Author of Be Ready for Anything and Bloom Where You’re Planted online course
This is going to be an article that ticks people off – and some of those people will be my own readers. I’m sorry for offending you, but it’s got to be said. I don’t sell essential oils on my website and it’s for a very good reason.
It’s because there are so many people out there recommending them who have no idea what they’re talking about. And then, in turn, people who have no idea what they’re doing use those products, often to their detriment.
They got a kit for $200 (or whatever the price is now) that contained a book that told them what all these magical concoctions will do for you. After reading the book, they know exactly what you need to purchase and dab into your belly button to heal your issues. Many of these distributors are recommending essential oils often in place of prescription medication or therapy by a practitioner who has invested tens of thousands of dollars into years of education.
Hey, I love natural remedies, but I also know there’s a time and a place for doctors and pharmaceuticals, too. Even though I know of a couple of bloggers that make – are you sitting down – over half a million dollars per year selling essential oils in an MLM – you’re not going to see me doing it.
I’m missing out big-time on that income but I can’t do it in good conscience. I don’t want to encourage someone “downstream” who doesn’t know what they’re talking about to get involved in becoming an essential oil evangelist who gives terrible advice.
So, if I’m writing up a piece on making cleaning products or shower bombs, I might have an affiliate link that’ll earn me 50 cents, but I’m not ever going to join a company that encourages irresponsible recommendations.
I’m absolutely not saying that all the websites out there making money from essential oils are bad or that they don’t know what they’re talking about. A lot of these site owners are very knowledgeable.
But the purpose of an MLM (multi-level marketing) company is for the seller to get people under her to also sell products (from which she gets a cut.) And anyone who can cough up the cost of the starter kit can sell them. There’s no test, there’s no resume required, and nobody has to provide references. Literally anyone can be out there dispensing medical advice because they got a kit and a book.
There are absolutely legitimate uses for essential oils.
Before I get further into rant mode, let me say that there are absolutely some legitimate uses for essential oils.
Take clove oil, for example. A drop of it on an aching tooth can quickly relieve pain in many cases. When my daughter had her wisdom teeth out and ended up with dry socket, an excruciating complication that sometimes occurs when lower teeth are removed, the surgeon’s office packed the sockets with gauze inundated with clove oil.
But at the same time, when it’s used too often or at too high a concentration, it can cause damage to teeth, gums, and the skin inside your mouth. Clove oil at a too-high concentration can cause seizures and liver damage when used on children, and what’s more, if you take anticoagulant or antiplatelet medications, it can be contraindicated because it also slows clotting. Did your essential oil distributor warn you of these potential issues when she sold you your bottle of clove oil?
Tea tree oil is another fabulous product. Cosmetologists use it, diluted with a carrier oil, to soothe delicate skin after waxing and a spritz of it on the hair is said to be a deterrent to head lice. We have it in our home for a variety of uses, but we know it needs to be diluted before being applied directly to the skin and that for sensitive people, it can also cause itching, burning, and redness.
Eucalyptus oil is soothing to breathe in for a congested person. Many bugs have an aversion to certain scents. Some migraine sufferers swear by the application of peppermint oil. The smell of a specific scent can cause positive or negative mental reactions in people, maybe because of good or bad memory connected to that scent.
I use essential oils to scent my homemade cleaning products and my homemade bath products because I don’t want a bunch of artificial fragrances in my home.
I’m not saying that essential oils are inherently bad. Not at all. I have my own collection of them that I administer carefully and after great research. I know some people who I deeply respect whose advice I would take when it comes to these products.
Here’s my issue with essential oils.
My problem is the gosh-darned MLMs. Now, please note that not every person who sells via an MLM is a crackpot. Some of my good friends sell essential oils and made it their life’s mission to learn everything they could. I would absolutely trust their advice.
But then there are those others.
When you join an MLM, you get your kit, you get your book, you experiment on your family members, and boom. You’re an expert and you indirectly get money for doling out your advice and pushing oils on folks.
Your friend’s son has asthma? In your magical book, you have the answer. They need to buy 6 oils and put them in a diffuser they run round the clock. But, perhaps you don’t know this could also kill the cat that sleeps in his room.
There’s a deadly virus going around? Your company issues a memo explaining what oils to sell to people to “fight it off.” You haven’t done your own research, you don’t know what medications the people you’re selling to are on, and you don’t know the contraindications, but by golly, you made a whole bunch of money.
Disclaimer: Some people who sell through MLMs do research and have a background in health. Just because they sell through an MLM doesn’t mean they’re quacks. But it also doesn’t mean they’re experts. Personal anecdotes are not quantitative proof that this particular combo of oils works miracles. If you are a pal of mine, you can rest assured I’m probably not talking about you, but about the thousands of people who think that they’re you.
It’s important to also know that most of these companies are selling the exact same oils with different labels. Hence, Company A is really not superior to Company B. They just might have better advertising.
What got me so fired up?
I saw an article on the Daily Mail. (Yeah, I know it’s a tabloid, but it’s my guilty pleasure after a long day reading depressing news.) Anyhoo, when I read this article, I saw all sorts of stuff that really made me angry.
This photo is from a guidebook distributed by an MLM essential oil company. I’m not naming names but you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding it if you want to search.
What the bleepity bleep, right?
Apply essential oil WHERE THE ABUSE TOOK PLACE? That’s what it recommends for sexual abuse. It recommends putting essential oil on a mucous membrane without any talk of dilution with a carrier oil. NOTE: This stuff does not go on anyone’s hoo-haw. Never put an essential oil on a mucous membrane. Just don’t do it.
I posted this on my Facebook account asking if anyone knew more about it and a couple of experienced and talented practitioners had some insight. While it reads as though you should immediately go anoint yourself with Joy and Forgiveness after your husband beats you, these recommendations are used to work through your feelings after you’ve safely left the relationship.
And people I trust had some good things to say about this and since I haven’t lived the same experiences, I will just have to believe that oils, combined with therapy, can truly help some people during the aftermath of abuse. It really makes sense from a psychological standpoint that a product like this could enhance feelings of safety if the therapy is done correctly.
People on social media said I was taking it out of context, which is true. But when I got some context, my opinion was not improved.
However, that isn’t what the book said. The oils were used this way by my friends because they are sensible and did other research. They combined them with other therapies, as opposed to just using oils and hoping for the best. But shouldn’t the book say stuff like “after you’ve gotten away from your abuser” and “after you have received medical care and therapy?”
But it doesn’t. There are multiple versions of this horrific advice.
Note that at the footer it says whether the oils should be used aromatically, topically, or internally. Please also note that you should never put undiluted essential oil directly on your skin and most should not be taken internally.
There’s this version, too.
And it actually gets worse than this.
This stuff above is not even the worst advice some of these distributors dispense. Some of the advice can literally get you (or your innocent child) killed.
Am I saying to never use essential oils?
Of course not. They can be a fantastic addition to your home remedy kit and they can help you have a great-smelling home without toxic artificial fragrances.
Here’s what I’m saying.
Be very careful from whom you get your information. If it ever crossed your mind that person wasn’t too bright, for the love of puppies, don’t take medical advice from them. Always double and triple check the advice and not just on sites that also pimp essential oils from the same multi-level marketing corporation. A lot of the distributors went to a party, bought an oil they found helpful, and then went all in. They bought the kit, read the books, and went to the conventions. This does not mean they are now magically qualified to advise you on health conditions.
Don’t stop taking prescription medications because your EO distributor told you it would be fine. Look, I dislike Big Pharma as much as the next organic blogger, but I also don’t think you should, I don’t know, stop taking insulin because the person who got her medical training at an essential oil convention told you it would be just fine. If the oils are helping, this is wonderful. Make an appointment with your doctor and get the appropriate bloodwork to make sure that reducing or stopping your medication is a good idea.
Note this standard advice. And run like a mofo away from anyone who says otherwise. No undiluted oils on your skin, no mucous membranes.
Don’t take essential oils orally. Unless you are under the care of a highly qualified, well-educated herbalist – and even then, be cautious – do not consumer essential oils. They’re highly concentrated volatile compounds. So concentrated that one drop in a glass of water might be the equivalent of 50 cups of herbal tea.
Don’t rely solely on essential oils to treat something that might kill you. If you have cancer, an MRSA infection, diabetes, Ebola, or some other deadly condition that isn’t currently coming to mine, use your noggin. Get actual medical advice from an actual doctor, and if it’s cool, use essential oils as a supplementary part of your recovery.
Make sure you aren’t using essential oils that are contraindicated with your medication. If you are taking other medications, be sure that the essential oils you are using don’t conflict with them. Some might cancel them out while others might increase the strength of them. Be careful and if you’re in doubt, ask a pharmacist or a medical professional.
Don’t use essential oils on or around your pets. Don’t use a diffuser in the house if you have pets.
- Tea Tree,
- Citrus ( d-limonene)
- Ylang Ylang,
- Sweet Birch,
- Sweet birch
- Citrus (d-limonene)
- Ylang Ylang
- Cinnamon oil
- Tea tree
Be as careful with essential oils as you are with any drug.
Just because it’s natural, doesn’t mean it’s safe. Please use caution and get advice from someone who legitimately knows what they’re doing. If you’re looking for good advice without the MLM, go here.
Sometimes you need help that an essential oil cannot provide. Anyone who says otherwise is either delusional, willfully ignorant, or just wants your money.
Don’t think any of this stuff will resolve your issues if you are still in a bad situation.
…If you are being abused in any way, get out of that situation safely. Find help from a friend or family member or call this number: 1−800−799−7233. When you are in a place you can trust, report the abuser. If you are a child, talk to a safe adult or call this number: 1-800-4 A CHILD. You don’t deserve that and an essential oil will not solve your problem.
...If you are feeling suicidal, please get help. Talk to someone who can understand where you’re coming from. If there’s nobody in your life who can understand, call 1-800-273-8255. Those people WILL understand and they will be able to help. An essential oil will not heal your depression if it is this deep.
What do you think?
I know I’ve ruffled feathers, killed sacred cows, and probably made my way through the whole barnyard of ticking people off. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.