Friday, June 1, 2012

Just because something is Natural, does not mean it is Safe

By Christi Pugh
For Nature’s Gift

Might I stand on my soap box for a moment?  Not to embarrass or call anyone out, because we are all continually learning the amazing benefits of essential oils the healing practice of aromatherapy & quite honestly, I am a bit frustrated at the moment.

At Nature’s Gift, Marge has wonderfully taught me many things over the past seven years, & most importantly it is to respect the awesome power of essential oils when you are using them, i.e. SAFETY.  You cannot imagine how often we hear someone (wrongly) say, “Well, it is natural after all, so it must be safe.”  No, that is not ever the case.  Not with oils, not with tinctures, not with herbs, or homeopathic remedies.  There is always the chance someone could be allergic, have an idiosyncratic reaction, develop sensitization, or cause themselves, others, or their pets great harm by improper use of essential oils. 

Recently, we’ve heard from several different individuals wanting to formulate their own eo insect repellant for dogs & they want to use oils like Peppermint, Sweet Orange, Dalmatian Sage, (you name it!), & it is crazymaking!  Some of these folks are planning to sell the products on the market.  Now we could make an easy sale but time & again we send business elsewhere by pointing out that either the oil they are thinking of using in their blend is unsafe or inappropriate for the use they are considering.  This occurs with any number of blends you could think of for any purpose.  Citrus oils for a “natural” deodorant—yikes!  (it is phototoxic & irritating!) 

I am not suggesting everyone be an expert, but if you are using essential oils, some amount of study & research is pertinent for your safety & those around you.  We try really hard to make accurate & detailed information available on the website.  As some clients have said to me, “I spend hours on the website, just reading & learning!”  We love to hear that, too!  We try really hard to cite our sources for the information we share from respected leaders in the industry such as Kurt Schnaubelt, Robert Tisserand, & many others. 

I suspect some of the calls we receive are from individuals who never order from us but see us in a google search after the google search that told them to use peppermint on dogs (erroneously) & call us to pick our brain rather than doing their own research.  They won’t even take the time to read what is on our website which is obviously well researched & thought out, because they are trying to cut corners, & in my opinion, “know just enough to be dangerous.”

We participate regularly in continuing education through NAHA, AIA, & other respected courses in order to help educate ourselves & our clients & of course we always pass the valuable information & research we learn on to you! We are constantly learning on this incredible journey.  And we learn from all of you as well with the questions you ask & the feedback you provide concerning your own experiences & knowledge.

Important phrases to remember:  “Less is more, & always err on the side of caution,” when working with essential oils.  Marge is sensitized to Lavender.  I am sensitized to any oil with high eugenol content after our Holy Basil “explosion.”  Anyone of us can become sensitized at any time if enough thought & care is not put into our usage. 

Okay, I will get off the soap box for now & hope you understand where I am coming from.  I want to see more people benefitting from aromatherapy & experiencing healing through these incredible natural oils.  However, without a healthy respect for their power, I worry those who use them improperly will not only harm themselves, but the community as a whole.  Someone once said, “Knowledge is power!”

In familiarizing oneself with the practical uses of any specific oil, it is also key to become aware of any cautions or warnings. For example: Melissa is reported to be helpful with viral infections like cold sores. However, Melissa is a known sensitizer. So obviously dilution at the proper levels is necessary. After all, would you ride a motorcycle without a helmet or drive a car without a seatbelt?"

End of Christi’s rant.

Marge’s comment:  I believe this was prompted by an inquiry on Facebook this morning. A woman had purchased Peppermint and Lavender oils to use on her Pomeranian. (Memories of my 5 lb Pom, Max.  I used ‘baby safe” dilutions and ‘baby safe’ oils on him.)   Now, I am not criticizing THIS reader.  She did some research, realized the oils should be diluted, and asked for help.   But the shop where she purchased them told her “a lot of people are buying these to use on their pups and dogs."   The new friend asking is concerned that some innocent animals may be harmed. She's right. The thought of using undiluted Peppermint, or ANY undiluted oil on an innocent animal is horrifying.


BeaPotter said...

My favorite analogy came from a dermatologist who said, "Well poison ivy is a natural plant but, you wouldn't want to rub that on your face. Would you?"

Anonymous said...

My favorite analogy was from a dermatologist who said, "Poison ivy is a natural plant but, you wouldn't want to rub that all over your face. Would you?"

Anonymous said...

Impressive Post
Oils are Awesome
Research & Respect

Anonymous said...

Oh I feel your pain! After working with EO's for the past 12 years I myself can no longer use them (even in small diluted quantities)topically as i get terrible contact dermititis. So sad for me. I wish I would have know years ago what I know now as I would have taken more care in handling them for sure. Education is so important and I definatly ignored some of the most important advise on handling EO's. Can't change what happened but hopefully I will be able to pass on some safety info to others! In the mean time its made my dream of having a natural organic body care business come to a grinding halt as I research what else I could possibly scent my products with. What a hard lesson for me!