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What is up with the essential oil craze?

 
pollinator
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I like to blog hop about. I'm noticing that a lot of the popular blogs are very essential oil minded and also sell essential oils. What is up with that? Is this just a new fad?
 
gardener
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At the risk of seeming cynical, I would propose that there may be one or more companies out there with an essential oils affiliate program. Bloggers talk up the oils, link to sales pages, and pocket a cut of the proceeds. Essential oils would be a good candidate for an affiliate program, because you need something you can sell at huge markups, so that the affiliates can get a decent cut of each sale. Oils would be good there because there are no standards for purity or quality; a few drops of cheap essence in quite a bit of cheap filler oil is really hard to distinguish (especially over the internet) from genuinely high-quality high-purity product.
 
elle sagenev
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Dan Boone wrote:At the risk of seeming cynical, I would propose that there may be one or more companies out there with an essential oils affiliate program. Bloggers talk up the oils, link to sales pages, and pocket a cut of the proceeds. Essential oils would be a good candidate for an affiliate program, because you need something you can sell at huge markups, so that the affiliates can get a decent cut of each sale. Oils would be good there because there are no standards for purity or quality; a few drops of cheap essence in quite a bit of cheap filler oil is really hard to distinguish (especially over the internet) from genuinely high-quality high-purity product.



Oh I know a few of them sell them themselves. I think that doTerra might be a Mary Kay like product scheme. Still, why oils? Why is everyone latching onto them? Seems so random to me. Plus I read a few things by someone who makes their living making and prescribing oils and they talked about the major over use of them and the health risks of that. So I'm just baffled at the amount of them I see out there.
 
pollinator
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Yeah, DoTerra and Young Living are both essential oil MLMs. It's just like Tupperware and Mary Kay and Amway. You see a lot of it on blogs because a lot of bloggers are trying to make a stay-at-homing living, and these oil companies push themselves as a way to achieve that. I know one young mother who is supporting her family of 6 on her oil business (albeit in a very modest lifestyle).

As for "why oils," I think the idea of home-based health care without having to rely on or pay for doctors has huge appeal for naturally-minded families trying to get by on less money in order to have more quality intangibles like intimacy, family time, community, etc. There are a lot of things for which they're great. A little eucalyptus or peppermint diffused in the air can really soothe a cough. Lavender does help you relax. Clove oil will numb mouth irritations. You can do a lot of good simple first aid with oils. That said, a lot of self-styled "wellness consultants" who've just paid for their kit and set themselves up as experts will have you eating and applying large amounts of lots of different oils for every malady real and imagined with little knowledge of or concern for possible contraindications or bad reactions that could occur. Essential oils are potent, and can easily be overdone.

I'm on the fence, I guess. There are real scientific studies showing that certain essential oils added to chicken feed are more effective than conventional antibiotics. There's a lot of good there. That said, I'd like to see the driving force behind this interest in oils come from some slightly less "commercial" place. The mutli-level marketing aspect really rubs me the wrong way.
 
Roberta Wilkinson
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This is the article I read that talked about essential oils used on chickens: http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2015/01/the-new-antibiotics-might-be-essential-oils/384247/
 
pollinator
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I have been an essential oil convert just in the last few years. The good stuff is really really good, the bad/cheap stuff does nothing to may harm you. They are like raw milk, you really need to trust your source. But I have seen miraculous results with the good stuff, fixing things modern medicine couldn't.

As for the viral blogging, yes some do have really good affiliate or MLM plays. But not all the blogs are using those. It is just a really popular topic right now between natural health, insurance alternatives, and about seventeen other things. Give it a month and they will all be on something else.
 
Roberta Wilkinson
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R Scott, are you willing to divulge what company you consider to be, "Really, really good?" That's been a big issue for me - the difficulty in really knowing what you're getting. Every company has their own catchy quality assurance acronym, but since there's no blanket testing authority, it's kind of meaningless. I would feel a lot more confident if I knew for sure where to get high quality, completely pure oils.
 
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Most things you can do medicinally (and probably hygenically) with essential oils you can do with herbs. People like the oils because they're compact, easy to use and smell nice. But they're very strong, more a drug than herbal medicine generally is, and they should be used with knowledge and care. I've read herbalists saying that companies like Young Living etc are very lax with their advice on use.

Essential oil use also has some issues for permaculturists. You need to monocrop large amounts of plants to produce oils in the quantities currently being used. We don't yet know what the environmental impact is of such ubiquitous use. Many essential oils have distinct effects on microbes and we don't get to control that once we've used them (or even as we're using them). They're also intense chemicals to dispose of. Some people who react to strong smells eg petrol, the laundry aisle in the supermarket, also react to essential oils. Large numbers of essential oils are produced using solvents (most?). Because of all that, I think they're better used for specific problems that are hard to treat in other ways, rather than routinely/daily.
 
pollinator
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I too would be really interested in the discussion around determining / sharing info about sources of high quality oils.

I've used oils for years, but specific oils for specific purposes in small quantities. I think the only oil I went a bit crazy with was tea tree, I kind of saw it as a cure all, but thankfully have reeled it in a bit now as it is sooper potent and not sourced anywhere near where I'm from.

Just another thought - any ideas on how to DIY essential oils?
 
pollinator
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You can make infusions yourself w. Herbs and your oil of choice, but to make essential oils you need a distiller.

I personally view essential oils as medicine and all medicine have side effects - and the side effects are also dependent on production method (conventional medicine is tested again when they go off patent and the production method is still patentet - because the production method matters, so does additives etc). I always try to err on the side of caution wrt medicine of any kind (but that also means that I'd use something natural without preservatives, than a pharmaceutical product).

I personally have problems with scent, and find that many homes in the alternative world are as perfumed or more than houses of people who are more mainstream - some of those scents bug me (give me headaches and nausea). Some of these scents - if heated eg. in oil lamps and candles are more problematic than secondary smoke from cigarettes... My son has astma and cannot stand being places that are very perfumed, even if he doesn't get an astma attack he feels that he can't breathe.

So I personally prefer to add dried or fresh lavender to my footbath or to bathing salts, to use fresh peppermint to boiling water for a cold etc. over buying essential oils. We do have a few bottles of lavender, peppermint and juniper around - but each tiny bottle have lasted for years. Right now I am waiting for the weather to become warm enough for my coconut oil to melt and the I will try to make an infusion with Swiss mint to use for toothbrushing.
 
elle sagenev
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I tried to find the article I read, because it made A LOT of sense and was a great look into essential oils. Basically she said that over use can cause allergies and reactions to the oils and that most of the time the real herbs were a better alternative. So I agree with a lot of you who say essential oils are a medicine that a lot of people are now way over using, to their eventual detriment. I just feel bad when I get on a blog and they are selling this stuff as a cure for different things on children and dogs/cats. These are living things that are depending on us to make the right choices for them. That said I have used essential oils with my kids. They are used in extreme moderation when they are really sick. I just put some eucalyptus oil in their humidifier at bedtime.

Anyway, I guess I see something ethically wrong with touting these oils and selling them as a cure all to people without reservation or warning. These people like and respect the bloggers. They often follow them and feel like they are friends. So to then push essential oils so you can support yourself....wrong.

On that note, we are growing a ton of herbs and such on the farm and my husband plans to make his own essential oils. I think they are nice and fun, just caution should be used.
 
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They smell good, I know that.
 
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I used to be really into EO's. I have a ton. I typically bought from Mountain Rose Herbs.

But I have recently become aware of some issues with them. The first being the whole pyramid scheme thing. DoTerra and Young Living reps are relentless. I also DO NOT like the way they promote ingesting EO's.

Next is the crazy large amount of plants you need to grow to produce even a drop of EO's. It doesn't seem sustainable to me.

And lastly, EO's are concentrated extractions of a plant. They are drugs. Plain and simple. And some of them
cause health issues. Some have been known to cause hormonal issues.

In conclusion, I don't think they are safe or sustainable.
 
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I just attended an amazing talk by Susan Weed, and she basically agreed that making essential oils is not only unsustainable but even damaging to the heath (for example, oil if oregano destroys gut fauna). She treats lots of massage therapy folks with immune issues because of their exposure to EOs. Her take is that simple infusions and tinctures work better, are safer, more sustainable, actually do-able by anyone, and cheaper.

I had never thought about this aspect before, and am still processing the talk. The podcast of her talk should be up soon: search for "Free Herbalism Project" which is an amazing series of events in Eugene, Oregon, sponsored by none other than Mountain Rose Herbs. The day opened with a permaculture presentation, so that was cool

EDITED TO ADD: Here is the Free Herbalism Project link: http://freeherbalismproject.com

 
R Scott
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Roberta Wilkinson wrote:R Scott, are you willing to divulge what company you consider to be, "Really, really good?" That's been a big issue for me - the difficulty in really knowing what you're getting. Every company has their own catchy quality assurance acronym, but since there's no blanket testing authority, it's kind of meaningless. I would feel a lot more confident if I knew for sure where to get high quality, completely pure oils.



Sorry, I missed seeing this until now.

My wife has a soap and cosmetic business and does a lot of research and testing (on me, not animals!). The best overall source we have found for pure therapeutic grade oils is native American nutritionals. She does have wholesale sources for some oils, but 90%+ of what we use on us is from native American. They have a big selection of oils, and seem to be honest about listing the source and whether and with what it has been cut. I also have a friend that supplies wildcrafted medicinals for them and know they are honest on that side of the business, too. Not a MLM.

EO's being unsustainable is part of the hype driving sales right now. It is easy to get and store now. I make tincture of what I can grow, but I can't grow lots of things.

Some oil bottles are the equivalent of acres of plants, it is really easy to overdose.
 
Roberta Wilkinson
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Thanks for coming back with a reply. I had read good things about NAN in the past, and have ordered some of their oils and enjoyed them, so it's nice to have some corroboration.
 
George Meljon
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I guess you can assuage much of the alarm around oils usage by diluting the oil. It also makes a bottle last much longer.

Also, unless you are sick or in acute pain, don't ingest essential oils in any quantity over a single drop. And again, dilute it. And before you do ingest anything, just research it quickly online, considering the source.

http://essentialoilblogging.com/2013/09/05/essential-oil-safety-101-dont-miss-this/
 
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I am using essential oils for a while now. I am not used each and every one of them bu I got my own ways. I used to create mix them together in my oil diffuser but now I ham buying a set of oils that does that for me. I am practicing meditation and I am using the Relax Bend to get myself faster into meditative mode. I also have a blend I use before I start my work to help me with my fatigue. And of course I don't start my day without my physical training which is a pain in the ass if I am not using the Energy Blend. I don't diffuse them everytime. For energy I just rub a couple of drops in my hand and I keep inhaling as I do my training and it simply works wonders. If want to learn more about how I use each of the seven blends I wrote a post here: http://realreiki.co/top-oils-stones-healing-chakras/

I will ever trust essential oils. They helped me a lot on their own and also alongside other healthy practices and changes in my life such as eating more vegetables and fruits and meditation practices.
 
author & pollinator
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I use to use essential oils more until I saw the negative effect they can have.  I think we need to dial back their use as a treatment and save them for when they are necessary.

Essential oils are very strong and if you can use a whole herb it is usually better.  There are times where I use essential oils internally but usually in tiny amounts. As mentioned by someone else,  oil of Oregano can mess up your gastrointestinal bacteria (so can others), but I will still use it for hard to treat sinus infections as an inhalation and also if a person already has totally messed up GI bacteria and there are indications of a biofilm in existence. People with biofilms have usually tried many things and can't get well.  They have already been through the whole process of trying to support and nourish and still they are not well. They have often used whole herbs and may have temporarily been helped, but not permanently.  They have a long history of chronic illness and if indicated, working on the biofilm can in those cases be helpful. I do this however, knowing that it is similar to using antibiotics. I will use sustained release oregano essential oil as part of a bigger plan to get the biofilm removed or at least decreased and then rebuild up the person's gut flora afterward and people learn to care for their gut bacteria. I see a lot of people using essential oils internally as their first line of support or defense however, when they don't need to be used and may indeed be harmful. There are companies that I will not mention selling antibacterial products with essential oils in them to be taken orally. People take these not understanding that they will indeed mess up the digestive flora and they may end up feeling worse afterwards. Yes, a person can get die off of pathogens that can cause them to feel bad, but they can also get die off of their own helpful flora that can make things worse.

Before trying to kill off pathogens, if it is possible to support the flora through healthy food, environmental changes, healthy mind/spirit, other healthy living methods I suggest using that first. Your healthy flora can often keep pathogens at bay. I suggest you consider the use of these strong antibacterial essential oils as something similar to using antibiotics and you will become much more careful about their use.

If you want to purchase organic essential oils, I suggest checking out The Essential Oil Company in Oregon. Some of their essential oils are organic.

I would add that we have flora all over our body. We have healthy flora in our respiratory tract, our skin and probably other areas we have yet to learn about. The brain is even thought to have some type of flora in it now and is being studied to see if the bacteria they have found there is pathogenic or supportive. Supporting our bodies flora should be the first defense rather than essential oils. For instance if you have out of control Candida or Malassezia on your skin, using a diluted wash of live vinegar will help support the acid mantle of the skin and get your skin flora to grow while making it inhospitable to the fungi. Using essential oils may at first help, but with repetitive use the skin usually gets very irritated and unable to protect itself. This is due to killing off all their healthy bacteria in that area. Sometimes using a mix of live gut flora on the skin will help or using a poultice of fermented food - which is also acidic and supports the skins acid mantle. However, a simple live vinegar rinse is easier and works well, so I often recommend this. Removing sugar from the persons diet and adding other supportive measures can get rid of the skin yeast infection, rather than needing repetitive essential oil applications and damaging the skin microbiome. The person heals the skin by creating the environment nature had originally set up.

 
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