Pitfalls of researching essential oils

A friend of mine was recently using lavender on her son’s legs. She later said she had researched and found out that lavender was hormonally bad for boys. I had to respond that that had been debunked, but how was she to know? Once on the internet, always on the internet. Bad information is abundant.

There are a lot of pitfalls and wrong turns that you can make when researching the use of essential oils. I know, because eleven years ago I started researching to help my own family. I was brand new to oils. I had a one hour consultation with a master herbalist and doctor of naturopathy who had given me guidance in their use along with information about having a healthy lifestyle. I am indebted to her wisdom. Ross, then five years old, was restored to his normal, happy self after using oils and changing other things we did. Then, I struck out on my own to learn more about these amazing oils.

Contradictory information was rampant! Here on one site, someone said using oils internally could kill you. There on another, someone said that they were consuming over 100 drops a day, at times and feeling great. Other sites totally discredited essential oils as “woo woo.” But then I found pubmed.com where there were actual scientific studies on certain oils. How do you use essential oils? Are they safe for children? Can you use them when pregnant? Do they interfere with pharmaceuticals? Where were dependable answers when I needed them?

I was overwhelmed and discouraged. I really wanted to share my love of oils and what they could do, but from what authority could I speak? I did not want to give someone bad information. I thought back to the woman who had helped us in our time of distress with Ross. I wanted to be like her.

Then I found out something else. Not only is the pharmaceutical industry generally against essential oils and doctors in the US are not educated in their use, but plant oils cannot be patented, and therefore there is little money being invested in research, because there is not much return on investment. Over 74% of medicines come from plants, but the active compounds are first discovered in the lab, and then either isolated or synthesized so the “drug” can be created and patented for money. The FDA is adamant that only drugs can cure. Oils are not drugs by any means.

So, the drug companies are not going to have favorable information about essential oils on the internet, but why was there this contradictory stuff? That’s when I found out about the different schools of aromatherapy. The dominant school is the British model, begun by Marguerite Maury, a British massage therapist. She knew the value of therapeutic touch, but added to it very small amounts of essential oils to the massage oil. Since they were so diluted, there really was no worry of adverse skin reactions, or worry about the quality of the oil. This is the dominant school of aromatherapy. Most learning centers and on line certificates in the US are from this school of thought – topical use and strong dilution.

The French model is different. Gattefosse and Valnet were instrumental in bringing aromatherapy to the forefront in the 20th century. Gattefosse was a chemist, Valnet a doctor. Gas gangrene was a major cause of death for soldiers in WWI, after Gattefosse disovered how helpful lavender oil was for his own skin, he worked with other doctors to help wounded soldiers with lavender and other oils. Valnet also worked with soldiers, but also wrote extensively about oils and established the first college of plant-based medicine in 1981. The French had used essential oils internally, topically, and diffused for centuries, but these men brought essential oils into more popular use.

I decided to look for an aromatherapy school to become certified that would endorse the safe use of essential oils from the French point of view, but also include the value of massage oils like the British school. I am now a certified aromatherapist. That took a lot of time and study, but it was worth it.  I highly recommend the New York Institute of Aromatic Studies. They take a balanced approach. I am continuing up the ladder of study as we speak.

Don’t have a bazillion hours to study about oils and research the bias of the web site you are on? Let me do all that work for you! That is the immense value of an aromatherapist. Curious about oils? You have come to the right place to find out your options. Contact me for a free consultation.

Published by Gwendolyn Christopher Rodriguez

I am a certified aromatherapist and PraiseMoves instructor.

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