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Education » Newsletters » Natural vs Synthetic
Aromatherapy: Natural Plant Essences vs. Synthetic Fragrances

Aromatherapy: Natural Plant Essences vs. Synthetic Fragrances

Rose Drop

The use of pure essential oils is commonly called "aroma-therapy." High-quality, pure essential oils are natural, plant-based oils that are grown without pesticides and distilled carefully with health or "therapeutic" benefits in mind. Many of these essential oils have exquisite aromas that are not only pleasant to smell, but beneficial to one's health as well. 

Synthetic fragrances, on the other hand, are made from chemicals in a laboratory to imitate the smells they are supposed to represent. These are not "therapeutic" oils and should not be confused with pure, natural essential oils. Because some of the chemicals used to create synthetic fragrances are considered toxic, they should never be applied to the skin, which is the largest organ of your body. 

True aromatherapy is the use of pure plant essences to improve health, and this is not possible with synthetic chemical fragrances. In 1986 the National Academy of Sciences targeted synthetic fragrances as one of the six categories of chemicals that should be given high priority for neurotoxicity testing. The report states that 95% of chemicals used in fragrances are synthetic compounds derived from petroleum and are capable of causing cancer, birth defects, central nervous system disorders and allergic reactions. 

Lab ChemistSynthetic fragrances are impossible to metabolize, difficult to eliminate and are cited as triggers in asthma, allergies, migraine headaches, concentration difficulties and even muscle and joint pain. Laboratory-birthed fragrances have been found to accumulate in adipose tissue, are present in breast milk, and some are suspected of being hormone disruptors, which are linked to abnormal cell reproduction and may result in tumor growth. 

Even if you can "tolerate" synthetic fragrances, that doesn't mean that you are not being negatively affected by them. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) found several areas of concern: 
- 76% contained ingredients that are allergens 
- 16% of the products they reviewed contained ingredients that may cause cancer 
- 5% may contain harmful impurities linked to cancer or other health problems 
- 18% contained penetration enhancers that increase exposures to carcinogens and other ingredients 
- 13% posed other potential health concerns 

Pure, high-quality essential oils provide a safe alternative to synthetic fragrances that wreak havoc on the immune system. Consider your perfumes, colognes, cosmetics, room fresheners, hand and laundry soaps, deodorants, dryer sheets, household cleaning products and so on. You make a wise, healthy choice when you eliminate the use of synthetic fragrances that gradually accumulate in your body as toxins that lead to disease and you opt instead for pure, plant-based essential oils that not only have wonderful aromas but effectual health benefits as well. 

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Essential Oil Perfume 

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Other Skin Care Components to Avoid 
Acrylamide - found in facial creams - linked to mammary tumors 
Dioxane - hidden in ingredients such as PEG, polysorbates, laureth, ethoxylated alcohols - easily absorbed into the skin, carcinogenic 
Mineral Oil, Paraffin and Petrolatum - coat the skin like plastic, clog pores allowing toxins to build up, slow cellular development, are implicated in a cause of cancer and disrupt hormonal activity 
Parabens - used as preservatives - hormone-disrupting qualities mimic estrogen and may disrupt endocrine system, may cause cancer 
Phenol carbolic acid - may cause circulatory collapse, paralysis, convulsions, coma and even death from respiratory failure. 
Propylene glycol - may cause dermatitis and skin irritation, may inhibit skin cell growth and is linked to kidney and liver issues 
Sodium laurel or lauryl sulfate (SLS or SLES) - break down skin's natural moisture barrier, easily penetrate skin and allow other chemicals easy access as well; SLS combined with other chemicals may become a "nitrosamine," which is a potent carcinogen 
Toluene - made from petroleum and coal tar and found in synthetic fragrances - repeated exposure linked to anemia, lowered blood cell count, liver or kidney damage, may affect developing fetus

Neurotoxins: At Home and the Workplace (Report by the Committee on Science and Technology. US House of Representatives, Sept. 16, 1986) [Report 99-827] 

Excerpt from "Fragrance: Emerging Health and Environmental Concerns", an article accepted for publication in Flavours and Fragrance, Copyright 2002 published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd 

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