Fri, August 29, 2008 | Lisa Barger
“There’s an article on [URL] that claims that pure essential oils don’t cause allergies. Is this true?”
I’m not at all familiar with the writer of that piece but it absolutely is not true. All essential oils—like all other herbal products—have the potential to cause allergic reactions and both mainstream and alternative medical journals have documented this. And don’t believe the suggestion in this article that allergies result from impurities in the oils. There are just far too many cases for them all to be attributed to “impurities”.
“It is absolutely NOT true that essential oils can’t cause allergic reactions. (By the way, the person who wrote that article … . sells essential oils. And not just any essential oils. Hers are, of course, ‘the only therapeutic grade essential oils produced in North America.’)”
Most allergies reported on in medical journals are “contact” allergies, which means that patients had to actually come into direct contact with a particular essential oil. But in researching an article for another of my sites, I ran across a fascinating case of a woman from Germany who had to have the entire interior of her house removed because of a previous use of rosewood oil.
And Allergy Isn’t All You Need To Worry About
Allergies to essential oils aren’t the only reactions possible. In early 2007, several medical journals reported the story of a pair of brothers, ages 9 and 13, who developed a rare medical condition called gynecomastia, or swelling of the breasts, that was linked to lavender essential oil in their toiletries.
And, of course, there’s the possibility of what’s known as phototoxicity, too. Associated mainly with citrus oils, especially bergamot, this reaction can lead to long-term discoloration and sometimes lesions when essential oils are applied to the skin then exposed to sunlight or tanning lamps.
So There You Have It
As well-intentioned as the writer of the Suite101 article probably was, her advice is void of any scientific research and … I’m just going to say it … could be potentially dangerous.
Anisman-Reiner, V. (2007). l. (1998). Reactions to Essential Oils. Retrieved December 4, 2007 from
Williams, J., et al. (2007). Recurrent allergic contact dermatitis due to allergen transfer by sunglasses.
Adisen, E., et al. (2007). Allergic contact dermatitis from Laurus nobilis oil induced by massage.
Wei, Q., et al. (2006). Toxicity study of the volatile constituents of Myoga utilizing acute dermal irritation assays and the Guinea-pig Maximization test.
Schaller, M., et al. (1995). Allergic airborne contact dermatitis from essential oils used in aromatherapy.
Wasniewska, M., et al. (2007). Non-classical 21-hydroxylase deficiency in boys with prepubertal or pubertal gynecomastia.
Kaddu, S., et al. (2001). Accidental bullous phototoxic reactions to bergamot aromatherapy oil.
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