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What is essential oil?

Essential Oil is the volatile compounds (the aroma components) distilled from plants. In science, essential oil is considered a mixture of chemical aromatic compounds (yea right, it is chemical!). Is essential oil natural? It is! But, chemist can synthesize the exact identical components in laboratory too.  The different of natural essential oil and synthesized aroma compounds is just the process, on the chemical level both are the same. By assuming natural essential oil is safe in general, is totally naive.

These compounds, are often associated with allergy. There are a total of 26 components listed as general allergens, which all can be found in essential oil. For example, linalool in lavender oil. The myth circulating in the internet claiming essential oil (or “unadulterated” essential oil) do not cause allergy is totally irresponsible and could be easily debunk with scientific facts. A “fact” often used to support this myth is that essential oils do not contain proteins.

It is true that essential oils do not contain large molecules such as proteins and amino acids, which typically trigger allergic/immune system responses. However, essential oils contain a large number of small molecules (called haptens) that can bind to proteins present in the body. Upon binding, these complexes (called haptenated proteins) will initiate an immune system response and cause allergic reactions.

Some common essential oil

Chamomile oil can soothe, but for those with an allergy to this family of plants, which also includes daises and ragweed (responsible for common springtime allergies), the potential for hives and swelling hinders relaxation.

Lavender can also cause enough skin irritation that in 2014 the Swedish Chemicals Agency (SCA) proposed a health warning on lavender products. Report said that about 2% of consumer develop allergy towards lavender oil (Some report mentioned 7%). The European Union is now considering labeling lavender, “May Be Harmful if Inhaled.” More specifically, a lavender allergy is caused by a compound within lavender extract called linalool. Linalool produces lavender’s fragrance and reacts with air to form the skin irritant. 

Another common essential oil that could cause allergy is tea tree oil. About 5% of user of tea tree oil had reported contact dermatitis. User who had previous allergy towards benzoin should not use tea tree oil. 

Sensitization

The more people use essential oil products, the more likely they are to develop an allergy, since reactions often occur with regular contact. These types of allergens are called sensitizers.

People often think that when they become allergic to some thing it has to be something new, but often it’s something that they have been repetitively exposed to and then at some point in time the immune system just decides to become allergic to it.

Anything someone continually introduces to her body, whether synthesized or naturally occuring, has the potential to someday cause an allergic reaction. Slightly more than half of all linalool produced globally is man-made, but regardless of the source the allergic reaction is the same.

Our advise to consumer, patch test before you use any product contains essential oil. If option available, choose product free from essential oil. You may choose a product with synthetic fragrance, which formulated without common allergens.  Be wise in considering suggestion from low quality information source and person who are desperate to sell you essential oil!

here is the list of common allergens (which, should be labelled on the product ingredients):

butylphenyl methylpropional

alpha-isomethyl ionone

amyl cinnamal and amul cinnamal alcohol

anise alcohol

benzyl alcohol

benzyl benzoate

benzyl cinnamate

benzyl salicylate

cinnamal

cinammal alcohol

citral

citronellol

coumarin

eugenol

farnesol

geraniol

hexyl cinnamal

hydroxyisohexyl-3 cyclohexene carboxaldehyde

hydroxycitronellol

isoeugenol

limonene

linalool

methyl-2 octynoate

oakmoss extract

treemoss extract

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