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March 26, 2008

The kind of aromatherapy article we don't need

An article about aromatherapy and essential oils has been published on Mike Adams Natural News web site.  Entitled Raise Your Immunity Frequency With Essential Oils to Beat the Common Cold, the article appears to have been cobbled together from old Young Living web sites and brochures--a mixture of science and pseudoscience that could tarnish the reputation of the Natural News web site, which has risen quickly to an Alexa rank of under 50,000 since its inception in late January.

The electrical engineer in me (BSEE 1965) has struggled for years with the concept of frequency as applied to essential oils. I've read what Young Living web sites say (mostly derived from Gary Young's book Aromatherapy: The Essential Beginning), looked at Bruce Tainio's web site, and read a bunch of stuff about Royal Rife. Since most of these materials are written in general terms (using technical terms that may or may not be understood by the person quoting them), it's hard to figure out exactly what they mean. Tainio, on his web site, is obviously amused by what he sees as misuse of the concepts he developed

If you find information about the frequency meter or about Bruce's research that did not originate from us, or that is not included in this web site, it may or may not be entirely accurate. Please remember to take it with a grain of salt. We do!

At any rate, I am both amused and chagrined by the attempt to use the frequency theory to justify and explain essential oil use. Even if the theory is valid (there seems be a dearth of published research) the author doesn't do a very good job of proving her case.

From an introduction explaining about frequency, she cites some research showing that stress or negative attitudes increase the likelihood of getting a cold (probably true), detours into avoiding antibiotics because they don't control viruses (also true) and throws in a pastiche of facts about colds, and eventually arrives at a conclusion: Lo, essential oils have a high frequency and can be used to raise the body's frequency, thus making it healthy!

Citing in vitro studies done by Young Living staff that showed that essential oils have anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties, and French practices of internal use, she admits that "While this is an over-simplification of the serious medicinal aspects of aromatherapy, it is helpful, nevertheless, in demonstrating the effectiveness of therapeutic essential oils in the medical arena."

The article list several essential oils claimed to be effective against cold viruses, including oregano, thyme, fennel, juniper cinnamon, rosemary and clove. It isn't clear how the oils are to be taken, but internal use is implied by the wording. There are no safety warnings or even suggestions that the oils should be diluted or might be best dispensed by qualified practitioners. There is no direct link to Young Living as a supplier, but there is a link to the author's web site and from there a broken link to a YL site.

Certainly the world of aromatherapy would be better served by an article that is more in accord with confirmed scientific theories of aromatherapy and which provides precautions for use. I remember meeting a woman several years ago who had had a liver transplant because in her naive state she overdosed on herbs that destroyed her liver. The same thing can happen from high doses of conventional drugs or essential oils.

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Posted by Rob on March 26, 2008 in Aromatherapy, Essential Oils/Plant Extractions, Safety/Toxicity, Weblogs | Permalink

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