Last week my sister posted a Youtube link on her Facebook (FB) page to a video of someone placing a couple of drops of a Multi-Level-Marketing (MLM) company’s undiluted Peppermint oil onto a tick. The video header boasts that doing so will make the tick back out, on its own, and crawl away. This, in fact, did happen as the camera continued to role.
Since she posted that link, the same video has popped up on my FB feed many more times with much excitement from people discovering this “new” way to remove a tick. I went to youtube and saw several of the same types of videos all with the same claim.
I have learned so much in my studies about the caution needed when using essential oils. I did, however, have to read up on ticks.
God Created these Blood Suckers!
“Then God said, ‘Let the earth bring forth living creatures after their kind: cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth after their kind’; and it was so…and God saw that it was good.” Gen 1:24-25
God created ticks, and it was good. I have never considered why ticks are a part of our ecosystem until now. ThoughtCo tells us that ticks have three main purposes:
- They are food for other animals (think possum)
- They are hosts for a variety of other organisms (think diseases)
- They help control the population of their hosts (deer, giraffes, etc.)
So, even though, we do not like ticks, I believe it is important to realize they do have a function in our world.
The research conducted by Gayle and Ringdahl tells us that depending on where you live in the United States, there are several diseases that can be transmitted by a tick’s bite.
Northeast and upper Midwest — Lyme disease
South, Southeast and Midwest — Human monocytic ehrlichiosis
Northeast and upper Midwest — Human granulocytic ehrlichiosis
Southeast Atlantic coast states and Midwest — Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF)
South and Midwest — Tularemia
WHAT? All I have ever heard of is Lyme and RMSF! Most of the symptoms of these diseases do not show up until about 10 days to two weeks from the time of infection. All of these diseases are treatable with allopathic medicine, but early detection is critical (Gayle, Ringdahl, 2001).
- Ehrlichiosis strains- fever, chills, headache, and myalgia
- RMSF- add malaise, vomiting and rash
- Tularemia- tack on fatigue, cough, sore throat, abdominal pain, diarrhea, skin ulcers, and lymphadenopathy
- Lyme- erythema migrans, arthralgias also
I don’t know about you, but none of these symptoms sound like a good time!
Fight or Flight
The University of Texas Counseling and Mental Health Center (CMHC) reports that “the term “fight or flight” describes a mechanism in the body that enables humans and animals to mobilize a lot of energy rapidly in order to cope with threats to survival.” In this process, once a threat is perceived the autonomic nervous system puts the entire body on alert–AUTOMATICALLY! (University of Texas)
Did you catch that? When an organism is threatened, its body will react without any conscious thought. As humans, we react in many different ways. Some people freeze, unable to move due to the threat. Some do amazing things, like judge the distance, down to the inch, to move out of the way of a semi-truck sliding on icy roads toward their vehicle. I have even seen an involuntary response of vomiting due to stress
What do you suppose a tick would do when its existence is threatened? If you are a visual person like me you probably started imagining these little guys putting up their fists, doing karate kicks, or picking up tiny nun-chucks to defend themselves.
One of the things that can happen when their life is in jeopardy is that they may salivate and regurgitate into where they have attached themselves to their host. This may increase the risk of infection and/or disease transmission.
An article from the American Family Physician shares some of the best and worst ways to remove a tick. It does say you should not apply substances to the tick, as it is a dangerous method of removal (Gammons, Salam, 2002).
In General and Specifically
“An essential oil is the distilled (or sometimes expressed) product of the volatile components synthesized by various plant tissues of a single plant species (Petersen, 2016).” Plants produce essential oils to draw insects to themselves for pollination, to attract insects that prey on the plant’s predators, and to provide protection for the plant by repelling harmful insects (Petersen, 2016). Essential oils are highly concentrated plant matter that consist of, sometimes, hundreds of individual biochemical components (Petersen, 2016).
Some EOs have a very low therapeutic margin. This means that the line between beneficial and harmful is very small. Each oil has specific duration guidelines, recommended daily dosages, contraindications, and drug interactions (Petersen, 2016). It is important to understand each essential oil that you apply to your skin.
Once you apply an EO to your skin, it enters into your blood stream. It is then processed and eliminated. In that process, it moves through your skin, your blood, your liver, your kidneys, your intestines, etc…you get the idea. It is vital to know the chemical makeup of the EO you are using to ensure you are not harming your body instead of helping.
Since Peppermint (Mentha piperita) is the EO that was used in the video, I thought I would give you a little information.
We use peppermint for so many things! Toothpaste, chewing gum, mouthwash, food preparation, oral medication, mosquito repellent, etc. Of all the essential oils (EO) that people could choose to apply neat to the skin, peppermint is one of the more safe ones. According to Battaglia, peppermint oil is non-toxic, non-irritating, but may cause sensitization in some people (Battaglia, 2004).
- In large doses it has caused allergic reactions in the mouth, neck, and throat (Petersen, 2016).
- The use of peppermint EO should be avoided in children younger than two as it can cause a cold then hot sensation if the dilution is not low enough
- Peppermint should be avoided when using homeopathic remedies (Petersen, 2016).
- Adults should use peppermint for a limited time only when applying topically (no more than three weeks) (Petersen, 2016).
- Peppermint should not be applied directly on damaged or sensitive skin without determining if a person is sensitive (Petersen, 2016).
- 1,8 cineole
- methyl acetate
- trans-sabinene hydrate
- pulegone (Battaglia, 2004)
This may not seem important, but the chemicals that make up any essential oil may have a variety of effects and can actually cause harm if used improperly. In my studies at the American College of Healthcare Sciences (ACHS) we are instructed to NEVER apply EOs undiluted to the skin.
Take Away Message
We all know that just because we see something on the Internet, does not mean that we should take it to heart. This video using Peppermint to remove a tick is no exception. People think that just because EOs are a natural product that they are safe to use and use and use without much thought to safety.
I really do believe that every plant that was created on this planet is for us to use to the benefit of our bodies. I also believe that when we abuse them, that it can be detrimental to our bodies. EOs are no different. Just because we have figured out how to bottle the goodness within the plant, does not mean we should just willy-nilly apply them for every circumstance.
It is important to know that you are using them correctly and safely. Please take the time to find a Registered Aromatherapist near you to ensure you are not causing harm to yourself and your loved ones.
As far as the ticks are concerned, remember God did create them for a purpose. Even if you plan to kill the little blood sucker after you safely remove it from you, your loved one, your pet, or your livestock, it is only doing what it was created to do.
Battaglia, S. (2004). The complete guide to aromatherapy (2nd ed.). Brisbane, Qld: The International Centre of Holistic Aromatherapy.
Definitions. Retrieved from https://www.merriam-webster.com/medical/
Gammons, M., & Salam, G. (2002). Tick removal. Retrieved on May 10, 2017 from http://www.aafp.org/afp/2002/0815/p643.html
Gayle, A., & Ringdahl, E. (2001). Tick-borne diseases. American Family Physician, 64(3), 461-466. Retrieved from http://emerge.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Gayle-A.-and-E.-Ringdahl.-Tick-borne-diseases.-Am-Fam-Physician-2001-643-461-466.pdf
Gen 1:24. Retrieved on My 9, 2017 from https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+1%3A24&version=NASB
Petersen, D. (2016). Aroma 101: Introduction to Aromatherapy. Portland, Oregon: American College of Healthcare Sciences.
University of Texas.Fight or flight. Retrieved on May 11, 2017 from https://cmhc.utexas.edu/stressrecess/Level_One/fof.html
Hadley, D. (2016). What good are ticks? Retrieved on May 11, 2017 from https://www.thoughtco.com/what-good-are-ticks-1968602