I have always despised anything to do with Math or Science; if you had told me ten years ago that I would be voluntarily reading aromatherapy & natural health scientific research papers and statistics reports in my free time, I’d had laughed and insisted that you were crazy! I first joined the “oily world” when the symptoms of my Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia & Insomnia were growing increasingly worse; but all of the prescription medications I had tried either didn’t help, or just made things worse yet by piling on additional side effects that I had to deal with. After having a severe reaction to one of my medications, I was fed up. I turned to the internet to learn more about holistic and natural approaches to my health and wellness. I’ll admit, I had never heard of essential oils before, so I was skeptical at first. However, after doing in-depth research on the safety and efficacy of them; I decided to try the essential oils (diluted), applied topically on my back and neck to help reduce the sensation of my fibromyalgia pain; used in conjunction with essential oils via inhalation to improve my mood and help me relax, so I am able to sleep better. I often find myself on PubMed or ScienceDirect reading scientific articles and research papers on the efficacy and safety of essential oils and other various natural supplements.
Keep in mind, essential oils are amazing, but they aren’t a cure-all. Like medication, they should be used on an as-needed basis (if everyone uses them for everything – it becomes a sustainability issue when you consider the large volume of plant material required to make a single drop of essential oil), to support your well-being. Unfortunately, internal company training for essential oil sales representatives, is not the same thing as being a Certified Aromatherapist. I have had many well-meaning MLM (multi-level marketing) essential oil sales representatives try to persuade me to buy their specific brand of supposed “superior” therapeutic essential oil; and in the process tell me untrue or unsafe usage information, which is sadly sometimes directed at infants or children. Now, I am not saying that all MLM essential oil sales representatives are uneducated or promoting unsafe use, I am however, advising you to use caution and do your own thorough research to determine if the essential oil recommendations you have found or been given, are accurate and safe.
I was amazed at how well essential oils actually worked, the lack of any side effects and how much I loved the various aromas (artificial fragrances give me headaches and make me sneeze like crazy, but the essential oils didn’t). I immediately kicked into research mode; and did all of the learning that I could online about the various therapeutic uses for essential oils, safe dilution ratios, essential use with kids, etc. I quickly found that it was very easy to find posts and websites with gobs of information on essential oils – but not all of it was genuine, safe information from someone qualified in the field of Aromatherapy – some of it was downright unsafe! By taking various courses, I continued to increase my knowledge of essential oils & I realized that I am enthralled by the world of Aromatherapy and am passionate about teaching others how to safely incorporate essential oils into their lives to support their wellness. I enrolled in courses & obtained my Level 1 Aromatherapist certification, and am currently enrolled in courses for Clinical Aromatherapist certification.
One thing that I found hard to find was consistent, reliable data on the essential oil injuries incurred each year. United Aromatherapy has begun posting the essential oil injury report data online for more recent years. I find this information helpful to review, as it gives a snapshot of the most commonly reported essential oil injuries; which helps me to know which areas of essential oil safety are under-shared with your average essential oil beginner. There is a lot of misinformation available out there, especially on the web. While I think it is fabulous that people are taking a more pro-active approach to their health & wellness by finding alternate all-natural solutions; there are some companies that are well-known for promoting oral ingestion, unsafe dilutions & undiluted application, among other questionable practices.
As you will see in the graphics below; a couple of companies in particular have a substantially larger number of essential oil injuries associated with them. I compiled basic data into info-graphics on this page; click here to view the full essential injury reports and associated details.
Here are a few excerpts from the 2017 Essential Oil Injury Report detailing some of the various injuries people sustained from essential oils:
“Burning on the lips, mouth, stomach pain and sick feeling for hours.”
-an accidental ingestion of 1/4 drop of essential oil
“Initially, no side effects. Within two weeks, developed a sore throat. Over the next four weeks reflux, uncomfortable ache in stomach and under breastbone and diarrhea. Underwent colonoscopy and endoscopy…results indicated that the lining of my stomach had been eaten away.”
-essential oils added into drinking water
“The first time I felt numbness in my tongue but just thought it odd. The second time my tongue & lips went numb. The third time my throat closed and it required an Epi pen shot. It was later determined by the ER doc that I had an allergic reaction to the oil – most possibly the Clove oil in the blend.”
-oral ingestion of essential oil in a veggie cap topped with fractionated coconut oil
“Blisters/ulcers in mouth and virginal. Very sore red throat. Misshaped tongue, spongy gums, burning sensation at back of throat, itchy feet when applied to soles of feet, extremely dry mouth, slight cough, very dry skin on face.”
-oral ingestion and neat topical application of essential oils
Excerpts from the 2016 essential oil injury reports which showcase a wide variety of injuries.
“Increased levels of thirst and dehydration followed by increasing signs of irritation in the mouth and throat until the pain became extreme and the tissues of the lips, gums,cheeks and tongue became bright red and VERY irritated and the pain became unbearable.”
-Oils were drunk throughout the day in water, usually served over ice
-After approximately 6 months the tongue started to go numb, gums were
extremely sensitive and sore, back of tongue was bleeding, taste buds
-1-2 drops per 8 oz of water 10 times per day
Usually within 12 to 24 hours of taking the oils, I would have severe
diarrhea. It got to the point that I didn’t want to leave the house for any
reason because I never knew when my bowels would have an episode.
-10 drops added to a veggie cap or taken in a “shot” with an ounce or two
Burning, discomfort, burning in the eyes from the fumes. It was awful!
Itching, stinging skin where the water touched, after 5 minutes of soaking in bath
-Diluted in water and 1/2 C Epsom salt
As you can see, essential oils are very concentrated & powerful substances, which can cause varying degrees of harm if used improperly. It is crucial to follow essential oil safety guidelines to reduce the chance that you will experience an adverse reaction or injury as a result of using essential oils. For more detailed information on specific essential oil safety topics such as photo-toxicity, dilution ratios, essential oils that should be avoided, kid-safe essential oils & more; visit my page Essential Oil Safety
What to do if you experience an essential oil injury?
If you have a serious injury, adverse reaction or any type of medical emergency, go to your local emergency room or call:
Poison Control: call 1-800-222-1222
(There are 60 poison control centers; this is a centralized emergency hotline)
**I am not a doctor. The following information is intended to be informational, for minor issues that can be helped at home, or until medical personnel arrive**
- If you have experienced an essential oil injury, it can be reported to the Atlantic Institute of Aromatherapy by clicking here.
- To file a complaint with the FDA, click here.
For more information on essential oil safety, see the related posts & pages below:
Other essential oil safety resources: