FDA: Beware of Claims by Essential “Snake” Oil Makers

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In the US, regulators are warning consumers to exercise caution when it comes to the therapeutic claims of essential oils given the lack of clinical research and potential for overuse.

Though growing in popularity, the FDA has not approved any essential oil, which includes aromatic, plant-based extracts, as a drug because they do not meet the Agency’s standards for safety of effectiveness.

“Consumers should be mindful of health fraud scams which are products that claim to prevent, treat, or cure diseases or other health conditions, but are not proven safe and effective for those uses,” FDA spokesperson Lindsay Meyer told ATTN:. “Health fraud scams waste money and can lead to delays in getting proper diagnosis and treatment. They can also cause serious or even fatal injuries.”

FDA’s efforts to police these claims has had mixed results. For example, a large, Utah-based producer of essential oils, received a warning from FDA in 2014 about the medicinal claims its distributors were making—including therapeutic benefits for ebola, cancer, autism, Alzheimer’s Disease, and tumor reduction. Although the company promised to better regulate its messaging, ATTN: founds dozens of such claims on social media.