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.
Essential Oil History and the Safety Debate – Part I, The Peppermint King
Within aromatherapy circles, increasing focus has been brought to bear on the issue of safety, based on the belief that essential oils for home or personal use is a relatively new idea – and previously were seldom used except by doctors or pharmacies. This is simply not true.
The term “aromatherapy” was first coined by René-Maurice Gattefossé and did not come into common use until after his book Aromathérapie was published in 1937. However, steam distillation of essential oils has been known for at least 5000 years, and the use of a variety of plants for medicinal and natural remedies, as well as other uses, has been handed down through many cultures, including America. The practice of using plants, herbs, botanicals for home remedies, and a number of essential oils, came to America with the earliest settlers and has persisted through the years, never being entirely forgotten. The very inclusion of most essential oils on the FDA’s GRAS list is based on substantial history of common use in food prior to January 1, 1958 as provided by CFR – Code of Federal Regulations Title 21 .
One of the most interesting in the history of essential oils in the U.S. is the story of peppermint. A member of the mint family, peppermint is a naturally occurring hybrid of spearmint and water mint, originating in North Africa and the Mediterranean area. It has a long history of cultivation and medicinal use, dating back to at least 1500 B.C. It was mentioned in Icelandic Pharmacopoeias as early as the 13th century, and listed in the London Pharmacopoeia by 1721. Peppermint was brought to the US by early settlers, and became common in Massachusetts where some of the earliest colonies were established.
In 1810, a peddler named Archibald Burnett from Ashfield, Massachusetts, set out by foot for New York with another peddler, each carrying a pack sack full of Yankee notions which they sold along their journey. Burnett settled upon the shores of Lake Canandaigua, the fourth largest of the Finger Lakes, and there remained until he received an urgent letter from his brother Nahum, urging him to return home as he had important news which could not be trusted to the mail. Archibald made the long walk home, a distance of some 275 miles. There he discovered that Nahum had been experimenting with distilling the peppermint that grew along the stream banks, and felt that if his brother would move back home and help him, they could make a considerable amount of money. Archibald had an even better idea. He felt sure the peppermint would grow even better on the rich flats of the Canandaigua Outlet, and there they would have no competition from other farmers distilling it, for at that time, the plant was not known outside of Massachusetts. Accordingly, Archibald set once more on the trek back to New York, this time with a pack of carefully nurtured peppermint stolons slung over his shoulder. Nahum sold his little farm and soon followed. In 1814, the brothers purchased 40 acres of land near South Lyons, where they set out the peppermint plants and erected the first crude distillery.
True to Archibald’s prediction, the peppermint plants did extremely well on the mucky flats near the lake, and so successful was their venture that many of their Ashfield neighbors also came to Lyons and began distilling peppermint, which was soon taken up by other farmers of Wayne County.
Meanwhile, Hiram G. Hotchkiss, the man destined to be America’s Peppermint King, was born on June 19, 1810 in Ontario County, New York to parents Leman and Theodosia Gilbert Hotckiss. He was just four years old when the Burnett brothers brought the first peppermint plants to Lyons, a small community of about 3500. His father, a merchant, had moved the family to Phelps, Ontario County where he opened the first General Store in town in partnership with David McNeill. Hotchkiss & McNeil became one of the most highly regarded mercantile firms in Western New York, doing brisk sales in excess of $100,000 per year, which was an enormous sum in those days. Hiram G. became a clerk in this store at 12 years of age and worked his way up. By the time he was 18, he opened his own General Store in Phelps in partnership with his brother Leman B., and cousin, William T. Hotchkiss, as well as successfully operating two mills. By 1828 he had begun buying peppermint oil from the Burnett brothers and other farmers, along with their wheat.
At that time peppermint oil was in common use as a home remedy for digestive, respiratory and other common ailments, but it was mostly imported from England. For a time, H. G., as he was known, sold the peppermint oil in his store. In 1833, he married Mary Williams Ashley, daughter of Dr. Robert Ashley of Lyons, and began to raise a family. Eventually they would have three sons and nine daughters. H. G. began to accumulate more of the peppermint oil than it was practical to sell in his store alone, and so founded his Hotchkiss Essential Oil Company in 1839. He tried to sell the peppermint oil in the New York markets. Adulteration of the oil was so common they refused to even look at his product. However, he knew his oil was pure and of excellent quality, so refusing to be discouraged, he rebottled the oil in cobalt blue bottles manufactured by the Ely Glass Company in nearby Clyde, and consigned it to London and Rotterdam Company in Hamburg, Germany. There the oil was promptly met with great favor, and tested and found to be the best and purest peppermint oil in the world. Ultimately it was sold back to the New York markets who had refused it before.
The Hotchkiss label of peppermint oil was soon widely recognized both for its purity and extreme potency. By 1844, H.G. moved his family to Lyons to be nearer the Erie Canal, which had been constructed in 1825, and was a main means of transporting the oils. Purchasing a large tract of land, he began cultivating peppermint in earnest, using horses to plow the land and harvesting the peppermint by scythe in the fall after blooming. It was said the canalers could smell the fragrance of peppermint wafting on the air as the neared the small town of Lyons. The New York Central Railroad was established in 1853, which surpassed the canal as a primary means of transport, but still the little town was favorably situated. The town of Lyons prospered and many of the local farmers who grew peppermint for Hotchkiss were able to pay their mortgages with it.
The geology of Wayne County has a curious history, being formed of parallel rows of elongated hills known as drumlins, which are said to occur in swarms. They were known to be caused by glaciation more than 12,000 years ago, when ice a mile thick had covered the area of western New York. The matter of exactly how they were formed was a topic of debate for more than a century and a half but was finally settled and explained in an article by retired geologist Fred Haynes. According to Haynes, it was found that the drumlins were islands of sediment rooted in bedrock, with the intervening regions washed out by rivers and streams from glaciers melting, and cutting deeply into the Paleozoic bedrock, making the contrast all the more dramatic. The receding glaciers were also responsible for the formation of the Finger Lakes in the region, and the rich fertile wetlands surrounding the lakes and often the areas between the drumlins. These were known as mucklands and proved to be ideal for the cultivation of peppermint.
The first year, H. G. began his peppermint oil business in only a small way, selling less than 1000 pounds of oil. After horses had plowed the land, it was carefully marked off into furrows about three feet apart. Workmen with sacks of roots began setting out the peppermint plants in sets placed thickly and then covered lightly. The plants took hold easily, and the dark green leaves contrasted handsomely with the delicate pink flowers which began appearing in late August.
When the peppermint was ready to be harvested, workmen came again to the fields, cutting the now two foot tall plants with scythes close to the root, and the harvest continued into September. The plants were piled into windrows and allowed to cure in the sun for 12 hours, so the oil would be more easily expressed. Then they were pitched off into the wooden distilling vats which consisted of heavy staves hooped with iron, where they were trodden down.
When the vats were filled with plant material, they would be covered, made steam tight with rubber packing, and fastened with screw clamps. Steam was then forced in by a pipe near the bottom of the vat, which connects to a steam boiler at thirty to forty pounds pressure. This was a method different from that used in Europe which applied fire directly to the still. The size of the vats corresponded to the amount of steam furnished by a boiler, but some of the vats described were four to five feet in diameter and twice as deep. Another pipe in the center of the vat cover connected the vat to a condensing worm, which again varied in size according to the capacity of the still, but would become progressively smaller toward the outlet.
The stills would be built so as to place the condensing worm directly in the stream so it would be cooled by a constant supply of cold running water. The volatized mint oil would mix with the steam in the condensing worm, and then was collected into the receiver where specific gravity would cause the oil to separate from the hydrosol water. The receiver would often consist of a tin vessel with a pipe running from the bottom nearly to the top of the vessel where it then turned outward, and the weight of the oil would cause the water from the lower part of the vessel to rise in this spout and drip out. Oil would then be dipped from the receiving vessel when a few pounds had accumulated.
First year crops were the best and purest. No cultivation was required in the second year, and in the third year, the ground would be plowed again, allowing the plants to spring up anew from the the broken roots.
After this, the land would be exhausted, and it was necessary to rotate with another crop, usually corn.
In 1846, H. G. discovered that the peppermint output of New York State at 44,500 pounds was triple that of competitors in Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana combined. Eureopean demand, however, was only 12,000 pounds. Accordingly, H.G. paid growers in 1847 to sell him set amounts for two years and destroyed all of the surplus. This provided him with a temporary monopoly which allowed him to control the market and the quality, elevating peppermint oil prices. After he won prizes at the World’s Fair in London in 1851, and the New York World’s Fair in 1853, he bought only from New York growers to maintain quality. There were two distilleries, one near the plant and canal, and another on Pilgrimport Road. H. G. continually studied new methods to improve both the cultivation of the crops as well as distillation of the oil. He imported roots from England and developed the “Black Mint” variety, which yielded a greater quantity of oil.
H. G.’s unyielding standards for purity, honesty, and fair dealing reaped handsome returns, and by 1895, little more than half a century later, the business sold well more than 100,000 pounds of peppermint oil alone. The Hotchkiss Essential Oil Company, which by that time distilled many other oils as well as peppermint, was the most highly respected essential oil brand not only in the United States, but controlled more than 60 percent of the markets around the entire globe in the years following the Civil War.
The trademarked peppermint oil remained their most famous though, and by 1877 the Hotchkiss name was so valued that H.G. also registered a facsimile of his signature with the U.S. Patent Office. In 1878, H.G. visited Europe where he was very cordially welcomed and honored on the floor of the world renowned London Exchange for his outstanding brand of essential oils, an honor which had rarely been given to any American for any reason. H.G. won first prize medals for his brand of oils at seventeen World Fairs, including: London, 1853 and 1862; New York 1853; Paris 1856, 1867, and 1878; Hamburg, 1863; Vienna, Austria, 1873; Philadelphia, 1876; and Chicago, 1893, by which time H. G. was 83 years old.
During these years, not only was peppermint oil a common and widely used home remedy for both topical and internal use, it was valued for its use as a flavoring in many candies and other sweets, gum, toothpaste, and a variety of pharmaceutical and patented medicinal products.
Peppermint was regularly included in the early Pharmacopoeias, as well as The Dispensatory of the United States (1839). Numerous essential oils still commonly sold today, including peppermint, were listed in Merck’s 1907 Index. These generally called for actual pure distilled essential oils, and not synthetic versions. Many books of home remedies were published which attest to the fact that peppermint essential oil, the same essential oil that is widely sold today, was indeed well known and recognized for home use, and had been since the colonists first brought it to America. One such book was The Favorite Medical Receipt Book and Home Doctor, compiled by Josephus Goodenough, M.D. This book includes recipes from more than a hundred doctors and nurses for many common ailments that were often treated at home, as well as for things that could be done while waiting for a doctor. A very few others are Home Guide, Cure Without Drugs, by Dr. L.H. Kersey (1888), The Cottage Physician, for Individual and Home Use by George W. Post A.M., M.D. (1897), and Mother’s Remedies by Dr.T. J. Ritter (1910), which included more than a thousand home remedies used by mothers in the U.S. and Canada. An example from Mother’s Remedies using peppermint oil is the following: “Cramps in Stomach, Oil of Peppermint for.—Put a few drops of peppermint in a glass of warm water. Take a teaspoonful every few minutes until relieved.” This is an old time-tried remedy our grandmothers used to use and can be relied upon.”
Countless other such books were published, giving recipes for home remedies often using peppermint oil, and many other essential oils as well. This completely dispels the myth that essential oils were rarely used in America by ordinary individuals in their homes until recent years. It also shows that certain oils could be, and often were, taken by simply adding a few drops to water. Although the majority of oil produced would go to the pharmaceutical and flavor industries to be used in everything from chewing gum, toothpaste, sweets, various pharmaceutical and medicinal recipes for both topical and internal use, soaps, and more, personal use for home remedies remained a constant practice handed down through the years. Interestingly, peppermint oil was one of the active ingredients in the original formula for Listerine, developed by Joseph Lawrence in 1879. And it is still one of the active ingredients for the current reduced alcohol formula for Listerine developed by several noted scientists of the Warner Lambert Company in 1994, including Dr. Mike Buch, who is now the Chief Science Officer of Young Living Essential Oils.
Purity of the essential oils was as much a concern then as it is now. It was common at that time to adulterate peppermint with a number resinous substances, fixed oils, or alcohol. Inferior quality also was widespread due to lack of care in keeping the peppermint fields free of weeds. Sheep were often used for this purpose, as they would not touch the peppermint plants unless they were kept in these fields for years and became accustomed to the strong taste. It was H.G.’s stringent attention to these details which made the quality of his peppermint oil so much in demand. During the peak years of operation, H.G. packaged the oil in signature 21 ounce cobalt blue glass bottles, bearing the slogan he coined, ““One 21 ounce bottle of Peppermint Oil will give the correct flavor to a ton of candy.” Each bottle was hand wrapped in a facsimile of the first certificate won by H.G. at the 1851 London World Exhibition, and bearing the signature of Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria.
In 1894, the original plant built by H.G. burned, but he continued to manage and operate his peppermint business, which had come to be called the Hotchkiss International Prize Medal Essential Oil Company, until his death October 27, 1897. The business then passed to his sons, Calvin, who died in 1925, and Hiram, who died in 1926. After H. G.’s death however, increasing numbers of farmers in Wayne County began to give up cultivating peppermint in favor of more profitable crops. Also, another Peppermint King was rising to stardom in Michigan. We shall hear more of his story later.
Nevertheless, the Hotchkiss company continued, faithfully maintaining H.G.’s standards, and the name was so well known in Europe they continued to retain many of the old customers. In 1926, upon the death of his father, the third Hiram G took over his grandfather’s business and continued till his death at 83 in 1963, when his daughter Anne Dickinson Hotchkiss became the company president. Anne continued to run the company until 1982, and having no family member to leave it to, sold it to William Leman Company, a competitor who grew and distilled peppermint in Indiana, famous for their gourmet mints first created in 1939.
The original peppermint office which H.G. rented from the Leach brothers when he came to Lyons in 1841, became the museum. This was placed on the National Historic Register in 1988, and is managed by the nonprofit Lyons Heritage Society which offers tours of the historic building during the summer months, and maintains a gift shop (where bottles of the famous peppermint oil may still be purchased) to help raise funds for its upkeep.
The Leman company continued to produce the Hotchkiss oils until 2003 when the formulation and rights were purchased by Essex Laboratories, founded in Salem, Oregon in 1992. Anne Hotchkiss continued to take pride in the history of the Hotchkiss peppermint oil until her death in 2010 at 95 years of age. Essex continues to produce Hotchkiss peppermint according to H.G.’s original specifications, making it the oldest trademarked oil in America.
Next we will look at Albert May Todd, The Peppermint King of Kalamazoo, the young chemist and politician who sought to claim that his oil was the best and purest, and his company the world leader. .
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 diseas
Forgotten – Essential Oils and the US Government’s Little Known Role – Essential Oils During the Past Century Part III
What was happening in America with essential oils during the time when the Gattefossé brothers were discovering their therapeutic benefits? The first Pharmacopeia in America was published by the Medical Society of Massachusetts in 1808, followed by the very first United States Pharmacopeia, published in 1820. The idea of a National Pharmacopeia was first proposed when Dr. Lyman Spalding submitted the idea to the Medical Society of the County of New York. The founding U.S. Pharmacopeial convention was held in Washington D.C. for the purpose of creating a system of standards and a National Formulary. Essential oils were included in these works.
At the time René-Maurice Gattefossé applied lavender oil to the severe burns he suffered in a lab explosion, a number of essential oils had been in regular use by U.S. doctors for more than a hundred years. At that time, the United States Pharmacopeia was revised every ten years. During the first hundred years oils were included as individual pure volatile oils with directions for steam distillation, as important components for medicated waters, medicated spirits, liniments, ointments and other compounds. About 10 oils were included in the 1808 Pharmacopeia of Massachusetts. A few of the less common oils would come and go but overall the number of oils climbed over the years, peaking in 1890 with around 44 oils mentioned. However, by this time, synthetic and artificial forms of wintergreen were included, and the 1900 version included several more synthetic forms and isolated components of volatile oils. By 1910 the number of individual pure distilled oils had tapered off to about 35 while synthetic and artificial versions and isolated components continued to increase. Later, the publications of the United States Pharmacopeia and the National Formulary were joined into one volume and published annually.
In 1900, Congress transferred 400 acres of the historic Arlington estate in Virginia to the Secretary of Agriculture for use as a general experimental farm. The Pentagon is now located on this site. This became one of several sites where the U.S. Government conducted what they referred to as “drug plant investigations”, which would continue for more than 50 years, managed by the Bureau of Plant Industry which was established in 1901. The U.S. Government was in fact growing medicinal plants for research purposes, and among The Bureau of Plant Industry’s other projects studying various crops, farming methods, plant diseases and so forth, the project for drug plant investigations specifically included a number of experimental stations, ranging from botanical gardens to small farms used for the cultivation of aromatic plants, which they steam distilled to produce essential oils. Some were researched for perfume, fragrance, and food flavorings, while others were recognized by the government for their medicinal and therapeutic properties. Several government reports and bulletins were published mentioning details of cultivating aromatic plants for producing essential oils, and the methods and equipment for distilling them.
In 1906, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was signed into law by President Theodore Roosevelt with the Pure Foods and Drugs Act, which prohibited interstate commerce in foods or drugs which were misbranded or adulterated. While the law was intended to protect the consumer from unnecessary and potentially harmful additives to foods and drugs, the FDA sometimes had their own way of regulating this. One of the early problems they sought to solve began in 1907 with the certification of food colors. Merchants had begun a practice of injecting foods with dyes to enhance their appearance and make them more appealing to the consumer, and to cover up defects. Dyes were also added to drugs. Some of these dyes were quite harmful and so the FDA, instead of forbidding the practice of adding these chemical dyes, they decided they would screen them all and certify which ones could be used. In 1928 they certified more than 600,000 pounds of dyes permitted for use in foods and drugs. (The Arlington Experiment Farm, U.S. Department of Agriculture Handbook for Visitors, 1928). This was thought to be a great improvement because the certification rules were so strict.
Dyes were then also added to cosmetics and the practice of using FDA certified dyes continues today. A huge list of these dyes which the FDA has removed from the list or added further restrictions due to safety issues and problems discovered after they had been in use for some time may be found on the FDA’s Color Additive Status List. The FDA collects substantial fees for color additive certification which are regulated under Title 21 Code of Federal Regulations Section 80.10 They get paid by the pound for these certifications and just in the quarter from Oct 1- Dec 31 2015 certified more than 6 million pounds of dyes added to foods, drugs, and cosmetics. In recent years, the safety of dyes remaining on the FDA’s approved list has come into question. The Global Healing Center, Center for Science in the Public Interest, Dr. Oz and Dr. Mercola are just a few who warn of the dangers of several dyes the FDA still allows.
The more extensive Food, Drugs and Cosmetics Act was signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1938. This law required FDA approval before any new drug could be brought to market, and also prohibited false therapeutic claims. Through the years, the FDA has developed a very broad interpretation of this law which includes prohibiting therapeutic claims that are true, and by defining any random product as a drug if you intend to use it for something they consider a disease. This also includes a long list of words which could be associated with various diseases. For instance, if you use something to help with inflammation or joint pain, in the eyes of the FDA that product is likely to be considered to have become a drug. In 2010 for example, the FDA sent a warning letter to Diamond Foods declaring that their walnuts had become drugs due to therapeutic claims they had on their website based on extensive scientific research. The FDA collects substantial Application, Product, and Establishment Fees for each new drug. In addition, Product and Establishment Fees are assessed annually. In 2014, the most recent year for which a financial report is available, the FDA collected more than $796 million in prescription drug user fees. 45 new drugs were approved by the FDA for 2015. FDA approved drugs, used as prescribed, are, according to their own website the 4th leading cause of death in America.
Meanwhile, in 1939, the work of the Arlington Experimental farm was transferred to the Research Station at Beltsville, Maryland. By 1952, the Bureau of Plant Industry had a 14,000 acre Agricultural Research Center at this location with 2100 employees, of which more than 900 were scientists. Experiments on growing aromatic medicinal plants and distilling their essential oils were still being conducted at this time. The next year, 1953, the Bureau of Plant Industry became part of the Agricultural Research Service, (ARS) which continues to the present. Both the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Agricultural Library are filled with peer reviewed clinical studies which have been done on various medicinal and therapeutic uses of essential oils. Some of these studies are done by ARS scientists. The interest in scientific research on essential oils and the growing body of evidence that they do have valuable therapeutic uses continues to expand despite the FDA’s proclamation that only a drug (approved by them, and at great expense paid to them) can be used to prevent, treat, cure, or mitigate a disease.
Unfortunately, the essential oil research and experiments conducted by the U.S. Government were little known and mostly buried in obscure government reports and bulletins which few average citizens had access to, or took the time to wade through them if they did. With the development of the pharmaceutical industry, the major focus became isolating active compounds of various essential oils believed to be responsible for medicinal effects, and creating synthetic versions which could be approved by the FDA as new drugs. Synthetic versions were also often used for food additives and flavorings, as well as for perfumes and fragrances. Thus, despite the government’s role, the essential oil industry in the U.S. was following a very different path than the one in France influenced by the research René-Maurice Gattefossé. Pure essential oils were very scarce in the U.S. Their therapeutic properties were largely forgotten, and the development of aromatherapy would take many decades before finding its way to the U.S.
Next: The Research of Dr. Jean Valnet
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.