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Are Essential Oils Detrimental To Natural Living?

Are Essential Oils Detrimental To Natural Living

What does a natural lifestyle mean to you?

That’s a good question. And not so easy to answer when you really think about it. There are so many components of a natural lifestyle. Sometimes so many that it’s overwhelming!

Essential Oil Boom

One aspect of natural living that has really blossomed in recent years is the use of essential oils.

When I started my real food journey in 2010 that was not a term I had ever heard. Now it seems that every other friend is selling them.

I love seeing so many people feeling the pull towards a better way of living! It is so encouraging.

But…There Is A Problem

There is just one glaring problem I see with essential oils.

The users.

I see someone post a picture on Facebook of their current diffuser blend (usually some sort of stress relief for themselves or calming for their kids). Then the next post is of their hyper children with blue-stained faces from candy or neon-colored crackers.

Anybody else see the irony there??

I see other people so busy with two working parents, three activities per child each week and no time to cook dinner. So it’s fast food in the car four nights a week going from one sport to the next lesson back to back. Then when their child is sick for the sixth time during the winter they slap on some essential oils and call it good.

Doesn’t anybody else see major red flags here??

I see kids going to bed late after yet one more activity or get together, even if they have to get up early for school the next day. Then when the child is so overtired that they are having meltdowns non-stop, both the parents and the kids slather on calming oils.

Problem solved.


It Gets Worse

The use of essential oils can even prevent healing and they aren’t necessarily free of side effects.

I am a firm believer that if you really want to feel well you need to address problems at the root. That means treat the actual problem instead of just symptoms.

A lot of my research on essential oils has given me ways to use them to treat symptoms. Unfortunately, for most people that means the end of their search for healing.

Are Essential Oils Detrimental To Natural Living

For example, I read about a certain oil to use if you child has eczema. As someone that has dealt with kids with varying degrees of allergies for many years I know that eczema is merely a symptom of something deeper. Eczema was my son’s very first symptom that led us to pursue more healing and to figure out his allergies.

If I had just put some oils on his legs it would not have had any impact on his gut health and deeper issues causing the eczema – even if it had helped clear the skin. Using an oil to relieve a symptom (the eczema) would have stopped us from actually working on the root problem.

That is serious!

Are Essential Oils Detrimental To Natural Living

Food. Comes. First.

I’ve been studying and living a real food lifestyle for over six years now. And one thing that I have always strongly believed is that food comes first. Always.

If you can only make enough time in your life for one step towards better health, make it nourishing food.

If you only have enough money to use towards one natural lifestyle change, make it nourishing food.

Food Comes First. Period.

Maybe you’re wondering, does this lady even use essential oils?

I do.

Quite regularly.

I’ve been using essential oils for about two years now. My kids love them. I like to diffuse in the living room so we can all benefit.

But I don’t make them my first line of defense against anything. I focus most of my time and energy on making sure my family is eating real, nutrient dense food. And for our family with various allergies that means that literally almost every single thing is from scratch. Even down to our graham crackers, tortillas and ice cream. It is a lot of work, but it is also a top priority.

After Food Comes Lifestyle

Again, before tackling symptoms, you lay the foundation:

  • No late bed times (kids NEED quality sleep and enough sleep).
  • Keep stress to a minimum. Every child does not have to be involved in extracurricular activities five nights a week. I promise you they will do just fine (dare I say maybe even better?) spending their spare minutes of the day just playing and having fun. Pick one activity they really love and cut out the rest of the chaos. This will make your first goal of nourishing foods much easier too. You can have family dinners every night.
  • Make time for movement. Run, play and work together as a family.
  • Keep screen time to a minimum. Have fun together.
  • Treat a health issue from the root. Don’t simply treat symptoms.
Are Essential Oils Detrimental To Natural Living

Where Do Essential Oils Fit?

If you have all of these food and lifestyle changes in place, then essential oils can add a new dimension to your natural lifestyle. And you’ll actually see their true benefits.

Do you know how to properly dilute essential oils?
essential oil dilution chart
Katie here, popping in to tell you how important it is to be sure you’re diluting those essential oils properly.Sure, you know not to use EOs straight (neat). But do you know the 1-2-3 math so it’s not too strong or weak? Print this chart to keep with your oils so you never have to do math in the middle of the night when your LO is congested:You can read more about why it’s so important to dilute essential oils here, and I know the little chart will be helpful!

Do I think essential oils are bad?

Absolutely not! In fact, I use them almost every day.

Essential oils are a wonderful addition to a real food and whole health lifestyle.

But don’t let essential oils give you a false sense of security. They DO NOT negate a poor diet and hectic lifestyle. It’s like putting a little bandage over a gaping cut. It might help a little. But it’s not going to stop the bleeding.

They do not replace finding solutions to a deep issue.

Food is always first. Focus the majority of your time and energy into making nutrient dense real food. Make stress reduction and sleep a priority.

Then use essential oils for added immune boosting, calming and healing. You might be surprised how much less you actually need them!

Do you use essential oils? Where do you put them on your priority list of a natural lifestyle?

Essential Oils and the Brain

Watch this quick video for info on the vagus nerve, how essential oils can be a “backdoor” entry to health, and the importance to your whole family of getting into a parasympathetic state more often:

Can’t see the video? Watch Essential Oils and the Brain here on YouTube.

Grab Jodi’s bonus chapter here.

And the oil she held up in the video is one of her own special blends, appropriately called Parasympathetic. You can get your own hands on some here.

More Information on Essential Oils and Eczema


Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links from which I will earn a commission. See my full disclosure statement here.

Unless otherwise credited, photos are owned by the author or used with a license from Canva or Deposit Photos.

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30 thoughts on “Are Essential Oils Detrimental To Natural Living?”

  1. Here’s what I want to say to anyone who is going to lash out at these bloggers. DON’T.
    Here is my summary of this post: Don’t proclaim the health benefits of essential oils whilst eating horribly on all levels.
    In other words, when you watch what you eat, that far outweighs what any eo can do for you. EO’s are just ONE part of living healthy. I will take this article one step further and say some people are quite honestly addicted to EO’s…any brand. They have it in their brain that they NEED them to stay healthy. But if you think that way….then chomp a mammoth hamburger chased down with a gargantuan soda pop….those oils are in all honesty a waste of your money. It all goes hand in hand. They are basically saying make sure you are BALANCED in your healthy living choices. Don’t turn this into a brand war attack. Please.
    Ladies…thanks for bravely saying what needs to be spoken!

  2. I am surprised to see this article published on Kitchen Stewardship, because isn’t it all about baby steps? I found your judgments of other families very unkind! Anyone who becomes interested in essential oils must be trying to do the best for their families, and working towards better health, even if they still allow their kids candy once in a while! I know how hard it is to change when your family is used to processed foods, and antibiotics every couple of months, and it truly takes baby steps!

    1. Jane,
      You are very right- we’re huge on the baby steps here. I think Mary got fed up by seeing people who used EOs as THE step. Like, I’ll do this one thing and now I’m done. So would it be ok to say that this post is the tough love version of saying “you gotta take another baby step for it to count?” My kids eat candy too, and honestly I was thinking about Mary’s post as we redeemed our library summer reading club vouchers yesterday for frozen yogurt, and then our kids got to bed a little late… #guilt

      Thanks for your perspective and gentle correction. We bloggers have to just get a little passionate and let stuff off our chests sometimes… –Katie

  3. Excellent article, Katie! I totally agree with everything you’ve written here. And I had to laugh about the cotton candy, I’ve seen that so often with families – mostly with sugar sodas and donuts!! And they don’t see the problem! Thank you for your efforts.

  4. Awesome job Kate! I have seen that too.
    My eldest has Multible health issues (27wkr with a major heart condition and cerebral palsy) and is 6 years old now. He is on Multible pharmaceutical medications but we are getting less and less of most of them. Actually used EO to help with that on two of them. I gave him eucalyptus on his pillow at night for a few months. In spite of being a trimester early, on a ventilator for 3 months (which saves them but scars the lungs) O2 constantly until 3, at night until 5… His lung capacity (tested this week) is NORMAL! We are now down to one medication for his lungs (which I will be discussing changing/coming off in 2 months).
    The issue we did run into (and my fault that I didn’t look into it enough first) is that he is also an epileptic. I was also giving him lavender to help him sleep… Except both Lavender and Eucalyptus can trigger sezures in epileptics. The Eucalyptus didn’t for him but the lavender did. He ended up having Multible sezures the next day after using lavender. I also haven’t used the Eucalyptus in a while and will only use it in case of a problem.
    At points he has been on over a dozen medications, currently he is on 5. It is a slow process but we are working our way off most of them. The sezure meds will be a long time before we can do anything on them mostly because of laws in our state blocking research on possible solutions.. ????

  5. Reminds me of something I read…. somewhere, a while ago: “you can’t outrun a bad diet” (referring to exercising for weight loss), you also can’t oil away a bad diet!!!

  6. EOs and homeopathy are just the newest supplements…natural versions of pharmaceuticals. Everyone wants a pill.
    I know ppl who feed their kids melatonin every nite but feed them chicken nuggets every nite too, with the koolaid, yes. Like, h.e.l.l.o.!!!!
    Melatonin is also not something you want to use much at all. As an ADULT. For a kid? Nooooooo.
    Ive been studying herbs and aromatherapy for several decades, along with food. Even food wont cure you when your insomnia is due to an abusive spouse or your infidelity. Lifestyle is key. Food obviously plays an important part in lifestyle choices. But smoking, abuse of street or Rx drugs can negate most all of it.
    I love EOs. I love eating correctly too, I love to cook. And I need to make good lifestyle choices.

  7. Please don’t lump all of us EO users in the same category. My family eats clean and healthy. We exercise and are very active. My 18mo old daughter is well behaved and sleeps 12-13 hours a night. My husband works from home and I run a home based business. We fell in love with essential oils about 3 years ago and use them daily, sometimes for prevention, sometimes boosting, sometimes *gasp* treatment. And yes, I sell essential oils. I wont apologize for that, because it allowed me to quit my day job and stay home with my daughter, just like many other companies have provided the opportunity for other women to do the same. Do people use EOs the wrong way? Yes. Do people see them as magic? Yes. Do people promote EOs as a way to fix issues when diet, sleep and activity level should be considered first? Absolutely! But not all of us. Some of us are just grateful for what these little bottles have done in our lives. That doesn’t make essential oils detrimental to our natural living.

    1. I’m not lumping everyone together at all, Amy. Though I assumed there would be a lot of emotion tied to what I wrote. Like I said in the post, I think essential oils are great. I use them myself. My son is sick today and I’ve got the diffuser going. But there are many that do use them as medicine/their first and sometimes only line of defense. And that is a big problem.

      1. I can appreciate your point of view. You have valid points. However, if the goal of this article is to help essential oil users see the “error of their way”, the tone of this article (and the obvious brand of oils chosen to make your point) is going to do just the opposite :/ Just my thoughts…

        1. In regards to the brand…I simply took photos of the oils I happen to have on hand. I don’t sell any oils and am happy to use a variety of brands. I think there are several really great ones! Brand had nothing to do with my feelings on the subject.

        2. We tried to make the images “brand-free” by turning them around, Amy – I knew people would know what they were IF they knew essential oils, but rookies would not. Sometimes, we just have to be passionate! Mary has had this on her mind for a long time. But we also appreciate your point of view, and I get how it could be taken the wrong way. Thanks for your respectful comment, Katie

  8. Totally agree! We use them as medicine and prevention of someone else is sick. I see people who have an EO routine and I just keep thinking that they will probably loose their effectiveness much like other OTCs and antibiotics can if you overuse.

  9. This is a great post. I have to crack up at some of my friends who are selling EOs and telling others how to be healthy. They are big soda drinkers and some of the most unhealthy people I know. People think of EOs like conventional medicine; you just take this one for this ailment, and don’t worry about the overall health of your diet and lifestyle. It is a step up from pharmaceuticals, but doesn’t get to the root of the issues.

  10. Love, love, love this post. My daughter just said something similar a couple days ago. Facebook post from someone just enamored with a mlm oil chastising people for using products with chemicals when you can clean with essential oils. She’s right but…..her children eat processed food, use conventional skin care, doesn’t care if gmos are in the food, didn’t read labels and children on pharmaceuticals with health issues. She also thinks parents should not have choices unfortunately unless they are her choices. Red flags are the understatement!!! We just vent to each other but sometimes I just want to go off. I spend time sometimes pondering the total and complete disconnect, lack of critical thinking, and lack of thinking for themselves people have. It actually scares me sometimes. Figure God’s in control but still scares the bejeekers out of me. Thanks again for putting into words one more thing that needs put into words.

      1. I totally agree with you Jennifer and have experienced the same frustration. Mary, you aren’t the only one and I also appreciate that you are speaking out for many of us who feel the same way. We need to have more conversations like this! Thank you!

  11. I have seen the same thing a few times among friends and acquaintances. I think it’s really interesting (also sad) to see how much people’s view of food and health are severed. As though what we eat doesn’t have long term effects on our bodies. I’m not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, I still eat way too much processed food, but I’m working on it and slowly but surely shifting my perspective on food and creating healthier habits.

    Great post!

  12. Such an excellent look at the true holistic nature of good, healthy living and how essential oils can be used to enhance (not mask) healthy living. When someone in my family runs into an issue in which essential oils can be used to help with the symptoms, I use the oils. However, I never just stop there. My quest is to always go the step(s) further to find out the true source of the problem. Masking symptoms is never an answer.

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