Dangers and Misuse of Essential Oils
The misuse of essential oils can be dangerous and lead to injury. The underlying dangers are often unknown to people interested in using essential oils which explain the roots of the misconception that essential oils are perfectly safe. In Essential Oils Promise Help, But Beware the Risks author Lisa Marshall puts forth a detailed article listing the dangers of essential oils. Furthermore, the article suggests that the dangers of essential oils are also unknown to some of the manufacturers of this seemingly perfectly safe and reliable product. In doing so, she employs a variety of rhetorical elements to inform her audience including the use of testimonials, logos, and kairos to bring awareness and warn users to be more informed.
In this article, Lisa Marshall begins with a testimony of a 47-year-old writer who was hospitalized because of the use of essential oils. Marshall begins her argument after this testimony with the addition of statistics, which states that with the increase in essential oil users the number of injuries from essential oils has also increased. Marshall continues her article by stating how studies show there are uses for essential oils, but too many people are overestimating essential oil uses and underestimating their risks. To continue this point, Marshall informs the readers of the warning letters the FDA has sent companies who make unproven claims that essential oils can cure certain ailments. Marshall begins to conclude her article with another important testimony for her argument. This testimony is from a mother of five who became ultra sensitive to the sun because of essential oils. After weeks of improper use of essential oils the mother’s skin would blister from being exposed to the sun for only a few minutes. As Marshall’s final statement she provides her own personal advice for people interested in essential oils.
Marshall’s deft use of testimonials begins with her discussion of Stacey Haluka, a forty-seven-year-old writer from Ontario Canada. Marshall retells the tragic event that occurred to this middle-aged woman. Marshall states how Stacey learned about essential oils through a wellness advocate and was enlightened by this advocate’s claim that essential oils can cure anything from rashes to autism and even alter moods. Stacey was also misinformed that essential oils were one-hundred percent perfectly safe to ingest and apply directly to the skin. As a result, Stacey noticed after heavy essential oil use to relieve stress and remove toxins from her body, that she started to develop a faint rash. She was told by a salesperson that the rash was just from her detox and that her rash would clear up with the application of frankincense oil. However, after a few months, welts started to erupt over her entire upper body. Stacey Haluka ultimately ended up hospitalized with swollen eyes and blisters covering her face, abdomen, and neck. Furthermore, till this day she still breaks out in hives just by being in the very presence of essential oils. I believe this unpleasant and unexpected testimony opened the eyes to readers who could not possibly believe essential oils could cause no harm. Although some could say this testimony is just a result of improper use or misinformed advisors, it is very clear, too many people are unaware of how to properly use essential oils.
Just as persuasive as Marshall’s use of testimonies is her use of logistics. Marshall’s use of statistics is to support her claims, add validity to her statements, and appeal to the logical side of readers. Marshall follows up Stacey Haluka’s statement by adding that more and more people are discovered to have had severe injuries from essential oils. This can be correlated to the fact that sales have risen by 14%, increasing from $55 million to $133 million, thus increasing the number of people who use essential oils improperly. Marshall felt the need to add a rebuttal to the possible counter-argument for her previous statistic, that the increase in essential oil users that have experienced allergic reactions, chemical burns, or other side effects could have been from other environmental causes that affected health conditions causing false statistics. Marshall’s rebuttal of the statistics collected since 2013, from the Atlantic Institute for Aromatherapy, on essential oils related injuries to back up her claims was quick and effective. The injuries collected from the aromatherapy institution ranged from mild rashes, allergic reactions, and severe chemical burns, which not only matches the previous statistic involving the rise in both essential oil users and injuries but also confirms that the injuries are specifically correlated to the improper use of essential oils. Without statistics, this message would lose validity and leave readers questioning if Marshall’s statements and testimonies were consistent and not a couple of fluke incidents.
Lastly, Marshall bolsters her argument by using kairos to effectively follow up statements with statistics or rebuttal possible counter-arguments before the arguments are even presented. Not only is the use of kairos for support apparent, Marshall effectively creates perfect moments to place ideas or messages into the reader’s mind. For example, Marshall tells of a major incident that happened to a 44-year-old mother of five and how essential oils made her skin so sensitive to the sun that her skin would blister in minutes as if it was a second-degree burn. Marshall emphasizes that this woman was a mother of five to play on the emotions of the readers. She also adds a quote from the mother herself. Rachael Armstrong, the mother of five states, “I admit I was probably overusing them, but I don't think people are aware that even though they’re natural products, they can do real damage.”
In summary, Marshall’s use of testimonies, logos, and kairos effectively makes the case that essential oils are not perfectly safe and should be used with proper care like any other medication.