Essential Oils dos and don'ts

Essential oils can cause anything from severe vomiting to chemical burns to seizures. (KOKH)

There's been a disturbing uptick in calls to Oklahoma Poison Control concerning products many consider completely safe and natural.

In 2013, they took 200 calls about adverse events with essential oils. In 2014, the number was 247. In 2015, 353 calls came in.

In 2016, it was 370. In 2017, they took 426 calls. So far for 2018, they're on track to easily top 500 calls for the year.

FOX 25 learned there are some seriously dangerous ways some people now are using them. They are going beyond the usual diffusing and cleaning with essential oils.

"People are actually starting to ingest them and using them for claimed medical benefits," said Scott Schaeffer, director of Oklahoma Poison Center. "Many of them can be quite dangerous."

Vaping essential oils is a bad idea. We found an online post from someone claiming she got pneumonia after trying it. Doctor Rachel Franklin, director of OU Physicians Family Medicine, says people with asthma or allergies need to be especially careful.

"They are volatile chemicals," Dr. Franklin said. "They can actually damage the lining of their lungs or other body parts."

We also found an image shared by an essential oils sales rep, promoting a mix of oils to be put on a tampon as an infertility treatment. And there are countless suggestions and products online for essential oil enemas.

Dr. Franklin said, "It's absolutely never recommended that people put anything other than what was recommended by a doctor inside areas of their bodies that have very delicate tissues."

Another delicate surface is the skin of a brand new baby. Hospitals have reported parents wanting to put essential oils directly on their newborns.

"Applying directly to a baby's skin, particularly if it's a premature infant whose skin hasn't fully developed yet., the reactions you could get on that skin could potentially be very serious," said Dr. Franklin.

Don't forget your furry kids as well. The ASPCA warns diffusing essential oils can be toxic to some cats. And applying them directly to your pet could also be dangerous.

Essential oils can cause anything from severe vomiting to chemical burns to seizures. So how do you know when it's time to call poison control?

"Things specifically we would look for include dizziness, drowsiness, being unsteady on the feet," said Schaefer.

Be sure to share with your doctor any natural remedies you're using. Don't assume something is safe just because someone selling it to you says it is.

Dr. Franklin said, "'Natural' doesn't always mean safe."

To reach Oklahoma Poison Control, call 1-800-222-1222.

Make sure you have child safe caps on any oils in your home. And keep them out of sight and reach of your little ones.

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