Over the many years that I’ve personally used essential oils and studied aromatherapy I have run into a lot of essential oil myths.  Thankfully, because I’m a little bit of a skeptic and a research hound, I’ve been able to uncover the truth about these things and learned to be empowered, not scared or confused.

So when I asked my Facebook followers about essential oil myths, these are just SOME of the things they had heard of.

I figured, this could be a bit of fun, discussing the most common myths and facts!  There’s a lot of ground to cover, and many of the individual myths will (eventually) have links to more in-depth articles or resources to help explain the truth behind them.

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Enjoy! Oh, and don’t forget to pass these little nuggets of truth along to a fellow essential oil enthusiast!

Essential Oil Myths

essential oil myths ingestion

1.  Ever using essential oils internally will probably kill you/cause you immediate permanent harm.

Most of the articles that say this seem to imply that people are drinking entire bottles worth of essential oils on a regular basis.  Either that or that people are recommending that amount of consumption.

Both are completely false.  I have yet to see a reference book or even some of the most reckless oil enthusiasts recommend such an absurd amount of either topical or internal use of essential oils, and I’ve been around the block a few times.  If you’ve seen someone suggesting the internal use of teaspoons or ounces of essential oils, please screenshot it and email it to me.

The other examples typically cited in those articles are often using essential oils that are not commonly available (and are well known to be poisonous).  That would be things like pennyroyal, wormwood, and bitter almond, and mustard seed essential oils, to name a few.

So, the articles that decry the use of usage of essential oils based on the results of using ridiculously excessive amounts of essential oils really do people a serious disservice.

Most internal uses of essential oils are just 1-3 drops at a time.  A good reference book and some common sense along with your high quality genuine essential oils will make your experiences far more pleasant.

Of course, if you aren’t comfortable with the idea, don’t let me talk you into it. You don’t need to ingest essential oils for any reason if you aren’t fine with the idea.

Read more here: How damaging IS it to ingest essential oils?

essential oil myths

2.  If essential oils dissolve Styrofoam/plastic imagine what damage they’ll do to your insides.

My close friend Rebecca’s chemical engineer sister actually laughed when we told her this one.  She said, “What, do these people think that your digestive system is made up of Styrofoam?”  Fantastic question!

Now the compound found in citrus oils that dissolve Styrofoam is called limonene.  Want to hear about its industrial application in natural recycling of polystyrene compounds?  Read HERE.  It’s a pretty cool solution for a pretty frustrating problem.

But does that translate into destruction for your internal mucous membranes?   Let’s give this example.

Perhaps you’ve seen the post somewhere on social media that shows the Styrofoam plate with the lemon oil and a caption that says something like “If it does this to Styrofoam, what’s it doing to your stomach?”. 

Well, since we’ve established that our digestive tracts are not made out of petrochemicals, since we want to test the actual theory of how a citrus oil effects mucous membranes, it might be a helpful experiment to go to the supermarket and buy some tripe. 

Tripe is the digestive tissue of a cow.  Put a piece on a plate, put some lemon oil on it and see what happens to it.

You know what happens?   Nothing.   No holes, no blistering, no huge ulcers.  And that’s with dead digestive tissue that isn’t even covered with mucous or digestive juices or food/drink like your digestive system is at any given time.

Classic case of comparing apples to….well, petrochemicals.  They aren’t even slightly the same.

essential oil myths cats

3.  It is dangerous to use essential oils on or around animals, especially cats.

So, it’s certainly easy to just say everything is dangerous instead of saying “when using essential oils with cats or other animals make sure to use certain precautions.”

I don’t understand why people think they shouldn’t have to do some basic due diligence before trying something new, but this is just another example. 

There are entire books written for the safe use of essential oils with animals, and specifically with cats. 

Some are even written by holistic veterinarians.  As with all things safety related, quality is going to be one of the biggest considerations for safety with animals, and common sense research.

You don’t use the same quantity of oils on an animal as you do on a human. 

Frankly the amount of oils you use on a human varies based on their health, their age, and their needs, but that’s another discussion entirely.

You don’t use the same oils on an animal as you do on a human.  You don’t even use the same oils with a cat as you do with a dog.  But does this need to cause hysterical panic over use of good, genuine essential oils in a responsible way? 

No.  Stop letting people scare you and dig deep and really find the truth in a reliable source.

Research in a reference book (or two) and stop letting people click-bait and scare you on the internet. 

And for the record: I have four cats. I’ve been using essential oils the whole time. All are alive and well. Scientific proof? No. But pretty compelling evidence to me.

Have you heard about the massive pet death epidemic due to proper essential oil use?  No?  Yeah, me either.

Of course, it is not a requirement to use oils on your pets, so if you feel uncomfortable, just don’t. No big deal.

essential oil myths

4.  People with [fill in a health “thing”] shouldn’t use essential oils.

My favorite blogging pharmacist, Dr. Lindsey Elmore has a saying that she swears by that you shouldn’t say “always or never.”  I think that saying definitely applies here.

Now let’s just start this part of the discussion by saying a few things.

  1. If you or a loved one have a”thing” you owe it to yourself to be as educated as possible about that topic.  Throw yourself into understanding for yourself what can influence your situation for good or for, well, not good.
  2. Invest time in finding a healthcare partner who can help manage your medical needs and will openly and non-judgmentally discuss any other complementary options like essential oils, herbs, acupuncture, etc with you.
  3. Discuss your concerns about any product that you might like to try with the supportive and knowledgeable person you’ve invested time into finding.
  4. Do your own research in quality essential oil books to see what sorts of products are not appropriate for your situation.  Google is not your friend, reference books are.  Google doesn’t know whether the article it ranked first is by an expert on your concern or just someone who is really good at getting placement in search engine results.

With that said, there are some essential oils that are pretty universally appropriate for most people.  There are a few conditions that need to use caution with a few select oils or methods of using a few select oils.

However, since those all vary by individual situation, it’s up to you to dig into some good resources and determine that in partnership with your supportive healthcare partner.

So, with proper due diligence, can most people safely use essential oils?

It’s like the pet discussion above, you do your specific digging and find out the parameters for you.  Ultimately, there is likely a way for you to benefit from genuine oils in a way that is safe for you.  Just dig to find out the specifics.  The info is out there.

essential oil myths

5.  If you dislike the smell of an essential oil, your body must really need it.

If you don’t care for the aroma of a pure and genuine essential oil it means, for the most part, one thing:  you don’t care for the smell, yet.  

It does not necessarily mean that you have some secret need for it.  

In some cases, a person may have a negative emotional reaction to a smell that would make them not want to keep smelling an oil.  

In that case, dealing with the underlying memory or emotion could remove the negative reaction to the oil, but it doesn’t necessarily indicate a suppressed physical requirement.

But all that to say, disliking the smell of an oil is not some deeper subconscious meaning that you need it.

There is absolutely no scientific backing for this claim.

essential oil myths

6.  An essential oil can be labeled “100% pure” even if there is only 5% essential oil in the bottle.

This is one of the most insidious and completely unproven essential oil myths of all of them, and it’s the one I know that I’ll get the most arguments over.

 I’ve seen people cling to this one like it’s a life raft on the Titanic.  I spent some significant time digging through the FDA website, the FTC website, and the original book that contained the first instance I could find of this statement.

There was nothing on the FDA website that stated this (or any other requirement for the use of 100% pure, for that matter).  

There was nothing on the FTC website that stated this.  And the publisher of the book that it originally came from was not able to provide a source for the original statement when I contacted them.

I think (and I mean this to give the benefit of the doubt) that this myth got started originally when someone was trying to explain why the term “100% pure” is functionally useless for determining essential oil quality.

 Like I explained above, there’s no standard that someone has to meet in order to satisfy some outside regulation to use the term “100% pure” with respect to essential oils.  

So theoretically someone could put just 5% essential oils in a bottle and fill the rest with fillers and call it “100% pure”, but there is absolutely no rule that states that anywhere as a criteria for “100% pure”.

essential oil myths

7.  There are grades of essential oil.

Nopety, nope, nope.  This is another pet peeve of mine because it makes some people I really respect look a little foolish.  And like the “100% pure” thing from above, I think it originally started as a way to simplify a complex discussion.  And I think it got misunderstood really quickly and took on a life of its own.

And it’s second most controversial of the essential oil myths, at least in certain communities.

So, no, there is no such thing as “grades” of essential oil. At least not as most people would interpret the term.  There is no Grade A, Grade B, Grade C, Grade D.   There is no other grade designation of any kind.

What there is are different levels of essential oil quality. So there are high-quality therapeutic oils (meaning oils that provide measurable therapeutic benefits), lower quality beneficial oils, manipulated oils, fragrance oils, flavoring oils, and about a boatload of other subjective terms I could concoct to describe objective markers of quality.

But those levels of quality aren’t graded or quantified anywhere into a universal objective grading system of any kind.

However, when people teach about quality it can be hard to describe all the subtle methods used to dilute, stretch, adulterate, standardize and manipulate oils that happen every single day.  So in an effort to be expedient, people lump them into conveniently described groups, or “grades”.

But there is no universal essential oil grading system.  Anywhere.  I promise. And anyone who is telling you that there are oil grades is either misinformed, trying to simplify an idea and doing it badly, or just attempting to oversell the product.

8.  Adulterated oils don’t work.

Yes, they do.  That’s a significant part of the point of adulterating essential oils.  Often adulteration is intended to improve aroma or taste, but a large portion of the time it is meant to improve the perceived outcome of using the oil.

In fact adulterated essential oils often work just enough that it fools people into believing that the lower cost essential oil they’re using is the “real deal.”  However, despite the fact that an adulterated essential oil may work to an extent, it will never be able to work to the same extent as a whole balanced biologically created essential oil with naturally occurring and synergistic constituents.

But scientific studies do bear out the fact that even synthetic isolated components may provoke certain biological reactions.  But it won’t be the same.  My use of both high and low-quality brands has borne this out in my own personal experience as well as in my research.

Read more here: Do Cheap Essential Oils Work?

essential oil myths

9.  There is only one company with good essential oils, all other companies’ oils are inherently dangerous.

This one is pretty common, too.  There is no company that is the only one with pure oils.

Now before the anti-{fill in the blank brand} folks come and dance around the bonfire, I will say that there is definitely a trend of certain companies consistently offering better quality oils across the board.  This is due to superior quality control procedures, sourcing avenues, testing procedures, and dare I say ownership of farms and distilleries.

With that said, some companies that generally have lower quality oils may indeed have some very good oils.  You know, the old adage of “even a broken clock is right twice a day”?  Yeah, it’s kindof like that.

Sometimes a blind squirrel finds a nut and all that jazz.

However, when you’re working with your health, most people understandably want to go with the company that has the overall best quality and potency.

I mean, I guess you could take a chance to save a buck….but why would you want to?

That is why I’ve gone with Young Living essential oils.   They are consistently pure and consistently effective for my family.

Essential oil myths

10.  You can test the purity of your oil by dropping it onto white paper and seeing if it all evaporates.

This one is also an old wives’ tale.  Companies don’t adulterate their oils with carrier oils often anymore.  The science has gone way beyond that.  That means that you could still have an adulterated oil even if it all evaporates.  Many companies will add other non-disclosed essential oils to the mix (which would evaporate) or even isolated chemical components (which would also likely completely evaporate).

Additionally, many pure oils would also possible leave a stain on a paper (or even a residue) based on their constituent makeup.  Patchouli contains a high amount of waxy compounds naturally, german chamomile is naturally blue in color, copaiba is from a resin, citrus oils aren’t steam distilled and are cold pressed, jasmine and rose are both absolutes, and those are just a few examples of where this test would fail perfectly passable and pure oils falsely.

I get it though, the desire to be able to test your oils at home and not have to rely on the integrity and quality control process of the company is powerful.  That’s why the next one is also a pervasive myth.

essential oil myths

11.  If your essential oil freezes, it is impure and contains adulterants.

Yeah, this one falsity, false, false, too.  Do some unscrupulous oil merchants add components to their products that could enhance freezing?  Well, yeah, probably.  

But remember how I said that on the whole, the manipulation game is much more sophisticated than that? Yeah, same here.

So here’s the truth.  Everything freezes.  Even essential oils.  Make it cold enough and literally, every compound will reach the freezing point.  

Is this a reliable detector of objective oil quality?  Not really.  There are far more reliable markers of quality than this test.

essential oil myths

12.  Some essential oil brands are too expensive.

The truth is “expensive” is a sliding scale.  An $8 jumbo bottle of fake lavender essential oil from the health food store might be too expensive to some people.  They’ve tried it and the results were lackluster, and so it isn’t worth $8 to them.

What expensive truly means is not a dollar value.  What expensive means is that your perceived need of the product does not exceed the dollar value given to it by the person selling it.    If you don’t perceive that my $28 lavender essential oil is going to give you something you don’t want to live without, it will always be too expensive to you.

Likewise, if my $28 lavender essential oil has changed your world, then it will not be too expensive to you.

It’s all about perceived vs. actual value.   You’ll buy the things that work for you.   You’ll buy the things that you don’t ever want to be without.

If genuine essential oils aren’t one of those things, that’s OK.   But it isn’t because they are overpriced.   It’s only because you don’t perceive the value yet.

Do you agree with this list of essential oil myths?

What would you add to the list?

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