We get many questions through our Facebook group regarding what essential oils are safe or unsafe for this sect of the population or for that segment of needs. We see many lists and charts floating around and get asked for safe and unsafe lists on a regular basis.
We get it. You’ve just recently heard about essential oils and want to use them or you have been using essential oils and have discovered that these wonderful substance can be dangerous when used incorrectly. You don’t want to harm yourself, your children, family or friends so you are looking to be safe with it.
We understand this. We really do. So much so that we have compiled lists, charts and memes with general guidelines which are or will be available to you. But here’s the catch. They are JUST general guidelines. They are not instructionals, educational lessons, study guides or valid medical protocols to base your personal health and life on. They are most certainly not definitive absolutes to form your entire thinking and journey into aromatherapy on.
Now don’t get me wrong. Lists and charts, even memes and infographs can be helpful for a general information, but please understand that no list or chart is going to be comprehensive and complete nor will it give you all the info to assess the risks vs. benefits for your needs as an individual. Same goes for Facebook groups, social media pages, websites and blogs, short afternoon/evening “classes”, or similar. These are all sound bites and eye candy for short and sweet attention grabs. None of these should be utilized as your main sources for education. They are tools, just like a hammer is to a carpenter or a whisk is to a chef. Nothing more. A carpenter can’t build a safe, solid house with just a hammer and a chef can’t cook a scrumptious meal with just a whisk. And even more importantly, if the carpenter or the chef doesn’t know how to use their tools correctly, disaster is eminent.
Brace yourself for what I’m about to tell you because I’m fairly certain it will rock a few worlds. Real education and true empowerment to make informed choices for your health and personal care is not going to happen if you keep relying on the tools of the internet age as your main sources of information to build your knowledge base and understanding. This is not research and it is not true education. It’s taking the easy way out and will get you in a whole heap of trouble. It’s taking the word of someone with inadequate knowledge and experience for your health and wellness. In the case of the thousands of DIY “recipes” you’ll find online in blogs, on Pinterest and on social media, it’s trusting a kitchen-crafter with your skin and home care needs.
Why’s that a problem? It’s very often not fact at all or it’s some sort of skewed view of facts based on personal perception and understanding (or lack thereof). It may or may not be right and may or may not be balanced. But you don’t know which if you haven’t gone outside that little box of tools you’ve been pulling from. I assure you, more than three-fourths of what’s out there in cyber-space, free ebooks and the like is garbage. If it looks and sounds too good to be true, is too easy, or too convenient…..it probably is. What’s more, taking this “information” that you think you now hold and spreading it from here to there as if it’s reliable and accurate is irresponsible. It just spreads bad information farther, making our job as advocates harder.
Let’s get real here. If you’re relying on lists, charts, social media, blogs and/or essential oil companies for the bulk of your info, are you really seeking to learn and be able to make informed choices? As a lifetime learner myself, I have to say the answer is NO. You’re asking for easy canned answers and someone else to do the work for you so you don’t have to think or make an investment of time or money.
Now, I’m not judging you at all here. I’m just stating facts. Honestly, in this internet age where everyone is connected online 24/7 with so much at their fingertips, its all to easy to fall into the “read it on the internet” mindset and pattern of behavior. I’ve done it myself on more than one occasion. But it’s a trap that will prevent you from getting where you really want to be. As vast as the internet is, it’s also very limited and somewhat of a mine field.
You see….we’ve heard it more times than we want to remember.
- “I can’t look it up because (insert reason here).”,
- “Help! I did (insert action here) and now (this, that, the other) is happening.”
- “I need a quick answer from those who are better educated than I.”
- “I don’t know where to look or who to believe.”
- “I just need someone to tell me, is this (OK, safe, good info, etc.)?”
- “I don’t have the money to (buy a book, take a course).”
- “Why do you tell me to look at that resource? I don’t have time. Just give me the answer.”
Sorry, guys but I love you enough to tell you the truth. All of these are just excuses. If this is how you are journeying through the world of aromatherapy, you’re missing out and making excuses for your lack of diligence or for leaping without looking first. And quite frankly, it’s rather presumptuous and has an air of entitlement to it. Those with the knowledge and experience do not have any more time in the day than you do. In most cases, we actually have less free time than those who are doing the asking because we ARE investing the time into researching and learning, on top of our personal and professional obligations. Yes, it is easier for you, me or anyone to just ask for the answers we seek. But how is that learning and how is that researching? It’s not. It’s memorizing and parroting. Trust me. We can tell when the info coming from someone is actually learned knowledge and when it’s memorized parroting.
I’ve said it for a long time and I’ll continue saying it. Aromatherapy is not black and white. There are so many gray areas and a multitude of factors that must be considered with each individual. While there are basics that apply to everyone, aromatherapy is very personalized. There are no one size fits all solutions and there is no easy button to take you from novice to knowledge. Essential oils are extremely concentrated, potent chemicals with great potential to help. But with that comes the great potential to harm as well. You just can’t buy a few bottles or a kit of essential oils, dive in head first and expect it to work out. You need to do your research BEFORE you pick up your first bottle of essential oil or aromatherapy product.
Effective and safe use of essential oils comes with personal responsibility and accountability. It’s unreasonable and unwise to expect someone to provide crib notes for something this important and potentially harmful. You need to know and understand facts but also why they are facts. They say knowledge is power but I say knowledge means knowing your options and making better choices.
Listen, folks. There are things we all need to do to ensure aromatherapy thrives and progresses with safety and balance and us right along with it.
We need to stop thinking aromatherapy is black and white and treat it with the respectful balance it deserves. There’s so much out there that’s riddled with Yes-Always and No-Never and an absolutes mentality when it comes to anything essential oil/aromatherapy related. For any of us to truly learn and get the most out of aromatherapy, we have to get into a more balanced and informed approach and stop thinking aromatherapy fits into this nice neat box we’ve created in our thinking.
We need to move away from treating aromatherapy like it’s a drive-thru window where you drive up, place your order, pick it up and move on. In a society that has been groomed to expect convenience, fast answers, easy access, no effort and little accountability, this is a major issue that is driving almost every action and reaction we see in aromatherapy. Aromatherapy is serious business and shouldn’t be viewed nonchalantly or with unreasonable expectations. It has limits and is not an easy convenience that we can treat carelessly.
We need to stop looking to laypersons, bloggers and company representatives for expert advice. The reality is unless they have formal training from reputable educators or extensive self-study from credible resources, they are not qualified, even if they think they are. Most of them only have what they obtained the same way I’m telling you not to try to get it. And unfortunately, most of it is crap information with no real stability or basis of accuracy. That’s why we are seeing injuries and adverse reactions from using essential oils increase exponentially every year. Folks, get a grip. A salesperson is not an educated health care professional. A DIY or beauty blogger is not a professional product formulator. A “coach”, “wellness advocate” or “essential oil educator” with or without affiliation to a company is not a professional trained in the field or aromatherapy. So stop looking to them for medical advice, recommendations or “recipes”.
We need to stop expecting those who have invested and sacrificed time and/or money to become educated in aromatherapy, herbalism, product formulation and other areas to give away their hard earned knowledge and experience just because we want it. They don’t owe us anything, especially not the very thing that’s a livelihood to them, paying their bills, providing for their family, creating a nest-egg for their future and their children’s future. If they choose to offer up basic information and help for free, be appreciative of that. But this entitled to what others have worked for and invested in nonsense has to stop. You have to work for it and earn it just like they did.
We need to stop looking for quick fixes and easy answers.
We really need to get away from the one click solutions, entitlement thinking and instant gratification. Nothing worth having is ever gotten easily or quickly and Google University is not a fine institution of learning.
That’s not how this works. That’s not how ANY of this works. It’s time for all of us to get a reality check and stop living and learning by sound bites and eye candy. If you want to progress in your aromatherapy journey and really learn, you’re going to have to move forward and make an investment….a personal and financial investment. How much and to what extent is up to you. Yes, you can and will find some good basic info easily and for free. But it’s just that….BASIC. It’s the very minimum with an occasional beyond the basics tidbit. More advanced knowledge is going to cost you, in time and in dollars and cents. If you think otherwise, you are part of the problem.
So stop what you are doing and thinking if any this describes you. Reach inside that convenient little box of expectations you have there and pull out all the unrealistic mindsets and missed opportunities you’ve packed inside. And throw it away, box and all. Get off your duff, invest in yourself and your family and move forward to be part of the solutions we need in the aromatherapy community. You’ll be glad you did.
– Ginger L. Moore