Bergamot Oil – Toxic To Children?

I was recently contacted by an essential oil business (Plant Therapy) which had several customers ask about the safety of bergamot oil, as they had heard it could be lethal and cause convulsions in children. The sources of this warning appear to be MedicineNet.com and WebMD.com, as both websites have profiles on bergamot oil that include this:

“Do not use bergamot oil in children. There have been serious side effects, including convulsion and death, in children who have taken large amounts of bergamot oil.” MedicineNet.com WebMD.com These are no doubt widely-read websites. The WebMD information is

By |January 1st, 2015|Myth-busting, Safety|7 Comments

Essential oils and gut flora

In a blog post dated July 13th 2014, Madhupa Maypop quoted Paul Bergner, saying: “The scent of an essential oil can kill gut flora just like antibiotics do, according to Paul Bergner, director of the clinical studies program at the Rocky Mountain Center for Botanical Studies. He told me that breathing the oils puts them into the blood stream very quickly and can be a major disturber of intestinal health and contributor to poor immune functioning.” However this quote has now been removed from the post, since Paul Bergner has denied that he ever said this. Paul contacted me […]

By |July 14th, 2014|Aromatherapy / Research, Myth-busting|22 Comments

Essential oils and eye safety

There has been much social media discussion recently (February 2012) about the wisdom or otherwise of putting essential oils into your eyes to treat eye problems. This arose from two webpages, here and here. One of these, on the Livestrong website, states: “More and more people are choosing to use alternative medicines to treat minor illnesses rather than taking a prescription. Putting essential oils in or near the eyes isn’t something that is widely known about, but there are several that can aid in the treatment of eye problems. Before using essential oils for your […]

By |February 23rd, 2013|Myth-busting, Safety|40 Comments

Tea tree & cloth diapers

Mr. Tisserand,

I am a Real Diaper Circle Leader with the Real Diaper Association (a not-for-profit organization). I lead the Ventura County chapter here locally where I donate my time to teach cloth diapering 101 classes as well as support the local cloth diapering community with monthly meetings which are all free to the public. The cloth diapering community has run into a bit of controversy regarding the use of Tea Tree Oil to kill microbes including bacteria commonly found in feces, yeast, viruses shed in feces and in rare cases, mold (usually related to improper storage).

Many moms have been recommending […]

By |August 10th, 2012|Myth-busting, Q & A|11 Comments

Heavy metal lips

I just discovered a facebook page called “There’s lead in your lipstick”. Maybe I should start one called “There’s even more lead in your drinking water”. Heavy metal poisoning should not be taken lightly, it’s a serious issue, but the lead in lipstick fiasco no longer has any traction. Trace levels of lead are ubiquitous in our environment – in the soil, the plants that grow in it, the water that passes through it. We should be vigilant. But when you realize that you ingest more lead by drinking water every day, than you would if you consumed a whole […]

By |February 10th, 2012|Myth-busting, Safety|5 Comments

Lavender oil and pregnancy

Pregnancy oil (iStock)A Google search for “Avoid high doses of lavender oil during pregnancy because it is a uterine stimulant” produces about 10,500 hits, though none of these will tell you how much constitutes a “high dose”. (Yes, I checked every single one.) Other Google search results about lavender in pregnancy include:

Lavender oil is a uterine stimulant” – 15,800 hits.

Lavender is an emmenagogue” – 106,000 hits.

Lavender should be avoided in the first trimester” – 191,000 hits.

Clearly there is some concern about the safety of lavender oil during […]

By |July 22nd, 2011|Myth-busting, Safety|40 Comments

The “oxygenation” myth

It is commonly believed in some aromatherapy circles that a major therapeutic benefit of essential oils derives from the fact that they are rich in oxygen; that they efficiently carry this oxygen to the body’s cells and tissues, and thus dramatically enhance our health. Jim Lynn, for example, writes the following paragraphs under the title “Essential Oils…Nature’s Answer To Oxygen Deficiency“:

If there is any one BIG reason for you to use essential oils everyday, it can be summed up in one word…OXYGEN! Essential oils are loaded (concentrated) with it, at least 50 times more oxygen than what the […]

By |November 27th, 2010|Myth-busting|25 Comments

Can essential oils raise blood pressure?

Blood pressureThe status quo, the widely believed “wisdom” of the day, is always difficult to change, however illogical or wrong it may be. Blood letting had been widely used for 1,500 years before physicians figured out that it was not, after all, the ideal go-to therapy for all ills. In that context, 36 years is not a long time, but that’s how long the aromatherapy community has been under the illusion that oils of rosemary, hyssop, sage and thyme should not be used for people with high blood pressure.

In 1964, […]

By |August 31st, 2010|Myth-busting, Safety|33 Comments

Is clary sage oil estrogenic?

According to Franchomme & Pénöel (1990), clary sage oil is estrogen-like, due to its content of sclareol, which is said to be structurally similar to human estrogens. The sclareol content of clary sage oil is given as 1.6-7.0%. In gas chromatographic analyses of clary sage oil, a sclareol content of 0.1-0.4% is typical. However sclareol concentrations tend to be underestimated due to the very low volatility of the molecule, so 1.6-7.0% is probably reasonable. Clary sage absolute is a solid material, and contains about 70% sclareol, which is also solid.

Some of the more common Internet comments about the hormonal effects […]

By |April 25th, 2010|Myth-busting, Safety|0 Comments
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