understanding therapeutic grade essential oils and their benefits

Essential Oil ingestion debate – is Frankincense oil the same as turpentine?

Recently, a discussion was posted on a social media page comparing the GCMS for a high quality frankincense oil with a GCMS for turpentine paint thinner from Home Depot as a chemist’s perspective on whether or not essential oils should be ingested. It was stated that while the point is not that turpentine is exactly the same thing as frankincense, but rather that they are the same class of molecules (terpenes) with many of the same molecules in common, a-pinene being the dominant component of both, and both distilled from tree resin and therefore have solvent properties. This example was given to caution people against putting 10 drops of an essential oil with a dietary supplement label in your water and drinking it down multiple times per day.

The information which follows is not intended to be an argument about whether you should or should not ingest essential oils, but about sifting the information out there which might influence your choices.

Ok, first of all, there are no essential oils with dietary supplement labels sold by any company which the suggested use on the label directs one to add 10 drops to water multiple times per day. In fact there are none which give a suggested dosage on the label of 10 drops at all, much less added to water multiple times per day, so this is an exaggeration to say the least. It may be true there are some individuals who recommend adding 10 drops of an essential oil to your drinking water and doing this multiple times per day. The unspoken implication here is that typical recommendations for water consumption are 8-10 8 oz glasses per day so that could be 80-100 drops of essential oil per day. There are 100 drops of oil in a 5 ml bottle. One company which offers Frankincense oil as a dietary supplement is priced at $29.75 for 5 ml wholesale and $39.14 retail. The suggested use is 1-2 drops, up to three times per day, not 10 drops multiple times per day equaling possibly an entire 5 ml bottle a day.

Secondly, it needs to be understood that there are a whole range of dietary supplements out there, and different people take them for different reasons. However, no one takes the maximum dose of every single dietary supplement they might decide to try, every single day for the rest of their life.  Much less some highly inflated dose that is drastically different from what the label recommends. Especially when the cost of this ridiculously inflated dose could be $30 or more per day. No one is doing that, and even if they wanted to, it would be cost prohibitive. Besides the very obvious fact that 100 drops a day would be a toxic dose for almost any oil, especially if continued for multiple days indefinitely.

Now lets examine the logic that ingesting frankincense oil is equivalent to ingesting turpentine because both happen to be high in terpene molecules. Following a similar logic we could argue that house cats are potentially as dangerous as lions and cougars because they are all members of the family Felidae and share many characteristics. They are all carnivores with fur, four paws and a tail, and they all have sharp teeth and claws. They all growl when they are mad. Neither is it just size that makes one potentially more dangerous, as there are many species of wild cats similar in size and appearance to house cats which are quite vicious.

Ok, so how about the argument that you should not ingest solvents? That sounds like a bad idea, right? However, a solvent is merely the liquid in which a solute is dissolved to form a solution. WATER is a solvent and we all drink that and need to.

Now lets consider a seemingly harmless substance regularly consumed by most Americans. Did you know that according to the USDA, the average American consumes 150-170 POUNDS of sugar per year? Just imagine if you took 30 or more 5 lb bags of sugar and stack them in the corner of your kitchen on New Year’s Day and declare to yourself that you are going to eat all of that by the end of the year. Sugar causes many more health issues than essential oils and these issues are well documented.

In many social media groups and blog posts you hear horror stories of people having holes burned in their esophagus, kidney and liver destroyed etc etc. Often people “know” this so and it is “proven” that essential oils caused these issues because they heard it from their best friend whose aunt’s doctor had a patient who suffered these consequences of essential oil ingestion. In some cases people say it is their own first hand story of what happened to them and they know it was the oils and their doctor agreed it was the oils that caused their issues.

However, it is nearly impossible to find documentation of medical reports or published peer-reviewed studies to confirm these reports, while at the same time, such information abounds for many prescription drugs, foods, and other products. Key information such as age and previous health history such as being a cancer survivor (no one is cured from cancer, they are only said to be in remission if the cancer goes away); family history of kidney or liver disease, medication history, or a host of other issues are often not taken into consideration when someone posts a claim stating they know their issue was caused by essential oils. Also missing is key information on which oil or oils were used, brand, quality, dosage, duration, and other factors which might be pertinent. Instead you see statements like “”lemon oil will dissolve a styrofoam cup! Imagine what it would do to your insides!”” (Never mind that our intestines are not made of styrofoam).

According to analysis conducted by Transparency Market Research, the global essential oil market is expected to reach $24.79 billion by 2022. According to Grandview Research, the essential oil market in the US is expected to reach $7.34 billion by 2024 while the US population is projected to reach 334.5 million by 2020. Although current and projected essential oil use includes a wide range of quality and purity, it is not difficult to see that use is certainly widespread enough that if essential oils really were causing a fraction of the health issues claimed in these Facebook groups and blog posts, real proof and documentation that these adverse events were occurring would not be so difficult to find.

A lot of very misleading information is posted on these threads, particularly when understanding what it means to say essential oils are concentrated, and unfortunately, people are drawn in by it. One blog proclaims that a single drop of lemon essential oil is the equivalent of eating 20 lemons! This is incorrect. Dr. Jean Valnet, a medical doctor who practiced aromatherapy for more than 30 years and who was considered one of the leading authorities in the world on essential oils and their therapeutic use, stated that about 3000 lemons were required to distil one kilogram (2.2 pounds) of essential oil. This works out to about 50 lemons per 15 ml bottle, or per 300 drops; 5 lemons per 30 drops, or 1 lemon per 6 drops. In other words consuming a drop of lemon oil is nothing like eating 20 whole lemons, it is like adding one small slice of lemon to your water or tea, a fairly common practice.

And while some may argue that essential oils added to foods are trace amounts measured in parts per million, the truth is most are proprietary formulas and don’t really state how much is in them. Many essential oils have been ingested in foods and home remedies for hundreds of years, well before the term “aromatherapy” was coined. That is not to say that one should ingest essential oils without investing in the training and/or research to learn about the oils you are using and why you might ingest them. What is right for one person may not be right for another.  However, exaggerated safety claims promote drama, not education.

Understanding Stroke and Heart Attack Recovery

According to the Heart Foundation, 920,000 Americans suffer a heart attack each year, and according to the American Stroke Association , at least 795,000 Americans suffer a new or recurrent stroke or TIA (Transient Ischemic Attack, known as a mini-stroke or warning stroke) each year, resulting in 137,000 deaths.  About 40% of those dying of stroke are men and 60% are women.  Other risk factors to be aware of include the link between Rheumatoid Arthritis, an autoimmune disease and heart attack or stroke.  According to research done by the Mayo Clinic, Rheumatoid Arthritis can double the risk of heart disease, both being related to inflammation.  Another study published in the October 3, 2012 Journal of the American Medical Association showed a strong link between Rheumatoid Arthritis and blood clots, increasing risk for both heart attack and stroke.  To further complicate matters, Rheumatoid Arthritis may also contribute to brain fog and mood swings.    The American College of Rheumatology estimates at least 1.3 million Americans suffer from Rheumatoid Arthritis, with other estimates guessing the number may be more than 2 million.  It is also linked to Type II diabetes.  Dr. Brent Bauer, M.D., Editorial Board Member of the Mayo Clinic Health Letter, notes that chronic inflammation is a common link among all of these and many other health issues.  And, it is important to understand that if one does suffer a major heart attack or stroke, this root cause needs to be addressed as part of the recovery process.  Inflammation in turn, is brought on by stress.

With both heart attack and stroke, depending on the severity, physical recovery is usually the most noticeable issue and the patient’s primary goal.  Changes in diet and lifestyle can eliminate many contributing factors.  Therapeutic grade essential oils, in particular Frankincense (Boswellia carteri and Sacred Frankincense (Boswellia sacra) can be soothing and calming which can help maintain balance in keeping up with a fast-paced life.

After a trauma, proper nutrition, adequate rest, and maintaining a positive outlook are an important part of the recovery process.   However, many heart attack and stroke survivors, and their families, encounter additional obstacles, especially once the patient’s physical health has improved.  It can be sometimes difficult for family and friends to understand that going through such an experience can bring about marked changes in personality or behavior, particularly as such changes are often delayed and may not be readily apparent until the patient begins to feel better physically.

This can be further intensified if the stroke or heart attack has caused other major changes in the person’s life, such as forcing early retirement.  Retirement after decades of full-time work is a major adjustment for even a healthy person, but when it is forced by health issues, the patient has a double emotional impact, sorting out feelings of self-worth and how to occupy their time and have purpose in life. Marriage relationships are easily strained when suddenly both are at home occupying the same small space.  If financial strain is added into the mix due to medical bills and/or delays in processing retirement, even more tension is added.

A study conducted by researchers from Columbia University Medical Center further found that 25% of people who survive a stroke or TIA, suffer from PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome).  Dr. Donald Edmondson, Assistant Professor of Behavioral Medicine at the University, had previously led a similar study on heart attack patients, finding one in eight suffering severe PTSD, published in the June 2012 PLOS One Journal. Both stroke and heart attack may result from build-up of plaque in the arteries, and both are also stress related.  Having a heart attack makes one at high risk both for stroke and for additional heart attacks, and vice versa.  A heart attack and stroke may occur together, or  one soon after the other as they share the same risk factors, and in some cases it may go unnoticed that a person suffering a major heart attack may also have had a minor stroke or TIA. Both are very traumatic events in a person’s life. Consequently, even though one may physically recover from a heart attack or stroke, there can be intense changes in personality or behavior which all too often, family or friends neither understand nor know how to respond to.

PTSD may include difficulty staying asleep, the person is inclined to feel they don’t need that much sleep as subconsciously they may feel anxious or feel like they won’t wake up if they stay asleep too long.  Their sleeping habits may thus become very different, and family members may also feel nervous and afraid that something is wrong if they hear the person getting up during the night or very early and moving about the house.  To further complicate matters, a stroke, and to some degree, a heart attack, may alter a person’s behaviors even without the intensifying effect of PTSD, and many symptoms overlap.  Depression and feelings of anxiety can be common in all.  Most particularly, feelings of being overwhelmed by difficulty in focusing, and feelings of finances, relationships, and other issues skyrocketing out of control.  The person may be subject to irritability and angry outbursts that may come on suddenly and unexpectedly, frightening and confusing friends and family members.  This can become further tangled as much of the time the person may seem normal, rational, and able to function quite well.  Family may conclude the person’s actions are deliberate and try to reason them out of it – and/or conclude they have psychological issues, again trying to reason with them.

This type of response often escalates the situation as the person feels he or she is being monitored or that family members are trying to take over and control them or tell them what to do, resulting in a vicious cycle of even more irritability and angry outbursts.  Stroke and PTSD patients may both also suffer extreme sensitivity to bright light and irritated by noise.  And with any of these, emotional liability may occur, where the person may seem to be laughing one minute and crying or angry the next.  These are in fact very normal responses for someone who has experienced a traumatic health event, and while some changes may be somewhat permanent, most issues can be worked through for patients who are fortunate enough to have family who are able to handle the ups and downs and provide strong understanding and emotional support.

Therapeutic grade essential oils may help support emotional well-being:

  • Cedarwood (Cedrus atlanticus) diffused or applied topically, it is noted for its calming influence and purifying ability.  On a physical level, Cedarwood may help support  healthy circulatory and lymphatic systems .
  • Peace & Calming, a proprietary blend of Young Living, the leading producer of genuine therapeutic grade oils for more than 20  years, may be supportive in lifting the spirits and encouraging a deep and calming sense of relaxation, peace and emotional well-being.  It may help promote restful sleep, while reducing occasional bouts of nervous irritability or minor stress and anxious feelings .  Peace & Calming is a blend of five special oils:
    • Blue Tansy (Tanacetum annuum)  helps to support  the liver and lymphatic system.  It helps support emotional well being and positive outlook.
    • Patchouli (Pogostemon cablin) is very high in sesquiterpenes. It may be uplifting and refreshing to the mind and help support healthy emotional  balance, a feeling of being grounded and centered.
    • Tangerine (Citrus nobilis) helps calm occasional feelings of anxiousness and nervous tension
    • Orange (Citrus sinensis) refreshing and uplifting, and helps to elevate the mind,helps support feelings of joy and peace.
    • Ylang Ylang (Cananga odorata) helps support  confidence and equilibrium, and provides a relaxing influence that is balancing to the male and feeling energies
  • Valor is another specialized blend of Young Living.  Valor includes four key oils blended in a base of sweet almond oil.
    • Rosewood (Aniba rosaeodora) may be relaxing to overworked muscles and helps support a healthy immune system.
    • Blue Tansy (Tanacetum annuum) provides a pleasant fragrance with uplifting and positive influence.
    • Frankincense (Boswellia carteri) may help with occasional feelings of stress and tenseness

It is very important to use only pure, genuine therapeutic grade essential oils from a trusted source for these purposes. Family and friends can also help by simply recognizing the huge emotional aspects of recovery that require time and patience to work through, and limiting their demands and expectations.  It is important to simply be willing to listen and encourage the patient in rebuilding his or her confidence in handling their affairs.  Things that do not help:

  • hovering and worrying
  • telling them what to do as though they were a child or incompetent
  • scolding or nagging the patient about taking medications, eating habits, overdoing, etc.
  • stepping in and taking over instead of letting the patient do things for themselves
  • applying labels to the person’s behavior such as telling them they are “agitated”, “flipped their switch”, or need to avoid “triggers”
  • questioning or challenging their decisions or actions
  • trying to argue with them
  • interrupting or not listening to them
  • trying to push them into taking more drugs and/or having more medical evaluations to “fix” their behaviors
  • undermining their decisions or actions by suggesting to others they are mentally unbalanced.

What you can do:

  • above all, listen and let them finish when they are trying to tell you something
  • maintain a positive, encouraging attitude
  • believe in them and let them know it
  • recognize their whole life has changed and that changes in their responses and how they spend their time are a normal part of that
  • be patient
  • if they do become  upset, do not take it personally
  • let them know you are their for them, no matter what

To  learn more about different therapeutic grade essential oils and how they may help support a healthy lifestyle, please visit The Oil Well.

For more information on the leading essential oil companies, their history, testing, and quality standards, check out the 45 page Young Living/DoTerra report.

If this information has been helpful, you may make a small donation to help defray the costs of research.  Thank you!



These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA, and this information is for educational purposes only and not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease.

Handling Blood Sugar Challenges

Maintaining healthy blood sugar  is becoming increasingly difficult for more and more Americans as highly processed and genetically modified foods become more and more a part of the mainstream American diet.. The US Department of Health and Human Services National Diabetes Information Clearing House estimated in 2011 there were 18.8 million people diagnosed with diabetes and another 7 million undiagnosed.    A more recent 2013 poll revealed 1 in 8 Americans have been diagnosed with Type II Diabetes.    There are a number of things which may help people regulate their blood sugar:

1)Limiting carbs and sugar is generally not enough to keep blood sugar under control unless you do some other things as well.  Make sure you do not skip meals or go long periods without a meal or snack.  Best approach is try to spread balanced nutrition between at least 5 small meals/snacks per day.

2)Avoid genetically modified (GMO) foods as they cause inflammation and blood sugar issues which tend to aggravate diabetes and heart disease . GMO means the genes have been altered in a lab by inserting genes or DNA of an unrelated species.  Some of these, rice for instance, have been modified by adding human genes. Since labeling of GMO is not required the best thing you can do is try to look for things which specifically say they are not GMO, especially look for the Non-GMO project badge.  Almost all the corn  and soy in the US is GMO so unless it specifies on the label that it is not GMO it probably is.  This also includes things like various cooking oils, corn starch, and baking powder which you find in almost all processed foods. Popcorn comes from a different seed and has not been genetically modified – yet – however it is still nice to see this on the label.  Orville Redenbacher is starting to provide this information. Half the sugar in the US is from GMO sugar beets so when you do use sugar, pure cane sugar is better.  Many companies are beginning to respond to consumer concerns and providing non GMO versions of favorite products.  Early this year General Mills released non-GMO Cheerios

 3)Magnesium deficiency – up to 80% of Americans are believed to be deficient in magnesium.  According to Dr. Morton Walker, studies confirm the connection between magnesium and diabetes, and that magnesium is needed to help regulate and control blood sugar.

4)Essential oils – Several pure, therapeutic grade essential oils such as Young Living’s may help maintain blood sugar levels that are in normal range:

  •  Juniper (Juniperus osteosperma and Juniperus scopulorum) may help support the circulatory system and  the kidneys.  It is important to maintain these systems in a healthy state for promoting excretion of toxins, purifying and detoxifying.
  • Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens) may help maintain blood sugar levels in the normal range,  and supports healthy circulation.
  • Coriander (Coriandrum sativum)  has been researched at Cairo University for its effects in lowering glucose and insulin levels. A high quality therapeutic grade Coriander oil may help support healthy pancreatic function
  • Clove (Syzygium aromaticum) has one of the highest of all ORAC scores, 1, 078,700 µTE/100g according to the Essential Oils Desk Reference 5th edition.  Clove may be helpful in maintaining normal blood sugar levels.
  • Cinnamon  Bark (Cinnamomum verum) –  supports the cardiovascular and immune systems and helps maintain healthy blood sugar.
  • Rosemary (Rosemarinus officinalis, CT cineol) helps support the liver and the immune system.
  • Dill (Anethum graveolens) has a very long medicinal history dating back to the Papyrus of Ebers.  Therapeutic grade Dill oil may help support pancreatic function,  and help maintain blood sugar levels in the normal range
  • Ocotea (Ocotea quixos) which comes from Ecuador may help calm body’s internal response to irritation.  Also helps maintain blood sugar levels in normal range.

5)Stevia – the best natural sweetener and substitute for sugar which does not have the harmful side effects of many other substitutes such as aspartame and Splenda.  Stevia may help rebuild glucose tolerance and normalizes blood sugar fluctuations.

6)Glycemic Index – To further minimize blood sugar fluctuations, it can be helpful to consult the   Revised Table for Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load.  There are many tables out there with conflicting information.  This one is the best. The glycemic index (GI) is a numerical system of measuring how much of a rise in circulating blood sugar a carbohydrate triggers–the higher the number, the greater the blood sugar response. However, the GI only gives you an idea how quickly a particular carbohydrate turns into sugar.  The Glycemic Load (GL) offers a more extensive picture by taking into consideration the amount of carbohydrate that is in a serving of food.  Be aware however that it is important not to rely on these numbers alone as all carbohydrates ultimately turn into sugar.  However, when these are considered along with spreading nutritional intake through the day into at least five small healthy meals or snacks, blood sugar variations should stabilize significantly.

7)Adequate protein – maintaining adequate protein in the diet will help control sugar cravings.  A high protein diet however, can increase strain on the kidneys.  Be sure to keep enough quality protein in the diet without going overboard.  The American Diabetes Association recommends maintaining usual protein of 15 – 20% of daily energy intake if kidney function is normal.

8)Fiber – according to the USDA, adequate fiber intake is considered to be at least 14 grams of fiber per 1000 calories consumed. Adequate fiber intake is important for stabilizing blood sugar.  95% of Americans do not get enough fiber.

9)NingXia Red – Young Living’s outstanding juice supplement NingXia Red  is high in antioxidant and provides a natural pure source of vitamins and minerals.  It helps support a healthy immune system and maintain blood sugar levels within normal range.   NingXia Red is highly concentrated and should be consumed in amounts of 1 – 4 oz per day.  It has a low glycemic index and contains no processed high fructose sweeteners.  In addition to the powerful NingXia wolfberries (Lycium barbarum), from the NingXia province of northern China which are included as a whole wolfberry puree of fruit, juice, seeds, and peel, the NingXia Red formula contains carefully selected blueberry, cherry, aronia, pomegranate, and plum fruit juices with therapeutic grade essential oils of orange, yuzu, lemon, and tangerine, patented grapeseed extract, and sweetened with pure and natural calorie free stevia extract.

10)Keep a journal of what you eat, time of day, how you feel etc.  If you miss a day or a few days, don’t give it up, just pick it up again.  You will begin to notice patterns with what you are eating and this information will be very helpful.

To  learn more about different therapeutic grade essential oils and their properties, please visit The Oil Well

For more information on the leading essential oil companies, their history, testing, and quality standards, check out the 45 page Young Living/DoTerra report.

If this information has been helpful you may click the donate button to contribute a small amount toward the cost of research.  Thank you!

These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA, and this information is for educational purposes only and not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease.