Why there shouldn’t always be an oil for that
An open letter to all essential oil users
When I first heard the phrase “I’ve got an oil for that” I laughed. As time has passed and I have seen and heard of some crazy things people are doing with oils, I’m not laughing anymore. What was meant to be a joke has become a mantra.
It’s understandable, everywhere we see articles, books, and testimonials of the wide-ranging applications and benefits of oils. Some of them true, some of them dubious at best. But are essential oils a panacea? Should they be a panacea? I don’t believe so and here are my two main reasons:
Reason 1: We should give our bodies credit where credit is due
A lot of what essential oils are good for, the body can deal with on its own – oils just give it a hand- support it. Maybe it’s that we’ve grown up with the mentality of when you have a problem you put a bandage on it or take a medicine. And now people are wanting to replace those medicines and bandages with essential oils, expecting it to work like a pill. But do we really need to use oils for everything?
I want to give you some examples, but I don’t want to embarrass or publicly shame anyone so I’m not going to make my examples too specific and some of them are a composite of things I have seen:
- my toddler is frustrated when he’s learning a new skill what oil can I give him to be less frustrated?
- my child is easily bored what oil can I use to make her interested and engaged?
- my parent died and I’m overwhelmed with grief, what can I use to help me cope?
Now for all of these there may be an oil that can help but does that mean we should turn to it?
All of these situations and emotions are a normal part of being a human. Dealing with frustration, boredom, sadness–they’re part of growing up and growing stronger as a person.
It especially bothers me when I read the questions from parents wanting to fix their child’s emotional and physical boo boos with oils. Essential oils have pharmacological actions. If there was a pill for boredom would you give it to your child? I am guessing no. So why an essential oil? It too will act on your child’s body and need to be metabolized and excreted like a pill.
More than that, as parents if we are quick to fix or mask everything for our child, how will they learn coping skills they will need as an adult? We need to let them feel, and have experiences, not cover it up with an oil.
As for us adults, we have a better grasp on when we can handle something and when we need help, but if you want the most natural approach–when your body or your mind doesn’t need help, then don’t give it help. Let it do what its designed to do. Even as adults, we don’t grow stronger when we always choose the easy button.
Key takeaway: We shouldn’t always turn to essential oils because the most natural approach is to let our body do what it was designed to do. This is a healthy and normal part of development and growth.
Reason 2: Sustainability
It takes 1500 lemons to produce a pound of essential oil (Source).
It takes up to 50 roses to produce a single drop of rose oil (Source).
The essential oil market is expected to grow 6 percent annually through 2023 (Source).
With much of that growth coming from consumers who want pure, unadulterated oils for aromatherapy use (on top of what the flavor and perfume industries use) where will all those oils come from? Sure, in some cases we can just plant more fields. But we’re already losing farmland to development, and with increased population we will need that land to grow food.
Other plants take years to reach maturity. If we use them faster than we can replace them we will deplete our natural resources. In recent years, Indian Sandalwood, Rosewood, certain Frankincense species, and Spikenard have been on the endangered list. (Source).
You love oils. I am right there with you. I’ll admit to being a collector of oils, but for the sake of cost and sustainability, I have turned to samples as a way to satisfy my curiosity about oils. In fact, there’s only a small handful of oils I use enough to order a 5 ml or 10 ml bottle of.
We love essential oils because they are natural, but natural resources can have finite limits, some more than others. So, before you put oils in your daily glass of water (which I don’t advise), laundry, cleaning products, shampoo, lotion, soaps, diffuser, necklace, car diffuser…ask yourself if this is the best use of a precious natural resource?
If we don’t use essential oils responsibly, we run the risk of taxing our natural resources. Part of living a more natural lifestyle is living more sustainably.
Key takeaway: We should all strive to use essential oils responsibly, in moderation, and when most needed, in order to encourage an ongoing supply of oils well into the future. Use oils, but not for everything. In fact, sometimes an herbal formula or a hydrosol might be a better option–and uses far less plant material to produce.
What do you think?