Essential Oil Isn’t

It’s all the rage these days. You can’t swing a dead cat on the internet without hitting someone trying to sell you essential oil.

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Mother was into essential oils for the last few years of her life. Right up to the point where the cancer she refused to admit she had killed her. Part of her insistence on doing things the natural way was from her early education in Christian Science. At some point during her life she shifted god into nature and was convinced that living naturally, organically, was good for her. She did fine with that belief until she started denying the findings of science.

It is a common delusion. Much more common than Christian Science itself is. Most people think organic and natural signify good things until you point out to them that poisons are natural and organic. They are simply natural or organic poisons. Too much water can kill you, as the most basic example. Organic simply means that whatever the product is, it once was alive. Natural means that it can be found in nature. That’s it. That is all that the words mean.

An essential oil contains the smell of the thing. That’s all they are, the smell conveying particles of whatever is infused into the oil. There is no more and no less to the product being marketed as essential. Marketed as something you need or require, need or require being mistaken for smell (essentia) Essential, not essential. It smells like something, not you need that something.

The real problem I have with essential oils is the exaggeration of their effects. If the only claim that proponents of essential oils made was “this smells good, I think you’ll enjoy it” I wouldn’t be writing this at all. That’s not the case, though. The benefits of essential oils are exaggerated because exaggeration sells. Websites like this one make extraordinary health claims like curing colds, asthma, bronchitis, hypertension, liver congestion, heart palpitations, depression, and boosting your immune system (what does that even mean?).Other websites make fanciful claims like “restore your body’s natural energy balance” – a claim so bad it’s not even wrong.


Every time I go on a Meniere’s help group or talk to a layperson about my disability, almost without fail, someone will suggest I try some essential oils because they will fix whatever problem I’m complaining about at the time. Never fails. These days I have to actively restrain my own desire to lash out when whoever it is looks down their nose at me and pronounces the phrase essential oil.

I’ve tried essential oils. I still have some DoTerra oils that mom had amongst her possessions when we cleaned out her apartment. Tons of DoTerra branded products from vial purses to empty sample containers to dozens if not hundreds of different types of oils that she had read somewhere did this or that for her.

The Breathe formulation does open the sinuses when rubbed under the nose. Several of the essences in the formulation are known astringents. Astringents cause the skin to tighten, opening passages in the sinuses if you rub the oil under your nose. This is a known effect discovered by science. This isn’t because it is natural or organic, it is the chemical formulation that has this effect, an effect that can be duplicated artificially if needed. It’s simply cheaper to get the essence from the natural source. If it isn’t cheaper there are artificial manufacturers out there supplying the cheaper product. The chemical process will still work exactly the same, and you can save a buck at the same time.

The Digestzen has ginger in it. Ginger has long been used to calm digestion. I prefer chewing a Gin-gins to the grassy flavor of Digestzen, and excessive oil in the stomach is an agitant all in itself. Have a ginger ale. It’s all natural.

I can (and probably eventually will) go through every single oil that people offer to me as something that will fix my vertigo and dizziness. Mom offered me dozens when she was still with us. None of her magic concoctions worked. I wanted her concoctions to work, which is half of the necessary equation. The other half, science, simply wasn’t there to put the treatment over the line to make it effective. If it didn’t work when mom dispensed it, it isn’t going to work when a stranger suggests it. Zip it before I lose my temper and tell you what I really think of your woo.

Natural and Organic

What is the naturalistic fallacy, sometimes known as the is-ought problem? It is the fallacy that if something is a certain way in nature, that’s the way it ought to be. It is widely beloved of anti-vaxxers, organic food advocates, and natural childbirth advocates among others.

I refuse to pay extra for food that is labeled natural or organic, and that is because there is no thing called natural. There is no test which can be conducted to determine if a thing is natural or not. There are no standards by which something can be deemed to be natural. Something either exists, or it doesn’t, naturally. Slapping a label on the thing that makes the claim that it is natural does not make it more real than the identical thing next to it which doesn’t have the label.  It is a meaningless category, a label which does nothing but sell food at a higher markup.

Herzig said that what people who consistently eat organic foods are purchasing is the emotional satisfaction of knowing they’re taking steps to improve themselves and the environment.

“Is it actually better for you?” she said. “I’d go with no.”

There is no thing called Organic. There are Organic standards which organic food growers are supposed to comply with in order to put the label on their products, but those standards aren’t what most people assume they are. Organic foods are treated with chemicals. The chemicals they use are approved organic chemicals. Organic foods are sprayed with organic approved pesticides, which are generally harsher and less effective than the non-organic approved pesticides. Organic is a meaningless label which the average person perceives means something that the label does not communicate.

These two labels as they pertain to foodstuffs are set out to create a false grouping of foods which are in no discernible way different from other foods which don’t have that label.  Foods which can be shown to be altered, because some person altered them to our mutual benefit. Make no mistake, we have altered all of our foods over the course of the last several thousand years. None of them are natural in the way that the average person thinks of natural, as in found in nature.

AsapSCIENCEThis Is NOT NATURAL – Jul 15, 2015

Editor’s note. I wrote the bones of this at the same time that I wrote,

The Wife convinced me that I needed to separate the two subjects, that I was being overly general when I approached the subject of gender issues as being an issue of false categorization. In hindsight I think she was correct, even though I felt like I was making a huge concession in cutting this portion of the article out for reasons of sensitivity. Human is human. There are no categories of human that should be cleaved off in order to treat those humans differently than the others. There shouldn’t be a grouping called trans. I’m not even convinced there is a grouping that constitutes man or woman that incorporates all the people who want to be in those groups.

She was right because the subject of the natural fallacy is both more general and more specific than gender issues are, and placing the natural fallacy into that specific framework would distract from the fact that the concept of natural is a fiction that we need to shed ourselves of. In the meantime I went on to publish several other posts on the subject,

…but I never called out the thing that was most important. The fallacy of believing anything to be natural. This article fixes that oversight.