Essential Oils Make Me Sick (Literally)

Essential Oils work great for a lot of people...I'm not one of them. Here's my story about how essential oils make me sick (literally)

Some of you know that I have some chronic health problems that can make life, to put it frankly, quite miserable at times.

All the blood draws, uncomfortable procedures, and misdiagnoses have made me open to alternative treatments, such as using essential oils. I know many people who have had wonderful experiences with essential oils, and I was hopeful that might be the case for me.

Sadly, essential oils make me sick.

I know, I know. You’re probably thinking, should I be saying how essential oils cured me of all my illnesses, and I’ve never felt better? Oh, how I wish that was my story with essential oils.

Let’s rewind a few years to the first time I was introduced to essential oils. I went to the “What Women Want” expo in Orem, Utah. We walked past an essential oil booth, and I stopped to talk to the lady. She went on about how much she loved essential oils, and she asked if I wanted to try some.

I’m always down with trying new things, so I said sure, and she dabbed a tiny, tiny bit of peppermint right behind my ear. I said goodbye, and went on my way (mainly to see if anyone was giving away anything for free.)

Well, only about five minutes later, I started feeling really, really hot. It wasn’t a “oh the air conditioning isn’t on” kind of hot, either. I felt like my entire body was sweating (though, in reality, it wasn’t.) There weren’t a lot of people around me at that point, and I started getting very light headed, and I got a terrible headache. At that point, I thought maybe I had just gotten sick suddenly.

Until the exact same thing happened about a year later. I was at the Build Your Blog Conference, and I was talking to another essential oil lady. This time, I went into detail about my health problems, and she asked if she could put a drop or two of an essential oil in my water, so I said sure.

And, without fail, within about five minutes, I started having the exact same symptoms as I did months before. I was sitting at the very back of the room with Forrest and Jack (there was literally no one within 20 feet of me) and just a few minutes before, I hadn’t felt hot, or sick, at all. I couldn’t even concentrate, and almost insisted that Forrest take me home.

After about 20 minutes, the symptoms started to wear off, but boy, I thought I was going to die.

Then I ran into another consultant somewhere, and she told me that I needed to try a specific kind. She had me rub some on my stomach. I thought, hey, it’s nowhere near my head or face, maybe it won’t effect me.

And it did, right as I was standing there visiting with the lady. She was convinced it was because I have lots of bad things in my body (um, rude!) and the essential oils were just going into overdrive trying to attack it. I didn’t really buy that.

After these few experiences, you would think I would just swear them off. But no, I didn’t really think they could possibly make me sick. Which is why, when I was asked to make a craft using essential oils for a particular company, I agreed and made this foaming hand soap.

I was given several essential oils to try and even had to sign up as a consultant (which I’m now trying to figure out how to not be a consultant) and use in the hand soap. And to much delight — the hand soap didn’t make me sick!

So, I decided to try the essential oils again on myself (without being in the soap) a few weeks after I submitted the article and…guess what? I had one of the worst reactions yet. I couldn’t even think straight and just laid on our bed for an hour or so, feeling like I was intoxicated (or what I imagine it would feel like to be intoxicated haha.)

So if you are here looking for that article because you saw it in some leadership magazine, I apologize you aren’t finding more posts about how I love essential oils. Because, I finally realized that they just don’t work for me (and as much as I love the hand soap and that it doesn’t make me sick, I wish that craft idea hadn’t been printed — it wasn’t until after I submitted it that I finally realized they made me sick).

And before you tell me I’m just using them wrong, let me tell you how I’ve used them

  • Only 1-2 drops at a time
  • I’ve used it on my stomach, I’ve rubbed them on my chest, I’ve put a few drops in my water, and I’ve put them on my feet. ALL with the same result
  • I’ve used them with a carrier oil
  • I’ve tried a few different brands
  • Most of the times I’ve tried them, it has been someone who would consider themselves an expert in essential oils. I would just have to assume they knew what they were doing.
  • The kinds I have used have been high quality, therapeutic grade

The only thing I haven’t really tried is using a diffuser. But, I’m not about to go buy something that expensive when there is a high likelihood it’s going to make me sick. The only time I haven’t had a reaction to an essential oil was when I made that DIY Foaming Hand Soap (which, I still love.)

Please, don’t be offended if you love essential oils. I’ve actually done a lot of reading about essential oils, and I believe they have some great benefits — some research being done even says so (I saw that some studies show that it helps treat MRSA – which is awesome.) I wish they worked for me, but they just don’t.

I wanted to write it this post in case anyone else finds themselves Googling “Essential oils make me sick” and want to know they aren’t the only person out there who didn’t have the best experience — not for the purpose of bashing essential oils. I imagine I just must have a heightened sensitivity to fragrances, but who knows — I never have had a problem with cologne or perfumes!

All I know is that I sure don’t like how I feel after I use essential oils. I think it’s also taught me that not every treatment, or method, of treating something works for everyone — our bodies are all different, and there’s no “one-size-fits-all” method. Alternative medicine can be a life-saver, but for me, I think I’ll stick to traditional medicine.

Update:

(this update was written nearly four years after this original post)

I recently got a DNA test done from Ancestry.com. I uploaded the RAW data to LiveWello.com, and it gave me a ton of information about my genes. One of the most interesting things was that I was at an increased risk of having a chronic condition called Multiple chemical sensitivity, which, from the research I’ve done, people who are sensitive to essential oils often have. I just thought it was really interesting to see that the reactions I have may be due to something in my genetic makeup.

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161 Comments

  • Sadly, I have a daughter-in-law that loves them. They make me sick too. The odor permeates their home, clothes and car. They think I’m just whining and don’t believe me. It’s real!
  • All I can say is thank you! I am so glad you shared this because everyone thinks I am crazy! I have never personally tried them but being in the same room or near them makes me instantly ill. I really truly thought it was a sign of something wrong with me like I have a brain tumor or something else. So thank you for enlightening me and helping me know that it isn’t just me and for all of those that find relief (which I am glad they do) please please please be considerate at the movies, schools, and other close encounters when a person can’t move from the area you are in and you can’t move from the area you are in. Just something to think about and be considerate of others.
  • I bought a diffuser and the last two days ive used two different Living Young essential oils. Both gave me a heachache as longas they ran (and even after) and todays gave me a sore throat to boot.
  • jose ava and their comment about Total Cure Herbal Foundation is a huge Scam!! Do Not fall for it!! I researched it and Yes Big Scam!!
  • I'm so glad I found this article. Thank you! I too have terrible reactions to all of the oils I have tried and yes I have tried all different ways as well. I have gotten terrible headaches, dizziness, stomach sickness, watery eyes, and skin irritations after trying the oils. I really wanted to love essential oils but it just isn't possible for me. I just wish these companies would admit that not everyone can use these oils but they won't because there are a few who are getting very wealthy selling these oils. Money is more important than someones health i guess.
  • Hi Katie, First let me say that I LOVE Doterra essential oils! They have been wonderful for me in so many ways! I rarely take medicine for osteoporosis/osteoarthritis pain any longer. I sleep well, panic attacks and anxiety gone. HBP no longer. Now I’m going to address my weight 😊. With that being said, I have loads of allergies. Many things I can use from a roller bottle on my feet that I cannot diffuse or put close to my face. I have to keep those things in perspective and realize I am mainly topical, some internal, and limited with diffusing. ☺️❤️☺️❤️ PS been using 3 years.
  • June 3rd 2018 Hi, Thank you so much for this blog. I bought my kit Feb.2017. I've started using the oils slowly. I have developing health problems since I been using YL oils and supplements. I had a cough back in 2016 had pneumonia twice in two months. I know its from Gerd too, but my cough has gotten worse since I've been on oils. I would use panaway, copaiba and peppermint where I would have pain with carrier oil cause copaiba put on shoulder alone I would get a rash. I used for pain in shoulder and knee arthritis. I would also put lavender oil and cedarwood oil on bottom of my feet and pillow for sleeping sooner and eventually went to peace and calming back of neck. I was taking Ningxia Red every day with a few drops of oil. Everybody said it helped your immune system and gave you energy. I would put a few drops of oil in it. It never did do anything for me like it did for everybody else. I began later in the year taking supplements for arthritis and regular supplements. I have never seen my doctor as I have since I started the oils. My cough would get worse. I was put on strong antibiotics ,prednisone for this cough. I was eventually told late last year I have bronchiectasis. This winter is the worse I've ever been sick. I had a wet cough and congestion all winter. I also get headaches which I never got before. While on a strong antibiotic for bronchiectasis I came down with a terrible sinus headache. Three days I had a terrible headache. Two weeks later the headache came back really bad. My doctor put me on a different prednisone. It got rid of headache. I have to take headache pills like fioracet but no caffeine. I also get nauseous which never happen to me. When I feel nauseous I have to take that pill. Today while being on prednisone I woke up with my sinuses from the cheeks down in so much pain. No medicines would help me. I've been on more medicines and seen more doctors since I started using oils on me and defusing. I'm going to stop them and see if my health will get better. Now that I see other people have these same health issues. I wonder if I have a sensitivity to oils too. I'm not canceling but instead of putting my order beginning of the month I'm waiting till the end of the month. I'll let you know if its been the oils all of this time making so sick. Please if anybody wants to share anything else about what I wrote feel free too. I learned a lot reading about everybody.
  • I noticed something different about my walk. It was difficult getting up from` a chair and getting out of a car. I was diagnosed a year later and i have to find a better solution and was introduced to try the help of herbal formula. I am now 59 tho and am fully cured from Parkinson's disease. contact Total Cure Herbal Foundation on: Totalcureherbalfoundation gmailcom i had to use the remedies for 15 weeks usage which really help on my condition. Ava
    • There is No cure for Parkinson's disease. Please be careful with your comment. I have two relatives who have Parkinson's disease and one of them tried all kinds of herbal therapy but none of it helped him. In fact his Parkinson's disease just got worse because he wouldn't go see a real Dr. He finally did and he is now on the correct medications and is doing much better. Please be careful with what you say because like I said there is NO herbal formula cure for Parkinson's disease
    • I just read another article saying they are 59 and fully cured from ephysema by using Total Cure Herbal Foundation. Is 59 the magic year or is it all jus lying bull pucky?? I just find it kind of funny that I find two articles claiming to be 59 and completely cured from two different diseases and that has been known for years to Not having a cure.
  • So happy to have found this article. I just started questioning the EO yesterday after having a similar reaction to the previous times I have used EO. In general, EO is fine for me - I have added lavender eo to baths, added sweet orange with no problems. Can even use these in soaps and body products. However I bought a Five Defense oil and per the recommendation of oil people would reach for it when I feel that I have been around people who are ill or if I felt some slight illness trying to come on. Put one drop into a carrier oil and rubbed it on the bottom of my feet before bed...that night woke with fever and body aches and headache. It has happened more than once. I feel like I have the flu. At first I thought that the oils must have revved my immune system and hence the fever, but not sure about that anymore. Two nights ago I did the oil on my feet and then last night I thought I would try some of this oil in my bath and I feel even worse today than yesterday. Now that I have read this it feels like it could be a toxicity from the EO blend. Trying to figure out how to start feeling better.
  • I have been reading comments here and observed many mention they were surprised they became sick on something that is "natural." While essential oils are derived from a natural source, they are highly concentrated beyond anything nature has to offer. So its by their concentration essential oils do not meet my personal definition of natural. If you are into natural living, never exceed 1x the concentration nature provided, and keep in mind not all things provided by nature are safe. In the end there is no substitute for clean air.
  • Essential oils make me sick too. Can't be anywhere near them. They irritate my skin, eyes, and lungs. My reaction to EO's is the same as petroleum based air fresheners. The common denominator being aromatic benzene compounds.

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