More and more people are joining the fashion of the essential oil diffusers to enjoy the supposed properties of these products. Others, on the other hand, prefer to inhale them directly, add them to their diet or place them on their skin. This does not usually bring the benefits that they promise, but sometimes it is not harmful. However, in some cases, problems can arise.
For example, it is considered that some essential oils, such as eucalyptus or camphor, can cause seizures, especially in epileptic people. It is something that has been studied in children, but until now it had not been proven if it was extrapolated to adults.
However, a study just published in Epilepsy Research by Indian scientists suggests that it does appear to occur in other age groups as well. The causes are not yet clear, but it is certainly a wake-up call for those who use essential oils with complete peace of mind, thinking that something natural could never harm us.
Beware of essential oils
Despite the fact that science has achieved achievements that were unthinkable just a century ago, the chemophobia it remains deeply rooted in our society. We have the safest foods in history, vaccines capable of preventing diseases that in the past generated terrible epidemics, antibiotics that kill bacteria in a few days that once became deadly … We have everything, but natural products continue to prevail. Many people tend to think that something natural is safer. But they forget that hemlock is obtained from a plant and that a banana has as much chemistry as many of those products they fear so much. This fear leads them to resort to drugs only when it is extremely necessary, so that in the meantime they take care of their health with alternatives such as essential oils.
They do not usually control the dose, as they are natural and seem harmless. And this is where the problems begin. In the case of eucalyptus oil, It is usually used on the skin as a healing or anti-acne, and also in massages to relax the muscles. However, it is most commonly used by inhaling its vapors to decongest the respiratory tract.
Not everything considered natural is harmless
Regarding the camphor oil, It is used mainly as a stimulant, to combat depression, as an analgesic and, curiously, as an antispasmodic. In addition, both are frequently used in essential oil diffusers for their relaxing properties.
None of this is scientifically proven. It is true that some essential oils, such as peppermint, have been shown to have beneficial effects against anisakis infection in rats. Perhaps this could be extrapolated to humans, but at very specific doses and in controlled formulations. Taking the essential oil simply is not enough and, in the case of eucalyptus and camphor, it can even cause seizures.
The first study in adults
The study that has just been published analyzes the cases of 350 patients admitted for seizures in different hospitals in India.
Of all of them, 55 had used essential oils, either by direct inhalation, ingestion or topical use. There were different types, but the most repeated when asked about it were eucalyptus oil and camphor oil.
Blind studies should be done to look more deeply at the causes of seizures
This indicates a fairly strong correlation. However, the study authors themselves maintain that they have no information to determine whether essential oils were the cause of the seizures or were simply associated with them.
To find out, they argue that they should perform larger blinded studies. These are those in which the participants are expressly given the product to be analyzed, in this case the essential oils, or a placebo, and the effects generated by both are checked.
However, it serves as a reminder of the importance of thinking twice before abusing these types of substances. Obviously, it is not the same to use a essential oil diffuser, than ingesting or inhaling them directly. It is important to take these types of issues into account, especially if we have any condition that may complicate the situation, such as previous epileptic seizures. Let’s not forget that most essential oils have not been shown to have any scientifically proven effects. Also, if we really believe that we have a problem that needs to be addressed, that is not where we should turn.