essential oils in bottlesIf Vick's "vaperu" were a superhero, Latinos would consider essential oils its sidekick. At least that's the way the women in my family see it. Growing up, I watched the women in my family expertly dole out unofficial prescriptions for essential oils, swearing up and down, left and right that these miracle aceites could cure whatever "vaperu" and ginger ale couldn't. Que, tienes un headache? There's an oil for that! PMS? Drink some ginger ale and rub this essential oil on yourself? Man troubles? Pues, use this stinky oil and he'll leave you the heck alone. And so it went. But do these oils actually work, and are the really safe? Well…

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Nowadays, the essential oil industry is booming, thanks in large part to several studies that pretty much back up what our abuelitas and their abuelitas before them have known for centuries: these slick healers are in fact the real deal. They're powerful and effective, and because they're derived from plants, everyone from spas to holistic healers to random friends peddling essential oils from home are touting the aceites as natural miracle cures! But what so many of us seem to be forgetting is that, sometimes, nature can be a witch! Even natural "remedies" can be dangerous and, at times, quite poisonous. Essential oils are no different. Plenty of them have the potential to do more harm than good, and a select few may even kill you!

So before you go slathering yourself with essential oils, take a quick look at the slideshow below to see just how much damage some of these "miracle cures" can actually do.

Burning 1

Burning

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Photosensitizing oils such as bergamot oil, lemon essential oil, lime essential oil, and cumin essential oil may cause you to burn in the sunlight. Yikes! Side effects vary in severity, but depending on how bad the burn is, you may experience reactions ranging from mild skin discoloration to severe burns.

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Skin irritation 2

Skin irritation

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Some oils such as peppermint oil,  lemongrass essential oil, cinnamon leaf essential oil, and citronella essential oil can really irritate your skin and eyes, when applied directly to your skin. Be sure to dilute theses oils (and, really, all oils) before applying them to your biggest organ--your skin.  

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Worsen existing condition 3

Worsen existing condition

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Horseradish is sometimes used to treat coughs, however the horseradish oil contains allyl isothiocyanate, which is an irritant to the skin, eyes, nose and mucus membranes. Honestly, is all of that worth getting rid of a little tickle in your throat?

Pregnancy complications 4

Pregnancy complications

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The jury’s still out on the exact effects essential oils can have on pregnant women and fetuses. However, there appears to be a general belief that essential oil constituents may be able to go over into the placenta, which may in turn present a risk of toxicity to the fetus. According to Aromatics International, pregnant women should avoid rosemary oil and spike lavender oil, as well as sage oil, wintergreen oil and mugwort oil. At the end of the day, the risks aren’t worth it. You can go without your oil-infused baths for nine months, right?

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Serious illness 5

Serious illness

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Calamus root is sometimes used to treat headaches, stress disorders and vertigo. However, because the oil contains an carcinogenic called asorone, it may actually cause a lot more harm than good. Oral ingestion of this oil may lead to liver and kidney damage. Stick with aspirin if you have a headache or, better yet, just go see your doctor.

Hallucination 6

Hallucination

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Wormwood, often found in the drink absinthe, may produce auditory and visual hallucinations. Talk about scary!

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Death 7

Death

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Often used as an insect repellent, tansy oil is high in thujone, which is poisonous and may cause convulsions, vomiting, uterine bleeding and DEATH! Omg, just get a fly swatter instead.