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Essential Oils as Treatment: Safety and Toxin Issues

When an herbalist, aroma therapy or essential oil expert says these have no side effects—run. It means that they have not read the immense body of publications about the side effects from things like essential oils and herbs. Certainly, many essential oils and herbs have many positive uses.

  • Clove bud oil with high eugenol content is typically tolerated, but if too much is used medically or if one is re-exposed to it in high amounts through many exposures it may be toxic. For example, does your functional medicine healer know the best dose for you?

    First, a healer should know it is already in a vast number of products in these areas: medications, perfumes, flavorings, agricultural chemicals and cosmetics. Kamatou reminds us its medicinal uses include as an antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, pain killer, and both an anti-oxidant and an anticancer agent. It is used profoundly in protecting food from micro-organisms during storage, and is also used as a pesticide and fumigant. Simply, a healer cannot assume the only exposure to clove bud oil or eugenol is the dose the healer is prescribing. It might be in other products.

    Further, the processing of the oil by each person will vary. Some people will need to be given their dose in unfamiliar ways such as drops placed into a small 4 or 0 capsule, or both so the 4 size fits into the 0 size. Also, some will need to take this powerful oil with marshmallow root as the gut protecting herb, so the resulting capsule will look like wet thick green/brown powder. Some self-treating patients have had good results without any obvious danger.

    In a head to head study Cecchini compared Listerine® and clove bud oil (containing 89% eugenol). The most susceptible microorganisms were Bacillus cereus, Streptococcus pyogenes, and Candida albicans. Listerine did not exert a strong inhibition on bacteria microbial strains tested. However, its effectiveness increased significantly when essential oil was added.

  • Achillea ligustica essential oils (4-terpineol, carvone, gamma-terpinene, and beta-phellandrene) are believed to be able to kill a number of bacteria, including those likely to form biofilms. The Cecchini study cited above provides additional evidence for the in vitro, or in the body, inhibitory activity of A. ligustica essential oils on several pathogens. It is suggested they may be useful in mouth rinse formulations to limit oral infections.

  • Heracleum Sosnowskyi was discovered in 1772 and has a number of ways it can harm humans. For example, sunlight creates a "photoallergic" response, in part due to the intensely toxic furanocoumarin in its sap. Furanocoumarins are found in the leaves and stem and are the components of the essential oil. They may penetrate the skin through the epithelial layer, posing a direct threat to human health.

    Contact may cause large blisters and burn sensations. If taken orally it causes farm animals and most likely humans also, to experience internal bleeding.


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