To ingest or not to ingest? Steam distillation or cold pressing? Therapeutic grade or not?
If you’ve been using essential oils for any length of time, you’ve undoubtedly become familiar with these terms.
Let’s overlook the marketing and misinformation regarding essential oils to debunk ten of the most common essential oil myths!
1. Only the best essential oils are therapeutic grade.
Many companies claim that their essential oils are the best on the market because they are therapeutic grade; however, according to author Lauren Geertsen, the term is simply a marketing ploy to get you to buy their product.
Additionally, because there are no universally recognized regulations to control these claims, companies can determine their own standards of therapeutic grade. Many companies do sell high quality and pure oils, though. Just do your research before you buy!
2. Since essential oils are safe to inhale, they are also safe to ingest.
Please do not ingest essential oils without a doctor’s or aromatherapist’s supervision! Essential oils are extremely concentrated. Would you drink 28 cups of peppermint tea at once?
That is the equivalent of only one drop of peppermint essential oil. Be sure that you know both the benefits and the risks of using essential oils before you blindly ingest them.
3. As long as you use the proper dilution, essential oils may be used just as safely on children as on adults.
This is perhaps the most dangerous and disturbing myth of all. Many essential oils are not safe for children, no matter their dilution or brand!
For example, the University of Minnesota warns that even a small amount of essential oil can cause abnormal breathing or death in children. Particular oils for children to avoid include peppermint and eucalyptus.
4. Your skin doesn’t have reactions to essential oils; it simply goes through detoxification.
You’re less likely to have reactions to essential oils when you use them diluted rather than neat, yet that doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to have reactions. This video shows a good example of a typical reaction to oils.
Some people claim that the body simply goes through a detoxification process when symptoms of a reaction appear, but would they say the same thing if you had the same reaction to the same amount of gasoline?
Both contain chemicals. Just use good judgment when you use oils topically.
5. If a brand posts nutrition facts on its label, it must be the better brand for you.
The American College of Healthcare Sciences, which is dedicated to helping the average consumer distinguish quality essential oils from hype, claims brands that use tactics such as posting nutrition facts on labels are doing so as a marketing ploy.
As we mentioned before, there is no recognized institution that regulates the production or quality of essential oils. Only you can determine if a specific oil or brand of oils yields the desired health benefits that you are seeking.
6. You can tell an essential oil is of high quality if it will not freeze.
The assumption of this myth is that essential oils that freeze must be diluted with water and be of poor quality; however, this is not the case. Essential oils are liquid. What do liquids do when they reach their freezing point?
They freeze, so please do not use this test to determine pure oils from poor oils. Dr. Robert Pappas, a chemist and founder of Essential Oil University, confirms that essential oils will freeze and reminds us that some essential oils are even solid at room temperature.
7. Essential oils can’t take the heat and should not be used in warm-mist diffusers.
This claim is ironic because most essential oils are extracted through the process of steam distillation. In fact, very few oils are extracted through cold pressing. Citrus essential oils are the primary exception.
Feel free to diffuse your essential oils in a warm-mist diffuser or humidifier, but do store your jars of essential oils in a cool, dark place in order to extend their shelf life.
8. You should buy only unadulterated essential oils because they have an infinite shelf life.
Speaking of shelf life, a good essential oil will last quite a while, but it won’t last forever. Lea Harris, a clinical aromatherapist, says that the three main factors that determine how long an oil will last are oxygen, heat, and light.
Try to avoid exposing your oils to these elements to extend their shelf life. You should plan to use most oils within one or two years. Check out Harris’s lifespan guide for more details on specific oils.
9. The highest quality essential oils are distilled during the first round of the distillation process only.
As we mentioned previously, oils are produced through distillation. People touting this myth claim that plants are distilled three times and that the oils extracted during the second and third distillations are of lesser quality than those extracted during the first.
You can supposedly determine the brands that sell oils extracted from second and third distillations by their price tags, for they’ll be cheaper. The truth is that plants are distilled only one time until they are no longer yielding any oil.
This myth is another example of a marketing ploy.
10. If you want to bathe with essential oils, you do not need a carrier oil since they will be dispersed in so much water.
Just as oil and water do not mix, neither do essential oils and water mix. If you bathe in a tub of water with straight essential oils, you are essentially applying the oils neat.
To make matters worse, bathing with essential oils (especially in hot water) can be dangerous and can cause dermatoxicity. However, this does not mean that you should never bathe with essential oils. Feel free to do so, but always emulsify your oils first!
Don’t Believe The Hype
Essential oils are extremely popular right now, and it’s important to know the facts about them. We hope these common essential oil myths have armed you with knowledge to determine truth and error regarding essential oils.
Use common sense; don’t be fooled by marketing tools; and do your research before you make a purchase. Additionally, keep in mind that your body’s response to an oil might be different from somebody else’s response. Essential oils are not a one-size-fits-all deal.
Keep these myths in mind during your essential oil journey, and you will be well on your way to making wise decisions and purchases!