I Trusted an Essential Oil Distributor’s Advice & Poisoned Myself

I Trusted an Essential Oil Distributor’s Advice & Poisoned Myself March 25, 2019

Last year I had a breakdown. After five years of caring for my medically fragile child, my mental and physical health completely tanked. I started having anxiety and panic attacks daily. Leaving the house felt impossible from the debilitating anxiety I experienced. At night my mind raced, and no matter how hard I tried I could not fall asleep. Things felt desperate for me, and I started looking for ways to “cure” my pain. Several friends suggested Yoga and Essential Oils ease my anxiety and stress. I signed up for Yoga classes, bought essential oils, and tried to meditate myself to better mental health.

A woman at Yoga introduced me to DoTERRA Essential Oils. DoTerra is a Multi-Level Marketing company that hawks essential oils. The company says the oils are “Therapeutic Grade,” and can be used to remedy just about any illness. At this point in my life, I had little to no common sense or impulse control. All I wanted was relief from the crippling anxiety and panic attacks. Instead of being skeptical and asking questions, I took everything at face value.

I dove into the essential oil world. Over the course of 3 months, I spent more than $900 on oils to help with sleep, anxiety, stress, pain, and respiratory illnesses. I joined groups on Facebook to learn how to use them. The representatives at DoTERRA promised me the oils were safe to ingest and safe to apply without dilution. Blindly, I followed their instructions.

When I bought the oils, it was the middle of allergy season. I am incredibly allergic to trees, grass, pollen, and ragweed. From April until the ground is frozen in November, I am miserable. For years I used medications prescribed by doctors because over the counter medications didn’t work for me. The women at DoTERRA promised me I didn’t need to use medicine anymore.

A representative instructed me to buy Veggie Capsules and add drops of lemon, peppermint, and lavender to the capsule. She told me to take the pills as many times as I needed throughout the day. I asked her if ingesting the oil was safe. She assured me that because the oils were plants, they were safe for consumption.

Even though I felt skeptical, I tried the method she told me to follow. Initially, I was surprised because I felt better than I did when I used my medication. My eyes didn’t itch, and I could breathe out of my nose. I felt elated and relieved that the oils worked. After years on medication to cure my allergies, I thought I found a cure.

For a couple of weeks, I diligently took the capsules.  Within minutes I generally felt better. However, after a few weeks, I noticed the oils were losing their effectiveness. I needed to take the capsules more frequently to get any relief. Knowing the oils were highly concentrated, I didn’t feel comfortable continuing to increase my consumption.

During that time I tried to stick to taking the capsules twice a day. However, I noticed I needed to take them up to four times a day to feel better. After about a week, my throat felt raw. I also started to have reflux and heartburn. My stomach felt nauseated and unsettled.

None of these symptoms were typical for me. The only time I ever suffered reflux and heartburn was during my pregnancy. My heart started to race, and I realized the oils might be damaging my body.

I jumped online to research the effects of ingesting essential oils. Initially, I had a difficult time finding anything because Google filtered content by DoTERRA and Young Living to the top of my page. I reached out to a friend that I knew was familiar with oils. She pointed me to a facebook group, and I promptly joined the group.

Immediately, I found an article about the dangers of ingesting essential oils. According to the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy, peppermint can cause heartburn, perianal burning, blurred vision, nausea, and vomiting.

The peppermint relaxes the lower oesophageal sphincter which creates reflux. Peppermint can cause oral ulcerations and burning mouth syndrome. The oil can also damage the liver. Finally, high doses of peppermint can lead to death.

I remember feeling like a complete fool. In a desperate attempt to alleviate my allergies, I inadvertently created more problems for my body. By ingesting the peppermint oil, I gave myself heartburn, a raw throat, and nausea. Quickly I realized I was poisoning myself.

I took inventory of the oils I used to calm my anxiety, and I realized none of them worked. The only thing that helped my anxiety were medications prescribed by my doctor.

After finishing the article, I discontinued my ingestion of essential oils. I went to the pharmacy bought Allegra, and I went back on medication for my seasonal allergies. Within a day my heartburn and sore throat were gone. Additionally, I no longer felt nauseated. My allergy symptoms improved by taking a single pill with no harmful side effects.

The embarrassment and shame I felt from ingesting the oils were immense. Despite my intelligence, I followed the advice of people selling a product. The representatives told me the oils were safe. However, I didn’t blame the representatives. DoTERRA told their salespeople the products were safe. They provided detailed information about the safety and brainwashed their representatives with false and misleading information.

Peppermint oil is not safe for consumption. Most essential oils are not safe for use. DoTERRA pushes the oils as safe because they are naturally derived plants and chemicals found in the earth. However, numerous plants that grow and come from the planet are deadly and poisonous.

Oils may come from some non-dangerous plants, but essential oils are the most concentrated and potent of all plant extracts. The high concentration means it’s easy to ingest toxic levels of these plants in only a few drops of oil.

I’m a smart woman, and I know better than to drink bleach or other hazardous chemicals in my home. The knowledge I use to keep myself safe from biohazards like bleach should have been applied to my use of essential oils.

All consumers should use essential oils responsibly and with extreme caution. Companies like DoTERRA and Young Living exist to drive revenue. The more oil you ingest, the more oil you will buy. In their effort to increase their bottom lines, they put consumers at risk of poisoning and even death.

Be careful in your consumption and use of essential oils. Just because your Facebook friend tells you the oils are safe to ingest doesn’t mean it’s the truth.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Tuna

    Thank you for writing this. Too many people believe that if a product is natural it can’t harm you.

  • Jim Jones

    > Quickly I realized I was poisoning myself.

    Possibly. Be aware that many of these are fake – like sunflower oil with a little flavoring and scent. There’s as much fraud as in the alternative medicine field, where many items contain zero of the claimed ingredient.

    Which may be even worse.


  • Daffodil

    I’m disappointed that you finished your article by saying that essential oils CAN help some people. NONE of that stuff is tested or regulated. Everyone is taking chances by trying these things.

  • I agree with you 100%. I think some people do find benefit by diffusing the oils. Oils are also used in topical creams sold in stores. I do not promote or actively support anyone ingesting or using any oils on their children. My oils sit in a box and we don’t use them anymore.

  • YEP! and DoTerra and Young Living Prey on it.

  • Anat

    It is also possible that one or more of the oils went rancid over time. That would explain why the positive effects were diminished over time. For awhile my husband used fish oil to control his psoriasis. He discovered that unless he stored it in the freezer it would lose effectiveness.

  • No. the oils were kept in a box, away from light and were new. Peppermint is known to cause heartburn and reflux.

  • Anat

    I agree the negative effects were caused by the presence of peppermint. But it seems there were 2 things happening – one is the loss of positive effects you had initially, the other is the appearance of negative effects.

  • Correct. When I stopped ingesting – I went back to my meds and was back to normal.

  • Unfortunately, your story is all too familiar! And it’s happening more and more frequently! You should report your story to the Atlantic Institute (they try to collect injury reports for people who suffered side effects from essential oils).
    And sorry for the shameless plug, but you should check out a post I did years back about Ways you shouldn’t use essential oils. You’re lucky your symptoms were resolved quickly! There are scarier stories out there and they continue to happen.
    Be safe.
    xo Leros from <a href="http://www.abouteos.com&quot;AboutEos

  • I should definitely report this to the link you provided. Thanks!

  • Tricia D Lopez

    Please do not lump Do Terra and Young Living together. They are quite different, which is why Do Terra was started. Do Terra is in business to make a profit. Young Living is in business to offer only absolutely pure essential oils and other safe, nontoxic products for the sole purpose of improving lives. Profit is a byproduct of excellence. Had you used Young Living oils exclusively, you might have had a far different and positive experience. The oils sold by the two companies are not alike, and neither is their motivation or practices.

  • They are BOTH MLM companies that have received notifications from the FDA regarding HOW their reps sell products. I used both products. Both had reps tell me the same thing – and absolutely no real aromatherapist would ever tell you to use the oils the way these companies push oil. If you are looking to recruit me – find someone else. I’m Anti MLM

  • Snake oil is snake oil, no matter the manufacturer.

  • S. Swanson

    I have no evidence, nor do I know of any, so would welcome if someone does, but I am skeptical of diffusing as well. It doesn’t seem any smarter to aerosolize these oils and breath them, taking them pretty deeply into your lungs.

  • I agree. I have stopped all of the use of oils in our home

  • Great post. I can also suggest to visit Utama Spice. Its a 100% natural skin care company based in Ubud, Bali. We focus on applying traditional herbal knowledge to create products that not only enhance your skin’s natural beauty but also inspire you with the raw power of nature. We do this by using only 100% pure natural ingredients.

  • It’s snake oil. End of discussion. If you think I’m buying into your woo or MLM, you are sadly mistaken.

    You see, I need scientific proof that something works. Miraculous claims are BS and not verifiable. Therefore, I do not trust them.

  • Yes they can and yes they do. Nothing lasts forever.

  • Snake oil is snake oil.

  • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

    If it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, well….draw your own conclusions.

  • Banrion

    This is nothing more than Young Living marketing. Flagged for spam.

    Why do you trust a man that killed his own child by believing that infants can breathe under water??

  • Terrie_S

    Madoff got people to buy into his scheme. Doesn’t mean he was actually making people money.

  • Barbara Ford

    So sorry you had that experience. I hope you filed a report to Atlantic Institute.
    It’s safest to work with a Certified Aromatherapist as a consult or classes. I hope you will try ess oils again because of their wonderful benefits.

  • Soquel Foote Stewart

    I am so sorry you had such a terrible experience. Essential oils have helped my little family and I immensely, and it saddens me to hear when people such as yourself have bad experiences with the oils. I myself have ingested way too many essential oils at times, and my body responded negatively. I am surprised that you were advised to ingest as much of the oils as needed. When speaking with DoTerra representatives myself, they were always very cautious when it came to ingesting the oils. Also on each bottle of DoTerra essential oil that is consumable, there is a “Supplement Facts” label on the bottle that says not to ingest more than one drop a day of the oil. Whenever I have had problems it is because I was desparate for relief and took way more of the oils than is recommended.