party attendee I am probably very unaware of the the concentration of essential oils - the straight, undiluted oil expressed from the plant. The peppermint oil you are about to eat is not the same concentration found in your mouthwash or gum - it is the STRAIGHT OIL used to flavor it! If your mouthwash or gum is as potent as it is with just a minimal amount of the oil in its entire recipe, imagine what eating the oil must be like!
  2. While the Tastefully Simple rep has been taught to counter negatives with a friendly smile and reassurance of the positive aspects of her product, the Young Living rep has been taught to counter concerns with pre-scripted answers and made up terminology you'd have to do some serious research to uncover!

I've been doing independent and unaffiliated herbal research for 10 years, and I'll tell you now, the unbiased information is getting overtaken online by affiliated articles. This cannot continue - essential oils are not safe to eat straight!

Online Rebuttals and Reputation

Online research into MLM claims on essential oils is littered with hundreds of personal accounts by representatives and seemingly unaffiliated users of MLM essential oils that all closely resemble each other. These stories first begin by naming an ailment the user had been suffering from. Then they briefly describe all the different methods and products they've used to try to find relief, including other company's essential oils. Finally they mention how they discovered their MLM's essential oils, and now they have relief. The conclusion praises the MLM company and its product.

While these stories may seem legit and read very authentically, the sheer abundance of them and their template like structure of "first A, then B, so C" raises suspicion of their authenticity.

I feel disheartened by the sales ethics of companies such as Young Living. They are entirely aware of what they are doing when they train people you know and trust to instruct you to use essential oils in potentially dangerous ways. Some of these reps are my friends, trying to earn a living selling a product they whole-heartedly believe in.

Your friendly Young Living representative, a reputable and trusting mild-mannered friend you've probably known all your life, repeats the lessons she has learned from her Multi-Level Marketing superiors. All she knows is what she's been taught - it sounds credible, it's been (deceptively) linked to scientific research, and it's very convincing. What's more, any questions she has about the product will be answered the same way she is eventually taught to rebut concerns from her customers. Her rebuttal will be full of empty wording that sounds official, using phrases like "Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade", "generally regarded as safe" and "approved by the FDA" as she's taught to turn your negatives into her positives in order to get that sale!

Some rebuttals commonly taught to MLM Sales Representatives designed specifically to overcome your hesitations while dodging the issues in question include:

Q: Can you overdose on essential oils?

A: You can overdose on carrots if you eat enough.

Analysis of the answer: That's not what I asked.

Q: Are there any side effects to ingesting peppermint essential oils straight from the bottle?

A: When we stop feeding our kids pharmaceuticals and drugging them for ADHD then I'll start worrying about eating peppermint oil. Until then I trust what God has given us.

Analysis of the answer: A triple-layered confusing response that also does not answer the question asked. Let's break this down into its separate parts. First, it would make more sense to simply learn about the safety of ingesting peppermint oil before eating peppermint oil, let alone instruct others to do the same. Next, drugging children has nothing to do with the question at hand. That's fear mongering - associating a completely unrelated and disproportionately devastating idea to disrupt logical, rational thinking. Finally, nature also provides nightshade, oleander, daffodil bulbs and jasmine berries, and if you're ready to eat a big salad of all that, you should at least take a basic botany class.

Q: The handling of vanilla oil has been reported to cause headaches and loss of eyebrows.

A: People have eaten vanilla ice cream for years with no ill side effects.

Analysis of the answer: Vanilla ice cream is flavored by vanilla EXTRACT, which is a diluted mix of the essential oil diffused from the vanilla bean in alcohol.

Q: I heard your company was a quack.

A: You can Google "Pepsi" and find bad press - it's out there for every big company. Those who call us unreputable are just those against alternative healing methods. Of course drug companies don't want you to know how powerful natural medicine can be - that takes cash out of Big Pharma's pocket!

Analysis of the answer: Cleverly pre-scripted rebuttal meant to both reassure you in Young Living's credibility and distract you from the actual issues that concerned you in the first place and prompted you to ask the question, like sales ethics and safety practices. Notice how it never directly discusses if their company really is a reputable company. It also uses keywords, phrases, and ideas that are already familiar to you (like drug companies vs. natural remedies, and money hungry pharmaceutical companies) to overcome your objections. Yes you believe in natural remedies, and yes you believe that "big pharma" is greedy, but what about your concerns regarding this company and this product? Always keep the question you want answered in mind—maybe even write it down.

Q: I read an article online that said eating essential oils could be dangerous.

A: It saddens me that people feel the need to spread fear unnecessarily.

Analysis of the answer:Yes, fear mongering is rampant both online and in mainstream media. However, properly educating you on the potential side effects of essential oils is not fear mongering.

Q: My essential oils are labeled as "pure, therapeutic grade too."

A: 'Young Living oils are verified by GCMS (gas chromatagram mass spectrometer) and organically grown without the use of pesticides...are your oils?'

Probably not a question you ever thought to ask. Now the rep is trumping you with scientific testing you'd probably never heard of and seemingly common sense questions you never thought to ask (until now). Now you feel like an idiot. Now you'll believe whatever they tell you - clearly they know something you don't.

Answers like these are not for your education. Answers like these are also not off-the-cuff responses by your rep. You are what's called "pre-empted", told pre-written responses to their most common objections, often before you even say them! This is a marketing mind-game cleverly devised by an experienced MLM company, it's a staple in the world of direct (person-to-person) marketing, and it's likely that neither you nor the rep telling you realize exactly how it's been intentionally scripted to specifically lower your defenses and hesitations to make a sale.

In my experience representing over 30 of the world's most well-renowned brands and products, I could probably recite 100 pre-written rebuttals for you. This type of mental manipulation is also why I don't represent a single one of them anymore.

In Conclusion

The hesitation you feel the first time a sales representative tells you to drop an essential oil straight from the bottle onto your tongue (or even your skin) is the result of having a healthy respect for the power of nature. It is ok to feel nervous about ingesting essential oils, as the dangers of doing so have been studied, verified, and reported on by the world's most reputable aromatherapy organizations.

It is ok to tell the rep "no," even to drinking an essential oil diluted in water. I've got your back on this. By rule of thumb, never take an essential oil internally.

The number of online articles and print books published by Young Living representatives is growing, making it harder for you to discover the truth about the potential hazards of eating essential oils straight. It seems however that all are designed to convince you to buy THEIR product, instead of educate you on the benefits of essential oils overall. Researcher, be aware.

I'm alarmed to see a business wrecklessly endanger your health and well-being. But what's more, I'm frustrated to see such an irresponsible practice in the world of holistic medicine. The recent surge in popularity of natural remedies has the potential to disarm the strangle hold pharmaceutical companies have on offering relief to what ails us with harsh synthetic derivatives at sensationalized prices. With such irresponsible and unverified instructions regarding the safe use of essential oils internally, the entire practice of using them is vulnerable to attack and public scrutiny. Online backlash already includes articles questioning if all essential oils are just a scam.

Nature's medicinals hold the potential to treat and relieve ailments that is easily accessible and affordable to all of us. Let's not cast a devastating shadow of dis-credibility on the benefits of herbal medicine that are being newly being brought to light on the public platform by recommending we use them unsafely. Could it be that careless and dangerous practices like these are in fact a pharmaceutical plant (pun intended) meant to completely discredit an otherwise effective, useful, and invaluable field of knowledge for the well-being of all? Afterall, a house divided against itself cannot stand.

Regardless of your opinion of this article or its contents, the bottom line is this:

Essential oil MLM companies like doTerra and Young Living, their representatives, and affiliates need to stop deceptively promoting the safe use of ingesting straight essential oils.

Eating an essential oil straight out of the bottle is rarely if ever recommended by anyone outside the essential oil MLM world, and is specifically advised against worldwide by certified aromatherapists, scientific researchers, and industry experts. And dummies.com.

Disclaimer and Important Information

Please take responsibility for your own health. Do not use any products that may cause a sensitivity or allergic reaction, or if sensitivity or allergy status to a product is unknown. Information provided is not given or intended to be a substitute or replacement for qualified medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The owner(s), developer(s), producer(s) and maintainer(s) of this business, website, articles and its partners are not engaged in rendering professional or medical advice. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The information presented in these pages should not be considered medical advice, and you should always consult a physician before beginning a new regimen, to be advised about complications, interactions, or contradictions to your current treatment, or altering your course of treatment.

Trademarked terms used in this article are property of their respective owners.

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.


Cristina on February 27, 2019:

I'm using Plant Therapy essential oils and I'm very happy with the quality! I never thought of ingestion, and so will not ingest because they are powerful and can harm...especially in the cumulative effect that nobody thinks about!

Lee Tea (author) from Erie, PA on June 30, 2018:

recognized among experts...

as having safe usage for decades...

under the conditions of its intended use.

The only way (some) EOs have been used for decades thats recognized by experts as generally safe for consumption is in food. Adding EOs to consumable products is the intended use that earns (some) EOs there GRAS designation. GRAS means the EOs on the GRAS list do not need to be approved by the FDA in order be used as a food ingredient. GRAS oils have been used for years in food preparations and can generally be regarded as safe to continue using them as such. Companies who do adhere to industry standards and guidelines to decide how and how much to use.

Nothing about that clears undiluted EO as GRAS, or even implies that consuming straight, large amounts of or improperly prepared essential oils should be generally regarded as safe or is somehow FDA approved.

All this considered, GRAS in fact does denote a substance is not subject to FDA review. It also requires the substance be used in its usual manner in order to consider it generally safe to consume at all.

Again, the GRAS designation means their is no FDA review process for the EO to undergo, no FDA approval for it to be awarded, and is negated if you use it in a way other than its known, usual use...which for (some) EOs is as a food additive.

So when someone tells you an EO is FDA approved for straight, undiluted consumption because it's designated as GRAS, you can call them on their bullshit. You'll also save yourself some unnecessary risks to the health and wellbeing they're trying to get you to eat it for in the first place.

Or you can eat it. Up to you.

A fully informed consumer, free to make their own choices. I'm cool with letting that bias shine on, you crazy diamond. Thanks for including my omitted info though - I thought it was overkill in an already lengthy article, but in a challenge like yours here I see now how it really helps to drive the point home.

Misty on February 21, 2018:

Your bias, and intentional omissions of information, shine through clearly. You say that EO's indicated as GRAS are specifically "not subject to FDA approval for its use as a food additive", and then go on to quote - '"...[A]ny substance that is intentionally added to food is a food additive, that is subject to premarket review and approval by FDA, unless the substance is [GRAS]"'. You say that "The GRAS designation explicitly means the substance is NOT SUBJECT to FDA review." and this is materially UNTRUE and a false representation. I would encourage any reader to go check out the GRAS definition for themselves, directly from the FDA. You can find it here: https://www.fda.gov/Food/IngredientsPackagingLabel... and see clearly how you intentionally stopped your quote short of continuing on where it says "... unless the substance is generally recognized, among QUALIFIED EXPERTS, as having been ADEQUATELY shown TO BE SAFE UNDER THE CONDITIONS OF ITS INTENDED USE..." [EMPHASIS ADDED]. The bottom line is that for a substance to earn a "GRAS" classification, it has to pass through safety determinations that involve scientific procedures and/or a LONG history of safe usage for a tenure of decades. To try to downplay the significance of "GRAS" as if it is meaningless - or worse, to portray it as meaning a substance doesn't fall subject to any requirements - is absolutely misleading and reprehensible on your part. I have no idea what your agenda is, but you really should find another creative outlet because the misinformation you are spreading is egregious.

Lee Tea (author) from Erie, PA on February 15, 2018:

"If essential oil multi-level marketing companies like Young Living want to claim that it is okay to eat and apply essential oils undiluted, then I am here to claim it is also okay if it makes you nervous and if you don't want to do it. That is obviously the safer choice: Don't let a cleverly crafted sales pitch convince you otherwise!"

That's the opener. It's the third mention of straight, undiluted use instruction in the introduction alone.

It appears your confusion likely arises from the conflicts in logic created by citing statements from my article that aren't found in it. I DO however state in this piece that I don't fault the reps, and I have no issue examining the reprocussions a for-profit business inflicts upon individuals, ESPECIALLY those companies causing harm and injury to actual people who've agreed to pay them for holistic health and wellness. Just a simple matter of business ethics, nothing personal, because businesses are not people.

This article arms consumers with the information they need to make well-informed decisions regarding their own health and wellness choices; If you suspect different information may be more helpful to you, you should try reading a different article. Additional perspective is usually my go-to remedy for convoluted confusion relief.

Kacey Hendershot on November 23, 2017:

At the beginning of your article you state that Young Living Representatives suggest that diluted EO's are ok to ingest and then your article goes on to talk about sales people suggesting ingesting EO's in their consentrated undiluted form is ok. That is confusing to me; it's obvious you don't believe ingesting highly potent EO's and your beginning statement shows that Young Living agrees. If a representative has a memorized statement it should be in line with your opening statement from Young Living suggesting dilution; if they say otherwise they are speaking for themselves.

I read your article hoping to get outside information about diluting and ingesting certain EO's but it seemed your main objective was to discredit Young Living Sales people when there are many other companies selling EO's and countless people using and wanting information about how to improve their health and starving for sound advice in alternatives to western medicine.

In the future it would be helpful to have information on what EO's or suppliments you have found to be helpful in your venture as a sales representative instead of writing about the errors of other sales representatives.

Donel Rourke on October 09, 2017:

Would love your thoughts on Melaleuca PURE Essential Oils

Paul Zwierzanski on August 22, 2017:

Hi Lee. Thank you for this piece. I came across it after a DT rep came into our health store and after hearing her speak I was concerned at the way she gave out advice concerning EOs and the condemnation of other EOs on the market.

This attitude ALWAYS get me worked up when someone rubbishes other company products as a way of promoting theirs.

But after 15 years in my store, I do recognize the signs as soon as they are used.

We would never recommend the internal use of EOs without the advice from a qualified Aromatherapist or similar as our policy. We also never advise using them neat on the skin as the oils are so potent and so easily absorbed. Whilst EOs are indeed a wonderful product provided by nature, they must be treated with respect and sense, a trait often lacking in general public when faced with their own health issue (if one drop was good, then two or three will cure me) attitudes which have been demonstrated many times in our store.

Your writing is informative, unbiased and a joy to read by all of our staff in our store and thank you for your obvious care and concern you have shown in this piece.

Nancy on August 21, 2017:

I am very impressed with your article; it has convinced me that I must stop ingesting essentia oils immediately.

Erica Moore on August 08, 2017:

I really appreciated reading this article. I am Young Living distributor and chose this company after a lot of reading about essential oils. I chose them for the variety of products they carry and their open commitment to quality. There were definitely other companies that I trusted, but I'll be honest I like the idea of supplementing my family's income too.

I want to let you know that I am a distributor that does NOT encourage the internal ingestion of straight essential oils and caution against the use of multiple supplements at one time. I am also not alone in my position and there are many of us that don't. I have a medical/science brain and use essential oils with a goal to improve our well-being while reducing toxins in my home and around my family. I am not a Dr nor certified health practitioner so do not prescribe or consult on what someone should be using for ailments. I do follow my country's natural health products claims regarding many of the oils I sell and encourage people to do their own research as I have done.

Unfortunately, there are some people that give companies like YL and similar a bad rap and thus many people feel they need to attack the companies rather than choose to address the individuals or simply provide good evidence based research on which people can make their decisions about essential oil use. We need good sound research out there of what these oils do and how to safely use them. Time spent bashing companies and their supporters is time wasted. It is projected that within the next 30 yrs cancer rates will hit a 50% incident rate. We already know toxins play a role in that, they also are contributing to decreased fertility and increased autoimmune disorders. Essential oils, and other natural health products, have the potential to replace those toxic products we use and counter damage done to our bodies. Let's put our time and energy there and work together to create healthy and well communities.

Estelle on June 24, 2017:

Based on easily verifiable info on FDA.gov the FDA does not define the term essential oil. Therefore, a company could create a completely synthetic product and legally call it 100% Pure Essential Oil. The FDA also allows "incidental ingredients" in a product to not be disclosed on a label. This could be a chemical that is used during processing. Also YL reps are prohibited from making medical claims and YL has enforced this when they see noncompliant info online. I know someone who had gotten a warning and needed to remove content even though she was a certified aromatherapist and was speaking within the scope of her training. When I pass around peppermint at a YL essential oils class, it is diluted in carrier oil. That is how I was trained and that's what the instructions say to do right on the bottle! I do not condone casual internal use except for as a flavoring in food with a high fat content, which is safe. The fact Robert Tisserand recommends working with a trained aromatherapist before consuming (although I've read even more liberal writings of his on this) suggests that there is a place for safe internal use. EOs are powerful and like any other supplement (if you are using as such) should be used with caution. I wouldn't walk into a health food store and just pick up random bottles of supplements without doing research. That doesn't mean these supplements aren't helpful. YL's vitality line is approved by the FDA as a dietary supplement and is labeled as such. I appreciate wanting people to use caution. I'm just sick of all of the hype and making blanket statements about MLM companies and their reps.

ruby tan on May 19, 2017:

I am a Certified Aromatherapist and I am so happy to read your very detailed article on Ingestion of Essential Oils.

rhonsbiz on March 21, 2017:

Let's not leave out DoTerra! They are worse than YL reps.

Heidi on February 11, 2017:

Wow, I just found this article after feeling ill for the last two days, after I was schooled by a YL distributor how to ingest peppermint oil (not diluted), and massage it into my forehead and throat for a cold. I stated to google articles after I swallowed two more drops, followed by a glass of water, and developed painful esophageal burning (I take full responsibility, I should have dome some research -_- ) Never again....

emilia on February 10, 2017:

I'm disappointed by this article. There is a ton of testing and there are oils out there that are dietary. too much of anything can be bad for you. i will continue drinking my delicious oil water. DILUTED!! use common sense!!

missinformed on January 20, 2017:

Thank you for this article. I have been reading up on the ingestion of essential oils for a few months. I had a friend that ingested too much and was ill for a while due to it. Now I find myself nervous as there are folks I work with that are drinking essential oils in their water on a daily basis, have their children drink it and now have passed out flyers about essential oil shots. Very concerned and don't know how to tell them I'm worried.

GreenMind Guides from USA on January 11, 2017:

Wow what a well-researched and useful piece! Really a masterful job -- thanks!

Jennifer on January 03, 2017:

Wow! This is a wonderful, in-depth article backed by scientific research. Thank you for writing this! I actually use doTERRA oils and was not bought into the idea of using them internally. This article really helped me understand the facts. I sincerely appreciate the work you have done here.

Sarina on December 28, 2016:

Well now we have the vitality range!

And that's fda approved

Carol on November 07, 2016:

Thank you for such an informative article. Keep them coming!

Dave on September 09, 2016:

Thanks for the post, Lee. I'm really bothered by YL's approach and am concerned it will get the FDA cracking down on the industry, not just the companies that operate badly. I'd rather see self-responsible business succeed.

On your comment on liability - I think that is one thing they can get around. To my understanding, each person in MLM runs their own business. Their up-line connection is a separate business entity and isn't liable for anything illegal a different company does. You have to prove that the illegitimate practice is pushed from the parent. This is often associated with written and verbal training materials and information that differ in content.

@Jean Bakula - Young Living give out lots of bad advice and will make any claim that it can find half a reference for if it means selling product. This is not the only source I've found that references YL saying to ingest pure drops of EO's. They are also behind a fairly recent claim that carrot seed oil has an SPF of 40, which it doesn't.

You mention diluting in water - essential oils don't mix with water. You get a bunch of water with a drop of EO floating on the top.

Yes, people ingest frankincense. Not the EO (I hope). Currently, Boswellia (the genus name) is being sold in health food stores in capsules with labels that tout the boswellic acid content. Frankincense resin has been chewed like gum for centuries.

Nicole on September 09, 2016:

You start your article out by bashing on Young Living specifically but later on mention other companies. I suspect you didn't research how other countries utilize EO for this wordy "article". Also, the FDA just approved a few products from YL as "medicine".... Do you know what that means? Do you realize almost all medicine came from plants and herbs to begin with. If someome choices, makes a personal choice to ingest EO after doing their own research who are you going to blame? I agree with another commentor that I've never seen anyone say Take 10 drops or some asinine amount Internally. 1-2 drop per 2 liter. Medicine and prescription drug overdoses have seriously hurt, damaged and killed many more people than natural medicine ever has. Have you visited the Young Living farms? Actually seen how the oils are picked and distilled? Know that the farms and seeds are organic (by at least 10 years if not more). Do you know anyone who actually uses used oils from YL or DT? Do you know where these companies get their ingriedents and why it eould make a difference of Owning the farms versus buying from a third party? Do you look up to big pharma when they make asthma drugs that cause aggression and suicidal ideations in children? Or antidepressants that could cause suicidal or homicidal thoughts in adults? You think the people who get thode side effects shouldn't have any other options? Where does your hate come from? How have you been harmed personally? Please share your agenda instead of scaring people away from a natural alternative.

Jean Bakula on August 29, 2016:

You sound like you have a grudge against Young Living. Nobody is going to ingest Frankincense. Any instruction I read was to add 1 DROP of lemon or lime oil to a 1 quart stainless steel water bottle to boost your vitamin C. Nobody would use oils in amounts you are discussing, I don't know where these exaggerations come from. I know people in chronic pain (myself one of them) and the Ortho Ease helps so much, if you rub a few drops where it hurts. I wouldn't use it on children, and most of them smell like pine or are blends nobody would consider eating. One drop diluted in a lot of water is all I ever saw written in my book. The Thieves cleaners are great, and used in a diffuser, have helped my family from getting colds and sore throats. They are also calming and soothing. You should never put anything in a Styrofoam cup, that's unhealthy in itself. McDonalds stopped using styrofom over 20 years ago.

YL is expensive, and if you shop around you can find EO's that are cheaper. Nobody is suggesting you ingest a whole bottle, it's usually one, diluted drop.

Lee Tea (author) from Erie, PA on June 01, 2016:

I don't think that label fits how I connect to and interact with my reality spiritually, how I perceive it as an ongoing connected cycle, how I choose to deal with disappointments, sorrow, and pain, or what motivates me to action. So, I'd guess not.

Noticable increase of people trying to classify me lately... must be an election year.

Chaz on June 01, 2016:

Are you an atheist?

Lee Tea (author) from Erie, PA on January 12, 2016:

Sorry Elizabeth - looks like I forgot something.

About those softgels... I don't know which specifically you're referring to, but I do recognize EO ingestion has its place.

Of course EOs are sometimes used in consumables for fragrance and flavoring like, and some like orange, peppermint and lavender are even used in supplement and over-the-counter preparations...

... the key word there being "preparations". Lowest effective amount, properly diluted and dispersed, correctly encapsulated (such an enteric capsules) to be able to reach the area it is intended to effect, for specific reasons, for short amounts of time.

Industries that use EOs in for-sale products have safety guidelines established to protect consumers from harmful formulations. These organizations often invest their resources in scientific study to be able to accurately determine safe amount guidelines for producers. A list of some can be found in "The Library" at EssentialInfo . weebly . com, though I just discovered a lot of the text turned tiny when I wasn't looking - I'll be sure to fix that really soon.

Those like myself involved in related holistic fields leave those kinds of diagnoses and preparations to producers who must adhere to their industry's self-regulatory safety standards and have the proper training to perform this service, like studies in anatomy, biology, pharmacology, physiology, pharmakonetics, and industry-related ethics and safety.

They also must have the proper insurance in place to offer such products, and typically are involved with a professional organization that sets mandatory guidelines for running their business reputably.

So I leave it to trained aromatherapists and supplement companies, and don't use the services of either. If I didn't think whole herbs suited my needs, I would've studied something else. :)

Here's an article I wrote on the potential risks involved with lemon essential oil ingestion that displays why it is important to understand what you are handling before you go feeding it to others: https://discover.hubpages.com/health/Essential-Oil...

You'll find a lot more information in my other EO-related articles, which I think can now be found under the "health" tab on my profile. HP moves them around on me sometimes - I'm never really sure what will be where.

Lee Tea (author) from Erie, PA on January 12, 2016:

Hello Elizabeth,

Thank you for your thoughtful comment. For you to call this article fair and balanced is a huge compliment to the part of me that writes purely from inspiration. No amount of experience or education in this craft give me any idea how I'd instruct another writer to pull that off while calling out a specific company over and over again hahaha! It's been an intense week, week and a half - well, couple months I guess now, and being called back here to where this all began for me to read the comments from you two ladies is really awesome - a welcome break from brainbusting research and timely reporting on EO related matters. I'll also say it's quite a relief. This gets brutal. Thank you both for taking the time - it keeps me going.

I hear many of your colleagues say the same about offering sound advice for the safer uses of EOs while working for a company that does not. My experience in and intense focus on EO sales and marketing would lead me to conclude that these companies that flat out ignore risks to promote unverifiable benefits aren't just naively overlooking their safer use shortcomings. Money is the only reason for marketing and when profit's the name of the game, you'd best consider not one penny is left to chance.

Take the lemon oil in a styrofoam cup demonstration for example. A few drops of pure lemon oil eats right through the cup. Most would say I'm not eating that, because somewhere along the way they earned an appreciation for self-preservation. Kind of like when you don't have to chase your toddler around all day anymore - after a few bumps and bruises, junior learns not to run off the side of a cliff.

It's no secret the citrus oils are some of the best natural solvents to be found. Lemon is used industrially in paint thinners and orange in adhesive removers. (EOs are HUGE business - the little bottles you sell are only a small part of the worldwide trade, which is why you can breathe a sigh of relief that EO promoters breaking established laws designed to protect consumers aren't going to ruin the game for everybody. EOs will remain available because they are sold and bought by the drum full, and money talks, plain and simple).

So the point here is to begin to recognize both why these companies outright ignore safety data collected from ALL the industries that use EOs AND to identify the methods they are using that successfully convince individuals, mostly women, to ignore common sense and the confidence they have in their ability to use reason and logic. And then, maybe ask yourself...

...is this the kind of company I want to be working for?

Every bottle you sell keeps them in business. If I had supply I'd offer you all a job today. As it is, it seems to be to my benefit as a writer not to have a business interest in essential oils. Those searching for my information - or any credible unaffiliated information on EOs at all, really - can seek it out, find it, read it and learn without having to overcome barriers built by bias to access it, as you mentioned. Personally that's my reason for making my articles free and accessible to all without payment, sign up, or hassle - I aim to avoid the bias money creates in determining one's worth or worthiness in this and all my endeavors.

It also works for me as an herbalist to be able to educate people on the healing powers of flowers, which I view as information that needs to remain free and available to all who live where they can be picked for free. Herbal knowledge as learned over the course of generation should also remain whole and intact - what mankind has known for generations about the ways to use what nature freely offers to support and sustain our well-being is each individuals rightful inheritance as the most recent members of humankind. Take it or leave, but for good's sake don't OBLITERATE it for crying out loud! These companies not only risk one's well-being for profit, but they also corrupt the ability one has to learn how to heal for free ohhhh....

I think I just answered one of my questions from above. Ouch.

Well I was going to conclude that remaining unaffiliated works for me as a direct sales and marketing specialist to be able to address the communication rhetoric being used to to override your logic with impulsive desires but - it seems a moot point now.

You know, there are many reputable, ethical companies who have oils for sale, and a lot of them are a part of our ever-growing online community. Would you and your crew be interested in working for them instead?

Lee Tea (author) from Erie, PA on January 12, 2016:

Hi Laura,

Thank you for reading it all hahaha! I had a lot to say, and I'm still putting it out there in bits and pieces online everyday. Sadly I'll say, it never gets old :(

Your recommended supplier has not been nominated yet to our list of reputable suppliers. I have added them to our list of nominees to offer for public comment this month on our FB page.

With 8 or 9 articles on the topic and 100s of comments I'm not sure if I had mentioned those here yet - if not I guess I should explain. If so then just ignore me lol - lately I've been researching and reporting on more EO related topics all day every day than a person has the time or energy for.

The short of it is that this article right here spawned an online community after I first published it 2 years ago this March. HP here won't let me post links in my comments, so I'll just say we've taken our campaign to "address misleading sales tactics in the essential oil industry" to the cyber-streets with a FB community and related website, and I'll be launching a newly designed website that streamlines all the info we've crammed onto our free one sometime this spring. Maybe summer. Sometime this year. If you're looking for more, keep searching! You'll find us.

Thanks for the tip - be well.

Elizabeth on January 12, 2016:

Thank you for writing your article. It is honestly one of the few I've read that really does not seem biased one way or the other. I certainly don't like finding article after article written by company reps about how safe their product is for this use or that use, they are hardly an objective source. A lot of other articles really seem to have a personal vendetta against one specific company as opposed to taking issue with the actual product usage, that sends off alarm bells for me too. You nicely balanced the line between potential benefit vs. potential harm & I thank you for that. While I do rep for a company I do advocate against some of their advice adamantly (drinking eo's in water? doesn't anyone remember the saying "they mix like oil & water" meaning they don't). I'm a big believer in doing your own research no matter what & if you don't feel comfortable doing or using something then trust your gut, at the end of the day it is your body not mine or that rep's. You can still reap the benefits without following x companies "regimen" to the letter. As far as dilution, I'm amazed at some of the stories I've read about people using copious amounts of oils neat that I can barely stand smelling 1 drop off heavily diluted. Whether some of it is people just assuming if a little is good more must be better & of course there are the reps who gloss right over the importance of dilution, some of the stories just make my brain come to a halt. I still double check my prescription bottles every time I use them, it seems so crazy to me how many people don't bother to even read the label right on the side of the bottle. I do wish these companies (the one I rep for included) would spend more time & effort on making sure reps understand the importance of dilution & potential adverse effects from intenal use & that just because one person can use an oil safely one way does not automatically mean everyone can. I also wish they would provide more info about how to identify signs of potential overdose, especially on kids & animals whose liver functions may be different or aren't fully developed, perhaps if nothing else to encourage responsible use & self education. I look forward to reading more of your articles. I'd be curious to hear your thoughts on the softgel supplements that the companies have added to their product lines, there seems to be very little out there regarding those specifically.

Laura on January 11, 2016:

Hi! I feel like I learned so much information from this page! Thank you! I also enjoyed reading the listing of companies you gave in response to a previous comment. I'm curious if you have done any research on the company Nature's Sunshine who also provides essential oils including "organic" and "wild?"

Lee Tea (author) from Erie, PA on January 06, 2016:

Ha! I found it. Canned response from the comments section of my article "Essential Oil Safety: Documented Side Effects, Injuries, and Deaths from Essential Oil Ingestion":

"As a highly diluted blend used externally for cosmetic purposes, I believe that's fine. I myself make my own deodorant sprays based on herbal recipes I've collected over the years. But what I believe doesn't do much to ease anyone's anxiety or assure safety over such an issue, so I asked some reputable aromatherapy practitioners to help me with this answer for you.

Mr. Dannie Lane from AromaTherapeutics Medicinal Aromatherapy and Massage notes that different oils require different dilutions for safe cosmetic use. He writes:

"[F]or things like lip balm the % of each EO depends on which EOs they are using. With some you can use up to 2% with others much less (0.2% or so) so you would need to know what EOs they are going to be using."

So begin by researching your specific oils for safe dilution ratios. He further noted that dilution for use in lip balm may need to be much greater than dilution for use in deodorant. A general chart for converting dilution ratios to number of drops can be found here: http://www.naturesgift.com/methods.htm

Additionally, Marge Clark from Nature's Gift Aromatherapy, an established company well-known for high quality products and ethical practices, had this helpful advice:

"For a lip balm you are normally adding the EO's for flavoring... less than 1% ... perhaps 1/2 of 1% is plenty. (and this is assuming 'benign" oils... non photosensitizing citrus, mild spices, vanilla CO2, etc."

So another point is to make sure your essential oils are safe for their intended purpose.

I hope finding out safe dilution ratios for your specific oils and researching your recipe's source for credibility will help you become more confident in your blending and production. It's clear you want to learn more about your ingredients in order to make a safe, effective product. Thank you for your responsible approach to essential oil use."

That was a great response - still works today! And by the way, the most effective part of that grapefruit water you mentioned is...

...yep, you guessed it. The full glass of water ;)

Best wishes on your journey to discover the power of flowers.

Lee Tea (author) from Erie, PA on January 06, 2016:

Miss Fallacy -

I am so sorry for not seeing your post sooner - HP's filter is tempermental and you got caught between the gates!

Essential oils are widely used for flavor and can be used for recipes provided they are used in small amounts and there is a fat in the recipe to properly disperse the oil throughout. In regards to oregano oil for pastas, the general consensus outside of sales companies seems to be that the flavor it adds is mediocre to awful and whole-herb oregano with your tomato sauces can't be beat. Lydia Bastianich even says dried is better than fresh - I watch a lot of PBS :) I always flavor with whole plant herbs and spices, it's part of what drew me to herbalism.

Lip balms... we have a post in our comments somewhere about exactly that from two renowned veterans in the essential oil world. I'm hoping it's in this article's comments, there's over 100 now, let me go find it just a sec...

...it is not. Must've been another one of my EO articles.

I will be right back.

MissFallacy on December 27, 2015:

Hi! Thank you for this awesome article. It was very helpful, and has turned me against ingesting oils. (I haven't ingested any yet, but I was going to start doing the "drop of grapefruit oil in my water" thing, to help with weight loss). I do have 2 questions though. I think I'm suffering from information overload, so I wanted to make sure.

1. Is it, or is it not safe to use 1 drop of essential oils in cooking? You know, like using a drop of oregano oil in spaghetti sauce or things like that. - assuming it's quality oil, etc.

2. Is it ok to use essential oils in lip balms? I was going to start making some soon, but now I'm a little scared of licking the balm on my lips because of the oils.

Clarification on these 2 subjects would be most appreciated, and thank you again for doing all of this research!

MJ Degno on December 22, 2015:


I believe in two of my previous replies I actually said I do occasionally eat a peppermint leaf or slice of lemon. That is not the comparison we are even talking about, so for two previous replies citing using herbs and spices or some products consumed or even using a lemon drizzle made from lemon zest is not an accurate argument to even attempt to bring up. BIG difference in the ratios of essential oils being ingested in either case from, say a couple of drops of said oil in a bottle of water, or straight up (Essential oils cocktail anyone?) And those examples. As for the muscle cream, those oil proportions are diluted of course, because they are in a cream base. The level of even trying to make an argument here is non existent, since there are no intelligent comparisons. And imagine that- GASP- we can agree on one thing: muscle creams are ok because you aren't rubbing toxic oils undiluted on yourself. And yes there are some oils which are considered safe to use undiluted, but through some actual research, we are also finding some of those same oils are even more effective diluted to a less than full strength ratios. I also don't think in any sense we have said was directly about anything other than unsafe use of ingesting essential oils. Feel free to interpret as you will, as that is usually how some will always try to twist things.

And by the way, as an EMT, the results may take a while to see, but there are people who have Kidney and Liver damage and they have been ingesting essential oils. It may not kill you right away, but neither will taking a whole bunch of some medications right away either. Does that mean it won't/doesn't harm you? No. Would you eat six pain pills at once? Probably not.

Lee Tea (author) from Erie, PA on December 14, 2015:

Wow - thanks Gayla. Can't tell you how much I appreciate that right now.

I mean we ripped this issue apart and examined it from the ground up:


but if they can't even take the time to even find the articles, or even just the titles of the articles I've already written... well, I don't just don't have it in me to keep explaining it. It took me 3 weeks of intense research and writing to get the word out at least to pregnant mothers that their supplements might contain lead so lay off for now, and their reps clobbered me for it today. So I was exhausted, and then the fighting began. Then HP pulled my article and I stayed up another night to move it to where it could be hosted immediately again. Hence my current delirious status.

My articles are for those who seek them out. They do that because they are looking for complete, unaffiliated information to make decisions for themselves. I'm finding out are they are the very best readers to have - a whole group of independent thinkers.

Reminds me of a Bill Hicks skit... "people who hate people, come together..."


lol... what a crazy day. Thanks again. That card in this position plays higher than you'll probably ever know. Millicent is Gray by the way... have a great night.

gayla1957 on December 14, 2015:

@millicent: let's make an amino acid comparison: amino acids are good and healthful, right? when attached to their proteins, yes, amino acids are good and healthful. but when separated from their proteins and ingested, they are absorbed too quickly by the body and become excitotoxins. for you to compare consuming lemon peel with consuming lemon essential oil only reveals your lack of knowledge and understanding on this topic.

Lee Tea (author) from Erie, PA on December 14, 2015:

Kelli902, MJDegno, and the rest of my usual audience,

Thank you for your comments and letting me know in what ways my 15 years of direct sales expertise has helped you cut through the sales propaganda used to maximize the effects of impulse marketing in both product sales and rep recruitment.

If you would, please kindly excuse the influx of new commenters over the next few days - I released an article today about their company being sued over claims of lead content in their supplement products, and they're pretty pissed off. Not because their company lied to them - just because I told them something they hadn't heard yet.

I don't THINK I mentioned any of the individuals who've decided to track me down and make a half-assed cased against my full-time craft but, well ..you know, here why don't you look it over let me know if I missed something: http://essentialinfo.weebly.com/news/evidence-of-b...

In the meantime, I do see and have to approve every comment that comes through here but I figured what the hell - they've been at my throat all day on every platform they can track me down on - website, newsfeed, facebook, twitter, SPARTA, HP, email... figured I'd just let it roll and leave this one to the dogs to hump on until they're good and satisfied.

I mean it's still in tact, it was built solid, good stitching, quality understructure and design, but admittedly it's an older piece so have at it.

To my new audience - congratulations, your comments have been approved! I do that, so, you're welcome. You sure look like you understand who I am and what I do - must've "done your research", huh? Please, tell us more about what you know.

Come to think of it, every person who has hopped on my material in an attempt to cast doubt into the credibility of my work today has been from Young Living. Every - Single - One. Of course all my work links to the sources themselves so that readers can review even MORE unaffiliated information from which to form their own health-related choices from but, regardless, just stellar representation there - guess we could view it as a quantity-over-quality type thing. I bet your upline would be happy to hear you're spending your time and sales tricks not making a sale. I mean come on, basic day 1 LOA, am I right? Well guess what...in case you're not quick to the game yet, I'm a "no" gumball... time to move on.

You've got products to sell, and who knows? Maybe soon you'll be expanding your product line (that's linear, as opposed to mix, which is vertical - you know basic marketing, right?) with more options like "leaded" and "unleaded"...

Get excited!

Millicent on December 14, 2015:

A few more questions...do you use any spices in your cooking? Do you use any lemon peel in bundt cakes or the drizzle for frosting? Do you realize these contain essential oils? Do you remove the essential oils first before using or consuming them? You have cherry picked articles that feed what you were taught in your herbalist teachings. You pick articles that are written by government agencies and supported by big Pharma. Of course Big Pharma doesn't want you to consume the oils, that is a given. You definitely have the right to have an opinion, but what you are stating is not "fact" other than to the person who wrote the article. Those of use who disagree can find articles that completely disagree with what you have reported. So while I do respect your right to write your article and link to the "facts" that support your thoughts, just know that anyone can do the same thing. I'm not doing it in rebuttal because I've done the research for myself and think that others should do the same. Talk to people, for real, who do use them on their skin and who do use them internally. Also, if you are true to your own thoughts, you should recommend that no one use any arthritis aid or any type of muscle ache creams....they have essential oils. GASP!

Gray on December 14, 2015:

I too did extensive research when I began learning about oils, and through my research found that Young Living puts the greatest amount of care and research into their oils. They have teams of doctors and veterinarians that advise on the oils. Out of the millions that use YL oils, I find that your research has produced nothing that should bring about great concern about how their oils are used. You need to be careful with everything that you do. Each OTC drug has had a number of people complain about side effects, etc. Have you bashed each and every one of them? You need to not play doctor. You can do research, but people need to be responsible for their own health. I am thankful for essential oils and we use them undiluted (not all, but some) on our skin and we use them internally. If you will read labels of items you purchase, you will find that many have essential oils in them and you are drinking it or eating it. Your research is incomplete and biased. I'm sorry for you and each reader who decides not to continue their own research. You are missing out on a good thing. God put these oils here and they have been used for 1000s of years safely. (All articles are not written by YL - very misleading title. People should be hesitant in trusting you.)

Oregano Lady on December 14, 2015:

Totally will keep you posted when one of my 600 downline dies from oils

Kelli902 on December 05, 2015:

I have to say thank you for this wonderful and informative article. I am new to the world of essential oils. I am now obsessed with the learning process. I just spent $200 on the books you suggested!!I have several friends that do the YL oils and I recommended them to check out the oils I found. The first thing they said to me is they don't say you can't ingest them so they are no good. I contacted the company right away and they got back within the hour telling me in no way do they recommend that without the supervision of a Aroma therapist or doctor. They do have recipes for teas and cooking with the oils but nothing on ingesting them straight. They said no way. I also like them because they get back to me with answerers to every question no matter how small. That is a good company.

It is also sad that these companies sell for such high prices. OMG when I started I thought now way could I do this. My friends were scaring me by saying I am wasting my money and that they are not safe because they were inexpensive. How can they sleep at night with these prices. I shopped and read reviews and found a few wonderful companies that I can afford. I have many now and can also afford trial and error on different blends.

I have read every comment also and they were very helpful also!! So needless to say in just this one article I spent hours of my day off just reading and learning so much!! Thank you it made my day!

gayla1957 on November 29, 2015:

thank you for your article. i only read the first third of it, and have bookmarked it for later perusal. i'm really cautious with essential oils and won't even consider buying Young Living or Doterra because they are big enough that they are, in my opinion, more vulnerable to internal corruption. i order from Mountain Rose Herbs, but am most comfortable with Nature's Gift because Marge has her hands and nose on everything. she has suppliers that she has used over time, which doesn't eliminate risk but at least it minimizes risk, and i believe she does her own independent testing.

because essential oils are so potent, and because there is a lot of fraud out there, i have veered away from them in many cases, limiting my use to a handful in place of the many that i used to use. and i never use them undiluted, not even german chamomile. i actually watched a Doterra rep put an undiluted drop of lime essential oil on a baby's forehead at one of their sales gatherings, without the mother's permission. i about fell over, i thought it was maybe the most dangerous and presumptive albeit well-meaning thing i had seen to date.

i probably move between 15 or 20 different eo's, carefully.

MJ Degno on November 19, 2015:

Hello, friends-

I have posted in the past as "Michael" I have since formed a profile, and I am known as MJ Degno. Lee first off- she is brilliant, and has been very supportive for me recently, and a good friend. She has sound advice. I have been working on many blends and I am a advocate of safe oil use. While yes there are some schools of thought about ingestion out there, this would be reserved for Professionals, and I personally do not use any oils internally. I have no need, and to be honest I don't want to take the chance. I know my body, and I don't think it would be good for me either. The arguments that diffusion and ingestion being "the same thing" isn't even a substantive argument.

For example- as an EMT-Routes of Entry are : Ingestion, Injection, Absorption, and Inhalation. If that holds true for recognized EMT practice, it holds true for Oils. These are recognized means of entry. Yes, they are different methods and means, and reactions on the body are different. I am proud of Mindy for letting that customer know that it isn't safe to ingest oils, regardless of what she has heard. So Kudos. Be safe everyone. Any other questions are welcome, and myself and Lee would be glad to assist for any reason. Any contrary reasoning on my explanations are welcomed, I'd be glad to expand on my viewpoints. They are based on sound practice, I would love to talk about it if need be.

Take care people.

MJ Degno

mindyb38 on November 13, 2015:

Lee, I think I just fell in love with you tonight from reading your article. You said everything I have wanted to say about MLM EOs and you backed it with citations! I am constantly angered by the advice given by these reps to use oils undiluted and to ingest them. I work as a Wellness Specialist at a local grocers and we sell essential oils. Recently a customer was looking at our oils and was told by some random lady (I am assuming she was a YL rep) that she "should not ingest those oils because they are not therapeutic grade". After the woman walked away, I told the customer she should never ingest any EO oil, regardless of the brand. I was fuming because 1. This woman was giving unsolicitated, unsafe advice in my place of business where I take my customer's health seriously and 2. Because the rep somehow figured her training as a rep trumped my soon to be completed Aromatherapy certification. I just have a difficult time understanding why the advice of a MLM company who's primary goal is to make money would be more believable than certified Aromatherapists who typically make little money but truly love the people they help. It is mind baffling to me! Thank you, thank you, thank you for being the voice behind this crazy issue!

Michael on November 08, 2015:

I don't really (and I don't think Lee needs to either) have to convince anyone to choose to do anything one way or another. I actually kind of addressed this in a response earlier. If I myself feel like one day dropping a capsule filled with something I felt might make me feel better-there's no one to stop me.

However what if I was wrong? Miscalculated? It seems logical the body after repeated use of something can develop a tolerance over time to it.

Now, those oils I was taking internally don't have the same effect anymore for me and one day I take a dose that kills me because I figure a little more might help this one time.

Lee already said that most likely the majority of the oils probably have been evaporated by the time they drink the water. I like how many contradictions I saw in that particular reply. Billy's post Said 1-2 and then he ends his post with "ONE DROP"

Do I eat a peppermint leaf occasionally or a lemon slice every now and then? You know it. But you won't catch me munching down a whole pound of peppermint leaves or 7 lemons at one time (Peel and all)

This is real and this is what we're fighting folks.

You can't come on here and say hey we do it so it must be ok.

Then someone else sees that and thinks it is- do you see why it's a problem?

There's people out there who see that and read somewhere that this one thing can help their condition and they go out and buy an oil. Then they remember reading somewhere it's ok to ingest oils and BAM. Someone unintentionally harms themselves or someone else.

We don't want that. Someone who understands synergistic capabilities of EO's I think this is a sign that you can probably get some sound advice from that person. (But this is by no means a hard and fast rule)

In closing, I've faced accusations from so called "friends" because I cared enough to arm them with facts about dangers of EO ingestion. Well I feel it's my duty as a responsible practitioner to inform them. I give them the facts, but don't push my beliefs on them. It's up to them what they do with the information.

I'm not going to make someone a blend and not give them warnings or possible reactions to look for when using it, that would be irresponsible practice. And anyone selling EO's should be held to that same standard.

Lee Tea (author) from Erie, PA on November 05, 2015:

RJ I wanted to say that I do recognize you as a fellow writer here on HP, and appreciate you meeting me on a level playing field here with a face and a name.

So I wanted to point out that this article has topped the HP list for best content for "health" articles, and reached #2 tonight for best "all articles" for quality content. http://essentialinfo.weebly.com/news/essentialinfo...

It's a hard breakthrough to make, but just consider that while EOs have their place in the realm of individual well-being, not all companies selling them do. I disagree that my issues with these companies are my own to deal with, implying they should be kept to myself, a common affiliated statement to make. I feel rather the false and risky use information being promoted in order to use up product and increase sales for these companies are a public health hazard that needs to be brought to light. You do not have to agree, but I will not be visiting your articles to tell you you shouldn't be writing them.

Keep on writing, and be well.

Lee Tea (author) from Erie, PA on November 05, 2015:

"Young Living of course." Of course.

I'll agree Young has put a lot of something out there. He's a salesman, businessman, writer. His doctorate is from a school that can't grant them.

I'm just going to leave this at that for now. I may discredit their false information but I don't get into attacking individuals - I prefer to address this issue as a matter of business ethics. Just consider everything you've ever been told was supplied by a MARKETING company, meant first and foremost to drive sales, and seek outside sources to confirm what you've been taught.

And don't eat the oils. They're not really for that.

Ralph Schwartz from Idaho Falls, Idaho on November 05, 2015:

My entire family uses essential oils in all forms (Young Living of course.) Dr. Gary Young, the founder has put out a tremendous amount of literature on proper usage that is quite easy to find. We've been users for a decade and we notice the effectiveness and speed of natural healing. Your issues with Young Living are your own to deal with. I disagree with relying on any regulatory agency, especially ones which support big Pharma. Natural has been around for much longer than any opinion and what works will continue to work.

Lee Tea (author) from Erie, PA on November 04, 2015:

To address your first paragraph: "Only with the coming of the golden age of Arab culture was a technique developed for the distillation of essential oils. The Arabs were the first to distill ethyl alcohol from fermented sugar, thus providing a new solvent for the extraction of essential oils in place of the fatty oils that had probably been used for several millennia." (from http://www.britannica.com/topic/essential-oil). The Golden Age of Arab culture started circa 750 making thousands of years, along with popular bible claims, of essential oil use impossible. And you don't state outright that you and your family are ingesting the oils, so I'm not sure what you're swinging at me for yet.

For some reason my children and I have been the healthiest I can remember for several years running as well. I'm an herbalist so it may be that treating most of our ailments holistically is supporting our overall health as well. We diffuse EOs for stuffy noses and coughs. But we don't eat what's in those bottles. If you're going to present the idea that eating essential oils is improving your family's wellness, I have to counter with the idea that, as studies reveal, maybe it's simply contact with the vapors? Or maybe it has to do with having the most sanitary conditions we have ever lived in? Or the increased cost of healthcare? But not solely ingesting essential oils, which is what this article is about.

Second Paragraph: EOs are used in medical preparations. I don't say they aren't. I wrote about how that's done for the citrus supplement limonene: "Because limonene itself is a solvent, ingesting a tincture or essential oil containing it can irritate the digestive tract. So the d-limonene dietary supplement is usually produced from orange peel oil (which is typically comprised of 90% or more limonene), added to an emulsifying agent (like glycerin), and contained in a capsule to help prevent this irritation." (from https://discover.hubpages.com/health/Essential-Oil... ). In regards to anise EO, the National Library of Medicine classifies it as a class 4 "very toxic" substance with a probably lethal dose as small as a tsp. If you're going to eat that or feed it to the kids, you'd better know how to dilute it properly. (from: http://toxnet.nlm.nih.gov/cgi-bin/sis/search/a?dbs... )

Third: Salesmen are to blame for the large majority of people ingesting essential oils: https://remedygrove.com/traditional/Essential-Oil-...

Next: If you are using Young Living or doTerra essential oils, and especially if you are brand-devoted, you were contacted by a sales rep, even if they didn't outright tell you they were one. Online counts. So does anyone who sold them to you (even a healthcare worker) that earns a commission on the sale. That's the definition of a sales rep.

Continuing: Environmental factors, like mold or dust, can trigger sinus infections. It's also a possibility, however small, that maybe the trigger of your sinus infection was removed from your home. Or another reason. We kicked sinus troubles here with apple cider vinegar in water. Holistic medicine utilizes a wide array of natural products, including fruits and vegetables, grains, vinegars, fatty oils like olive and coconut, decoctions, poultices, and infusions like herbal teas that can be both gentle and effective - essential oils are just a small, potent part of supporting your well-being naturally, and pose the risk of some side effects some of your other options here don't. They are not the only cure.

Finally, you can't barge in here calling shenanigans on me with phrases like "absolute non-sense" and end with "I respect your opinion". That is definitely an either/or situation. You don't respect my opinion, you don't have to, and none of this is opinion anyways. I present facts that are intentionally hidden from consumers so that you stand a chance of truly making the best decision for yourself and your health with all factors on the table.

These are some facts. Take them or leave them, I don't care what you personally choose to do, as I don't want anyone to be up in my business like that either. But these companies need to stop convincing people EO use is completely safe without the risk of side effects using classic and intense marketing manipulation techniques.

There is a system of sales in play here they will never tell you about - so I gave it a shot. I used to teach it to direct sales reps myself. If you take away nothing else from this article, just leave here knowing that it exists. I break that down here: https://toughnickel.com/industries/Composing-a-Sal...

Your comments a challenge, but I'm not completely convinced you believe ingestion is without the risk of side effects or that you really disagree with anything I've actually addressed in my article. I'd guess I just offended your brand.

billy on November 04, 2015:

Thousands of years of humans using and ingesting oils and now we should not? absolute non-sense. I'm 4 years in, and our my family of 5 including 3 kids are the healthiest we know. if there is a sickness, One -two drops of lemon and peppermint oil in boiling water witht.. they breathe the steam for 3 minutes and then drink the water. stomach viruses are knocked out in a few hours. GONE. same with sinus, headaches, cuts, etc,

Tamiflu is made with Star Anise, in face many pharmaceuticals are derived from, or copy the properties of many oils.

I understand your point of view. but i think there are other ways of viewing this, This entire article makes it seem like SALESMAN are to blame for people ingesting oils.

I HAVE NEVER been contacted by a salesmen. I found this as an alternative to taking anti-biotics for chronic sinus infections. I haven't had a sinus infection in 4 years now.. i used to get them 2-3 times EVERY YEARS SINCE childhood. so 30 years of going to the doctor and not one ever said, breathe in some steam with oils.

I respect your opinion. but thousands of years of human existence suggests ingestion is fine and actually very good for you, but it's for the user to determine, not you.


Michael on October 31, 2015:

This is why I love this page, and coming here every so often. Lee is willing to help others get answers, and is NOT offering close-minded advice. I am an advocate for education and overall safe practices of EO use. I have witnessed advised use of oils first hand where the use is contraindicated based on a person's previous medical issues. Again- too reliant on the MLM's advice (who just wants to make a buck) and not well versed enough to know the difference. Innocent and not intended in this case-but you get the point.

Lee Tea (author) from Erie, PA on October 31, 2015:

Most pure quality essential oils suitable for these uses are able to be used in all three manners you described if properly diluted in a carrier oil (and, for ingestion, encapsulated, usually using an enteric capsule, under guidance of a healthcare provider qualified to address underlying issues before recommending treatment) regardless of brand. Your link does not show where Young Living oils were tested for safety of ingestion, diffusion, and topical application, but if you have a specific study on that page you'd like me to review send it my way. Keep in mind studies published by YL's Gary Young are not unaffiliated information, but I can look them over too if you'd like. I'd be happy to review this information together.

Michael on October 30, 2015:

I'm going to throw my two cents in, hopefully not ruffling too many feathers in the process. The bottom line is- Essential Oils are extremely potent, a good way to think of it is that they are 100 x more potent than the actual wood/resin/leaf/tree/fruit they are distilled from. I have a problem with sales associates that work for these companies putting bad/inaccurate information out there because the companies they are selling for say it is ok.

The ultimate decision lies with the user. Either way we are just concerned with people's well being. A good idea would be to ask someone who is either a certified aromatherapist, or clinical aromatherapist.

There are some uses for ingestion that have been discussed here that are perfectly acceptable, and I don't in ant way want to say that all ingestion is bad, but I would be hesitant in just accepting anyone's word for it. I think mainly, most people involved in this craft are concerned that there is so much bad/inaccurate information out there. Please be careful, y friends. As always, use cation, and get a good opinion from someones who has some experience. Be well, Everyone.


Ann on October 30, 2015:

According to PubMed Young Living Essential Oils are not only safe for ingestion, diffusing and to use topically. Are they wrong?


Lee Tea (author) from Erie, PA on September 26, 2015:

Hello and thank you all for your recent comments and questions.

In regards to supplements, my article on ingesting the citrus oils will offer you some necessary perspective for starters: https://discover.hubpages.com/health/Essential-Oil...

It takes a closer look at EO preparations and supplements that ARE available on the market, what they're sold for and what (or versus what) they're actually useful for, how they are responsibly prepared to reduce irritation, and addresses potential interactions. So, good insight to begin your own research with.

Now, I looked at the ingredients for Terra Greens and, all opinions and facepalming and "why don't they just grind up the whole peel and root?!" aside, the first thing that stood out to me was that the 30 mg of "proprietary blend" that include the EOs in this product list no further info than that. So the questions become, "how MUCH lemon EO" and "how MUCH ginger root EO" is actually in this, and is the rest of the 30mg a benign medium or another active ingredient? These answers are not discernible from the label, which is both useless and dangerous at the same time. You don't know how much of any of this you're intaking, or what it fully consists of. As a dry preparation of EOs, if the EOs in this product are not from actually grinding up the whole food, I assume it's EOs sprayed onto some kind of dry material (in the case of herbal extracts, usually leaves) for use. How much is sprayed on and what it is sprayed onto... ???

Another point to consider is what benefits you hope to gain by taking this supplement, researching those effects against other readily available supplements and natural alternatives, and comparing prices. Remember, these are MARKETING companies - they could literally apply their sales structure to any item - they chose essential oils - and nothing would change because their essential function is to sell items - any item - to make money. While your bottom line is well-being, there's is money. You already know they're recommending unsafe uses to increase the quantity of EOs they sell, and there's no harm shopping around for high quality certified organic and responsibly wildcrafted or fair-trade certified supplements and remedies - many of which you can pluck for yourself on a sunny summer day for free. It's fun, and that to me is what using natural remedies is all about.

One final point I'd like to address here is that whether or not you're ingesting the liquid EO or a dry preparation containing it, both are potent chemical extracts that will subject your digestive tract to the same harsh treatment, much like a pharmaceutical can. In your search for optimum well-being, treating yourself right goes a long way. Whole foods and whole herbs offer both the active component AND complimentary synergists and buffers that help your body process the active ingredient properly, fully, and gently while minimizing the risk of unwanted side effects. After all, lemon and ginger tea sounds delicious!

Be well, and stay smart.

Kim on September 25, 2015:

I am new to this whole EO scene. Is your article saying unsafe to ingesting period or unsafe to ingesting full strength undiluted EOs? I am trying to fully understand ingesting before I talk with my husband.

We visited a local naturals store and the lady talked about DoTerra's supplements. Can you offer a quick insight into these? Or maybe you have already written about them. The description says they are "potent" which is scary/freaky. This is the type she recommended: http://www.doterratools.com/lifelong-vitality-prod...

Ashlee on September 24, 2015:

Hi Lee! Love this information. I am really starting to get into essential oils (not ingesting them) and have a question for you! You have really set yourself apart as a trustworthy source! So my question - do you think the Terra Greens product by Doterra is safe? It is a fruit and vegetable powder / supplement and contains 30 mg of an essential oil blend per serving for flavoring (lemon peel essential oil and ginger root essential oil). I really like the superfood supplements but am curious if that amount of essential oil could be harmful to me and my kids if ingested. Maybe it's different since it is in powder form?? Thank you!!!

CSmith on September 21, 2015:

Thank you for this insightful article. It is insane to me that Doterra and Young Living advocate and encourage ingesting essential oils. When I first came in contact with a Doterra consultant, she passed around a bottle of doterra peppermint oil. I got an immediate migraine and had to walk out. Doterra is extremely concentrated, to dangerous levels. I believe that Doterra and Young Living are putting people at risk.

I have two young sons with autism and I use essential oils in diffusers to help alleviate symptoms when they are sick. The only oils I have been able to tolerate are those by a company called allaris.

While I enjoy the "no government" oversight over essential oils, I also despise the fact that some companies only care about the bottom line and take advantage of the "no regulation" rule.

Lee Tea (author) from Erie, PA on September 16, 2015:

“Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.'”― Isaac Asimov

The transition from the age of belief to the age of knowledge is proving to be a rocky one. In the wave of knowledge flooding our awareness via the internet, we sure are starting off sunk in and drowned by it. Someday we'll break the surface, catch our breath, and learn to ride the wave, but probably not in my lifetime.

Nature's Gift is on our list of reputable suppliers to shop from at http://essentialinfo.weebly.com/supplier-ratings.h... and aromatherapy doesn't get much more authentic than Ms. Marge Clark herself. Some of our elders have been fighting this battle for decades...goodness bless 'em.

Michael on September 16, 2015:

No, thank you. Another thing that gets me now is people have this misconception that "I have an opinion, and YOU WILL hear it" regardless if my opinion has the facts or evidence to back it up. "I can be totally talking out of my ass," but you need to respect it air about them. A reason I really don't like social media. I'm beginning to regret creating another page.

My sentiments exactly,though Lee. It's SCARY. And rightfully so. Thank you for drawing me there. I Love it. Please, you yourself- don't ever forget those you reach, those you touch. I frequently have to remind myself of that all the time. There will always be those who will try to tear you down or destroy that which you believe in.

Anyone who has read my previous- I use Nature's Gift because I love them, I highly recommend them. They meet all the criteria-(No affiliation/ commissions here- I just trust them and have never had better experiences with any other oils I have used) and I blend all my own oils by hand. I like knowing I am helping people. I often tell people I blend for that they are paying me for my research and knowledge, and not the oils themselves. I offer them for a reasonable price and I'm not out to make money, but make a difference in other people's lives. And who ever's lives I can impact, I do so because THAT is the reward for me. NOT making money. Yes, its nice, but not why I got involved with this in the first place, much like the decision to join the Army. Please form an educated opinion, research until you're exhausted, and by all means attempt to get certified if you want to actually continue to supply others with essential oils and treatments for their ailments.

Thanks again, Lee. Be Kind.

Lee Tea (author) from Erie, PA on September 16, 2015:

I should mention we took all the info we gathered and reviewed together on the Facebook page and published it at essentialinfo.weebly.com, dedicated to addressing misleading sales tactics in the essential oil industry. A unique and quality resource for this specific issue unlike anything else out there.

Lee Tea (author) from Erie, PA on September 16, 2015:

Michael I JUST recently opened comments on my articles again so the sales reps that were emailing me directly about it could just make asses of themselves here in public. I'm so glad I did. Thank you kindly. 'Our precious craft is under attack' ... nothing lit my fire to address this problem head on more than that. For all the aromatherapists that had tried before me, I saw what I had that they lacked - a complete understanding of aggressive mlm sales rhetoric. Thus this article and all the waves it has made. I ducked and took cover from the backlash about a year ago, it's neat to see this article still reaching those that need to know they're not alone in wondering "what IS this bastardization of herbal medicine and where is it coming from?!" So I laid low and moved on to other projects, pulled the FB group too (talk about making yourself a target. Total bombardment all in one convenient location). But we still worked, hidden underground, to squash the dangerous information being spread online: SPARTAcampaign.weebly.com. It worked well and it worked fast, and it will quietly remain to make sure when a young mother looks up online remedies for their baby's pink eye they don't come across a pinterest picture telling them to drop lavender oil into it. Best of luck in your worthy endeavors. Keep being the good.

Michael on September 16, 2015:

I have been for 20 years practicing in EO use, and I have decided after all these years to get my certification for aromatherapy and massage. I am also a Nationally Registered EMT, and hold many certifications for healthcare professions that are really too many to list. I am a Army Medic, and have worked alongside some folks in the healthcare field that I can honestly say are some of the brightest Surgeons, Doctors, Nurses, and Medics that I personally have ever had the pleasure of knowing. (there are some who are the opposite as well)

I have been pushed by many individuals to do my homework and research everything until I am exhausted on anything deemed "questionable" or non-quantifiable. It can serve to rationalize then, that if essential oils are made from vast volumes of plant materials, that they are in fact extremely potent, and can be dangerous, especially in the hands of those untrained in their usage. (not laying claim that I am just yet, either)I can advocate for a few of the companies you have listed, and I love your article. By the way, for Pete's sake, please do not bash this person. Individuals who ACTUALLY care about our craft, and not about making money, are the ones who suffer. It is people who believe all the marketing schemes and ploys that are causing the use of essential oils as a reliable alternative therapy to come into question. There are folks, like myself who are attempting to apply case studies and scientific logic to the art of Aromatherapy in order to achieve credibility for this craft, and now everywhere you turn, there are big companies and sales reps degrading our precious craft who don't have a clue on what exactly they are even talking about. I myself, after many years, gaining the knowledge I have am just now beginning to get into the advanced field of this craft, and it personally makes me sick to my stomach that people who have no clue recommend unsafe essential oil practices.

What is concerning to me is we live in a day and age where organic, wellness, and natural remedies are often sought after by individuals, without having the slightest insight on how something works. Then large companies get people into selling their products, enticing them with the promises of making big money, and the sad part is, people are buying into this because they have done a few months research? I've been at this 20+ years, and I am just now working on my certification(s)

Meanwhile, peddlers are doing nothing and selling these oils all over the place and destroying this craft you and I hold so dearly. It's maddening, saddening, and I hope soon all of the hard work guardians of the profession are doing to get aromatherapy recognized as legitimate will be recognized so we can put an end to this very serious and glaring issue. People out there buy their pitch-hook, line and sinker, because they see results for a couple of weeks.

Thank you for your article.

Lee Tea (author) from Erie, PA on September 11, 2014:

Hi Janis! I have no personal experience with YL oils, but so far as I've read and seen in analysis reports, YL oils are typically great quality. Overpriced, but in general good quality pure essential oils. Yes by all means, use them up safely and enjoy them - you've got the right idea.

Thanks for writing!

Janis on September 10, 2014:

Okay, I have recently purchased YL oils. Are the oils themselves a good quality to use as long as you use them properly? I want them to purify the air, help with stuffy noses for the kids, homemade bug spray, things like that. I guess I'm asking, if I do not ingest and I dilute the oils, are they a good quality? I also use Aura Cacia as I can easily find it in my grocery store. Thanks so much for this article. I am learning a lot! :)

Lee Tea (author) from Erie, PA on September 06, 2014:

Thanks Amanda. Don't feel stupid - marketing is the epitome of mental manipulation. I'm glad to hear you've learned to use the oils properly - they are wonderfully beneficial and so very enjoyable when used correctly. Also happy to hear you're feeling better. Be well!

Amanda Roquet on September 04, 2014:

Thank you so much for getting the word out there. I feel validated with my concerns since I began using these yl oils! man I feel so stupid for buying into their marketing scam! everything you said is exactly true, they said almost verbatim to my questions. I was getting a severe headache and neck pains when I began using it and did not put two and two together until my husband brought it up. stopped using them for a couple of days and what do you know gone. I have began to dilute them a ton and no issues and actually I am getting the therapeutic value that they claim to have...in other words I wouldn't dismiss the use of oils at all but definitely needs dilution and proper research before beginning!

Lee Tea (author) from Erie, PA on August 14, 2014:

Please don't. I'm an imaginary person on your computer screen - I'm not worth your time. Use your time and energy wisely to actually make a change - however small - in your world today.

What's that saying...oh yes - "Peace be with you".

Maybe that's what you meant to say, too. You know, in the name of God and all...

Amy on August 14, 2014:

I'll pray you find Truth some day. The voice of God cannot get through to your fear based thinking.

Courtney on August 13, 2014:

Thank you! I will look into those

Lee Tea (author) from Erie, PA on August 13, 2014:

Hi Courtney,

For aromatherapy reasons I've always been satisfied with Mountain Rose Herbs's organic essential oils for quality, selection, ethics, and price (mountainroseherbs.com). Others speak highly of Nature's Gift Aromatherapy for the same reasons (www.naturesgift.com). Both have awesome information listed for their oils for traditional and safe uses. Maybe checking out these two could help get you back on track? Good luck!

Courtney on August 13, 2014:

I was recently introduced to EO's through a friend who had just signed up to be a rep for Young Living. I went to one of her parties and I am such a skeptic by nature that I delved into searching the internet. I've decided that I will definitely be staying away from the MLM companies. Native American Nutritionals (on your list above of ethical, trustworthy companies) was highly recommended on several blogs so I decided to give them a shot. After ordering from them, I learned they had merged with Rocky Mountain Oils (not on your list). Does that mean NAN is no longer trustworthy or does that mean Rocky Mountain is now considered trustworthy? Oy, now I'm back to square one of research. Any recommendations? I am currently using NAN's Immune Strength diluted in coconut oil on my children's feet (6 years old and 4 years old). I also have peppermint and lavender and only use them diluted on myself and the kids. Do you have any advice to help narrow down the options for which company to pick? Or am I okay sticking with NAN? And don't worry, we will never ingest any oils!

Jean Bakula from New Jersey on August 11, 2014:

Hi Lee,

Don't worry, I won't eat them. It just didn't feel right to me. I drank the one drop of citrus oil in a lot of water, and felt OK about that, but beyond that I don't know. I have seen other EO's on Amazon a lot cheaper too. I don't want to sell them, I think I just want to buy a few more for my own use. I garden a lot, and notice when I use them outside I don't get bit as much, mosquitoes love me. So the best way to use EO's is to just smell them? I think that sounds reasonable. I want to go back and read this all again. Thanks for getting all this info together.

Lee Tea (author) from Erie, PA on August 11, 2014:

Hi Jean. The issue this particular article addresses isn't about simply using essential oils, but rather ingesting them undiluted. Eating oils straight from the bottle as promoted by sales reps like Young Living is an unsafe practice that carries with it at least the potential for side effects and has been well documented as causing mild to severe injuries over the past several years, including esophagus burning/scarring and death. Dropping the oil in water does not help dilute it, as oil and water don't mix. That's why the oil floats to the top. As a folk herbalist I use EOs in aromatherapy sprays, scented oils, bug sprays and sanitizers, but as the potent, concentrated extracted oil from literally pounds of plant material, I don't eat them. They're not for that. Besides, when you eat them, you forgo the most likely benefit of them - their vapors. Aromatherapy is wonderful, natural, and beneficial, no need to use the oils recklessly. Be well.

Jean Bakula from New Jersey on August 11, 2014:

I think Lee Tea brought up a lot of issues that I considered when approached by a friend who uses YL EO's. She is a clairvoyant, a better one than I am, and I am taking courses at her Healing Center. She was struck by lightening and had a near death experience, and came out of it highly clairvoyant. She uses the oils for massage therapy, and to uplift moods, she just lets them sit there and people can smell them. I don't understand why you think something is wrong with anyone who wants to treat themselves with a natural substance rather than a chemical one. So far my experiences with the oils have been good, I diffuse them and smell them. But I am careful because I have sensitive skin, and also think the YL ones are very expensive. I'm just beginning to research it all, and don't think I want to sell them. I also agree a nice walk in sea water can cure a lot of things :).

Mattie58 on August 10, 2014:

An otherwise intelligent woman in my office--at an executive level--began using YL EOs in the past year or so. She isn't pushy but if you express an interest in the oils she wastes no time telling you that you can become a member with only a $150 order, etc. blah, blah, blah. That raised my MLM eyebrow.

I wanted the peppermint oil to sniff when I get allergy headaches and feel groggy but I've used it a couple of times in my morning tea too. After reading this, I'll never do it again! Same with the Theives, I put that in my tea once or twice too---no more.

I asked for the Purification oil to try to treat a stubborn toenail fungus and have applied undiluted numerous times. The nail is growing out without looking as bad as it was but a good long walk in the surf seems to have given me better results after using the oil for quite some time.

What really gets me is that this woman has rows of the little oil bottles and loves them. I want to ask her "what the heck is so wrong with you that you need all this stuff?"

Well, I'm going to continue to read up on these oils and save myself from cleansing my wallet. Great info here--thanks!

Mike on August 06, 2014:

I LOVE this article!! I have a diploma in aromatherapy from a NAHA approved school and working towards a degree in applied science in CAM specializing in aromatherapy; so much of this information is important and those YL and DT people simply don't get it. I'm pleased to see that contraindications, metabolism, and debunking the grades are all addressed. Thank you again for this!!

Sophie on August 06, 2014:

Hi Lee

Thanks for this very useful article!

You might find this site particularly interesting http://aromamedical.org/new.html

Lee Tea (author) from Erie, PA on July 27, 2014:

"Essential Oil Safety" by Robert Tisserand is a good start. Tisserand is a 40 year veteran of the science of essential oils and his books, articles, and website (roberttisserand.com) are great places for newcomers to start learning how to use EOs safely and effectively right from the start.

Amy on July 24, 2014:

Your article is very helpful, I am new to essential oils and want to learn how to use them safely and responsibly. Is there a reputable book you would feel comfortable recommending that also covers how to use specific oils safely on children, pregnant/nursing women, and infants?


Lee Tea (author) from Erie, PA on July 21, 2014:

Tiffany, you raise an interesting point. While we can continue to counter unsafe EO instructions with credible research, that info may be more effective when directed at specific groups. I mean, if companies like YL are going to start targeting everything from Autism to ADHD to mental health issues, and pets too (all ads by their reps I've seen within the past month), then perhaps that's where the credible facts most need to be targeted, too. Also, let's recall that the FDA's rules on the matter state that no dietary supplement, including essential oils, can claim that they treat a disease. So these claims are a clear example of the old sales adage, "it's easier to ask forgiveness than permission".

Tiffany on July 20, 2014:

Thank you so much for this article! I am not really an EO user, I use a little to make soaps and cleaning products but nothing that would make me well educated on the subject. I have seen YL oils all over my Facebook newsfeed lately and my BS flag has gone off more than once after reading some of the advice, claims, and "testimonials". I don't debunk aromatherapy, I think it can be wonderful for some things, but the way this stuff is being pushed reminds me of the traveling medicine shows that sold snake oils and tonics. The reason I found you is one claim they are making is they have an oil/set of oils to "treat" Autism and as a parent of three Autistic kids with a basic grasp of physiology and pathology I know there is no science that can support that claim. The Autistic community is beginning to be the new "group to dupe" and I was working on a post for my blog as a warning for other parents and came across this. It so thoughtfully explains everything I could want to say that I would never have the time to research as thoroughly as you have. I am linking this post to the one on my blog. Also, I didn't know that you should not use them internally or undiluted. There is a whole lot of that going on with someone I know and I have been saying for some time that I don't know exactly what the dangers are but I know this is unsafe. Thank you again for the science and the information!

Lee Tea (author) from Erie, PA on July 16, 2014:

Hi Kelley!

Oh yes, as a folk herbalist since 2003 I use EOs, I love them, but I don't eat them - they're not a food (even though now some come complete with a "supplement label" to make them appear so - a product of the company's marketing and label design, NOT anyway affiliated with the FDA!) Any Material Safety Data Sheet on EOs will instruct you to seek immediate medical attention if swallowed. (here in the US, that's OSHA guidelines for the handling of hazardous materials, EOs included).

So yes, I use them, always diluted, never ingested. What for? All natural Body sprays, pillow sprays, sanitizer sprays, bug spray, and I diffuse them for colds (especially to clear up my kids) and mood enhancement. I drop a few into a bath and add them to my bath salts recipes. But my favorite use for them is scented oil perfumes! I love reading old alchemy books on perfumery and building scents with bottom, middle, and top notes using the secrets of old masters to try to create my own scents. I'm pretty terrible at it lol... but what a fun hobby! I do sell an all-natural line of sprays through my herbal tea business, and have been working on a perfume line for almost 4 years now...no rush. When I'm finally happy with it, I'll release it.

I also heard Native American Nutritionals may have merged with another company. I know other once-ethical organizations are starting to recommend ingestion after seeing how much promoting the practice can increase sales, so that list is just a guide, and is not static - it will evolve as the industry does.

When people recommend EO ingestion, I wonder "what happened to herbal teas?" Infused vinegars even? Not only does steeping the whole plant in water give you enough active ingredient to be effective, but it also gives you all the buffers and synergists the plant has to offer that helps the body gently, properly, and completely process the active ingredient. If you're going to advocate ingesting the potent extract of EOs, you might as well advocate the potent extracts of active plant ingredients packaged and sold as pharmaceuticals. Same idea - taking a super concentrated dose of only active ingredient to target an ailment doesn't help the body restore the balance it needs to support its own health - the wisdom of traditional herbalism.

I'm happy you've found your way to the ethical community of EO users. Thanks for writing! Be well.

Kelley on July 16, 2014:

BTW, do you use essential oils at all...Sorry if I missed that in this post? If so, what do you use and for what purposes ?

Kelley on July 16, 2014:

Superb article on EO's! Wish I had your article about 9 months ago when I was a complete newbie to it:(

Your article resonates with what I have been wanting affirmation for quite some time. I will have to add your link to this post I wrote several months back on my own journey... http://maximizedmama.com/800/

That above link is not to promote me, but to reiterate safety of EO usage. I had a horrible reaction to ingesting oregano oil and it could have been a near death experience.

Native American Nutritional recommends ingesting on both their bottles and website, so, even though they have outstanding ethics in their business, I will not promote them:(

Thanks for all your time, energy and more that went into writing this article. It will hopefully open the eyes of many!

bebeto5 on July 14, 2014:

I'm also new to EO's, am signed up with YL, but have some definite concerns with their marketing. Thank you for the comprehensive article. Common sense should scream out, "don't ingest the oils!" I get shivers down my spine every time I read a post that states that Mr. YL said something is perfectly safe. Would they drink the Kool-Aid because he said it was safe? Anyway, I'm also thrilled to see your list of trusted oil companies and my favorite is on it. Thanks for your work!

Lee Tea (author) from Erie, PA on July 14, 2014:

jjflamingo that's exciting - thank you. A little bit of credible info at a time can go a long, long way...especially in the name of individual safety.

Our FB group - 300 Strong Against Essential Oil Ingestion - is definitely starting to shake things up via social media. Maybe we'll see you there?

Thanks for your responsible approach to nature's medicinals. Happy to find so many promoting the safe and effective use of EO's.

Be well!

jjflamingo on July 14, 2014:

love this article! I have forwarded it to several friends for their consideration. It has a lot of helpful information that will hopefully get people thinking and spreading the message to others.

Lee Tea (author) from Erie, PA on July 08, 2014:

Adriana thank you for being a responsible practitioner in the world of aromatherapy and use of essential oils.

I'm also not a huge fan of mlm's (or businesses, or money...). In regards to essential oil mlm's in particular, a guest of our page sent me this link of red flagged mlm's last week where some of our companies in question here are listed: http://www.mlm-thetruth.com/evaluating-mlms/list-m...

The link notes the companies are flagged for having "MLM compensation systems that lie at the root of the deceptions and horrendous loss rates suffered by MLM participants. Where data is available, approximately 99% of all participants are found to lose money, after subtracting incentivized purchases and minimum operating expenses."

Maybe if the truth about unsafe uses doesn't discourage sales reps from continuing unethical sales for these companies, the idea that you typically don't make any money, lose credibility amongst your friends and family, and aren't covered by your company for liability issues in case your customers have an adverse reaction to your recommended usage will.

Thanks for writing - be well.

Adriana on July 08, 2014:

Thank you so much for this article. As business owners of Holistic Organic Wellness in Boca Raton, we pride ourselves for educating and teaching people about essential oils. #againstmlm #saynotomlm

Lee Tea (author) from Erie, PA on July 03, 2014:

Lindsay - I have a more ambiguous article on documented injuries from essential oil ingestion at https://leetea.hubpages.com/hub/Essential-Oil-Safe... May be an easier article to share first.

Nicole - what perfect timing! We just noted a list of reputable suppliers on our online group...let's share it here, too! Our group favorite as well the supplier I prefer are both on the list. The list will grow and change as the companies surely will over time - but for now, a great start!:

Essential Oil Suppliers

By Dannie Lane

on Thursday, January 2, 2014

Below is a list of suppliers of essential oils that are known for their ethics in the quality and type of essential oils they supply, have done the research and studies on the oils including chemistry, safe use and possible adverse reactions. They also have their oils independently tested. "The requirements to be on that list were that they follow NAHA and AIA guideliness, batch test, and will supply GC/MS when asked."

- Appalachian Valley Natural Products: Friendsville, Maryland

- Anatolian Treasures™: http://www.av-at.com/

- Nature's Gift Aromatherapy: http://www.naturesgift.com

- The Essential Oil Company http://www.essentialoil.com/

- Gritman Essential Oils http://www.gritman.com/

- Morning Myst Botanica http://www.morningmystbotanics.com/

- Aromatics International http://www.aromaticsinternational.com/

- Plant Therapy http://www.planttherapy.com/

- Stillpoint Aromatics http://www.stillpointaromatics.com/

- Eden Botanicals http://www.edenbotanicals.com/

- White Lotus Aromatics http://www.whitelotusaromatics.com/

- Loving Scents Aromatherapy http://www.lovingscents.com/

- Pompeii Organics http://www.pompeii-street.com/pompeii-organics/

- Aura Cacia http://www.auracacia.com/

- Essential Oil Exchange http://www.essentialoilexchange.com/

- Native American Nutritionals http://www.nativeamericannutritionals.com/

- Mountain Rose Herbs https://www.mountainroseherbs.com/

- Floracopeia http://www.floracopeia.com/

- Oshahdi http://www.oshadhiusa.com/

- Amrita Aromatherapy http://www.amrita.net/

- Prima Fleur Botanicals http://www.primafleur.com/

- Kelley Pure Essential Oils http://kelleypureessentialoils.com/

- Doreen DeSerres: Nature's Spirit Distinctive Aromatherapy by Doreen: NatureSpirit.com

- Liz's Garden Aromatherapy: www.LizsGarden.com

- Aromaceuticals/Essential Oils from Artisan Distillers: aromaceuticals.com

Nicole on July 03, 2014:

what brand of essential oils do you use? thanks!

Lindsay on July 03, 2014:

Thank you so much for this article. I have been a skeptic of the YL craze and worried when I see people applying the oils to their babies and little ones!! It is so hard to find any information on the internet that hasn't been written by YL themselves!! This is a great article; now I need to figure out how to nicely share it with some of my family/ friends.

Terrie Schultz from United States on July 02, 2014:

Thank you for writing this excellent article! I have been studying aromatherapy for some years, and I am appalled at what YL and also DoTerra are telling people regarding the use of essential oils. Unfortunately this dangerous misinformation is becoming very widespread.

Anita on June 29, 2014:

Thank you so much for this well written and well researched article . I am a British RN. I am also a qualified Aromatherapist, trained very much in the French tradition in UK 22 years ago. The golden rule was and still is : Always dilute and NEVER ingest . Several years ago, on holiday outside of the UK, I came across some YL sales reps. I was shocked by their use of the oils and the fact they were encouraging complete strangers to literally layer undiluted oils on to their skin, sometimes in the sunlight , with no knowledge of their medical histories. I knew that what they were saying and doing was dangerous and misleading ; I told them exactly what I thought but they laughed and said I was out of date !!! They are still getting away with it .

I am so pleased that I am not the only person who has rumbled them !!!

Lee Tea (author) from Erie, PA on June 27, 2014:

It is. I'm really thankful I began my studies over 10 years ago when most of this was just folk, herbal, and crafter knowledge - much easier to study the topic then sans propaganda. There is an online group of professional practitioners, certified aromatherapists, responsible users and reliable publications on fb currently "300 strong against essential oil ingestion" amassing a library of credible information. They also touch on the NAHA situation if you'd care to learn more, as some members in this group have resigned from NAHA over this compromise of their integrity. Sad, they were always a go-to source for me...but the times, they are a-changin'.

Melinda on June 27, 2014:

It is hard to find good info!

Lee Tea (author) from Erie, PA on June 26, 2014:

Becki I'm really happy to hear the article's serving its purpose - namely, reaching those who have the very question stated in the title. Thank you so much for your feedback. A little understanding of basic life sciences goes a long, long way.

Becki on June 26, 2014:

Thanks for your well researched and well written article. I am new to using essential oils for use in handmade bath and body products. I have friends who are all very into the Young Living and DoTerra oils and blather on about all the fab things about EOs (including using them internally). They also have been trying to get me to sign up to be a distribution rep to buy and use their oils in my bath products. As a scientist myself, I was highly skeptical about these claims (that's how I found your article). I believe in the whole "if it sounds too good to be true it probably is" and after doing my research, these MLMs are full of you know what. On top of it, their cost is outrageous when quality EOs are available for less cost and without having to buy a membership.

Lee Tea (author) from Erie, PA on June 22, 2014:

Hey, it's never too late to learn something new. I just started writing on tree identification, something that's stared me in the face my whole life. Breathes new life into my everyday! And yes, basic botany is a great place to start learning about plants and their constituents - especially if you're going to eat them!

Kate McGinnis from Tallahassee, FL on June 22, 2014:

Your on-line group will probably find quite a bit of information regarding the medical properties of plants by looking at sites/books about botony as well. I'm always amused when I tell people who ask how I got interested in this particular topic that it stems from reading a group of fictional books by Jean M. Auel called the Earth Children series (it starts with Clan of the Cave Bear) and other similar novels. I've always kinda wondered if I shouldn't have pursued botony as a career :) since it fascinated me so.

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