• Emily Martin

Why Thieves and OnGuard May Not be the Best Option for Your Family

We have entered the time of year where moms tend to turn into serial killers. This time of year is also known as "Cold and Flu" season.  **insert dramatic music**. 

I know we all want the best for our kids and ourselves since we, as functioning adults in society can't afford to get sick either, but some of the most popular essential oil blends may NOT be the best way to go.  I'm talking to you fans of the Thieves and OnGuard!! 

Yes, they are natural but...are they the safest way to go? I'll let you be the judge of that.  

Via the Young Living website the ingredients to Theives are:

Syzygium aromaticum† (Clove) bud oil, Citrus limon† (Lemon) peel oil, Cinnamomum verum† (Cinnamon) bark oil, Eucalyptus radiata† (Eucalyptus) leaf oil, Rosmarinus officinalis† (Rosemary) leaf oil. 

Via the doTERRA website the ingredients to OnGuard are: 

Wild Orange Peel, Clove Bud, Cinnamon Leaf, Cinnamon Bark, Eucalyptus Leaf, and Rosemary Leaf/Flower essential oils.

First, I will list some of the therapeutic properties of each of the essential oils in the blends then we will discuss their safety considerations.

Orange Citris sinensis /Lemon Citrus limon- both high in d-limolene which can support the immune system and assist in fighting infection. 

Clove bud Eugenia caryophyllata or  Syzygium aromaticum and

Cinnamon leaf and bark Cinnamomum zeylanicum-   Because these two are so similar I've grouped them together.  Cinnamon and Clove are known to be antimicrobial, pain relieving, anti-inflammatory, helps with digestion, and can help stimulate the immune system. 

Rosemary Rosmarinus officinalis - Rosemary is definiatly a "go to" to help with respiratory issues. Its known for clearing mucus, congestion, relieves headaches, anti-inflammatory, supports circulation, and encourages mental clarity and focus. 

Eucalyptus Eucalyptus globulus or Eucalyptus radiata- Known for its antimicrobial effects, it helps to clear infection.  It encourages circulation, supports the respiratory system, relieves pain, and encourages focus, energy, and motivation. 

Now, lets take a look at the safety considerations of each of the oils in the two blends. 

According to Robert Tisserand, one of the leading authorities on essential oil safety, who literally wrote the book on the topic, the immunity blends come with cautions. 

Clove and Cinnamon- As you can see from the infograph, Clove and Cinnamon are irritating to the skin. These oils are to be used at an incredibly low dilution a 0.5% and even then it can be irritating to adult skin. They are also irritating to the respiratory system.  According to an article on the Tisserand Institute website, "Caution also applies to inhalation – the more potent antimicrobial oils can cause irritation and physical discomfort when inhaled, not to mention possible negative impact on the developing immune system as well as still-developing respiratory tracts. Though the risk is lower. Over-diffusion of the strong antimicrobials should therefore be avoided in the case of children." 

Rosemary and Eucalyptus- Because of their high 1,8 Cineole content they pose the same risk.  While they are safe for adults in times of respiratory stress and discomfort such as a cold or sinus infection, they pose a risk for children.  Not only can they be irritating to young skin, the 1,8 Cineole content can cause slowed breathing in young children.  Some experts such as Andrea Butje suggest not using these oils in children under the age of 10.  Robert Tisserand has recently changed his stance and now says as long as its in the form of diffusing these oil can be used in a room with children over the age of 2 for short periods of time, however cautions is still suggested until you know how your child will react.  Too much exposure to 1,8 Cineole can cause seizures in children who are already prone to seizures. 

Lemon- Lemon, Bergamot, Lime, and Grapefruit are all known to be phototoxic.  They each have their own levels of phototoxicity but in the case of lemon, a 2% dilution is the highest its suggested to go. 

According to Tisserand, there may be a risk with using oils high in antimicrobial properties due to the body building a resistance to the oils.  Much like people have overused antibiotics and some have become resistant to them, the fear is now the over use of oils.  Children need to be exposed to germs in order to build a healthy immune system.  Overuse of the powerful antimicrobial oils may inhibit the immune system from doing its job.  This is a great interview with Robert Tisserand where he discussed this issue.  We don't use antibiotics when we are healthy.  We use antibiotics when we have an active infection.  Why would we use powerful antimicrobial oils when we don't need them?  We run the risk of suppressing our immune systems when we exposed ourselves, and especially our children, to the powerful oils. 

Tisserand offers other oils that are just as effective in assisting in the healing process, but with lower risk, as long as its used safely.  

Bergamot Citrus bergamiaWhile still highly phototoxic it aids in digestion, high in d-limolene which helps support the immune system, pain relieving, and antibacterial. 

Palmarosa Cymbopogon martini var. motia- An airborne antimicrobial which means it can be diffused to disinfect the air.  Its an antibacterial, antifungal, and considered an immunostimulant. 

Marjoram Origanum majorana- Pain relieving, antibacterial, sedative, digestive aid, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory.  

Lavender Lavandula angustifolia- Pain relieving, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antifungal, sedative, and decongestant.  Just to name a few.  Lavender is known for its versatility.  

Tea Tree Melaleuca alternifolia- Airborne antimicrobial, pain relieving, anti-inflammatory, antibacterail, antifungal, antiviral.  

So, what have you decided?  Still on board with using the popular immunity blends?  I personally think they are fine for diffusing in the home when we are out for the day to cleanse the air, but I won't risk using them on my children or allowing them to inhale them. Just remember, if you find it irritating to your respiratory system then its worse for your children.  Their system is much more sensitive than adults.  I rarely use Cinnamon, Clove, Oregano, Thyme ct thymol, or Lemongrass in my home.  I want to ensure that those powerful antimicrobial oils will work when we need them and we haven't become resistant to them.  I also avoid using immunity blends as a preventative to allow our immune systems to do their jobs- fighting the nasty germs. 

For questions, comments or further discussion please feel free to reach out to me! or send me a Facebook message at 

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