Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to post about essential oil and aromatherapy and herbal topics that are of interest to me both here on this blog and in my Facebook Group.

As of today we have 2,552 members in that Group, but with so little member participation, I have decided to direct my energies in a different direction. Teachers make a ton of money teaching courses to students, authors make money selling books, essential oil salespeople make money selling products.

I realize that my “ethics” are not in harmony with too many in this industry.

I’m not willing to turn a blind eye to the damage done to children, customers, and the industry itself by companies like doTerra – and stand silent while people make money, or promote their projects, or get their five minutes of “fame” in a self-serving *movie* – then be called a *hater* by exposing the hypocrisy in all of this. Educators who see the MLMers as their meal ticket with a “if you can’t beat them, join them” mentality. Men who finally open their mouths and take a stand – but when things get hot – let the women in their lives take the heat and they worry more about their reputation and so back pedal instead of stand strong and confront the challenges. I’m not an aromatherapist or an herbalist – I am a consumer and a blogger and I have always been offended by those who say things like “if people want to harm themselves with EOs, let them – thin the herd – natural selection – personal choice.” I’m done.

I’m going back to my herbal studies because I see a level of ethics, communication, unity of purpose, and professionalism in that community that is seriously lacking in every facet of the aromatherapy community and for my own personal wellness – I cannot take one more moment of people characterizing my passion for exposing FACTS about companies who are HARMING others as being a “hater” and when I am called a “HATER” – I realized not one single person in this industry that I considered to be an ally or friend – had my back. I’ve been the one to do the “dirty work” for too long. I should have known back in 2014 when a small group of us started discussing how to combat the dangerous marketing of essential oils as drugs – but one by one people were too afraid that putting their name out there would hurt THEIR book sales – or when it came down to SIGNING the online Petition – signing their name might cost them future students – that I would be left alone as the only person willing to SIGN the actual FDA complaint with my name. I took pride in that but I also thought doing all the hard work would align with others mission to promote safety. I was very naive. So this was a very eye opening experience to say the least.

No more free advice.

No more time spent exposing the lies and the fraud and the schemes that others use for personal gain.

I am done. THANK GOODNESS

Common Sense

It recently came to my attention that the owners (their term) of the “movie” Uncommon Scents have been advertising and promoting a doTerra essential oil collection (valued by the company) as being worth over $500, as part of their fundraising *crowdfunding* efforts to finish their project.  A lot of people objected to this affiliation and the movie producers turning what appears to be a blind eye to all the harm and injuries this company has been responsible for, in their pursuit of money to fund the “finishing” of their film/video project.

Here is one of many reasons I am opposed to any promotion of this company; back in 2013 I wrote the following article:

Essential Oil “Expert” risks lives!

As a follow-up to my report to the FDA, I made a call to the  Nevada State Board of Medical Examiners.

While I certainly care about the future of Aromatherapy in this country, I also care very deeply about innocent people being led to believe essential oils can cure their medical problems.

Here is just one example; this doTerra Multi-Level-Marketing Salesperson is actually prescribing an essential oil for the serious, life threatening illness – hemophilia…which equals practicing medicine without a license!

Some information about hemophilia from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC]:
“Hemophilia is an inherited bleeding disorder in which the blood does not clot properly. This can lead to spontaneous bleeding as well as bleeding following injuries or surgery.” http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/hemophilia/facts.html

“Mortality rates and hospitalization rates for bleeding complications from hemophilia were 40% lower among people who received care in hemophilia treatment centers than among those who did not receive this care.” http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/hemophilia/data.html

“Death can occur if the bleeding cannot be stopped or if it occurs in a vital organ such as the brain.”

And how does self-identified “Essential Oil Expert” answer the following question from a Mother on Facebook?

Evie asks “what oil would you suggest for someone who’s son is a hemophiliac? Would Helichrysum stop the bleeding?

She tells the Mother “Evie, Helichrysum will definitely help stop the bleeding

Does she care that her medical advice could kill someone or cause permanent harm? Does she care that in fact, every oil that has ever been tested is, if anything, either inactive or blood-thinning and  yet she is advising someone to use this EO for this condition which could KILL A CHILD?

Nope…all she cares about is making money selling essential oils to unsuspecting customers.

After all…she calls herself an Expert!  Is she a Certified Aromatherapist?  No.

We know she is not a doctor – perhaps a nurse or a licensed massage therapist? Nope…she is nothing – and has no actual professional education in the field of aromatherapy or health care at all.

But she thinks adding the standard doTerra company Disclaimer means she can say and do whatever she wants and it is up to the public to dig around her website and discover…too bad if you get hurt…you are on your own: “I am not a licensed physician and can’t diagnose or prescribe medications for you.  This disclaimer acts as the explicit waiver of any liability of myself as an Independent Product Consultant or doTERRA as a company.”

So…if she can’t prescribe medications by law – why is her Facebook page under the category “Health/Medical/Pharmaceuticals” …because she wants her customers to THINK she CAN prescribe Essential Oils to cure their Medical problems…that’s why!

Use some Common Sense Uncommon Scents:

Bad Company Corrupts Good Character

and

You Lie Down with Dogs, You Get Up with Fleas!

Tisserand Defends Science

In a rare example of online confrontation; essential oil safety expert, author and educator Robert Tisserand recently took on blogger, guest speaker, educator Jade Schutes* in this blog post: In Defense of Science

Jade writes: “What’s better than research in aromatherapy? – Practice and the results an aromatherapy practitioner experiences with individual clients, with family members, with friends, and/or with self, and then sharing these experiences with other aromatherapy practitioners.”

Robert shared his blog post on both his personal Facebook profile and the business page for his Tisserand Institute. A rather heated series of comments on his and Jade’s Facebook pages followed. Many of the comments have since been deleted from both his and Jade’s Pages. How unfortunate!

One missing item is the topic which came up, of relying on testimonials and anecdotal reports of people who have positive effects from using EOs, or who are not harmed by using them in ways; but those same people totally dismiss testimonials and anecdotal reports when they are documenting injury or adverse effects!

I posted a link to the online Injury Database being hosted by Aromatherapy United, reports which have been collected by volunteers with The Atlantic Institute of Aromatherapy.

Side Note: Why are volunteers collecting this important data? When Jade was President of NAHA for the second time, without a vote of national Directors or Members, she directed that the data collection and much of the Safety information be removed from the NAHA website. Prior to that during her first reign as President, there was a petition and complaint sent to the IRS Nonprofit Regulations & Enforcement Division, requesting an investigation of her regarding issues including her use of non-profit funds for personal gain: http://nahaexposed.org/

These injury reports are nothing really unique. Almost all the injuries or adverse effects could have been predicted because there is science to support that almost every incident was the result of the injured party taking potential risks which outweighed the possible benefits.

But the very same people who dismiss the testimonials of injuries, somehow suspend disbelief when it comes to Jade’s claims that an individuals positive experience matters more than “research”.

Jade writes: “When I read what others have written from the ‘intellectual’ side regarding polarity, solubility, and sensitization risk, I think to myself, these are people who have never taken a bath with aromatic bathing salts or essential oils.”

Oh, but when that bath results in rash, chemical burns, one heck of a tender vagina – nope – doesn’t count. There was no third party verification that bath ever took place, or that skin was damaged, and whose to say this person was really in pain! Is there a hospital record? An invoice from an ambulance company! NO. Dimissed. Not enough proof.

The ‘intellectual’ side take baths. They are not working in climate controlled laboratories, in haz-mat suits, dripping EOs on rabbit skins to see what burns. Researchers are compiling data from people, people with positive experiences and people with negative experiences. Then they analyze that data.

Maybe even from the bathtub.


*It is not clear where Jade’s actual one-on-one experience with people using aromatherapy comes from. Nothing in her online biography indicates she has an actual Aromatherapy practice or sees clients. She is not licensed in any field, she is not a Registered Aromatherapist. Which leaves me wondering, where does all the aromatherapy practitioner experiences with individual clients *non-research* she depends on so much for teaching her students, actually come from!

UPDATE: I found the answer to my earlier question about how someone who does not say they have an aromatherapy practice, gets all this “aromatherapy practitioner experiences with individual clients”! Jade’s friends and students are her guinea pigs.  She experiments on them, then observes how they respond!  And why not?  In her opinion – right from her website – it’s no big deal.  Not like anyone died or anything.  Yet.

And in conclusion – it’s not “harm” per se – simply a tragedy:

Reputations Count!

If you have been buying essential oils since the 1980’s or so, you probably used many tools to help choose which brands to purchase. Personally? I bought a lot of books, and looked in the back of the books for Resource Guides. Most books about aromatherapy had lists of companies the author would recommended. I also spoke to teachers of aromatherapy, and asked what companies they recommended. I honestly don’t know of a single consumer, aromatherapist or essential oil educator from the *early days* who relied on getting a GC/MS test result BEFORE they decided to buy an oil! That kind of testing was certainly used people in the wholesale supply chain – both to determine purity and quality. But not on the retail consumer level!

Things changed a bit thanks to self-proclaimed “experts” coordinating crowd-funded “3rd Party Testing” of a series of essential oils starting in 2013. The result? All hell broke loose! Yes, a few companies were found to be selling (knowingly or unknowingly) adulterated products. But some legitimate companies were defamed and damaged. How? One popular brand was selling a boutique oil from a small distiller. It was analyzed and compared to the library sample of a “pure oil” which was from a completely different country of origin! This so called “expert” declared the oil to be “adulterated” when in fact, it was 100% pure.

In another incident, a well known MLM brand of peppermint oil tested as adulturated with ethyl vanillin. Well known expert and affiliate of the same MLM (he was *their* contract chemist) disagreed with the analysis of the test results.

[ref. https://www.facebook.com/notes/10152519141798083/]

I use this as an example of how experts can test the same sample, or even evaluate the same test results, and reach different conclusions. These tests are scientific, but they are still quite dependent on the individual doing the analysis, not just the skill or expertise of the lab running the actual test.

So why have we become so dependent on these tests, as consumers? In my opinion, the reason is fear.

Fear and folks preying upon that fear to make consumers increasingly reliant on “lab tests” to make decisions on which products to purchase. They set up crowd funding schemes or “non profit” companies (more about that later**) and convince their fans and followers to send them money to pay for testing, and convince them there is no other way to determine if the oil is pure or good quality (rarely if ever with a criteria *for* good quality I must add).

I recently read that there is even a school which teaches “if a brand does not include a GC/MS test result with your bottle, don’t trust them.” I’m sure this school has loads of new students who think they can’t buy a bottle of lavender oil unless they complete a course on understanding these test results! FOLLOW THE MONEY!

Lets say you regularly stock Lemon EO from ten different batches, and sell retail sized bottles all across North America and Eastern Europe. You have test results from each batch on file, of course.  But to also produce flyers to insert in boxes, and match up those flyers to each specific batch number as the product goes through the assembly line, is both unrealistic and would dramatically increase the price of these retail bottles.  And for what?  A consumer pacifier, because while the retail customer may have no idea what the report says, some blogger or teacher claims they should not trust the brand unless this information is available to them?  It’s both unrealistic and actually increases the incentive to provide fraudulent reports.

Example – you buy a bottle of lavender and get this report with it {used for editorial purposes only}. If you are not trained to evaluate the report – for all you know – it’s not even lavender! [It is].

It is also naive to believe that just because one bottle of EO tested pure, or with specific constituents in certain percentages, that the next batch will be the same. If a company wants to cheat, they are going to cheat!

Dr. Pappas of Essential Oil University writes in his article “The Proper Protocol for Utilizing EO Analysis Reports“:

“Lastly, its very important for anyone selling essential oils to know that if you have an analysis done on a pre-ship sample for the purposes of making buying decisions, then you CANNOT use that report on the pre-ship sample to represent the actual bulk lot that is purchased and received in, even if your supplier says it’s the same lot. If you want to forgo having your actual received lot analyzed because you trust your supplier to send the same thing they sampled you then that is fine, but you CANNOT use that pre-ship sample report to represent the oil that you sell to your customers because you did not have the actual bulk lot analyzed once it came in your door. This is very important because it frequently happens that a supplier sends one lot as a pre-ship sample but the actual oil that is shipped in bulk to fill the order does not match the pre-ship sample. I know it sounds crazy but this happens all the time.”

So what percentage of EOs that come with reports, are unsuspecting essential oil consumers purchasing based on the “school of thought” that as long as the bottle comes with a GC/MS or they can download it from the suppliers website, it’s some guarantee of purity or quality. These customers may be fooling themselves!

So how do you choose a good, reliable, high quality brand?  Go back to basics!

  • History – has the brand been around for many years?  That’s a positive.
  • Affiliations – does the company & staff belong to professional associations*
  • Education – who are the owners of the company, and where did they study aromatherapy?
  • Marketing & Labeling – truthful, legal, industry standards:
    • Common name for the Plant
    • Latin name
    • Plant part
    • The extraction process
    • “Keep out of reach of children”
    • “External Use Only”or “Not for Internal Use” or “Not for Ingestion”
    • An expiration date or date of manufacture or Batch Number
  • Reputation – A good reputation among professionals in the aromatherapy field is critical.
    • A bad reputation is rarely without cause in this industry.
      • Look for honesty and transparency if there was an issue with a product in the past
      • Watch out for prices which seem too good to be true – that is a big red flag!
      • Watch out for salespeople who claim their product is organic, without Certification
      • BEWARE of companies that claim their essential oils are “Therapeutic Grade” or “Clinical Grade” or “Pharma Grade” or “Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade” – there are no such grades! THESE CLAIMS ARE LIES.

*American Herbal Products Association (AHPA), The Aromatherapy Trade Council (ATC) and owners or employees who belong to the International Federation of Professional Aromatherapists (IFPA), Alliance of International Aromatherapists (AIA), or National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA).


In conclusion, during every step of the supply chain, proper testing using standard methods for essential oil analysis should be mandatory. If someone is a formulator making perfume, or cosmetics, or soap, or OTC Drugs, naturally they need to know the exact chemistry in the essential oils they are using to formulate their products and obtaining a GC/MS that is batch specific can be critical. But those people are not buying small retail sized (and priced) bottles of EOs. They buy wholesale. Professionally trained aromatherapists or massage therapists who use essential oils on a regular basis, probably also usually buy in larger sized bottles and retail off-the-shelf sizes, and they also might need to have access to test results.  But the average retail customer, using the recommendations above, can almost always avoid brands which are likely to be adulterated.


**Following the money includes businesses that claim they are charities but which are not!  We are a country of laws and the IRS does not allow a business to accept money and claim they are “donations” and pretend they are a charity unless the IRS has reviewed the application for non-profit status as a 501[c][3] tax-exempt organization and approved the application.

In this case, being affiliated with well-respected members of the aromatherapy community does not give this organization credibility, by contrast, it seriously damages anyone affiliated with them!

dis-Honest “natural” claims

This is a proposed Class Action Complaint against The Honest Company (“Honest”) for falsely, misleadingly, and deceptively labeling its products as “natural,” “all natural,” “naturally derived,” and/or “plant-based,” and for falsely, misleadingly, and deceptively labeling these products as containing “no harsh chemicals, ever!” when these products in fact contain a spectacular array of synthetic and toxic ingredients (collectively, the “Falsely Labeled Products”).

Yes! The Honest Company (of Jessica Alba fame) was presented with at least one Class Action Law Suit for selling products they said were natural, but which actually contained synthetic ingredients!

Instead of allowing the suit to proceed, both sides have agreed to settle the original dispute to avoid burdensome and costly litigation. What does that mean?

Consumers are able to submit claims and potentially receive a check or a Settlement Credit. Learn more here: http://www.thcmarketingsettlement.com/home


Does this mean other companies which market their products as natural, can be sued?  It sure does!

So all those companies which claim that no one regulates the term natural, or they use this term loosely when they sell you their soap, cosmetics, household cleaners, or other products – just might want to educate themselves about what natural means – and more importanly – does NOT mean!

Ethics in Aromatherapy

I am very disturbed to recently be dragged back into yet another essential oil drama.

Back in May, Dr. Pappas (essential oil testing specialist – not medical doctor) posted:

“I got to thinking *If there was a non-profit foundation set up by someone who could accept my donations of oil, hydrosols, CO2, extracts, boswellic acid powder and other extracted aromatic products that we accumulate from various research projects and testing that would otherwise go unused and then these products could be sold by the foundation to support free testing as requested by the buyers of said products, this might be one way to accomplish a decent amount of testing of oils from companies that people would love to verify if the quality is really what these companies are claiming.*”

https://www.facebook.com/notes/dr-robert-s-pappas/the-essential-oil-analysis-foundation-free-eo-testing/1841683606097345/

Clearly, the idea of a non-profit was Roberts. He writes “I pitched this idea to my friend Roxanne Benton.

Their professional connection was recently disclosed as being through doTerra, Dr. P’s former testing client, and MLM that Roxanne sells/sold for. Shortly thereafter, Roxanne announced that she and her husband are the proud “owners” of a 501(c)3 charity called “The Essential Oil Analysis Foundation“.

The mission of this “charity” is described as “an attempt to bring accountability into the industry through competent GC/MS testing made available for free to the consumer…” https://essentialoilanalysis.com/

Their About page concludes with “The results of the testing will then be displayed on the website and filed according to company name. The consumer can then always have a place to go to check on which companies are selling authentic oils and which ones are selling fake oils.”

Obviously, this scenario raised a lot of questions and was met with skepticism, and as so often happens in this volatile essential oil industry, the personal attacks and accusations began.

I’m not going to post the web address for the main *haters* because they want to remain anonymous, so they won’t get any web traffic from me!

There are some legitimate questions, however.

#1 – there was a lack of transparency when this idea was formally launched which *seemed* to be an attempt to downplay Robert Pappas’ affiliation with the organization and that raised the alarm. Because of this lack of transparency, people assumed this entire exercise was a cover for driving more business to Dr. P’s testing services. Anyone who has followed Dr. P’s career or for that matter, his Facebook page, knows he does not need the money! This exercise would be like a millionaire spending 40 hours a week cutting coupons in order to save $20 on groceries.

The best analogy I can think of is, this is almost like a wedding gown company donating their sample sizes from a past season to a store that then sells them at a discount in order to be able to donate dresses to the less fortunate or which sells the dresses and donates the profits toward a stated charitable purpose.

Here is one such example – http://bridesforacause.com/about/our-cause

A win win for everyone.  All transparent at the bridal shop!  That is what is missing at this new organization: clarity of purpose, and a mission which is actually charitable.

#2 – claims that Roxanne Benton and her husband “own” the charity. That set off alarm bells, and rightly so.

If the founder of a charity does not know that no one *owns* a charity, what else do they not know about forming a charity? They should have presented themselves as the founders of a non-profit foundation, incorporated in the state of Nevada, and NOT presented themselves as a 501(c)3 Charity.

#3 – the way this foundation is described, they will not be eligible under the Federal regulations governing charitable organizations, as I understand the regulations.

“Inurement/Private Benefit – Charitable Organizations – A section 501(c)(3) organization must not be organized or operated for the benefit of private interests, such as the creator or the creator’s family, shareholders of the organization, other designated individuals, or persons controlled directly or indirectly by such private interests. No part of the net earnings of a section 501(c)(3) organization may inure to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual. A private shareholder or individual is a person having a personal and private interest in the activities of the organization.”

An analogy – there is a lot of public interest in the charity run by Eric Trump. “Donald J. Trump Foundation, a charity set up by the president, “apparently used the Eric Trump Foundation to funnel $100,000 in donations into revenue for the Trump Organization.https://www.forbes.com

Setting up a charity where the money generated is paid to one or two labs for testing services, is no different than planning fund raising golf tournaments, and having a large percentage of the funds pay for the golf club costs!

#3a – so why is this non-profit being set up as a charity in the first place? Saving a consumer or a supplier the costs of having their own products or ingredients tested? How is that charity?

  • Is the only purpose the ability for certain people to make donations *to* the charity and take a tax deduction for their donations?
  • Then their donations are sold, and that money gets paid back to them in the form of paying for them to test other oils?
  • Because right now, that is how it appears – whether that was the intent or not. And it looks way too much like a money laundering scheme, which explains the drama.

#4 – so if not a Charity – what about founding as a nonprofit “Scientific Organizations”?

Nope, because “Scientific research, for exemption purposes, doesn’t include activities of a type ordinarily incidental to commercial or industrial operations such as the ordinary inspection or testing of materials or products…” Testing of essential oils is an activity of a type ordinarily undertaken as the normal course of business. So performing the same tests but publishing the results publicly, is not scientifically valid (SEE #5) or what the public understands when they hear the word *charity*.

So it looks from the outside like a *scheme*…again, maybe this was not the intent – but clearly the way this nonprofit is set up to avoid paying taxes looks self-serving.

#5why do I say the tests themselves are not scientifically valid?

An analogy: It’s no different from being pulled over for drunk driving, and the Breathalyzer shows no alcohol – all it means is that day, on that drive, you were not DUI. It does not mean you weren’t yesterday or won’t be tomorrow.

These tests mean that one bottle from that one batch – tested as reported.

So what is the point? Dr. P. himself has said for years that his test results only are valid for the batch he tested. And with many of these suppliers selling EOs worldwide, from hundreds of different batches – a test result on one batch showing purity or free from adulterants, or for that matter, showing adulteration – only applies to that one specific batch.

(Regardless of the source of the original oil tested – no one with an ounce of sense would question the test results of Dr. P. – but to imply the results mean anything other than that one batch tested with the published results, is implying something which may not be supported. AND critiquing a company based on these test results, opens this organization up to a huge liability for defamation if a company is characterized in a negative manner based on the test results.  They better have a very hefty liability insurance policy because law suits are almost guaranteed.)

So every test result is tied 100% to the commercial product tested and is in effect, no different from a YELP review for a restaurant – helpful if you are considering that restaurant for your next meal, but just one bit of information helpful to consumers to review before they make a purchase.  And hardly an act of charity!  It’s more like free marketing and advertising for whomever happens to be the supplier of the oil that had a positive test result!

Just because someone receives something for free – does not make that something charity.

#6why I am even writing about this topic?

Over the past couple days, my past employment as the Founder of the American Essential Oil Trade Association [AEOTA] was recently brought up in a discussion about this topic. A person wrote something like “this reminds me of that scam, the AEOTA”.

  • The AEOTA was founded by me, and incorporated as a not-for-profit corporation in the state of CT.
  • The AEOTA was NOT a charity, it was not a church or other religious organization, it was NOT a political organization, it was NOT a private foundation, it was NOT a school or university – it WAS a BUSINESS LEAGUE.
  • It was NOT a 501(c)3!
  • The AEOTA was self-declared as a 501(c)6 Business League, and once we had a years worth of tax returns, the newly elected Board of Directors were supposed to file the appropriate forms in order to comply with tax exempt status with the IRS.
  • Membership dues were NOT tax deductible as charitable contributions.
  • I was paid a small salary to run the organization (not profit status does not mean the organization is run by volunteers, almost all non-profit organizations have paid staff).
  • All Federal Tax returns were filed per Federal laws.
  • Bylaws were available to Members.
  • The AEOTA went out of business when the new Board of Directors refused to take office.
  • As a volunteer, after the newly appointed Board failed to take office, I filed all final tax returns and state corporate filings.
  • EVERYTHING about the AEOTA was 100% transparent from day one: some people may not have agreed with how we initially raised the start-up funds in order to afford to incorporate (crowdfunding), and start in business; but nothing about any part of the process was conducted in secret or without peer review from the volunteer Board of Advisers.

THE END

Sensitization Update

Robert Tisserand announced today “Do not apply undiluted essential oils to your skin. It’s that simple.

“I have recently changed my stance on this after seeing the number of people experiencing adverse reactions to essential oils that are not high risk, such as frankincense, helichrysum and lavender.”

This announcement is tied into his new Tisserand Institute Safety Pages.

This is a long time coming.  Robert has always allowed for a certain amount of neat usage as low risk in the past (see quote below). So better late than never.  Because Sensitization is forever.

The National Association of Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA) used to promote safety and warn about sensitization on their old website, under more safety-minded management.  Here is a link to my Lost and Found: Sensitization article on that subject.

Here is some additional information from an old article I wrote for the (defunct) American Essential Oil Trade Association (aka AEOTA):

Sensitization “exposure to allergen that results in the development of hypersensitivity.” [1]

essential oil poured on a female back in spa centre
essential oil poured on a female back in spa centre

So what is hypersensitivity? Is a hypersensitivity reaction the same as an allergic reaction?

Answer, yes. They are synonyms, BUT there are four different types of allergic reaction:

“a local or general reaction of an organism following contact with a specific allergen to which it has been previously exposed and sensitized; immunologic mechanisms gives rise to inflammation or tissue damage. Allergic reactions are classified into four major types: type I, anaphylactic and IgE dependent; type II, cytotoxic; type III, immune-complex mediated;type IV, cell mediated (delayed).”[2]

For the purposes of aromatherapy safety, any essential oil can become an allergen by using it undiluted on the skin; and this risk is there for all essential oils, including lavender (note – originally published in 2014).

So while there are certain essential oils which have a known reputation for being potential allergens or with a reputation for sensitization, using any essential oil neat (undiluted) sets the individul up for a potential allergic reaction, leading to sensitization, and forever being allergic to that essential oil.

Robert Tisserand explains:

“Yes, sensitization is the process that takes place in the body that leads to an allergic reaction. They are not the same thing, but they are not totally different either. There are 4 types of allergic reaction, [3] but only two are relevant to essential oils. Type 4 (delayed hypersensitivity) accounts for 90% of allergic reactions. Type 1 is immediate hypersensitivity (generally not anaphylactic) and accounts for the other 10%. You could say the risk is potentially there for all essential oils, but this is a little unfair on the majority of oils, that have never been known to cause such reactions. I don’t like to assume risk that may not exist. The less you dilute the more you increase risk, but that doesn’t mean that undiluted copaiba oil is a greater risk than 1% cinnamon bark oil. It isn’t.”

1. Miller-Keane Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Medicine, Nursing, and Allied Health, Seventh Edition. © 2003 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier, Inc. All rights reserved
2. Farlex Partner Medical Dictionary © Farlex 2012
3. http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/136217-overview

Young Living & “Intent” to sell drugs

Young Living has been trying to reign in their zillions of consultants ever since the Petition to Protect the Future of Aromatherapy and the resulting FTC and FDA complaints by Aromatherapy United, resulted in Warning Letters to the company.

petition-closed

 

Some things they have done in the best interest of their finances, like label certain essential oils as “dietary supplements” in order to legally make structure and function claims. That serves no one but themselves, and eventually the FDA will catch up to the fact that most of the structure and function claims they make are unsubstantiated and that there is no reason to ingest essential oils on a daily or even regular basis. It may take a few more deaths, but I believe it will happen.

But other things are done well, and while also with the ultimate goal of protecting the company, has the positive side benefit of protecting consumers from misleading SNAKE OIL sales pitches and dangerous advice, which have led to so many adverse reactions over the past years. [example see the Injury Databases at Aromatherapy United].

Here are a couple examples from a publicly available Young Living presentation from last year.

YLftc

Funny, some people just don’t get the message. So I took a couple screen shots off Facebook yesterday and I’ll be adding to the ongoing File of complaints with both the FTC and the FDA!

This particular consultant is making “pain relief” testimonial claims for topically applied YL essential oils, in spite of the fact that pain relief products are a category of over-the-counter drugs.

  • It does not matter if the essential oil is labeled and sold for topical use – making it a cosmetic;
  • it does not matter if the essential oils is labeled and sold as a “dietary supplement”:
  • pain relief is a DRUG CLAIM.

So unless that bottle is labeled according to FDA regulations for OTC Drugs – it is illegal to imply it will work to relieve pain.

It is dangerous enough that this company casually sells Wintergreen Essential Oil with no hazard warnings, but when their consultants continue to promote it as a drug – well – the company still has a long way to go before consumers are safe from their “consultants”!

So the next time a Young Living consultant tells you it is healthy to ingest essential oils – whether the bottle they are trying to sell you is labeled according to the FDA regulations for cosmetics, or labeled according to the FDA regulations for “dietary supplements”… you can tell them Young Living themselves says

“There are no health claims approved for essential oils”!

ylEO

Wintergreen EO – Buyer Beware

WINTERGREEN

Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens) essential oil

CAS numbers
USA: 68917-75-9;
EINECS: 90045-28-6

EPA Reason for Regulation: Chemical in Commerce

Synonym: Wintergreen oil

List Name: Inert Ingredients in Pesticide Products

CHIP detailsXn; R22, 36; 0%; S26 (A26) – “Ingestion can cause severe poisoning and death, Lethal doses with children  at 10 ml, adults at 30 ml.” — Guenther, volume II, page 640

Wintergreen Essential Oil contains 85-99% of methyl salicylate, the same component of aspirin.

Thirty ml (about an ounce) of wintergreen oil is equivalent to about 171 adult aspirin tablets or about 60 grams of aspirin.

Members of the International Federation of Aromatherapists take a “vow” not to use Wintergreen essential oil. 

“How does it work?

Wintergreen leaf contains an aspirin-like chemical that might reduce pain, swelling, and fever.

WINTERGREEN Side Effects & Safety 

Wintergreen is safe in the amounts found in foods, and seems safe for most adults when used as a medicine.

The oil is UNSAFE to take by mouth. Taking wintergreen oil or large amounts of wintergreen leaf can cause ringing in the ears, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, stomach pain, and confusion.

When applied directly to the skin, wintergreen oil can cause skin irritation.

Special Precautions & Warnings:Children: Wintergreen leaf and oil can be poisonous for children. Taking 4-10 mL of wintergreen oil by mouth can be deadly. Don’t even use wintergreen oil on the skin of children less than 2 years old.

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Wintergreen is safe in amounts found in food, but there’s not enough information to know if it’s safe in the larger amounts that are used as medicine. Don’t take it by mouth or put it on your skin, if you are pregnant.

If you are breast-feeding, don’t take wintergreen by mouth or put it on your skin. Wintergreen products might be toxic to nursing infants.

Stomach and intestinal inflammation: Taking wintergreen by mouth might make these conditions worse.

Salicylate or aspirinallergy, asthma, or nasal polyps: Wintergreen might cause an allergic reaction in people who are allergic to aspirin or other salicylate compounds, or have asthma or nasal polyps. Use wintergreen with caution if you have one of these conditions.”

http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-783-WINTERGREEN.aspx?activeIngredientId=783&activeIngredientName=WINTERGREEN

INTERACTIONS http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-783-WINTERGREEN.aspx?activeIngredientId=783&activeIngredientName=WINTERGREEN

“Methyl salicylate must be absolutely avoided by anyone taking blood-thinning drugs, as it increases the action of the drug, and this causes blood to leak into tissues and  internal bruising occurs. Knowing a lethal dose tells you very little about what (a) a therapeutic dose would be or (b) a safe dose would be, but it does tell you what dose not to use!”http://roberttisserand.com/2012/03/wintergreen-oil-safety/

TITLE 21–FOOD AND DRUGSCHAPTER I–FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATIONDEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SUBCHAPTER C–DRUGS: GENERAL   PART 201 LABELING Subpart G–Specific Labeling Requirements for Specific Drug Products

Sec. 201.303 Labeling of drug preparations containing significant proportions of wintergreen oil.  

(a) Because methyl salicylate (wintergreen oil) manifests no toxicity in the minute amounts in which it is used as a flavoring, it is mistakenly regarded by the public as harmless even when taken in substantially larger amounts. Actually, it is quite toxic when taken in quantities of a teaspoonful or more. Wintergreen oil and preparations containing it have caused a number of deaths through accidental misuse by both adults and children. Children are particularly attracted by the odor and are likely to swallow these products when left within reach.

(b) To safeguard against fatalities from this cause, the Department of Health and Human Services will regard as misbranded under the provisions of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act any drug containing more than 5 percent methyl salicylate (wintergreen oil), the labeling of which fails to warn that use otherwise than as directed therein may be dangerous and that the article should be kept out of reach of children to prevent accidental poisoning.

(c) This statement of interpretation in no way exempts methyl salicylate (wintergreen oil) or its preparations from complying in all other respects with the requirements of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

and

(g)(1) The label of any drug containing more than 5 percent methyl salicylate (wintergreen oil) should bear a conspicuous warning such as: “Do not use otherwise than as directed.” These drug products must also include the “Keep out of reach of children” warning and the accidental ingestion warning as required in 330.1(g) of this chapter.

(2) If the preparation is a counterirritant or rubefacient, it should also bear a caution such as, “Caution: Discontinue use if excessive irritation of the skin develops. Avoid getting into the eyes or on mucous membranes.” (See also 201.303.)

http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/cfrsearch.cfm?cfrpart=201&showfr=1&subpartnode=21:4.0.1.1.2.7


Originally Published on: Oct 4, 2014 @ 06:03

UPDATED 8/21/2016

wintergreen

NOTE: when Wintergreen EO is sold with medical claims, such as referring to pain relief – the product is being sold as a misbranded drug.  Wintergreen products which contain more than 5% methyl salicylate (and 100% pure Wintergreen EO is 85-99% of methyl salicylate) – are required to have very specific WARNINGS. Does the brand you buy have these warnings?

poisonousplants

There is a reason to keep EOs out of the reach of children, and take their use seriously.  These are wonderful products when used properly and safely.  Potential poisons when not.  Wintergreen is one of the EOs which due to it’s chemical nature – is absorbed through the skin and may reach the bloodstream.  Many people have been hospitalized and there is at least one death, attributed to topical application of wintergreen oil or products which contain it as an ingredient.  That is why products with Wintergreen are supposed to be labeled as OTC or prescription drugs, and contain dosages, contraindications, “when to seek medical attention” and all the other labeling requirements of DRUGS.

Essential Oils as Food Flavors

If you eat prepared foods, or eat peppermint candy for example, you have ingested essential oils.

That’s not snarky, that’s a fact.

There is a HUGE difference between the internal therapeutic use (oral, vaginal or rectal) of essential oils and “ingestion” of essential oils as food flavorings.

The Alliance of International Aromatherapists does not recommend internal therapeutic use “unless recommended by a health care practitioner trained at an appropriate clinical level. An appropriate level of training must include chemistry, anatomy, diagnostics, physiology, formulation guidelines and safety issues regarding each specific internal route (oral, vaginal or rectal).

Herbal medicine
Herbal medicine

In the USA there a law called DSHEA which was introduced in order to allow certain ingredients or combinations of ingredients to be sold as “Dietary Supplements”. This is a great thing, it is why we can buy herbs, and vitamins without a prescription and without them being regulated as over-the-counter drugs. But it is also an unfortunate loophole for the suppliers who sell essential oils, and who do so with certain claims which are not allowed for essential oils sold for topical use.

An essential oil labeled according to the Trade Requirement & Guidance Policy of the American Herbal Products Association will have:

  • Common name;
  • Latin name;
  • Plant part;
  • The extraction process;
  • “Keep out of reach of children”
  • “External Use Only”or “Not for Internal Use” or “Not for Ingestion”

These product labels and their marketing, cannot make any medical claims, nor can they make any “structure or function” claims, because products sold for topical use with structure or function claims, are automatically considered drugs (OTC or prescription). [Example – FDA Warning Letter to Young Living]

So certain companies have decided to market and label their essential oils “as” dietary supplements for the sole purpose of being able to make structure function claims!

Nothing different about the ingredient itself is requiredthe only difference is the labeling.

THAT is why people – in my opinion – who are purchasing essential oils, need to understand the FDA regulations, whether they *believe* in the FDA or not.

There are also companies which sell essential oils as food flavorings.

The food industry is the largest consumer of essential oils next to the perfume industry. Essential oils sold as food flavorings are often standardized, because foods need to taste the same from batch to batch, year to year. So the industrial use of essential oils requires the ingredient fit a standard, often the ISO standard. So a certain year’s peppermint might be a bit off and so constituents from other essential oils are added to make the oil fit the required profile. But most people in the practices of  aromatherapy  want 100% pure essential oils – as they come off the still – not standardized for consistency. Standardization is considered to be a form of “adulturation” in the aromatherapy world.

And here is where the discussion took a confrontational turn.

Stating the fact that essential oils can and are used safely as food flavorings is not even remotely the same as saying that essential oils can be ingested safely as dietary supplements (or medically for that matter, unless one is properly trained in Aromatic Medicine).

“…I think that it gets confusing because people often refer to GRAS status, so they will say that this essential oil has GRAS status which means that it is generally recognized as safe by the EPA and the FDA. But actually what that applies to is the use of essential oils in food flavorings; specifically this only applies to food flavorings and not to other uses such as medicines. So GRAS status doesn’t mean this essential oil is safe to ingest, it means this essential oil is safe to use in food flavors, which yes does result in ingestion but the word ingestion is where the confusion happens because it is not a way of saying that this is OK to use as a medicine.” Robert Tisserand

There IS no diet which is missing essential oils, no diet which needs to be supplemented with essential oils. PERIOD.

There is no biological reason to ingest essential oils daily, or regularly for dietary or nutritional reasons or to improve the structure or function of the body. The marketing of essential oils for the purpose of improving the structure or function of the body is selling them as SNAKE OIL. It’s a money making scheme and nothing more.

When people use essential oils as food flavorings, they are adding perhaps a drop or two of oregano to an entire pot of spaghetti sauce or a drop of peppermint in an entire batch of chocolate frosting – where it is incorporated into the fats and other ingredients and can be ingested safely. It is never safe or appropriate to drink essential oils in water or add them to sports drinks. People have died from drinking lemon EO in water. It has been covered up, but they have died of liver failure. Other people have been near death in liver failure from ingesting “blends” sold as dietary supplements by MLMs.

This is one of the reasons professional aromatherapists avoid the big two MLMs, not just because both companies have been accused (and scientifically proven in many instances) to have sold adulturated EOs, but because the corporate culture of these companies puts not only their customers at risk, but risks the future for the entire aromatherapy industry.