Recently, a friend of mine posted an interesting article on Facebook. You can read it here, or just take my brief summary of it. In short, the FDA is starting to limit the language that can be used to describe essential oils and their properties, and they focused especially on the well-known essential oil companies doTerra and Young Living. They demanded that these companies, and any wellness advocates associated with them, not use language to describe essential oils that sounded medicinal in nature, such as saying the oils were anti-inflammatory or anti-viral. However, this meant that private citizens (because wellness advocates are private citizens) who had used essential oils and perceived positive effects on their health conditions as well as those of others, could not post such results online to benefit and educate others. Not only that, but the FDA's regulatory measures seem to ignore the plethora of scientific studies that demonstrate essential oils as truly having many of the effects that they are claimed to have. For specific examples, see the abstracts from scientific articles below, which are just a sampling of the collection I have on the topic.
As a certified aromatherapist, I have mixed feelings about this situation. I'm not a big fan of doTerra and Young Living, since they tend to be fanatically devoted to the oils they sell and really do hype them up as something akin to "miracle cures" and the "only certified therapeutic-grade oils" out there. (By the way, there is no such thing as "certified therapeutic-grade" for plant oils. Young Living and doTerra bought that logo so that they could put it on their bottles.) So asking them to reign in their language might be okay, especially given that they were claiming that essential oils could cure Ebola. However, the words that were cited as being problematic in the article are simply descriptors of the demonstrable effects that many oils have. For the FDA to be concerned about a plant oil being marketed as anti-viral and anti-inflammatory when there are plenty of peer-reviewed scientific studies out there showing that many plant oils do have these qualities is either being paranoid, is showing a desire to industrialize and regulate essential oils as drugs (potentially so as to make a profit from them), or is showing an influence from some larger organization like Big Pharma which doesn't want natural remedies to start cutting into its profits.
So are essential oils a cure for Ebola? Probably no single essential oil or another will cure it, no. (Although a potent combination of anti-viral oils might eliminate the virus from the environment surrounding an infected person and from the materials with which they have come in contact. You never know until you test it.) But I fear that the FDA's impending regulations are eventually going to harm the careers of those of us who use these oils responsibly in accordance with evidence provided both by long tradition and more modern scientific experiments and don't tout them as "miracle cures" for everything. For instance, I use essential oils in my practice in conjunction with both traditional and Western Medicine. So, if I feel that my client has a condition that I cannot help or can only slightly improve, then I am going to recommend they go see their doctor to get a diagnosis and some additional information from him. This is especially the case with serious or life-threatening diseases that oils may not be strong enough to cure on their own. If they just want me to make up a salve to help heal dry hands naturally, though, I can probably do that without the FDA getting into my business.
What are your thoughts on this situation? Let your voice be heard in the comments!