Aromatherapy involves being massaged with essential oils mixed into a carrier base for therapeutic reasons. Personally I’m not really into the whole ‘alternative therapy’ notion however if one is expertly massaged with some pleasantly scented warm oil while relaxing on a couch you are almost bound to feel better after than you did before. Aromatherapists have in recent years faced regulation however this is being implemented through close discussion with the organisations that represent them with the aim of restricting ad hoc treatment by untrained and uninsured individuals. Essential oils can be absorbed through the skin which can cause positive or negative results depending partly on the person being massaged, for example if you have high blood pressure it is advisable not to be massaged with a preparation containing Rosemary Essential oil. In addition to Aromatherapy Massage there is also ‘Steam Inhalation with essential oils’ intended to help treat some ailments, especially those of the upper respiratory tract, nose and sinuses (ref www.essentialoils.co.za/steam-inhalation.htm).
I’m telling you about Aromatherapy because there are some parallels to the world of vaping, not least that smell is an important factor of taste, I have even seen ejuice flavour concentrates described as ‘Aromas’. You certainly wouldn’t catch me mixing aromatherapy and my Aspire Nautilus 2. Aromatherapy is sometimes scorned by health practitioners but for it’s devotees it’s health benefits are beyond question, not unlike the situation that Vapers are in and there may be lessons for Vapers to be taken from the dialogue between Aromatherapist representative organisations and legislative bodies. The similarity between ‘Steam Inhalation’ and vaping seems obvious however this is where the parallel breaks down, Aromatherapists use Essential Oils whereas Vapers do not use oils in their ejuice – Glycerol, Glycerin, Nicotine and the flavours used in ejuice are water soluble unlike oil which is not.
Given all of the above I was rather shocked by Dr Michael Siegel’s report over at ‘The Rest of the Story‘ blog, called “German Cancer Research Center Lies about Health Effects of Electronic Cigarettes to Scare Users and Unfairly Influence EU Directive”, in it he claims that “According to the German Cancer Research Center, the inhalation of glycerin can cause lipoid pneumonia. Lipoid pneumonia is a form of pneumonia – lung inflammation – in which lipids (oils) accumulate in the bronchial tree. It can be caused by exogenous factors, such as the inhalation of oils.”
Dr Michael Siegel who is one of the foremost commentators on tobacco control bluntly states “…that the German Cancer Research Center is lying. It is not true that glycerin causes, or can cause, lipoid pneumonia. In fact, it is impossible for glycerin inhalation to cause lipoid pneumonia” and goes on to explain “Basic chemistry tells us that glycerin is an alcohol. Specifically, it is a polyol, which is a compound with multiple hydroxyl groups. The hydroxyl group (OH) is the hallmark of an alcohol. Oils, on the other hand, are characterized by the presence of either a carboxyl group (COOH) or a sterol. The bottom line is that glycerin is not an oil, but an alcohol.”
I think it is legitimate to ask why the German Cancer Research Center have made these claims, the headline to ‘The Rest of the Story‘ blog indicates the belief that it is to “Scare Users and Unfairly Influence EU Directive”, if this is true it is absolutely outrageous! I guess that alternatively they may have just misunderstood what ejuices contain but that would be very sloppy science indeed, another option is that they have been confused by poor translation on Chinese websites which sometimes describe ejuice as ‘oil’, although you might think that a description of a Ecig as a ‘portable pocket sauna’ (I kid you not) would ring some alarm bells regarding the accuracy of the source.
Why are medical institution so often opposed to vaping while medical individuals from Doctors to Dentists anecdotally applaud ecigs as a substitute for cigarette smoking? Could it be that the institutions are just too remote from the ‘health coalface’ or is it that they are selfishly motivated by the desire to preserve their jobs, advising us of smoking related diseases.Essential oil is unsuitable as an eliquid ingredient
Any e-juice line such as Element E-Liquid you can vape with confidence. But, as Dr Michael Siegel’s blog says; ”It is theoretically possible that lipoid pneumonia could result from an electronic cigarette product that used oils in its formulation. For example, a product that used essential oils in a flavoring or fragrance would introduce a real – although still very small – risk”. One can be sure that any ejuice purchased from a reputable supplier is free from essential oils but it is worth DIY ejuice makers remembering that they are not suitable as an ejuice ingredient. As a DIY mixer myself I have tried ‘Cup cake’ flavours from my local supermarket, however in my experience they tend not to have a sufficiently concentrated flavour for good ejuice and some use Vegtable oil as a base which should most defiantly be avoided.
Dr. Konstantinos Farsalinos who is credited by Dr Michael Siegel for scientific insights incorporated in his blog has also analysed the results of an online survey, his report PDF can be read online. The survey does have a limitation (acknowledged at the beginning of the report) in that the participants were self selected, mainly from an interested group. Participation in the survey was open to all but it was promoted via vaping forums and blogs etc therefor the results mainly relate to the experience of current Vapers. Anybody who has had a strongly negative experience of vaping is likely to have given up on ecigs and presumably will be ignoring vaping forums etc so are less likely to have contributed their experience to the survey.
For us Vapers though, the analysis is encouraging with relation to lung function and exercise capacity, his conclusion contains “..in a group of motivated e-cigarette users we observe positive effects on respiratory function, while duration of e-cigarette use is associated with improvement in cough symptoms and exercise capacity.”
You can read Dr Michael Siegel’s blog by clicking here and I’d like to end with another quote from his blog, “Of course, if the German Cancer Research Center’s statement were true, we would have seen many cases of lipoid pneumonia in vapers by now”.