Dangers of the Rising Popularity of Essential Oils
When I was walking through Marshall's the other day (getting a couple of new toys for my puppy), I noticed an entire wall of 'essential oils' near the checkout line claiming to be '100% pure'. In that moment, standing in line in a fluorescent lit department store, I was reminded that essential oils are now super mainstream.
Naturally, you would expect to be able to get basic essential oils from health food stores (lavender, peppermint, etc) but now they are now popping up in absurd places like Marshall's, Walmart, Amazon and Costco... clearly, people are getting pumped up about the 'trendy' idea of essential oils.
This is exciting in one way because it means that demand for natural alternatives is rising, but at the same time, the mass availability of essential oils is really dangerous. See, essential oils are now an 'industry', they're now mainstream and 'trending' - and like any skyrocketing industry, competition, corner cutting and the 'race to the bottom' create a nasty environment as everyone is seeking profits.
Now before you roll your eyes at me, let me just say this: I've done my research. In fact, I spent about 3 months deep in research before I even typed one blog post. I wanted to make sure that if I was going to be advocating for what I believed in that it could be backed up with some damn good evidence. I research everything that I write as if it was a college paper - I think it's important to be informed before publicly posting information out in the world.
I would never go out on a limb and talk about essential oils if I wasn't truly, 100% committed to teaching and sharing how they have been the foundation of my lifestyle. It would be a huge waste of my time and energy. But here I am, and that's because I truly believe that living a green lifestyle is the future of our world, and I love to help others find their way. Sure, I make a small commission, but that doesn't drive me. It just helps me pay for my oils, this blog, and keep my puppy fed. So thanks for your support.
Here's the things that trouble me about the 'essential oil frenzy':
1) False Advertising. Please do not be deceived by a “pure” or “100% natural” label on a bottle. Any essential oil on a grocery store shelf can say “pure”, but only contain 5-10% of a real essential oil. So, let's say you burn your arm in the oven, and grab some lavender to soothe it - if it's not the right kind of lavender, you could make the burn worse (this has happened to me from a very popular brand of essential oils, I have a scar to prove it).
2) Warning labels: "dilute properly", "not for internal use", "keep away from children". Plants are not going to harm you - this is a sign there is something wrong. Do not buy this oil.
3) You don't know if they were farmed with pesticides. Guess what? They don't have to tell you, so you will never know. They could be extracted using highly toxic solvents, and they will never disclose it.
4) The vast majority of brands on shelves use low grade oils from a 3rd or 4th distillations. What this means is that they continue to extract and press oils out of plants 3 - 4 times over, grabbing every last drop they can. Another scary thing is that 98% of oils on the market include synthetic fragrances, fillers, and harsh chemicals to stretch the oil further for a higher profit. But you can't possibly know that if you don't have a scientific research lab at home.
(Oh, you do? How cool.)
When I say the essential oil industry is dangerous, what I mean is that big business doesn't have your best interests in mind. See, big business only cares about the bottom line, so when they see a popular market open up, they all jump in. This is what is happening with essential oils - everyone sees their health benefits, their profitability, and their popularity - and they all want a piece of the pie. The FDA issues warnings to oil companies because they are threatened by the traction of holistic, preventative health approaches. But when you realize that the FDA makes money from pharmaceutical companies paying billions to be 'approved', you might wonder if they have your best interests at heart.
An image of air fresheners claiming to be 'essential oil' based. Note the use of the word 'fragrance', this is your first indicator that there are NO real essential oils in this product, it is a marketing tactic. Second, they are in clear plastic. Real essential oils would erode the plastic, and make the product useless.
To add to the danger, essential oils are still not recognized as 'health products' the way that they are in Canada, for example. Here in the US, essential oils are considered 'cosmetics', which means their only purpose is for aromatic properties, i.e. how they smell. Furthermore, essential oils are not regulated, meaning that nobody is ensuring that what is labeled as 'lavender' is indeed from a real lavender plant. As long as it smells like lavender, you can call it lavender.
So think about that for a moment. Do you see why there is so much confusion about essential oils? They are not regulated, the government pretends they have no health properties, and anyone can sell something that smells like lavender and call it 100% pure lavender oil. It's basically a free-for-all.
So how to navigate the hundreds cheap & imitation essential oils?
If you ever see labels that say "do not use topically" or, for "aromatic use only", you automatically know that those oils are only to be used for the smell, meaning it is likely you are just breathing in 95% chemicals anyway. And, guess what? If you are diffusing these oils, those microscopic particles land on your skin and are inhaled into your lungs. Defeats the purpose of diffusing... right?
The reason I'm writing this post is so that you will not take any information on this website and go get some oils from your local Walmart - this is dangerous, and I would never want you to harm yourself by buying chemical-laden, cheap oils. The whole point of my blog is to advocate for a chemical free, green lifestyle by using real plant essences and organic foods instead of toxic chemicals and GMOs that hide in almost every mainstream brand (don't believe me? Look up your favorite brand on 'Think Dirty', an app in the iOS App Store).
I want you to know that I am not out here advocating for a brand because I make a small commission. That's not worth my time, effort, blog costs or energy. I'm advocating for a brand committed to sustainability, and I want to help you learn so that you can create a holistic lifestyle with essential oils, too. I truly believe that we become empowered when we make our own choices about our health, wellness, and nutrition. Health starts from the inside out, and prevention is so much better than cure.
Essential oils are the perfect way to eliminate chemicals from your life, supplement your diet, and support your body to function as it should.
For every essential oil you use, there is a chemical you are not using. It's that simple!
It's so important to purchase from a company that is transparent, offers education, support and scientific resources, and is fully committed to quality. It's not about being 'brand loyal', it's about paying attention to where your money is going and knowing that what you are paying for is the real deal. You're throwing your money down the drain if you're buying essential oils off the shelf - the cheaper the price tag, the worse the oil.
I only use one brand because I know what I am paying for is worth the money. If you follow this blog, you know I actively use Young Living, and maybe you've never really paid much attention because you think I am just promoting something. But I've actually used these oils since I was 6 years old, when my mom started introducing my family to a holistic lifestyle. Back then, it wasn't about network marketing, essential oils weren't popular, and branding and brand competition was non-existent. Now that they have become popular and a world renowned company, I hope that I can help you navigate the tricky world of going completely chemical free, and finding the right alternatives.
Here's a quick overview of why I have stayed loyal to Young Living, even when approached by many other essential oil brands:
1. The only sell first distillation oils, which means the plant is harvested, the oil is distilled once, and that's what I get in my bottle. It is not extracted over and over again using high heat and high pressure methods that ruin the benefits of the oil.
2. They never use synthetics or fillers, are incredibly transparent about their whole process, and guarantee the highest quality in the world. If you have an issue with the oil, they will take it back. Their worldwide farms are open to the public, so you can visit and see the entire experience of farming, harvesting and distilling essential oils firsthand.
3. They source seeds, grow, farm, and distill their own plants so they can be assured of sustainable practices and genuine farming techniques along the entire supply chain. What's more, pesticides and fertilizers never touch the soil of any Young Living farms.
4. They give back to communities in need, contribute to relief efforts, raise money for communities through the foundation, and create jobs with fair pay and equal opportunity in countries where they grow their plants, such as Ecuador.
I could honestly talk for hours about how mis-labeling, lack of regulations and green-washing has led people to believe that certain essential oil companies and any products labeled '100% pure' or 'all natural' are safe, but let's cut to the chase: Young Living has been around 20 years, they own their own farms, they have 4 million members, they are committed to sustainability and their quality assurance is extremely high. They don't run flashy ad campaigns, slam other companies or pressure anyone into sales. Not only do their oils and health products work wonders for over 4 million people, but this company operates with integrity, compassion, excellent customer service, and service work.
I'm proud to represent them because I believe in their practices. I've never felt pushed, hyped up, pressured, or manipulated into buying, participating in events or growing my organization. I've only felt true passion for natural living, sustainability and spreading good. Yes, we share via network marketing, but we do that because we can't openly talk about the health benefits of oils online. We can't advertise, we can't blog about what we use our oils for, and they are certainly not going to be regulated by the government any time soon. So until then, it is up to us as the consumer to choose what brands we trust, and the best way to do that is by finding someone who can tell you everything they know, and how it has helped them, and how it can help you, too.
So there you have it. Essential oils are nature's medicine, but picking the right quality is the consumer's job. The essential oil industry is dangerous because everyone is trying to get a piece of the profits, and consumers are vulnerable. When it comes to creating a holistic lifestyle with essential oils, finding a community is the best way to go because it isn't about selling something, it's about educating, empowering and learning as you go. If you've ever felt pressured to sell, then you're in the wrong company! I hope that if you are interested in finding out the health and wellness benefits of true, pure, therapeutic grade essential oils with a quality guarantee, that you grab your membership today or sign up for my class so I can chat with you about natural living with oils & support you along the way. I've been learning, experimenting and putting oils on myself since I was 6 years old, and I can help you no matter what you need support with. And, you'll never be pressured to sell. That's a promise.
Wishing you health and happiness!