Aromatherapy Gone Cray Cray: NEVER Use Essential Oils in Your Eyes

Mar 4, 07:49 PM

by Katharine Koeppen, RA

The aromatherapy community has been in an uproar lately over claims made by two online sources regarding the "safe" use of essential oils in the eyes. One of these sources is the blog of Diana Ewald, a distributor for a very unsavory essential oil MLM. Shockingly, another is Lance Armstrong's LiveStrong website, which recently pulled the offending article from their site when aromatherapists began screaming in outrage.

Ms. Ewald makes a number of very specious comments regarding the properties of essential oils in her blog post about natural eye drops, and encourages readers to create their own eye drops using a large amount of 3 different essential oils in a relatively small amount of vegetable oil carrier, a scary 10% dilution (seasoned clinical aromatherapists normally use a 2% to 3% dilution for topical skin preparations). She then goes on to state that her brand of essential oils "eat[s] up the petrochemicals and toxins in our body just like they [essential oils] do with plastic." Essential oils do not perform phagocytosis, and if they corrode plastic, why would you want to put them in your eyes? Ever?! Ewald recommends using her eyedrop formula on a daily basis and states that her recipe has been used by the owner of the MLM for "macular degeneration, health issues, cataracts and improving sight." There is no evidence that essential oils placed in the eye are safe or effective for any of these conditions.

The LiveStrong article quoted use of clary sage essential oil as a panacea for eye conditions. It appears that the writer confused essential oil of clary sage (Salvia sclarea) with use of the herb. Although clary sage infusion was used by Hildegard of Bingen back in the eleventh century as a treatment for various eye conditions, the use of this remedy all but died out some 6 centuries later. An herbal infusion or decoction, made by steeping crushed or chopped herbs in water, is certainly not the same as a distilled essential oil. An herbal decoction or infusion is radically different in both chemical composition and potency from its corresponding essential oil.

Analytical chemist and essential oil expert Robert Pappas had this to say about Ewald's eye drop recipe: "cypress and frankincense... are some of the best solvents out there with their high levels of monoterpenes... remember that essential oils are EXCELLENT organic solvents and they will easily dissolve mucous membranes. I cannot imagine what kind of damage this could do to someone's eyes over time, if not immediately."

Respected aromatherapy researcher Robert Tisserand has already issued a very comprehensive blog post on this subject, in which he states, "Not only is there no evidence that any essential oil can help with vision problems, age-related or otherwise, but placing any essential oil 'in the eye' is extremely dangerous advice. Almost any undiluted essential oil coming into contact with the ocular membranes will be corrosive, possibly causing scarring of the cornea, and certainly causing significant pain."

In conclusion, don't ever put essential oils in the eyes, and if you insist on going against this very sound advice, be prepared to suffer some serious and painful consequences. And as your mother probably told you, don't believe everything you read on the internet.

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