Essential oils: false information, according to the Essential Oils consortium

Essential oil - Tea tree oil

In its special issue " healthy house ", n ° 1285 of May-June 2019, the magazine 60 million consumers is debated with its column "Spotting false friends". According to the Huiles Essentielles consortium , which brings together 10 companies representing 95% of the essential oils market in France as well as 1,300 farmers and producers of essential oils, the magazine has published several inaccurate information.

The review mentions that dust mites are responsible for 45% of allergies and recommends against using essential oils on the grounds that some contain potential allergens. However, according to the consortium, it is wrong and abusive to present acaricidal essential oils as "worse than dust mites" for allergy sufferers. Acaricidal essential oils are said to be a natural and effective measure for the control of house dust mites. “Respiratory allergies to essential oils are almost non-existent. An irritative, and not allergic, phenomenon may occur during overdose or use not in accordance with the manufacturer's recommendations. The allergy to essential oils is rather cutaneous in nature and affects less than 2% of the population. The medical documentation does not describe a skin allergy that appears during the use of essential oils in the form of a spray to be sprayed on surfaces or in the air, ” the consortium's statement specifies.

Concerning limonene and linalool, the members of the consortium specify, moreover, that a quality essential oil, preserved or packaged away from light and air, would not expose to oxidized allergenic compounds. They point out that, as a preventive measure, the regulations require that the presence of limonene or linalool above a certain amount in the products be mentioned on the labels of the products, the truly sensitive consumers being able to avoid thus exhibit there.

The essential oils of peppermint, tea tree and orange are, according to the magazine, toxic to aquatic organisms. According to the consortium, these assertions come from an incomplete and biased interpretation of the studies carried out in application of the REACH regulation and the CLP regulation. According to the members of the Essential Oils consortium, the information mentioned is based on toxicity data from the constituents alone, obtained by mathematical modeling. The conclusions obtained would thus be theoretical. The consortium affirms that real-life ecotoxicity and biodegradability tests were carried out according to OECD standards on mixtures of essential oils, the biodegradability and absence of toxicity being demonstrated. According to its members, there is no evidence of potential toxicity, acute or chronic, of an essential oil spilled in large quantities in a watercourse. Several essential oils would even be used in aquaculture.

An essential oil is characterized by its richness in components, on average about thirty. Air sprays or diffuser mixes often consist of several essential oils. A widespread idea, but inaccurate according to the Essential Oils consortium, states that by mixing several essential oils we would multiply the components (10 essential oils would represent 300 components for example). According to members of the Essential Oils consortium, a simple analysis can show that this is not the case. According to them, a mixture of 10 or 50 essential oils will always present around thirty major components, only the proportions of these components being modified.

Adverse effects due to misuse

Regarding VOCs, the Essential Oils consortium conducts studies in real life situations with consumers. The “Essential oils and indoor air” study carried out in early 2019 with 22,000 consumers showed that for 1 million products sold, only 12 people mentioned having experienced moderate and reversible respiratory discomfort. In addition, several of them would have reported not to have followed the recommendations of the manufacturer, the overdose being most often responsible for the discomfort felt. This work was presented to ANSES on April 9, 2019.

Regarding people with asthma, recent reference work, published in the international journal Journal of Asthma, would demonstrate, according to the consortium, the good tolerance of mild to moderate allergic asthma patients following the use of an aerial spray composed of essential oils mixed. These real clinical data would thus contradict the conclusions of the theoretical work mentioned by60 million consumers.

The Essential Oils consortium wishes to indicate that essential oils are natural, effective, useful and safe products, if care is taken to follow the recommendations of prescribers and manufacturers. It indicates that, according to poison control centers, 95% of the undesirable effects listed with essential oils are due to misuse. According to its members, whether in aerial sprays or diffuser, essential oils, when they are of quality and correctly used, have a special place in a healthy and ecological home.