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SALT LAKE CITY — I received an overwhelming response from last week’s Mommy Medicine column on the pros and cons of essential oil use. Because of that, I feel it necessary to clarify some of my statements and detail my concerns.
In the column, I listed several reasons people are turning to essential oil use to treat their ailments and several reasons why they need to be careful when doing so.
My main worry is that people may be jumping on board a bandwagon they don’t know much about. We often hear of some kind of popular item or treatment and go all in before we know or understand the consequences, and then we have buyer’s remorse. Some examples that come to mind are HCG diet control, which many doctors now believe is an unhealthy way to lose weight; or plastic surgery, which rarely turns into only one surgery.
The truth is there are concerns with essential oil use that you need to be aware of.
First of all, there is no federal regulation on who can sell essential oils, who can manufacture essential oils or who will profit from the sale of essential oils. A report from the University of Minnesota lists several important considerations to make when choosing a reputable company to buy from. Visit www.takingcharge.chs.umn.edu for more information.
In addition, there are not enough studies to show long or beneficial outcomes for the use of essential oils, and therefore it becomes very difficult for the medical community to accept or recommend these oils for care. It is my understanding that some studies in our local hospitals are being conducted, which will help greatly for a better understanding. But this will take time.
Dangerous side effects
Most alarmingly, essential oils in their pure form are dangerous; they need to be diluted before use. If used in the pure form, essential oils can cause severe irritation and/or permanent skin sensation. If they’re overused, the patient runs the risk of the oils becoming toxic to their body.
Additionally, many essential oils are considered poisonous to children and should be kept out of their reach just like other medications. Livestrong.org has put together a short list of oils considered safe for children, which includes lavender, tea tree, chamomile, rose and eucalyptus.
That being said, it’s important to note that essential oils will never be able to cure some medical conditions no matter what the formula. I do agree that essential oils can help with the healing process and be beneficial to aid in the medical treatment. All things in moderation is the true answer.
I have use these oils myself and found some work and some do not work. In the end, this is personal choice that can have benefits and risks. You need to do your research to know what you’re getting into and consult your physician to make sure you’re doing it safely.
Suzanne Carlile, "Nurse Suzy," has been a nurse since 1982. Her main focus is critical care and nursing education. She holds a master's degree in nursing, is a Certified Emergency Nurse, and a member of NNSDO Intermountain West Chapter.