Essential Oils

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Essential Oils

Postby patoco » Wed Jul 19, 2006 8:16 am

Essential Oils

Lymphedema People


A popular topic today appears to be the use of something called "essential oils," and they supposedly help so many many conditions. There are several important points that stood out as I researched this topic.

I want to list them before presentign information on the oils themselves.

1.) There is simply no clinical verification that essential oils are any kind of magic cure-all for the multitude of medical conditions that they claim to
treat and improve. Note: this includes lymphedema.

2.) Essential oils have been clinically proven to have strong anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. But, and this is important, they must be used properly and under the supervision of trained physcians, not just slapped on haphazardly. They also must be used in the correct portions and solutions.

3.) Used incorrectly, there can be a number of complications which include severe allergic reaction, skin rashes and complications. Some are very toxic when used incorrectly. Also, some of these essential oils have been shown to be carcinogenic.

4.) More clinical studies need to be done to demonstrate their abilities, safety and value in long-term use.

5.) Finally, there are essential oils used in what is called aromatherapy. There is no evidence that even used in this manner, they have real clinical significance, except perhaps in relaxation.

Listed below are articles with information, links for further studies and actual clinical evaluations of the oils.


What are Essential Oils

An essential oil is a concentrated, hydrophobic liquid containing volatile aromatic compounds extracted from plants. It may be produced by distillation, expression, or solvent extraction. Essential oils are used in perfumery, aromatherapy, cosmetics, incense, for flavoring food and drink, and to a lesser extent, in medicine and household cleaning products. They are valuable commodities to the fragrance and flavorant industries.

Essential oil is also known as volatile oil and ethereal oil. It may also be referred to as "oil of" the raw plant material from which it was extracted, such as oil of clove. The term essential is intended to indicate that the oil is the fragrant essence of the plant from which it is extracted and not in the more common sense of being indispensable. It is not to be confused with essential fatty acids.


Prior to the discovery of distillation, essential oils (EO) were extracted by pressing, and this is still the case in cultures such as Egypt. Traditional Egyptian practice involves pressing the plant material, and then burying it in unglazed ceramic vessels in the desert for a period of months to drive out water, the water having a smaller molecular size diffuses through the ceramic vessels while the larger essential oils do not. The lotus oil in Tutankhamen's tomb, which retained its scent after 3000 years sealed in alabaster vessels, was pressed in this manner.


Today, most common essential oils, such as lavender, peppermint, and eucalyptus, are distilled. Raw plant material, consisting of the flowers, leaves, wood, bark, roots, seeds, or peel, is put into an alembic (distillation apparatus) over water, As the water is heated the steam passes through the plant material, vaporizing the volatile compounds. The vapors flow through a coil where they condense back to liquid, which is then collected in a holding vessel. The vessel is typically a florentine flask which has a spout at its bottom as well as in its middle. This flask allows essential oils which are lighter than water and float above it to be drained off using the middle spout, and allows heavier oils that sink below the water to be drained using the bottom spout.

Most oils are distilled in a single process. One exception is Ylang-ylang (Cananga odorata), which takes 22 hours to complete distillation. It is fractionally distilled, producing several grades (Ylang-Ylang "extra", I, II, III and "complete" in which the distillation is run from start to finish with no interruption).

The water recondensed from the distillation process is referred to as a hydrosol, hydrolat, or plant water essence, which may be sold as another fragrant product. Popular hydrosols are rose water, lavender water, and orange blossom water. Many plant hydrosols have unpleasant smells and are therefore not sold.


Most citrus peel oils are usually expressed mechanically, or cold-pressed. Due to the large quantities of oil in citrus peel and the relatively low cost to grow and harvest the raw materials, citrus-fruit oils are cheaper than most other essential oils. Lemon or sweet orange oils that are obtained as by-products of the commercial citrus industry are even cheaper.

Solvent extraction

Most flowers contain very little volatile oil to undergo expression and their chemical components are too delicate and easily denatured by the high heat used in steam distillation. Instead, a solvent such as hexane or supercritical carbon dioxide is used to extract the oils. Extracts from hexane and other hydrophobic solvent are called concretes, which is mixture of essential oil, waxes, resins, and other lipophilic (oil soluble) plant material, since these solvents effect effectively remove all hydrophobic compounds in the raw material. The solvent is then removed by a lower temperature distillation process and reclaimed for re-use.

Although highly fragrant, concretes are too viscous and occasionally solid at room temperature due to high-molecular weight, non-fragrant waxes and resins that are present. As such another solvent, often ethyl alcohol, which only dissolves the fragrant low-molecular weight compounds is used to extract the fragrant oil from the concrete. The alcohol is removed by a second distillation, leaving behind the absolute. These types of essential oils, from plants such as jasmine and rose, are called absolutes.

In supercritical fluid extraction, high pressure carbon dioxide gas (up to 100 atm.) is used as a solvent. This method has many benefits. For one, it avoids petrochemical residues in the product. It also dissolves less of the non-fragrant waxes out of the raw material, thus allowing one to get the absolute directly without having to deal with a concrete. Finally, the lower temperature of the process and the chemical stability of the solvent prevents the fragrant compounds from decomposing or being denatured. This process is identical to one of the techniques for making decaffeinated coffee.

Production qualities

Main high-volume products - turpentine; orange and lemon (see orange oil), mint and citronella are essential oils. In ~2000, tonnes:

Sweet orange - 12000
Mentha arvensis - 4800
Peppermint - 3200
Cedarwood - 2600
Lemon - 2300
Eucalyptus globulus - 2070
Litsea cubeba - 2000
Clove (leaf) - 2000
Spearmint - 1300

Rose Oil

The most well-known essential oil is probably Rose oil (Rosa damascena, Rosa centifolia). Steam-distilled rose oil is know as rose 'otto' or 'attar of roses' while oil which is solvent-extracted is know as rose 'absolute'. Rose otto is usually dark olive-green in color and will form white crystals at normal room temperature which disappear when the oil is gently warmed. Rose absolute is a deep reddish brown with no crystals. It takes many pounds of rose petals to distill one ounce of essential oil. To mitigate the cost, some dishonest dealers will dilute rose oil with Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens) or Palmarosa (Cymbopogon martinii) EO's, both of which are rich in geraniol, the main constituent of rose oil. Some of these 'rose oils' are up to 90% geranium or palmarosa to 10% rose. This is referred to as extending the Rose fragrance. Sometimes rose oil is adulterated with other chemicals such as phenylethanol, which, although a natural component of rose oil, is usually artificially produced. This may be done to compensate for chemotype, e.g. Bulgarian distilled Rose oil is naturally low in phenylethanol, and Ukrainian or Russian Rose oil is naturally high in phenylethanol. Most Rose oil is produced in Bulgaria, Morocco and Turkey. Recently, China has begun producing Rose oil as well.


Aromatherapy is a form of herbal medicine, in which healing effects are ascribed to the aromatic compounds in essential oils and other plant extracts. Many common essential oils have medicinal properties that have been applied in folk medicine since ancient times and are still widely used today. For example, many essential oils have antiseptic properties, though some are stronger than others. In addition, many have an uplifting effect on the mind, though different essential oils have different properties.

Oils with standarized content of components (marked FCC, for Food Chemical Codex) have to contain X amount of certain aroma chemicals that normally occur in the oil. But there is no law that the chemicals cannot be added in synthetic form in order to meet the criteria established by the FCC for that oil. For instance, lemongrass essential oil has to contain 75% aldehyde to meet the FCC profile for that oil, but that aldehyde can come from a chemical refinery instead of from lemongrass. To say that FCC oils are "food grade" then makes them seem natural when in fact they are not necessarily so.

Undiluted essential oils suitable for aromatherapy are termed therapeutic grade, but in countries where the industry is not regulated, therapeutic grade is based on industry consensus and it not a regulatory category. Some unscrupulous providers take advantage of this situation to make misleading claims. Likewise, claims that an oil's purity is vetted by mass spectrometer or gas chromatography have limited value, since all such testing can do is show that various chemicals occur in the oil. Many of the chemicals that occur naturally in essential oils are manufactured by the perfume industry and are used to adulterate essential oils because they are cheaper. There is no way to distinguish between these synthetic additives and the naturally occurring chemicals. Consider that the most expensive oils are almost certainly adulterated.

The best instrument for determining whether an essential oil is adulterated is an educated nose. Many people can distinguish between natural and synthetic scents, but it takes experience.

Since essential oils are so potent, many can irritate the skin and can cause toxic reactions like liver damage and seizures unless diluted with a carrier oil. Fat plant oils (sweet almond oil, olive oil, hazelnut, rosehip seed, etc.) are examples of carrier oils.

Oils vary in price based on the amount of the harvest, the country of origin, the type of extraction used (steam distillation, CO2 extract, enfleurage), and how desirable the oil is. Indian Sandalwood is considered more desirable than Australian Sandalwood, based upon the aroma, and is twice as costly, mainly because the species that yields Indian Sandalwood essential oils is endangered. Organic and wild harvested essential oils also tend to be more expensive.

Popular uses

Basil is used in perfumery for its clear, sweet and mildly spicy aroma. In aromatherapy, it is used for sharpening concentration, for its uplifting effect on depression, and to relieve headaches and migraines. Basil oil has many chemotypes and some are known to be emmenagogues and should be avoided during pregnancy.

Bergamot is one of the most popular oils in perfumery. It is an excellent insect repellent and may be helpful for both the urinary tract and for the digestive tract. It is useful for skin conditions linked to stress, such as cold sores and chicken pox, especially when combined with eucalyptus oil.

Bergamot is a flavoring agent in Earl Grey tea. But cold-pressed Bergamot oil contains bergaptene, a strong photosensitizer when applied to the skin, so only distilled or 'bergaptene-free' types can be topically used.

Black pepper has a sharp and spicy aroma. Common uses include stimulating the circulation and for muscular aches and pains. Skin application is useful for bruises, since it stimulates the circulation.

Citronella oil, obtained from a relative of lemongrass, is used as an insect repellant and in perfumery.

Tea tree, eucalyptus, sandalwood oil, and many other essential oils have topical (external) antimicrobial (i.e. antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, or antiparasitic) activity and are used as antiseptics and disinfectants.

Clove oil is a topical analgesic, especially useful in dentistry. It is also used an antiseptic, antispasmodic, carminative, and antiemetic.

Lavender oil is used as an antiseptic and for a number of other folk medicinal uses.

Yarrow oil is used to reduce joint inflammation and relieve cold and influenza symptoms.


Essential oils are usually lipophilic compounds so it has been found that alcohols such as methanol and ethanol( primarily 100% Concentrations) or organic solvents such as acetone are the best diluents to be used for dilution. Water is not recommended as water and fats do not dissolve in one another, although oil dilution in water can be achieved at extremely low concentrations of oil, also depending on the viscosity of the oil.

Raw Materials

Essential oils are derived from various parts of plants. Some, like orange oil, are derived from any of several parts of the plant.




Nutmeg oil






Bay leaf
Common sage
Lemon grass
Tea tree




Clary sage




The smoke from burning essential oils may contain potential carcinogens, such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Essential oils are naturally high in volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The internal use of essential oils should be fully avoided during pregnancy without consulting with a licensed professional, as some can be abortifacients in dose 0.5–10 ml.

Toxical data: LD50 of most EO or their main components are 0.5-10 g/kg (orally or skin test).

Because of their concentrated nature, EO's generally should not be applied directly to the skin in their undiluted or "neat" form. Some can cause severe irritation or provoke an allergic reaction. Instead, essential oil should be applied with a plants oils or other fats (carrier oil), such as olive, hazelnut, or any other "soft" oil. Common ratio of essential oil disbursed in a carrier oil is 0.5–3% (most less than 10%) and depends on its purpose. Some EO's including many of the citrus peel oils, are photosensitizers, increasing the skin's reaction to sunlight and making it more likely to burn.

Industrial users of essential oils should consult the material safety data sheets (MSDS) to determine the hazards and handling requirements of particular oils.

There is some concern about pesticide residues in EO's, particularly those used therapeutically. For this reason, many practitioners of aromatherapy choose to buy organically produced oils.

While some advocate the ingestion of essential oils for therapeutic purposes, this should never be done except under the supervision of a professional who is licensed to prescribe such treatment. Some very common EO's such as Eucalyptus are extremely toxic internally. Pharmacopoeia standards for medicinal oils should be heeded. EO's should always be kept out of the reach of children. Some oils can be toxic to some domestic animals, cats in particular. Owners must ensure that their pets do not come into contact with potentially harmful essential oils. [1


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Essential Oils - Part Two

Postby patoco » Wed Jul 19, 2006 8:25 am

List of Essential Oils

Essential oils are extracted by distillation. The principal uses of essential oils are as flavoring agents, and medical and aromatherapy applications. Essential oils should also not be confused with macerated oils[1], where plant materials are infused in a base oil. Tarragon oil, for example, is oil distilled from the tarragon plant. Tarragon leaves in olive oil are sometimes used in cooking, and can also be called tarragon oil.

Fennel seeds are used as a mouth freshener in India, and are the source of an essential oilAjwain oil, distilled from the leaves of Bishop’s weed (Carum Copticum). Oil contains 35-60% thymol. [2]

Basil oil is used in making perfumes, as well as in aromatherapy

Bergamot oil, used in aromatherapy and in perfumes.

Buchu oil, made from the buchu shrub. Considered toxic and no longer widely used. Formerly used medicinally.

Caraway oil, used a flavoring in foods. Also used in mouthwashes, toothpastes, etc. as a flavoring agent. [3]

Cardamom seed oil, used in aromatherapy and other medicinal applications. Extracted from seeds of subspecies of Zingiberaceae (ginger). Also used as a fragrance in soaps, perfumes, etc. [4]

Carrot seed oil (essential oil), used in aromatherapy.

Cedarwood oil, primarily used in perfumes and fragrances. [5]

Chamomile oil, used medicinally and in aromatherapy.

Cinnamon oil, used for flavoring.

Citronella oil, from a plant related to lemon grass is used as an insect repellent, as well as medicinally.

Clove leaf oil, used as a topical anesthetic to relieve dental pain.

Cranberry seed oil, equally high in omega-3 omega-6 fatty acids, primarily used in the cosmetic industry.

Cumin oil/Black seed oil, used as a flavor, particularly in meat products. Also used in veterinary medicine.

Dill seed oil, chemically almost iden
tical to caraway seed oil. High carvone content.

Eucalyptus oil, historically used as a germicide. Commonly used in cough medicine, among other medicinal uses. [6]

Fennel seed oil, used medicinally, particularly for treating colic in infants.

Fenugreek oil, used medicinally and for cosmetics from ancient times.

Geranium oil, used medicinally, particularly in aromatherapy.

Ginger oil, used medicinally in many cultures.

Grapefruit oil, extracted from the peel of the fruit. Used in aromatherapy. Contains 90% limonene. [7]

Henna oil, used medicinally. [8]

Jasmine oil, used for its flowery fragrance.

Juniper berry oil, used as a flavor. Also used medicinally, including traditional medicine.

Lavender oil is distilled from the lavender flowerLavender oil, used primarily as a fragrance. Also used medicinally. [9]

Lemon oil, similar in fragrance to the fruit. Unlike other essential oils, lemon oil is usually cold pressed. Used medicinally, as an antiseptic, and in cosmetics.[10]

Litsea cubeba oil, lemon-like scent, often used in perfumes and aromatherapy.

Melissa oil (lemon balm oil), sweet smelling oil used primarily medicinally, particularly in aromatherapy.

Mentha arvensis oil/Mint oil, used in flavoring toothpastes, mouthwashes and pharmaceuticals, as well as in aromatherapy and other medicinal applications. [11]

Mugwort oil, used in ancient times for medicinal and magical purposes. Currently considered to be a neurotoxin. [12]

Mustard oil (essential oil), containing a high percentage of allyl isothiocyanate or other isothiocyanates, depending on the species of mustard.

Myrrh oil, warm, slightly musty smell. Used medicinally.

Orange oil, like lemon oil, cold pressed rather than distilled. Consists of 90% d-Limonene. Used as a fragrance, in cleaning products and in flavoring foods.[13]

Oregano oil, contains thymol and carvacrol, making it a useful fungicide. Also used to treat digestive problems. [14]

Parsley oil, used in soaps, detergents, colognes, cosmetics and perfumes, especially men’s fragrances. [15]

Patchouli oil, very common ingredient in perfumes.

Perilla essential oil, extracted from the leaves of the perilla plant. Contains about 50-60% perillaldehyde.

Pennyroyal oil, highly toxic. An abortifacient and can even in small quantities cause acute liver and lung damage. [16]

Peppermint oil, used in a wide variety of medicinal applications.
Pine oil, used as a disinfectant, and in aromatherapy.

Rose oil, distilled from rose petals, Used primarily as a fragrance.

Rosehip oil, distilled from the seeds of the Rosa rubiginosa or Rosa Mosqueta. Used medicinally.

Rosemary oil, distilled from the flowers of Rosmarinus officinalis. Used in aromatherapy, topically to sooth muscles, and medicinal for its antibacterial and antifungal properties. [17]

Rosewood oil, used primarily for skin care applications. Also used medicinally.

Sage oil, used medicinally.

The spice star anise is distilled to make star anise oilSavory oil, from Satureja species. Used in aromatherapy, cosmetic and soap-making applications.

Schisandra oil, from the Schisandra chinensis, used medicinally. [18]
Spearmint oil, often used in flavoring mouthwash and chewing gum, among other applications.[19]

Star anise oil, highly fragrant oil using in cooking. Also used in perfumery and soaps, has been used in toothpastes, mouthwashes, and skin creams.[20] 90% of the world's star anise crop is used in the manufacture of Tamiflu, a drug used to treat avian flu.

Tarragon oil, distilled from Atremisia dracunculus, used medicinally.
Tea tree oil, used medicinally.

Thyme oil, used medicinally.

Vetiver oil (khus oil) a thick, amber oil, primarily from India. Used as a fixative in perfumery, and in aromatherapy.

Yarrow oil is used medicinally, to relieve joint pain.



List of Danergous Oils

Definition of Carcenogenic

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Essential Oils - Part Three

Postby patoco » Wed Jul 19, 2006 8:30 am

Clinical Studies

Variation in Chemical Composition and Antibacterial Activities of Essential Oils from Two Species of Houttuynia THUNB. ... med_docsum


Acaricidal effects of herb essential oils against Dermatophagoides farinae and D. pteronyssinus (Acari: Pyroglyphidae) and qualitative analysis of a herb Mentha pulegium(pennyroyal). ... med_docsum


Fumigant activity of plant essential oils and components from horseradish (Armoracia rusticana), anise (Pimpinella anisum) and garlic (Allium sativum) oils against Lycoriella ingenua (Diptera: Sciaridae). ... med_docsum


Antibacterial essential oils in malodorous cancer patients: Clinical observations in 30 patients. ... med_docsum


Antiparasitic activity of two Lavandula essential oils against Giardia duodenalis, Trichomonas vaginalis and Hexamita inflata. ... med_docsum


For more studies type in Pubmed into your browser search.

Then in the Pubmed search line, simply type in essential oils
Last edited by patoco on Wed Jul 19, 2006 8:43 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Essential Oils - Part Four

Postby patoco » Wed Jul 19, 2006 8:42 am

A Critical Look at Gary Young,
Young Living Essential Oils, and Raindrop Therapy

Stephen Barrett, M.D.

This article describes the background and activities of self-styled naturopath Donald Gary Young, his multi-level marketing company Young Living Essential Oils, his former Young Life Research Clinic Institute of Natural Medicine, and his Raindrop Therapy. Also known as Don Gary Young, D. Gary Young, and Gary Young, he was born in Salmon, Idaho on July 11, 1949 and graduated from the Challis, Idaho high school on May 23, 1967 [1]. This is only legitimate educational credential that I have been able to verify.

Young moved to British Columbia and married his first wife, Donna. He claims that while he was working as a logger in 1973, a falling tree struck him on the head. According to an account on his Web site:

After three weeks in a coma and four months in intensive care, Gary found himself paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair for life, according to the doctors' prognoses. Following two years of intense pain and depression and three suicide attempts, he resolved to regain control of his life. He fasted on juice and water for almost a year and finally regained sensation in his toes, marking the beginning of his long and painful road toward recovery. Later he embarked on a worldwide investigation of natural medicine, from herbology and acupuncture to nutrition and naturopathy. This relentless research coupled with an iron determination enabled him to eventually regain his mobility and ability to walk, although not without pain. . . .

It was this pain that eventually led him to discover the potential of a powerful but little-known form of natural medicine—essential oils. Within a very short time, Gary cast off the persistent pain that he had borne for almost 13 years as he began tapping the power of essential oils. by 1986 he was able to run a half-marathon, finishing 60th out of 970 participants [2].

This description suggests that before Young embarked on his health-related career, he was mentally unstable and possibly even brain-damaged. I seriously doubt that he can substantiate his claim that essential oils actually cured him. In fact, I recently discovered that the above story is contradicted by a brochure, distributed in 1987, which attributed his recovery to "Oscillation Frequency Stimulation Infusion (O.F.S.I.)" and did not mention essential oils [3]. The brocure described O.F.S.I. as a form of "bioelectrical medicine" that "returns cells to their normal state, by raising the oxygen level it normalizes the ion flow acros the cell membrane balancing the negative polarity and re-establishing the potassium and sodium levels." [3]

By 1981, Young moved to Spokane and opened the Golden Six Health Club in Sprague, Washington. Although he had no training in obstetrics or midwifery, he decided to deliver his wife's baby underwater in a whirlpool bath at the health club. He left the baby under water for almost an hour, causing the death of an apparently healthy infant on September 4, 1982. Although the coroner said that the baby would have lived if she had been delivered in a conventional manner, Young was never charged in that case. His plans for an underwater delivery the previous year had been thwarted when a health department caseworker threatened to prosecute him if he followed through with the plan [4-8].

In March 1983, Young was arrested in Spokane for practicing medicine without a license when he offered to provide an undercover agent with prenatal services and to treat her mother for cancer. He claimed falsely to be a graduate of "The American Institute of Physioregenerology." But the institute's owner said that Young attended only a few classes, did only 1/3 of the homework, and owed $1,800 in tuition [4-8]. The prosecuting attorney's statement of charges in the case said:

UNLAWFUL PRACTICE OF MEDICINE committed as follows: That the defendant, Donald Gary Young, in Spokane County, Washington, on or about February 24, 1983, then and there being, did then and there offer or undertake to diagnose, advise or prescribe for a human physical condition, or offer to penetrate the tissue of another human being, by means as follows: offering to deliver a baby of another person; by offering to treat another person for cancer and to detect the presence of cancer in another by. means of a blood sample which he would draw and by a blood test which he would interpret; and by offering to determine the nutritional needs of another person during pregnancy by drawing blood and interpreting the results of a blood test; the defendant at such time not having a valid unrevoked license to practice medicine [9].

Young pled guilty to the the unlawful practice of medicine and was sentences to a year of probation. In the plea document he "explained" that he "was engaged in consuling [sic] people in alternative cancer therpy [sic] and offering dietary help in order to give people a program that would work." [10]

Bogus Testing

From Spokane, Young moved to Mexico. By this time he had divorced Donna and married his second wife, Dixie. In Mexico, Young ran the Rosarita Beach Clinic where he offered treatment of cancer and other serious diseases. He also established a similar clinic in Chula Vista, California. One of his Rosarita Clinic brochures claimed that he offered "the most comprehensive treatment program in alternative medicine." The modalities included chelation, lymphatic massage, acupuncture, color and magnetic therapies, "bioelectrical medicine," homeopathic remedies, and a vegetarian nutrition program [11]. The clinic also offered iridology, live cell analysis, and "blood crystalization," which he claimed could detect degenerative diseases five to eight years before they caused symptoms.

During the summer of 1987, John Renner, M.D., a National Council Against Health Fraud Board member, used his own blood to undergo three blood crystalization tests under three different assumed names. The first report found weakening of the lymphatic system, a few "non-aggressive" cancer cells, lymphatic and respiratory congestion, inhibition of diigestion and assimilation, significant heart stress, and liver toxicity. The second report said there were problems in the liver, thyroid, and intestinal tract. The third report was similar to the third but added pancreatic dysfunction. All three reports recommended "a supervised program of cleansing, detox, and rebuilding." A local pathologist who examined the slides before they were sent stated that all of Dr. Renner's blood components looked normal.

Later that year, a Los Angeles Times reported conducted a different sting. After obtaining a test kit by mail, he prepared two slides using blood from an apparently healthy cat that belonged to a Glendale, California veterinarian. After bringing the slides to the clinic, he was told that they showed cancer that had been his system for four or five years. When the reporter suggested that the test be repeated, he used his own blood and was told that the specimen showed signs of "latent cancer" but that problems of the liver, pancreas, and thyroid were present for which "cleansing, detox, and rebuilding" were advisable. A few weeks later, the reporter mailed another blood specimen from a chicken and was told that it showed liver inflammation and "the possibility of a pre-lymphomic condition." Chicken blood cells have no nucleii and look very different from human blood cells under a microscope. But the Rosarita Beach Clinic staff did not appear to notice that the blood was not from a human source [12]. A clinic flier stated that Young had researched the test and, after examining over 10,000 specimens, had proven that the test was "95% accurate in diagnosing early stages of disease development." However, it seems more likely that the clinic found nonexistent major problems and offered expensive teatment to everyone who took the test.

In October 1987, Gary and Dixie Young announced the kick-off meeting of Young Life International, the "marketing arm" for "Dr. Young's Formulas" used at the Rosarita Beach Clinic. I have seen no further information about the nature or fate of this company.

In 1988, Young was arrested in California for misleading and deceptive advertising and for selling supposed cures [13-15]. An undercover agent submitted a sample of her blood with a fictitious male name for the bogus "blood crystallization" test. Young reportedly told her that she had prostate cancer with cells that could act in a "potentially aggressive manner." Other charges against Young included selling unapproved medical devices and unapproved new drugs, manufacturing medical devices and drugs without a license, advertising drugs and devices to cure cancer, and practicing medicine without a license.

After leaving California, Young lived in Sparks, Nevada; Spokane, Washington; Seattle, Washington; and Post Falls, Idaho. By 1992, he had divorced Dixie and married his third and current wife, Mary Billeter Young. He then started his current multilevel marketing company, Young Living Essential Oils (YLEO).

Dubious Credentials

Young's biographical sketch on the YLEO web site and a multitude of independent distributor web sites describes Young as a naturopath and praises him as "one of North America's foremost authorities on essential oils." He claims he was invited by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization to speak at Anadolu University in Eskisehir, Turkey in 1995 [2]. He states that Bernadean University awarded him a masters degree in nutrition in 1984 and a doctor of naturopathy degree in 1985. However, Bernadean is a notorious mail-order diploma mill that has never been authorized to grant degrees [16].

Young has never been licensed, as a naturopath in Utah or in any other state [17]. In April 2002, the Young Living web site used the title N.D. (naturopathic doctor) after Young's name and stated that Young was a naturopath. In April 2002, a physician who telephoned Young Living was told that he was licensed to practice naturopathy in Utah. The Web site of the Utah Division of Professional Licensing (USOPL) lists the numbers of all licensed naturopaths, but the Young Living employee who was asked for Young's license number, said it could not be given out. After the physician complained to the UDOPL, Young Living removed the title N.D. and references to Young as a naturopath from the its Web site, but this misleading information still appears all over the Net on distributor Web sites.

Young's mail-order "degree" does not entitle him to become licensed in the state of Utah [18]. Actually, he would have no reason to acquire a license because in Utah it is illegal for a licensed naturopath to "own, directly or indirectly, a retail store, wholesaler, distributor, manufacturer, or facility of any other kind located in this state that is engaged in the sale, dispensing, delivery, distribution, or manufacture of homeopathic remedies, dietary supplements, or natural medicines." [19]

What about Young's claim to be an authority on essential oils? The publisher of the Journal of Essential Oils (JEOR) has confirmed that Young co-authored at least one paper in the JEOR. The publisher also pointed out that the JEOR did not verify his credentials. The JEOR deals only with the basic science of essential oils, not with their clinical application, medicinal or otherwise [20].

Several true experts in the field of essential oils, all on the JEOR editorial panel, have commented on the transcript of Young's tape "The Missing Link" which has been posted widely on the Internet. This tape, which summarizes Young's bizarre notions about the healing powers of essential oils, is his manifesto. The experts concurred that his ideas are pure junk science:

Robert P. Adams (Baylor University, Waco, Texas) wrote, "Pure garbage. Nothing else." [21]

Rodney Croteau (Washington State University, Pullman, Washington) wrote, "Mr. Young's writings are among the most unscientific and intellectually unsound that I have ever read. There is no doubt that Mr. Young is a genuine quack." [22]

Robin Clery (Quest International) wrote that Young's statements "are at best misleading, mostly wrong, and at worst could lead others to misuse essential oils with potentially dangerous consequences." [23]

In 1998, Butch Owen, an American essential oils exporter living and working in Turkey, investigated Young's claims of Turkish credentials and found them to be unsubstantiated. Professor Dr. Mustafa Keviz, a lecturer on the Agricultural and Plants faculty of Anadolu University, stated that Gary Young had never given any lectures there. The United Nations Development Organization never sponsored Young or invited him to speak. He showed up uninvited and convinced some officials to permit him to present on two topics. Professor Dr. K. Husnu Can Basar (then director of the Medical and Aromatic Plant and Drug Research Center, Anadolu University) described Young's presentation as inconsequential [24].

Young also claims expertise in the design of equipment for the distillation of essential oils and says that he has designed and built several distillers for producing his oils. However, records from the Utah Occupational Safety and Health Division (UOSHD) suggest otherwise. On August 17, 2000, one of his homemade distillers ruptured at the lid/cover joint, fatally wounding a worker at Young Living Farms in Mona, Utah. The UOSHD's investigation concluded that "No consideration was given in the design and construction of distillation vessels with respect to American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) requirements pertaining to the design and construction of pressure vessels." The agency's report said that the vessel had not been equipped with any type of device that could relieve overpressurization within it. Young Living was fined a total of $10,280 for seven safety violations found in the investigation of this accident. The report also noted that in 1999, two other distillation units had been taken out of service after the inspector found violations [25].

Young's book Aromatherapy: The Essential Beginning has a whole chapter on ancient and modern equipment used for steam distillation [26]. Although the chapter emphasizes that "the best quality of oil would be produced when the pressure was zero pounds during distillation," the UOSHD report noted that steam had delivered to the vessel at 125 p.s.i. (pounds per square inch) of pressure.

That is the background of Gary Young. He is a man with no scientific medical training, with inflated credentials and a history of arrests for health fraud. Now let's examine his company.

Young Living Essential Oils

Young and his third wife Mary Billeter Young started Young Living Essential Oils (YLEO) in Utah in 1992. A biographical sketch describes her as previously quite successful at a multilevel marketing company [27], which I believe was Sunrider International. Building on her experience, the Youngs established YLEO as a typical MLM company in which "independent distributors" are said to earn money by selling products and by earning a percentage of the sales of the distributors they recruit [28]. The company has been claimed to have more than 250,000 distributors in 20 countries.

YLEO's November 2002 catalog included 71 single oils; 55 oil blends; 11 oil kits; 12 essential waters; 63 toiletry items; 79 nutritional supplements; accessories; promotional items; and equipment such as diffusers, water purification systems, and titanium cookware. The company justifies high prices by claiming that its products are purer than those of its competitors, but it provides no comparative information to support these assertions. The names of many products could mislead consumers by implying clinical effects where none exist. Examples include Brain Power to "clarify and support concentration," ImmuPower "for building, strengthening and protecting the body," and Thyromin to "maximize nutritional support to the thyroid."

YLEO's current Web site avoids many of Young's more extravagant claims. All product descriptions include the disclaimer, "This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease." The FDA has warned the company not to claim that certain products are intended to treat, prevent, cure, or mitigate disease [29,30]. However, blatantly illegal claims and testimonials still appear on the sites of many YLEO distributors.

The top sales leaders publish newsletters for their downline (distributors below them in the hierarchy). One newsletter touted the supposed Egyptian and biblical use of essential oils as evidence of their medicinal effectiveness, even though the mere fact that a substance was used by past cultures does not prove that that it is safe, effective, or useful for any disease state. Another newsletter suggests that independent distributors target church groups by offering seminars on "biblical healing." The distributors could then take advantage of the assembled groups to attract new customers [31]. Another sales leader suggested stopping complete strangers while grocery shopping, telling them about YLEO, and then deducting the gas mileage for the shopping trip as a business expense [32]. In a 1995 training video, Young stated that he persuaded a reluctant user to try his oils by "appealing to his ego," assuring him that he would "make history." [33] One current user of YLEO products told Dr. Eva Briggs confidently that when Young cured his serious disease with essential oils, he would "make history." This suggests that Young continues to deliberately manipulate his customers.

Essential Science Publishing, of Orem Utah, sells books, videotapes, and audiotapes, some of which propound Gary Young's ridiculous theories and claims for essential oils. This enables false claims that would be illegal in advertising to reach consumers through channels protected by freedom of the press.

Young Life Research Clinic Institute of Natural Medicine

In October 2000, Young opened the ambitiously named Young Life Research Clinic Institute of Natural Medicine in Springville, Utah. Because he had run into legal trouble over his lack of a license in two other states, he needed licensed doctors to staff his clinic and to carry out his idiosyncratic brand of healing. His medical staff has included Roger Belden Lewis, M.D., a board-certified family physician, and Sherman Johnson, M.D., a pediatrician who is not board certified.

The Utah Division of Professional Licensing (DOPL) web page shows that Johnson has a disciplinary record. Johnson's license was suspended from 1994 to 1999 for felony medical misconduct related to the misprescribing of narcotics [34]. Two archived articles in the Salt Lake City Tribune provide more details [35,36]. These reports state that Johnson was married for 28 years but also had a long-time friend named Donna Jones for 14 years. Jones was mentally ill with multiple personality disorder, and Johnson acted as her doctor even though (a) pediatricians normally don't treat adults or people with serious mental problems, and (b) romantic involvement with a patient is considered unwise and unprofessional and, in many states, is grounds for disciplinary action. Jones apparently believed that she had cancer. She didn't, but she shaved her head and toted an oxygen tank to look the part. And she became addicted to narcotics prescribed by Johnson for her nonexistent cancer pain. In fact, in the final six months of her life Johnson prescribed 386,000 milligrams of Demerol, an enormous dose. Eventually Johnson injected her with a lethal overdose of Demerol and she died in his arms. He falsified the death certificate and she was buried. He even sang at her funeral. Later, a nurse raised suspicions. The body was exhumed, the overdose confirmed, and no evidence of cancer found. Asked why he never examined his patient, Johnson said that she was "too modest." Asked why he never ordered any tests or work up for cancer, Johnson said that tests were unnecessary because his friend wouldn't lie to him. She had told him that the cancer was injected into her body by "a coven of gay witches and doctors." Johnson avoided a homicide trial by pleading guilty to manslaughter. In a presentencing hearing, the district attorney recommended a sentence of 1 to 15 years in the state penitentiary. Instead, the judge sentenced him to a mere 90 days in the county jail. Johnson was allowed to go home nights and weekends for the final 60 days. He was also fined $12,500. Johnson stopped working for Young during the summer of 2003 and then operated a clinic where he administered hyperbaric oxygen for questionable purposes.

Young's clinic administrator was David K. Hill, who was identified as a chiropractor who had been practicing since 1996. However, my search of the DOPL database found that he did not get a Utah license until October 20, 2004.

How did the Young Life Research Clinic operate?

A set of eight case histories [37] presented at the June 2002 Young Living Grand Convention indicate that patients were asked to bring real medical records to the initial consultation. This supplied the clinic with the established medical diagnoses. Then the clinic doctors performed a variety of quack tests, such as iridology, testing with a Quantum Xrroid device, live blood cell analysis, and so on. The patient was then given some new bogus diagnoses such as "low immune function," "poor nutrition," and/or "parasites." Some of this is described in a testimonial by singer Merrill Osmond, whose son Shane worked at the clinic. The story, which was posted on Young's Web site and was used in a newspaper advertisement, described how live-cell analysis was used to guide his treatment. The article mentioned that Hill explained things to him but did not indicate whether Hill provided diagnostic or treatment services.

Next came the therapies, a wide array of unsound alternative treatment, such as Bio-electric field enhancement (BEFE) (also called the Q2 Water Energy System), colonic irrigation, and Young's own invention, raindrop therapy (see below). Of course, large quantities of essential oils and nutritional supplements sold only by Young Living are required. The bogus diagnostic tests are repeated and the patient pronounced better. Of course, to maintain the new-found health, the patient is advised to continue using Young's products.

The eight case reports were not presented in the scientific manner or format used for standard medical reports. All lacked complete histories, explanations for the diagnostic tests chosen, alternative diagnoses considered, and rational explanations for the treatments selected. Seven of the cases included identifying information about the patients—actual names, birth dates, occupations, etc. Information on the Internet indicated that two of the eight had died less than four months after the presentation.

Treatment at Young's clinic was not covered by most health insurance plans. In 2002, registration cost $349 and the patients had to sign a form stating that they are not a reporter or law enforcement agent. The recommended one-week stay cost $2,000 to $3,000 [38]. The actual price depended upon the treatments administered. The patients also had expenses for transportation, meals, and lodging.

In 2004, the Utah Attorney General charged Barabara Tarwater with practicing medicine without a license by doing diagnostic tests and prescribing products to clinic patients. The Attorney General's petition charged that Tarwater had (a) represented herself as a "Master Herbalist," (b) engaged in iridology, live-cell analyses, and applied kinesiology muscle tests, and (c) prescribed and/or administered essential oils, herbal products, raindrop therapy, and, colonic irrigation, and intravenous vitamin treatment [39,40]. The matter was settled after Tarwater stated in a letter that she had left the clinic, was pursuing nonmedical interests, and would never again diagnose or prescribe [41].

In October 2005, Young, the clinic, and several members of the clinic staff were sued by a woman from Kansas who alleged that their treatment had caused her kidneys to fail and nearly killed her [42]. The complaint stated:

During a three-week period in which she was under the defendants' care, the woman underwent suspect diagnostic tests and was treated with multiple types of dubious treatments that included chelation therapy, hydrogen peroxide infusions, vitamin C infusions, and colonic irrigation.
Toward the end of her stay, she developed nausea, violent vomiting, weakness, and disorientation.

The clinic staff failed to recognize the nature or seriousness of the problem or make an emergency referral for appropriate treatment even when her she stopped producing urine.

Within hours of returning home to Wichita, Kansas, the woman was hospitalized for severe kidney failure from which she nearly died.

The presumed cause of the kidney failure was the intravenous vitamin C, which can impair kidney function by causing calcium oxalate crystals to be deposited in the kidney tubules [43-45]. The lawsuit was settled with payment of an undisclosed sum.

Around the time that the suit as filed, posted a note on its Web site that was closing the clinic and moving to Ecuador, where that country’s “constitution promotes and supports natural and traditional medicine.” [46] It seems likely that the relocation was related to fear of further regulatory action.

Raindrop Therapy

YLEO promotes a technique invented by Young called Raindrop Therapy (RDT), or Raindrop Technique, which involves dropping essential oils, some undiluted, along the spine and feet and massaging gently [47,48]. According to a proponent Web site:

The Raindrop Technique combines the science of aroma Technique with the techniques of Vita Flex, reflexology, massage, etc., in the application of essential oils, which are applied on various areas of the body to bring structural and electrical alignment. It is designed to bring balance to the body with its relaxing, mild application. It will also help to align and clear the energy centers of the body without using force or excessive pressure. When you combine the electrical frequency and the intelligence of the body and the oil, a greater healing process begins [49].

In a videotape, Young demonstrates what he does on a woman who lies face-down on a massage table. He applies oil to her feet, massages them, and claims that various points on the feet represent organs located throughout the body. After dripping oil near her spine, he strokes or massages her back, concentrating on the muscles around the spine. Some portions look like an ordinary massage, but Young claims that his procedures cause an "electrical exchange" between the practitioner and the client that "carries energy" to the body's organs. Among other things, he cautions that wearing jewelry would block this process and that the oils must be dropped from within six inches of the client's body because:

You want to be sure you are dropping oil within the etheric field or the electrical field of that person. . . . Most people's electrical field will emanate more than 2 or 3 feet from the body, but the strongest part of that electrical field is within the first 6 inches. . . . The oil drops through their electrical field then harmonize with their electrical frequency and it energizes that oil in balance." [48]

Young initially claimed that RDT could effectively treat scoliosis by affecting toxins and viruses, which he said cause scoliosis [43]. There is no scientific basis to this claim because there is no evidence that either viruses or toxins cause scoliosis. However, the undiluted oils can cause a burning sensation and skin redness, which the raindrop therapist alleges are evidence that viruses and toxins are leaving the body. In actuality, it is only a local skin reaction to irritation.

RDT uses seven single oils plus two blends formulated by YLEO. The concentrations of several oils exceed recommended safe doses [45] and can cause skin irritation, sensitization, phototoxicity, and essential oil toxicity. A thorough analysis of the potential problems associated with each of the oils is detailed in the National Association of Holistic Aromatherapists' White Paper on Young Living Oil's Raindrop Therapy [50]. Most RDT practitioners are Young Living independent distributors who learned the technique from brief seminars and training tapes. Such therapists may have no other formal training and thus lack the capacity to recognize complications of the treatment. Many claim that RDT is effective against an variety of medical conditions. Young even advocates using RDT in veterinary medicine, especially for horses [51]. But there is no evidence that RDT is effective for any human or animal medical condition.

Young claims that he developed RDT in part from the teachings of the Lakota Sioux medicine man Wallace Black Elk. However, Black Elk's assistant told told Dr. Eva Briggs that Black Elk did not collaborate in any way with Young to develop the technique, did not teach any specific massage strokes as alleged by Young on his RDT videotape, and did not endorse RDT [52].


Gary Young is an uneducated huckster with a track record of arrests for health fraud. He has repeatedly inflated and falsified his education, credentials, and experiences. His inability to recognize the limits of his knowledge and training contributed to the death of his own child. Sherman Johnson, M.D., a medical director of the now-defunct Young Life Research Clinic, deliberately administered a lethal dose of narcotics to a long-time friend, and then attempted to cover his actions by falsifying the death certificate. There is no reason to believe that either Young or Johnson has sufficient judgment, skill, or ethics to appropriately care for seriously ill patients.

Patients visiting the Young Life Research clinic were likely to waste large sums of money on worthless treatments and be guided away from effective legitimate medical treatments. At best, their life would be needlessly complicated by the prescription of elaborate irrational regimens requiring overpriced products sold only by Young Living. At worst, patients could suffer direct harm from the misuse of essential oils and other dubious treatments.

Treatment at the Young Life Research Clinic was unwise and expensive. Proper medical care can be obtained elsewhere from legitimately educated, licensed, and experienced health care providers.

Young Living's essential oils cannot treat or cure any medical illness.
Raindrop Therapy is potentially unsafe. Essential oils for aromatherapy use are available from many suppliers do not make ridiculous claims and whose prices are not inflated by dubious multilevel marketing practices.


The Challis Messenger, May 18, 1967.
The story of a man and his mission. Young Living web site, accessed Dec 10, 2002.
Bio-electrical medicine - O.F.S.I. Rosarita Beach Clinic brochure, undated, acquired in 1987.
Prager M, Hansen T. Police arrest "doctor." Spokane Spokesman-Review March 9, 1983
Hansen T. Man arrested on medical charge. Spokane Spokesman-Review March 9, 1983.
Prager M. Arrest result of attempt to police all professions. Spokane Spokesman-Review March 10, 1983.
Wagoner R. Man fined for offering medical care. Spokane Spokesman-Review June 28, 1983.
Clark D. He seems able to cure everything but a poor memory. Spokane Spokesman-Review, Oct 28, 1986.
Colwell CD. State of Washington v. Donald Gary Young. In the Superior Court of the State of Washington in and for the County of Spokane. Information No. 83-1-0235-5., filed March 8, 1983.
Young DG. State of Washington v. Donald Gary Young. In the Superior Court of the State of Washington in and for the County of Spokane. Statement of defendant on guilty plea, June 27, 1983.
Rosarita Beach Clinic brochure, undated, distributed in 1987.
Hurst J. 'Patient' submits blood (from cat), is given diagnosis. Los Angeles Times, Oct 23, 1987.
Himaka M. Clinic given order of restraint. San Diego Union, March 8, 1988.
Callahan B. Court blocks ads, sales by Chula Vista clinic. San Diego Union, March 11, 1988.
Judge orders Chula Vista medical clinics to shut down. San Diego Union, June 18, 1988.
Barrett S. Bernadean University: A mail order diploma mill. Quackwatch, revised March 19, 2002.
Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing and personal communication with Steve Davis, Utah DOPL, April 2, 2002.
Utah Naturopathic Physician Practice Act 58-71-302 Section 1 d i, ii, and iii
Utah Naturopathic Physician Practice Act 58-71-801 Sections 1a, 1b, and 2
Allured J. Personal communication. Jeb Allured, Nov 25, 2002.
Adams RP. Personal communication to Dr. Eva Briggs, Nov 28, 2002.
Croteau R. Personal communication to Dr. Eva BriggsNov 27, 2002.
Clery R. Personal communication to Dr. Eva Briggs, Dec 6, 2002.
Owen B. Personal Communication to Dr. Eva Briggs,
Utah Labor Commission, Occupational Safety and Health Division, Inspection No. 303609242, File Number 7609242.0, Inspection Date 8/18/00, Report Date 12/7/2000.
Young DG. Aromatherapy: The Essential Beginning. Salt Lake City, Utah: Essential Science Publishing, 2001, pp 41-64
Employee's Bios. ©1998 Young Living Essential Oils. Accessed on YLEO independent distributor's Web site, Dec 10, 2002.
Barrett S. The mirage of multilevel marketing. Quackwatch, revised Aug 17, 2001.
Foret JB. Courtesy warning letter to David Stewart, Dec 20, 2000.
Foret JB. Courtesy warning letter to Paula Turner, Oct 7, 2002.
Stewart D. "Scriptural oil program notes."
Lynn J. That's My Dollar.
Young DG. 1995 Workshop II training video.
Ogden physician's license will be suspended 5 years. Deseret News, May 19, 1992.
Henetz P (Associated Press). Did doctor beat charge of murder? Woman's death still haunts friends; did doctor get away with murder? Salt Lake City Tribune, Sept 19, 1993.
Anderson V (Associated Press). Doctor, wife say they were victims of dead woman's lies. Salt Lake City Tribune, Sept 20, 1993.
Clinic case histories. Salt Lake City, Utah: Essential Science Publishing, 2002.
Young Life Research Clinic brochure obtained in 2002.
Petition. In the matter of the investigation of Barbara Tarwater. Case No. DOPL-2004-134. May 24, 2004.
Findings of fact, conclusions of law, and recommended order. In the matter of the investigation of Barbara Tarwater. Case No. DOPL-2004-134. March 8, 2005.
Tarwater B. Letter to David W. Geary. June 4, 2004.
Complaint. Anne M. Adkins vs. G. Y. Research Institute of Natural Medicine d/b/a Young Life Research Clinic - Institute of Natural Medicine; D. Gary Young; Roger B. Lewis, M.D.; David K. Hill, D.C.; Michael Alsop, D.C.; and Patrick Gunther, L.Ac. United States District Court for the District of Utah, Case No. 2:05CV00894, filed Oct 28, 2005.
McAllister CJ and others. Renal failure secondary to massive infusion of vitamin C. JAMA 252:1684, 1984.
Lawton JM. Acute oxalate nephropathy after massive ascorbic acid administration. Archives of Internal Medicine 145:950-951, 1985.
Wong K and others. Acute oxalate nephropathy after a massive intravenous dose of vitamin C. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Medicine 24:410-411, 1994.
McDonough T. Home Cures: A bill deregulating alternative medicine is hard to swallow. City Week, Feb 16, 2006.
Young DG. Aromatherapy: The Essential Beginning. Salt Lake City, Utah: Essential Science Publishing, 2001, pp. 77-84.
Raindrop Technique. Salem, Utah: Essential Science Publishing, 2001.
Allen D. Raintrop technique. WebDeb Web site, accessed Dec 12, 2002.
Barber K., Gagnon-Warr J. National Association of Holistic Aromatherapists' White Paper on Young Living Oil's Raindrop Therapy. Revised May 12, 2002.
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Essential Oils - Part Five

Postby patoco » Wed Jul 19, 2006 12:52 pm

Dangers Associated with Essential Oils


Dangers With Aromatherapy


Aromatherapy and Your Cat



First published in the NAHA newsletter

During my searches for aromatherapy related subjects, I have come across numerous sites in the USA and Canada selling essential oils. I was horrified by the number of businesses who are selling dangerous essential oils to therapists and the public without appropriate warnings.

"Appropriate warnings" is the most important issue. There is nothing wrong with selling many of our most hazardous oils for non-contact uses. However, I consider it unscrupulous not to warn people that these products should not be applied to the skin.

Here in Britain and in Europe, we have stringent laws that control what can or can not be sold, as well as what medicinal claims can be made. It is an offence under our Trading Standards regulations, to place any product on the market, if appropriate warnings are not attached to the product. Despite that, many traders here do still ignore this important piece of consumer protection legislation.

In the USA and Canada, you either do not have such legislation, or it is being widely ignored. I have heard it said on several occasions that you prefer to rely on "individual responsibility". Well how can a member of the public be expected to ascertain if an essential oil may be dangerous or not. This is particularly important when you consider that half the so-called aromatherapists around, don’t have adequate knowledge themselves of such matters. If individual responsibility is the main trading criteria, then perhaps you should allow the general public access to plutonium so we can all CHOOSE if we want to make an H bomb or not!! Such ideas are usually a trade get-out, so they can continue making money selling anything they can get away with.

Now when I talk about hazardous essential oils, I am not talking about all the unsubstantiated hype endemic in aromatherapy. I am talking about hard verifiable facts. It is interesting that some of these facts originate from highly respected USA based organisations such as the International Fragrance Research Association. Therefore, it is not as a well-known US aromatherapy teacher said "oh yes they are very over the top on safety issues in Europe". Such teachers and authors say this, because they cannot stand it being made public, that their knowledge on essential oils is severely lacking.

The fragrance trade organisations do sterling work gathering data from adverse reactions reports and from testing the material in clinics around the world. The aromatherapy trade has no such system to monitor adverse effects of raw materials. Anyone that ignores such data is at best a fool and at worst unscrupulous, because they are toying with peoples health by ignoring valuable safety information.

When the RIFM advise a fragrance ingredient should not be used in consumer products, they are often referring to far lower levels of use than common in aromatherapy. By ‘consumer products’ this can mean soaps, detergents, lotions, creams, etc.

Here is a short list of dangerous substances that I have seen promoted in the USA and Canada. This list does not of course include those essential oils like amni visnaga, ravensara, etc. and the fast growing number of ‘chemotype’ oils that no one knows if they are safe or not, because they have not been adequately tested.

Benzoin resinoid and oil – a well documented sensitiser. RIFM recommend that only grades processed to remove the allergens should be used in consumer products. These grades are not generally available via aromatherapy suppliers. In addition, there is no such thing as benzoin oil; it is always a resin dissolved in a solvent which is often synthetic.

Bergamot oil expressed – a potent photosensitiser–no not just sunlight, but ULTRA VIOLET light present even in dull overcast conditions. Two cases of severe skin reactions to this oil were reported to me in 2002. This is a disgrace when this oils dangers have been well documented since the early 1920s.

Cinnamon bark oil – an extremely powerful irritant and an even worse sensitiser. Still being used by home soapmakers in the USA and Canada.

Peru balsam – a powerful sensitiser. RIFM recommend "not to be used as a fragrance ingredient".

Rue oil – a terrible photosensitiser and sensitiser. Reported to be a "useful oil" by someone in the American witchcraft scene on her web site. Clearly someone who has no idea on safety.

Sassafras. This oil is restricted to only the minutest amounts allowed in cosmetic products throughout Europe. It is restricted to such low levels, that it effectively bans its use. The reason is because tests have shown it is a potential carcinogen. Of course, in the USA you are used to using sassafras bark in teas and flavourings, however that is not anything like as hazardous as using the pure essential oil.

Tagetes (sometimes misdescribed as calendula) – a powerful photosensitiser. RIFM say a no effect level is 0.05%. Therefore, to use it on skin exposed to the light would be foolish.

Tansy oil – extremely toxic, and of little if any use in aromatherapy. Widely promoted by the Young Living company in the USA without any sound evidence of its usefulness.

Verbena oil – an extremely powerful sensitiser – recommended by the RIFM "not for use as a fragrance ingredient". Massive percentages of adverse skin reactions are recorded from testing a whole range of verbena oils. The only reason most aromatherapists have not seen such reactions, is because only minute amounts of genuine verbena are around, most is semi synthetic. This oil has been promoted as being useful for years by certain aromatherapy teachers.

Wormseed (Chenopodium) – extremely toxic. Banned from general sale in the UK because of the deaths reported from its consumption in the past.

So in conclusion, if anyone comes across Internet sites or shops selling these dangerous materials without warnings please do tell them. Often they simply may not know, and may have relied for their knowledge entirely on the popular aromatherapy novels, or on some of the appallingly poor training courses around. That is the kind of marketing that can trigger over zealous legislation being placed on everyone. Back to top

Martin Watt


Dangers of Essential Oils with Pregnancy and Nursing


Influence of certain essential oils on carcinogen-metabolizing enzymes and acid-soluble sulfhydryls in mouse liver. ... t=Abstract


Toxic essential oils

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