About 1 Essential Oils

Throughout most of history there were no little pink pills pushed by “big pharma” and prescribed by learned doctors to cure people’s ills and aches and pains and other medical conditions. There were no drugstores or pharmacies to fill doctors’ prescriptions had these even existed. Instead, healers and ies dealt with illness using selected plants and herbs for their medicinal properties. Teas (water-based), tonics (alcohol-based), and macerations (oil-based) were created from raw, sometimes dried, plant and herb materials. These infusions would be ingested or applied topically depending on the circumstances or practice.

It was only in current times that scientific verification and documentation of the effectiveness of these remedies was undertaken. Previous to this there were no controlled experiments or double-blind studies. Anecdotal information passed from one generation of healers to the next, most often verbally through an apprenticing program, was the only education process.

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It was only in current times that scientific verification and documentation of the effectiveness of these remedies was undertaken. Previous to this there were no controlled experiments or double-blind studies. Anecdotal information passed from one generation of healers to the next, most often verbally through an apprenticing program, was the only education process.

The controls and consistency introduced through modern labs and scientific process, we are told, are a better way. But many disagree. These dissenters hark back to earlier times when natural plant materials, such as Chamomile and Peppermint teas (isobutyl angelate) to encourage relaxation, and Ginger root and Peppermint to assist with digestive disorders. Generally, people turning to these remedies do not check studies or scientific research to prove, or disprove, the validity of a friendly recommendation to “take Peppermint for an upset stomach” or Chamomile tea to relax.

In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is empowered to regulate medicinal claims made on behalf of marketed products such as essential oils. Due to many exaggerated, or even false, claims have been made, it became necessary to effectively define and regulate these products. There is much misconception leading to a huge gray area that overshadows those trying to honesty sell essential oils, herbs and other botanical products where any claims of medicinal-related claims are being made. Concerned that misinformation may lead to false promises of miracle cures the FDA is responsible for protecting consumers from what might well be akin to snake oil salesmen of our recent past.

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In modern times, pharmaceutical sales has become a huge business with strong entanglements into politics ensuring them an integrated place in this country’s medical system. It has often been claimed that these pharmaceutical giants have lobbied heavily in order to keep FDA control to a minimum for themselves while, at the same time, attempting to make it ever more difficult for those marketing natural alternatives that would compete with “big pharma” in the marketplace.

Others suggest FDA regulation of natural products, including essential oils, is necessary to protect consumers against those who might misrepresent or mislabel the natural products they sell.

In September of 2014, the FDA sent warning letters to two larger essential oil companies. You can find links to those warning letters on our Resources page in the FDA section. These warning letters began action by the FDA to take a stronger stance on the issue of regulating essential oils and other such products. On this website we do not take a position on either side of this argument. We simply provide research information and resources on the subject and leave it for the reader to decide on their own.

Aromatherapy products are generally classified by the FDA as a cosmetic, a drug or both. The FDA also states “If a product is intended for a therapeutic use, such as treating or preventing disease, or to affect the structure or function of the body, it’s a drug. For example, claims that a product will relieve colic, ease pain, relax muscles, treat depression or anxiety, or help you sleep are drug claims.” Further, FDA requires that all drugs meet certain testing and labeling requirements before being sent to market.

We as consumers expect the sellers and manufacturers that we purchase from to be able to provide all (or at least enough) information for us to be able to effectively understand and safely use the product that we purchase without having to first take an elaborate course or read through one or more extensive books. [Technically, however, we all should educate ourselves about the products that we purchase through multiple sources. Whether we are buying the newest smartphone, a new child car seat or essential oils, we should make it a habit to verify all seller claims. The point remains, however, that customers expect sellers to provide detailed information regarding the products that they sell.

FDA regulations and requirements can be confusing. Many essential oil companies work hard to provide accurate and well researched information about their products’ properties and actions based on scientific studies and widely supported anecdotal evidence supported by research experts, educators and authors in the holistic aromatherapy industry. We provide much of that material (or links to it) here. This should not be taken as an endorsement, nor any claim to the reliability of this information.

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Because it is so very costly and time consuming to gain FDA approval for products classified as “drugs,” most holistic aromatherapy companies are not be able to afford to seek approval for drug status for each of their essential oils that contain statements and comments that the FDA defines as therapeutic claims in their product descriptions, packaging or supporting social media and marketing materials.

As a consumer, or a marketer, of essential oil products, it is in your best interest to become educated about the properties of essential oils and FDA regulations and guidelines for essential oils and aromatherapy products. Decide for yourself how you feel about all of this and make your choices accordingly.

These FDA guidelines will help ensure that essential oil marketers who make unsubstantiated claims will be held accountable. Consumers will continue to be dependent on reputable holistic aromatherapy educators and reliable resources to fully understand the nature of essential oil products. This website will try to be an honest and trustworthy resource in that regard.

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