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"I was really concerned about anything that I would take that could harm the baby. If you do a lot of research online, the studies and stuff, they’re not always looking at how (the medicines) affect the child long-term." Now, she uses essential oils for the whole family, including her children. She regularly rubs a diluted version of an oil blend on her children's feet to boost their immune system and drops a little bit of diluted lavender oil into their bath at night to promote relaxation.  "It's a whole different world," she said.  She keeps the oils diluted and well out of reach of her children's hands, but other parents apparently aren't so careful.  Dr. William Richardson, head of the S.C. Poison Control Center, said his staff received 54 calls related to potential essential oil poisoning during the first three months of 2017, compared to 182 total calls in 2016. Forty-six of the 54 calls this year concerned a child, he said.  "It is on an 18-20 percent increase," he said.  Similarly, the Tennessee Poison Control Center issued a warning in March about essential oil exposure. The number of such calls in Tennessee "are said to have doubled between 2011 and 2015, and 80 percent of those cases involved children,"  according to The Associated Press .  The Poison Control Center in South Carolina receives dozens of calls a day and most of them have nothing to do with essential oils. Still, the clear uptick suggests that these products are becoming more popular and children are more frequently interacting with them, either accidentally or on purpose. This isn't surprising considering the growing popularity of essential oils. They are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, but women across the country are increasingly turning to these oils for various household and health concerns and touting their successes with the products on Facebook. One essential oils company alone passed the $1 billion sales mark last year. And while most customers use the oils topically or for aromatherapy, others ingest diluted tinctures of the oils for purported health benefits. This method can be particularly dangerous for children, Richardson said. Staff at the South Carolina Poison Control Center haven't received any calls related to severe essential oil poisoning, but the potential for danger exists. Some essential oils, if applied, ingested or inhaled in large, concentrated doses, could cause a child to develop pneumonia, seizures or liver problems, he said.  Wintergreen oil, for example, contains a chemical component called salicylate, he said, which is also found in aspirin. But the oil is very concentrated, he said, and a tiny amount of it equals 7 grams of aspirin.  "It’s so concentrated that if a child got a teaspoon of it, they could get sick, very sick," Richardson said.  Lavender oil may be harmful for kids, too. The oil can impact hormones and children should not consume it, said Lisa Abernathy, co-owner and acupuncturist at Blue Heron Acupuncture & Apothecary in Charleston.  "We would not recommend using that daily with kids," she said.  Abernathy's business promotes the use of essential oils, but acknowledges that these products are "really potent." She does not recommend that parents give any oils to their children to ingest. "We only recommend people do that under the guidance of a health care practitioner," she said.  The bottom line, Richardson said, is that the majority of essential oils aren't essential oil diffuser "studied very well at all" and there is "almost zero scientific evidence supporting the use of most of these." Malcolm disagrees. She uses essential oils for a wide range of medicinal purposes and believes they are less dangerous than mainstream products.

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