Every so often, it seems, some traditional or natural substance that's been used for thousands of years is suddenly 'rediscovered'. All kinds of miraculous secrets can be unlocked (for a considerable fee). Modern doctors, of course, are completely ignorant of these things.
Essential Oils are going through this fad at present. Now, as a rule, Essential Oils are safe and effective for maintaining routine health concerns. This is especially true of topical compounds which have stood the test of time:
The picture above is an essential oil-based product which I personally use on a regular basis. It's quite effective for sore joints, muscle pain, and other problems associated with physical exertion.
The problem, though, according to many doctors, is that there is widespread misuse of Essential Oils occurring today, mostly due to unscrupulous promoters cashing in on what's now over a billion-dollar-a-year annually. According to Web MD, the US Food and Drug Administration has sent warnings to some large manufacturers "for making unsubstantiated claims that their oils could treat everything from Herpes to Ebola."
In general, medical professionals recommend that Essential Oils not be ingested, at least not in their raw form. Some oils, when professionally prepared, may be taken orally for medical purposes:
But the problem with taking oils in their raw form orally is that they are highly concentrated. The above pictured product (which I also use) contains Eucalyptus Oil. Eucalyptus Oil gets its medicinal properties from a chemical compound called Phenol. A product like Fisherman's Friend contains a safe dosage; but a concentrated straight dose of any Phenol-based oil can be toxic.
Too many people make the assumption that natural and safe are synonymous. It's not always so. Castor beans are highly nutritious; the oil extracted from them has medicinal benefits; but the extract of the seed produces Ricin, a deadly poison. Studies in Europe have found that Cinnamon Oil kills 99% of viruses on contact; but is highly corrosive in a pure form and the side effects of contact with it are unpleasant to put it mildly. Oil of Wintergreen should never be ingested unless professionally prepared; it contains a chemical which is toxic in concentrated form.
The same is true of oils used topically. Citrus oils of any kind contain a compound called Furocoumacrin which are phototoxic. This means simply that, when exposed to UV rays such as natural sunlight, they chemically change to a corrosive.
The important thing to remember about Essential Oils is Dr. Henry Kissinger's famous maxim: trust but verify. Better still, purchase your oils in prepared form from old and proven manufacturers.