Essential oils are all the rage in the natural health world. Vendors and reps for companies promise that the oils can treat, prevent, and cure numerous illnesses. Despite their extravagant claims of improved health, essential oils are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of any diseases. Furthermore, the FDA has issued warnings to multiple companies for misleading marketing. Distributors of the oils could kill individuals that follow their advice, and they need to be held accountable.
A quick search on Google, Pinterest, or Facebook will bring up a treasure trove of essential oil recipes to treat a variety of illnesses. Vendors from Young Living and DoTERRA seem to be the worst offenders in making unsubstantiated claims about oils.
In less than ten minutes, I found dozens of images of oil recipes that promise to treat high blood pressure, cancer, diabetes, allergies, ADHD, autism, nerve pain, hypothyroidism, and Ebola to name a few. Misleading claims of health cures by Young Living and DoTERRA are nothing new.
During an outbreak of Ebola in Africa in 2014, Young Living and DoTERRA received warning letters from the FDA for their illegal marketing, branding, and sales of the oils. Distributors of the oils promised that a combination of oils would prevent the contraction of the virus.
In an image found on Google, a Young Living representative says that Ebola cannot survive the combination of Cinnamon bark, thyme, oregano, thieves, and clove.
Even though the FDA warned the companies that their products were not approved for the use of any illnesses, neither company did much to stop the spread of misinformation. In fact, representatives from both organizations continue to market oils to treat a litany of diseases.
Public images found on Facebook and Instagram uploaded after 2014 prove that reps from these companies continue to sell the oils as drugs to treat diseases.
Oils to replace medications in your home:
Oils for weight loss and cellulite:
High Blood Pressure:
Not only are the claims in the photos completely false, none of these images include disclaimers. When the FDA does not approve a product, vendors are required to disclose that information to consumers.
Additionally, the labels of the bottles do not contain dosing information. Any drug approved by the FDA must have an FDA approved label that provides specific dosing instructions for the medication.
Additionally, many of these recipes recommend that the oils be consumed internally. According to the FDA, essential oils are not safe for internal consumption. In fact, several oils are so toxic they can lead to seizures, hallucinations, comas, and death in people that consume them.
In 2016, a Tennessee poison control study by Vanderbilt University showed a spike in calls related to essential oils. A review of calls between 2011-2015 indicated that 80% of all poison calls about essential oils were for children. Not only are adults risking their lives, but they are also poisoning their children with the oils.
Poison Control has received so many calls about the oils that they have created an entire page outlining the dangers of using the oils. Poison control recommends not having oils in your home if you have a child. The site also points out that oils are not safe for ingestion and can lead to life-threatening side effects.
Wintergreen is a popular oil pushed by these companies for pain relief. However, poison control points out that swallowing wintergreen is like taking a handful of adult aspirin. Sage is another oil peddled by these companies. If a child consumes even a tiny bit of sage, they can develop seizures within minutes.
The facts are that essential oils are so highly concentrated that they are not safe for ingestion. None of this information stops these companies from pushing the internal consumption of the oils.
Since 2014 the FDA has not issued any more warnings to either Young Living or DoTERRA. Which begs the question why isn’t the FDA pursuing criminal charges against these companies? Representatives still promote these products illegally and without proper disclaimers. These companies and people should be held accountable for the public health dangers they pose on society.
In February 2019, the FDA issued a press release that stated they were increasing their regulations of dietary supplements. Because oils are not safe for consumption, they are not a supplement. Oils are listed as topical and for aromatic use. Therefore, any new rules imposed by the FDA may not impact essential oils.
Therefore, the best way to impact the market and stop the misleading marketing of essential oils is to report vendors directly to the FDA. Report vendors here.
Also, make sure to report any adverse reactions and poisoning to poison control.
Finally, Essential oils are not medicine. Please do not use oils to treat, prevent, or cure any ailment you have. Always work with a medical doctor to treat your illnesses.
Want a deeper dive into Essential Oils? Watch this video on the shady world of essential oils.
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*Katie Joy is a columnist and hosts Without A Crystal Ball on Patheos Non-Religious Channel. She writes articles on parenting, disability advocacy, debunking pseudoscience, atheism, and crimes against women and children.
She co-hosts the YouTube show, “The Smoking Nun,” with Kyle Curtis. The show airs weekly and tackles pseudoscience, current events, and crime stories.
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