Sponsored: On Essential Oils: Is Natural Better?
Essential oils are often talked about as a natural product and remedy when it comes to aromatherapy, i.e. certain scents may be pleasant and calming if used in diffusers.
Essential oils can also be used topically ( on the skin) as an ingredient in lotions, soaps and perfumes. Some essential oils can added to foods for flavoring. But this is a good reminder that even natural products can be hazardous if used inappropriately or in large amounts.
• Rashes on skin – Some essential oils, when applied directly to the skin, can causes skin irritation and rashes (Peppermint Oil) and some may even be poisonous for children and infants (Camphor).
• Breathing difficulties – If used in a diffuser, some oils at higher concentrations can exacerbate asthma and cause difficulty breathing especially in infants and children. (Peppermint oil) . (Special note about your pets. Cats and dogs have much keener ability to smell than humans and using essential oils in a diffuser may be an irritant to them.)
• Poisonous if consumed – Many oils are not meant for consumption or use in food products. Sage oil has caused seizures in children. Camphor and Eucalyptus can cause seizures. Nutmeg oil when used in high amounts can cause hallucinations and coma.
• Endocrine (hormone) disruptors – Both Lavender and Tea Tree oil have been linked to hormone disruption when used in diffusers.
Bottom Line: Using natural products medicinally can be problematic as they have often not been tested or researched for this purpose and so they lack actual evidence of benefit or safety. Please be aware of signs and symptoms that you or your child or your pet may be sensitive or allergic to essential oils and speak to your family medical provider.
Sources: Poison Control – poison.org
Leah McGrath, RDN, LDN
Ingles Markets Corporate Dietitian