It’s the truth. I have a degree in Complementary and Alternative Medicine through the American College of Healthcare Sciences, with a double major in both Herbal Medicine and Aromatherapy. Roughly 100 different essential oils are currently in my possession. Furthermore, I love what essential oils can do and how they smell. I do use them in practice and when my client’s needs warrant them. But they aren’t the go-to in my holistic “war chest”. And they shouldn’t be the only tool in yours either.
Why my aversion? It is all about strength. To illustrate my point– I love a good single malt scotch. I need to drink liquid. Scotch is a liquid. But I am not going to drink a single malt scotch to quench my thirst, when something else – water – is going to be just as, if not more, effective and altogether safer. So, why rub your feet with costly and potentially toxic essential oils when a cup of tea might do to ward off that nasty cold?
Essential oils are the highly concentrated, volatile essences of various plants, resins, and gums. While essential oils are reflective of the original plant matter, not all constituents are carried over during the distillation process. Most herbalists feel strongly that the “whole plant” is better than that sum of its parts – that there is inherent synergy in the natural state of the constituents. Distillation is thereby a refinement of sorts and a disruption of the plant’s natural synergy. As a holistic healthcare practitioner, my “front line” to address concerns of a client are always going to consist of nutritional, herbal and vitamin/mineral recommendations. Essential oils are an additional tool, but one that I put a lot of forethought and care into using.
I have been moved to write this post after biting my tongue too many times. Why? Because I see friends and family posting online about how they are using essential oils internally. Sometimes I overhear conversations about using essential oils on babies from other parents when picking the kids up from school. And finally (spoiler, I am gonna sound like a jerk here), when I mention that I am an aromatherapist, a frequent response is “oh, so is my mother/sister/brother/aunt/neighbor. She sells Doterra/YoungLiving/Melaleuca essential oils” (FYI, solely selling MLM oils does not a proper aromatherapist make). While this post is not intended to be derogatory to MLM companies or make people feel bad about their choices, it is intended to clear the air, give a little tough love, and offer real, actionable advice on the correct use of essential oils.