If an Essential Oil Can Kill Insects Why Doesn’t it Kill Humans

Many use their Young Living Essential Oils to kill or control and repel insect pests in the garden and around the home. Using essential oils in this way is a terrific option for those looking to eliminate toxins in their home, life, and the environment. I personally choose something natural over any form of chemical treatment whether it be for insect control, cleaning my home, or personal hygiene; I feel going natural is the only way to improve and protect our health. The question arises… why are insects killed by an application of an essential oil and people aren’t, here’s my answer…

We need to look at the really big picture here as it is important in understanding why. It doesn’t kill us for a couple of reasons… first, one or two drops of essential oil on a flea or a tick is almost the equivalent of us having a dump truck load of essential oil spilling on us, if we had that much poured on us we’d probably die too. Even too much of a good thing can be harmful.

Second, aromatic plants create essential oils to protect themselves from all sorts of pathogens, fungi, insects, bad bacteria, and microorganisms that could cause harm or kill them during their life cycle.They’re designed to either kill or deter certain insects or microorganisms that could endanger the survival of their species. Even though we do eat plants, we are not considered an insect pest in the plant kingdom, as such they have not created chemicals specifically to kill or harm us intentionally for the sake of warding us off.

Essential oils do not kill the bacteria or organisms that are beneficial to the plant or humans – unless if in extremely high amounts, like in my dump truck analogy.

Additionally, many of the same things that affect us also affect plants. Because humans have had a close relationship with plants and we evolved together over centuries, our bodies know how to process the compounds in an essential oil. This is why a properly distilled essential oil that has not been adulterated will not leave behind in your body a bunch of nasty stuff. This is also why I do not appreciate products and drugs that contain ‘isolated’ ingredients derived from plants; an isolated ingredient works on and has a completely different affect when it is ‘not’ with all of the other compounds that were originally present in that plant. In other words, all of the compounds are there for a reason.

Humans also found, through trial and error, that certain aromatic plants helped us with many of the same types of issues plants encounter, like: fungus, mold, viruses, bad bacteria, wound healing. Because we evolved together, and humans relied on plants for both food and health, our bodies process the plant parts and essential oils harmoniously.

Some insect and mammal species haven’t evolved so closely with the aromatic plants. As such they can’t tolerate certain essential oils or even process them very well, like: fish, frogs, reptiles, birds, and to a lesser extent cats… what do these species have in common… they never relied on land plants as their main source of food or medicine. This is not to say you can never use an essential oil around those species, just that mindfulness to what their bodies can process and tolerate needs to be examined before hand.

Canines are another species that have a closer relationship with plants, after the hunt and kill, the part of the catch which is eaten first is the stomach, which is pretty much partially digested plant matter. They also eat some wild fruits and vegetables, and some protein/raw meat.

Insects often attack and eat plants that are in a weaken state. A weakened plant does not contain all of the normal compounds a healthy plant contains.

Every species is both prey and predator. Everything attacks and eats something else, every species on earth does this. This has kept every species from taking over completely, it’s like a checks and balance system, it’s a natural cycle that is suppose to happen. When this natural balance is upset, due to: extremes in climate or weather changes, or the extinction of a species (which is almost always caused through human interference or behavior).

For instance, bringing exotic species to a foreign country, whether it’s plant or animal; there’s a reason why everything isn’t every place and it’s called ‘community’, as in a ‘plant community’. A community is places, like niches, where conditions are within a certain set of criteria in order for a species to be successful, some species are more particular than others.

We see many examples of an alien plant or animal species take-over when that species has been introduced into a landscape where they are not native. This almost always results in destruction to the native habitat that supports the species native to that place. Some examples of this happening in the US are the introduction of: Gypsy Moth, Kudzu, Purple Loosestrife, Quackgrass, Bamboo, Butterfly Bush, Autumn Olive, European Starling [ just to name a tiny few] have a very real and destructive impact economically and environmentally.

There is also another thing visible in nature, you will never see a dandelion or brambles growing in an old growth forest. Those are species you only find in disturbed places, and as times passes that place transforms in a succession, paving the way for the next series of species to take over… everything is evolving, very slowly over time, adapting and doing what it can for the survival of its species.

The big picture is enormous, so large in fact that it’s difficult for us to comprehend many times. It’s easy for us to forget where we have come from, and where we are going.

It is for these reasons that I have particularly strong feelings why there are certain things we should stop doing and stop using. It’s really important to step back and consider more than just the superficial impact we’re having on the whole picture. Like many of our state forest signs say… “take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints.” That same mindfulness and awareness can be put to use at home, every single day; whether it be with using our essential oils by the drop, buying locally, or stop buying items we can live just fine without.

Two websites that are great resources for getting back in touch with nature and living a more balanced lifestyle are Storyof Stuff.com and LoveTheEarth.com both can help us better realize just how much our choices can make a difference and the value of living in a more balanced way.

In short, why essential oils don’t kill us is because we use them in very small amounts, and unlike insect and virus pests we have a many centuries long harmonious relationship with most plant species.

I do want to add… this pertains to properly grown plants (beyond organic standards) and properly distilled plants. This is important because most essential oils and aromatherapy oils available are not fit for aromatic or topical applications due to adulteration and solvents. You don’t want to negate the benefits by using an inferior essential oil. In my over twenty year experience using essential oils I have found Young Living Essential Oils to be the best, they are superior to others; which explains why they set the benchmark and quality standards in the world.

Related Articles:

Repel Dust Mites, Fleas, Ticks, Ants and Spiders with Peppermint Essential Oil
Gardeners: Look More Closely at the Roots and Soil
Peppermint Essential Oil to Repel Squirrel’s and Rodents


Cornell University: Invasive Plants
Invasive Plant Atlas
US Department of Agriculture: Invasive Species List
Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Evelyn Vincent, Young Living Essential Oil Distributor, North Carolina~~ Place an Order Here ~~

Evelyn Vincent

Young Living Essential Oils Distributor #476766

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"There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it's going to be a butterfly." ~ R. Buckminster Fuller

About Evelyn Vincent

As a classical Feng Shui practitioner, Native Plant Landscaper, and Young Living Distributor, Evelyn brings a background of living naturally to her business. Also trained in Space Clearing and Labyrinth Design & Facilitation, her passion for balanced and harmonious living and lifestyle is an inspiration to others. Essential oils play a large role in creating surroundings of beauty and peace - from shifting stagnant energy to insect pests to cooking - the vitality of therapeutic oils and natural products helps restore the connection to self and nature. Please contact Evelyn if you have questions or need assistance.

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