Axe is Whacked

Mar 29, 08:05 PM

By Katharine Koeppen, RA

I've just finished listening to a "training" video, The Top 2 Most Powerful Essential Oils for Healing, part of the Essential Oil Transformation program by Dr. Josh Axe. Axe is a chiropractor who is extremely popular in the arena of alternative medicine, and he's a favorite guest on the Dr. Oz Show. Tall, handsome and charismatic, Axe is a convincing pitchman for aromatherapy, and he's converted huge numbers of people to believe in the healing benefits of essential oils. The fake healing benefits of essential oils. 

The video is only 2 or 3 minutes long, but Axe made so many false claims and misstatements about the featured oils, frankincense (Boswellia sp.) and myrrh (Commiphora myrrha), that my head was spinning. Here are a just a few of the weird highlights:

- Frankincense is the most powerful essential oil known to man because it contains the magical boswellia (a proprietary name for boswellic acid). Frankincense essential oil does not contain boswellic acid; it is chemically impossible for this substance to distill out into the oil. This claim has been debunked repeatedly by just about every legitimate figure in the aromatherapy industry.

- Frankincense will heal brain inflammation because it crosses the blood brain barrier. Essential oils do not cross the blood brain barrier. Some of their metabolites do. Although frankincense essential oil does have anti-inflammatory properties, I know of no evidence proving it reduces brain inflammation.

- Frankincense essential oil cures cancer. This is completely unsubstantiated (but endlessly popular on the internet). There is some very promising research being done on frankincense essential oil, CO2 extract, aqueous extract and resin. But so far, nothing definitive in terms of cancer cures. Please read the actual studies that Axe and other self-styled aromatherapy experts spin to sell frankincense oil, and you'll see what I mean.

- People of biblical times used essential oils for healthcare and daily beauty rituals. Impossible, because steam distillation was not perfected until the 9th century. They did, however, use resins and infused oils, which are far less potent and have a different chemical composition than essential oils. There is no such thing as a "biblical essential oil."

- Frankincense was used to boost the infant Jesus' immune system. I can only assume that Axe knows this because he was present at Christ's birth. Lucky him!

- Now onto myrrh oil: Axe states that Mary likely used myrrh to clean and sanitize Jesus' umbilical cord. Again, I can only assume he knows this because he was there.

- Myrrh essential oil is an effective sunscreen. No essential oils provide effective sun screening benefits. Try using myrrh this way and you'll get burned. Literally.

- And on and on... When there are a few legitimate healing benefits mentioned, it is impossible for uninitiated viewers to distinguish those from the numerous falsehoods.

Throughout his short presentation, Axe makes frequent references to God, Jesus, the Bible and his personal prayer life, all in order to sell essential oils. I'm both a registered aromatherapist and a spiritual director, and this tactic absolutely makes my skin crawl. Let's leave Jesus out of the aromatherapy industry. He has better things to do.

Equally disturbing are the comments people leave on his video. An awful lot of them come from desperate people with cancer who believe Axe has provided them with the Holy Grail. Many are positive comments from people who are currently ingesting frankincense, and now probably believe they should also be ingesting myrrh (That opens up a whole other area of concern; see my previous blog posts on problems with essential oil ingestion). Axe's celebrity gives him undeserved credibility, and this false credibility is exactly what leads people to start experimenting with essential oils in unwise, ineffective, and sometimes injurious ways. Don't be one of those people. When it comes to your aromatherapy education, give Dr. Axe the ax.


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