The Time I was Burned by my Oils
I have been sitting on this story for many, many months. I have written it, deleted it only to write another version of it again. I feel it needs to be told. S0, for the last time, I am writing it and will hit publish. I don't mean to pick on any one company, it just so happens this blend is made by a big named company that most people know.
ESSENTIAL OILS ARE NOT BENIGN! Just because they are natural doesn't make them safe. There are a lot of natural things in the world that have the power to kill you. Education is imperative. If you really want to use essential oils as your main healing modality, I strongly suggest you attend a NAHA (National Association of Holistic Aromatherapy) approved school. It will be money well spent, the education you receive will guide you to use these beautiful oils safely and correctly.
Back in September of last year, I hurt my back. All of my essential oils and blends I created were in my office, in the basement. I couldn't get off the couch, let alone navigate the stairs to retrieve something to help. I remembered I had a bunch of blends in our hutch I had gotten before I became an aromatherapist. I didn't know what to do with them, I didn't feel comfortable giving them away so there they sat.
Desperate, I made my way to the hutch to see what might work. I found an unopened, diluted bottle of a blend. I knew the first 2 ingredients were extremely harsh (wintergreen and camphor), but I TRUSTED the company to make a properly diluted blend for the general public. I have heard so many wonderful things about this blend, I broke the seal and applied it.
Within 10 minutes of application, my back was on FIRE! It was red, burning and tingly (it felt like your foot does when it goes to sleep). The harsh oils burned my skin causing the equivalent of a bad sunburn. I suffered for 2 days from back pain, and a burn to my back. Due to the burned skin, I couldn't use anything on it except lavender. Lavender is extremely gentle and soothed the skin, providing some relief, but not the relief I was needing.
Looking at the bottle, the first 2 ingredients are wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens) and camphor (Cinnamomum camphora), both EXTREMELY harsh oils. Read HERE what Robert Tisserand, an essential oil expert, and Marge Clarke, a very well known woman in the aromatherapy industry state about wintergreen essential oil. Wintergreen is extremely hot, can burn sensitive skin and is only recommended for use by trained aromatherapists.
I would never recommend using either of these oils on a child, however I know people who have. I saw a friend do so because her daughter liked the smell. The 5 yo got dizzy, nauseous and was feeling faint until soap and water were used to remove it. It smells good, like wintergreen gum, a child could easily try and eat it. Both wintergreen and camphor are toxic if swallowed.
According to poison.org, "Wintergreen is used in some over-the-counter skin preparations to relieve pain. It creates a feeling of warmth because it causes blood vessels to enlarge. BUT – a big but – oil of wintergreen is very dangerous if more than a tiny amount is swallowed. Oil of wintergreen is used as a food flavoring in trace amounts, but drinking from the bottle can be deadly." And "Camphor is used as a moth repellent and as an ingredient in skin preparations. Even a small amount of camphor is dangerous if swallowed. Seizures can begin within only a few minutes. Camphor poisoning also occurred when skin preparations containing camphor were applied repeatedly on children – more frequently than the label recommended and/or covered up with extra clothing."
Camphor is also an oil that is "not suitable for use in aromatherapy or great caution must be used with it" according to my naturopathy studies. I knew this, however I trusted that this prediluted blend would be safe for anyone.
I called the company because I wanted to know what the dilution strength of the bottle was. According to customer service, that is proprietary information and cannot be disclosed. Most of the blends I make for retail sale are 1-3% dilution. It's not my blend information, it's the dilution strength. I am not afraid to share it, this information should be common knowledge.
Even though I am a trained professional, I make mistakes and listen to all the hype. I am human. I honestly knew better but was so desperate it was either this oil or ibuprofen. I chose the oil blend, I should have chosen the ibuprofen. Please don't let my mistake become yours. Use this information for what is it. A teaching moment. I know I will never use another blend that isn't formulated by myself or an aromatherapist friend. I know better, now we need to do better.
Should you have any questions, please shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Stay safe out there, it's harder now more than ever!
Love and light!
Caution: The material on this page is not meant to take the place of diagnosis and treatment by a qualified medical practitioner. Since the actual use of this product by others is beyond our control, no expressed or implied guarantee as to the effects of their use can be given nor liability taken. Use at your own discretion. Any application of the recommendations is at the user’s risk. Sweet Willow Spirit, LLC disclaims any liability arising directly or indirectly from the use of this information and assumes no responsibility for any actions taken. This should not be used in place of traditional therapies but solely as a complementary means for bringing well-being. The FDA has not evaluated the statements on this website. No claims are made as to any medicinal value of any oil or healing modality.