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:

Making Cosmetics

There is so much to know when you make cosmetics like soap, lotions, salves, balms, scrubs…from proper chemistry and safe preservation to the FDA regulations for labeling the finished products. It does not matter if you sell one or two products to friends, at the local Farmers Market or on EBAY, everyone has to follow proper cosmetic formulation rules in order to produce a safe and healthy product and the FDA regulations apply to everyone!

Here is my MUST READ list. I am fortunate that my past career working for the Handcrafted Soap Makers Guild and later running the Natural Ingredient Resource Center, and selling advertising space for The Herb Quarterly magazine, introduced me to these authors personally. I highly recommend any and all of them!

The Real Skin Absorption Facts

Whether you are new to aromatherapy or have been using essential oils for 30 years, you probably have read “everything we put on the skin gets absorbed into the bloodstream” – or – “60% of what we apply to the skin gets absorbed” – or even – “when applied to the skin up to 80% penetrates via the sweat glands and hair follicles“.

When asked for references to support these statements, there is nothing. Why? Because these statements are not true.

Robert Tisserand has addressed absorption at length in classes and online in his Facebook page, and debunked the “80% and 60%” claims numerous times.”

“Since essential oils are not water soluble, they cannot use these (sweat) glands to bypass the skin barrier. Not even water-soluble substances enter the body through sweat glands. If they did, we would put on weight after a swim or a shower. The palms and soles have no hair follicles. Hair follicles contain sebum, an oily substance, and there is some evidence that essential oil constituents are able to use this route to bypass the skin barrier.” –Robert Tisserand, Robert Tisserand Essential Training [Facebook Group] ref. http://aromatherapyunited.org/myth-apply-to-feet/

What is the truth then? From this article “Why Is Essential Oil Dilution Important?” we read in part, “About 5% of applied EO is absorbed into the body through the skin…” http://roberttisserand.com/2014/05/essential-oil-dilution-important/

Asked where this statistic comes from, author Robert Tisserand replied:

“Transdermal absorption is in Essential Oil Safety p42-44 and Table 4.2. From all the data I assume a max of 10% and an average of 5%.” 

EOSpage42

 

EOSTable4

 

So then, what is the best method for introducing essential oils to the bloodstream for systemic effect? Answer – inhalation.

“On p 49 under Inhalation you will find data on absorption into the blood and pulmonary uptake – generally 40-70%.” — Robert Tisserand

EOSpage49

I am sharing these images from my copy of the book, Essential Oil Safety, with permission. COPYRIGHT PROTECTED. Please feel free to share links to this article but do not copy any part of the article without proper attribution and do not remove and/or download the images from this article.

Plant a seed of thought…

Salespeople sometimes use studies as support for their medical claims for products like essential oils. These studies are taken out of context. The fact that a product or an ingredient is being studied as a cancer treatment for example, does not mean it should be used *as* a cancer treatment.

Salespeople (and some poorly educated practitioners) sometimes take the herbal use for a botanical, and apply those same properties to the essential oil.

The uses and safety concerns for a raw herb/flower/seed are often not the same as those for the essential oil. The uses and safety concerns for a water extract or an alcohol extract from a botanical are also often not the same as those for the essential oil.

Not convinced? There is a seed which produces an oil we use for its many healing properties. It is used in food and skincare products. “Centuries ago, the plant was referred to as “Palma Christe” because the leaves were said to resemble the hand of Christ. 1.”

And how about this…a product from the waste material from processing the seeds (aka beans) “has been used experimentally in medicine to kill cancer cells. 2.”

Sounds like a win win, doesn’t it! If some of these MLM salespeople had access to this – they’d tell you to take this product internally because “it has been shown to kill cancer cells!”

120px-seeds_of_ricinus_communis

Problem. The seed is the castor bean. The oil is castor oil. The waste material being studied? Ricin. Not familar with Ricin?

“Just 1 milligram of ricin is fatal if inhaled or ingested, and much less than that if injected. Eating just 5 to 10 castor seeds would be fatal.

Once poisoned, there’s no antidote, which is why ricin has been used as a chemical warfare agent.”

So something that kills cells in a petri dish…may also kill a person. And just because one product from a plant may have a safe and appropriate use in cosmetic or medical care, does not automatically mean that other products from the exact same plant are even safe, much less effective for the same purposes.

1. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/04/28/castor-oil-to-treat-health-conditions.aspx
2. http://www.bt.cdc.gov/agent/ricin/facts.asp