Do Essential Oils Work? Doctors & Scientists Speak Out
People claim essential oils work to help all kinds of health issues. It seems there are oils or blends of oils for almost any and every disease or malady or problem anyone could have.
Essential oils are powerful. But do they work?
What do people say? What do scientists say? What do doctors say? What do alternative health practitioners say? What do your friends and family say? What do YOU think?
Mayo Clinic on Essential Oils
According to Brent A. Bauer, M.D. in an article on the Mayo Clinic website,
“Studies have shown that aromatherapy might have health benefits, including:
Relief from anxiety and depression
Improved quality of life, Improved sleep.”
Brent A. Bauer, M.D.
"Research on the effectiveness of aromatherapy — the therapeutic use of essential oils extracted from plants — is limited. However, some studies have shown that aromatherapy might have health benefits, including:
- Relief from anxiety and depression
- Improved quality of life, particularly for people with chronic health conditions
- Improved sleep"
Dr. Bauer also states:
"Many essential oils have been shown to be safe when used as directed. However, essential oils used in aromatherapy aren't regulated by the Food and Drug Administration.
When oils are applied to the skin, side effects may include allergic reactions, skin irritation and sun sensitivity.
In addition, further research is needed to determine how essential oils might affect children and how the oils might affect women who are pregnant or breast-feeding, as well as how the oils might interact with medications and other treatments."
You can read the entire article here: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/consumer-health/expert-answers/aromatherapy/faq-20058566
WebMD on Essential Oils
The popular website WebMD has an article describing one woman’s bad experience with essential oils along with other stories and precautions.
Here's the link: https://www.webmd.com/beauty/news/20180813/essential-oils-promise-help-but-beware-the-risks
However, even this article which has a generally negative tone, admits that essential oils work. The article states:
"One recent study of 300 patients found that those who breathed a mixture of ginger, spearmint, peppermint, and cardamom had much less nausea after surgery.
Other research shows that lavender oil can lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and inhaling lemongrass aroma before a stressful event can prevent anxiety.
Studies also show that tea tree and oregano oils can fight microbes, making them popular treatments for dandruff and toe fungus. Others can be used as an anti-inflammatory."
The article concludes (and even the woman who had a bad experience agrees) that essential oils are worth the risk. Here’s what they say:
"With all the risks involved, are they still worth a try? Absolutely, say doctors, aromatherapists, and even Haluka -- who has just published a book, The Unspoken Truth About Essential Oils: Lessons Learned, Wisdom Gained.
Her advice: Study up on the different oils, their risks and benefits; consult with a licensed aromatherapist, not just a distributor for a company; and always read the fine print on the bottle or pamphlet about how to use them."
ChildrensMD.org Article on Essential Oils
A wonderful resource run by Doctors from St. Louis Children’s Hospital who are also “Moms” is ChildrensMD.org.
An article about essential oils on their website states:
"Do essential oils really work, or are they just over-priced fragrant quackery? I would have assumed the latter, until I got an invitation to an essential oils party from a friend who is a Harvard educated lawyer.
A shop-at-home party for alternative medications was the least likely place I’d expect to find her, let alone me. And so I hit the evidenced based research, expecting to prove her wrong. Here’s what I found."
"Essential oils have passed the test of antiquity—they have been used medicinally since the beginning of recorded history. Frankincense, an essential oil, is believed to have been a gift of the Magi. It’s difficult to call them a passing fad.
Why then, haven’t essential oils been integrated into western medicine? Modern medical literature includes limited research on their efficacy, but since 2000 there have been a growing number of research studies on essential oils popping up in traditional medical journals, with 1045 PubMed listed articles in 2013."
"If you’ve ever used Vick’s Vaporub you already believe in essential oils. Vicks is a mix of essential oils suspended in petroleum jelly, although some of these oils may be made synthetically by the Vicks company (they don’t specify)."
"An essential oil is concentrated plant oil with a distinct smell, such as oil of clove, mint, lavender, or citrus. They are not essential for health– the term “essential” means “essence-of”.
They are used in perfumes, soap, lotions, incense, household cleaning products, and to add flavor to food and drink. You probably already use them everyday."
"Educated, intelligent people are tired of yielding to doctors and bureaucrats when it comes to their healthcare decisions. Alternative medications are a welcomed relief… especially if they work, or at least seem like they work.
Essential oils have returned to American medicine, and I suspect they are here to stay."
Scientific Studies on Essential Oils Effectiveness
Are there scientific studies on the effectiveness of essential oils? Yes. But the science is limited.
A quick search online will reveal many articles and studies but with so many (hundreds) kinds of essential oils as well as so many (thousands) kinds of health, wellness and beauty issues – the science just hasn’t gotten around to studying all the millions of possibilities yet.
But research is being done.
University of Minnesota on Essential Oil Research:
"Although essential oils have been used therapeutically for centuries, there is little published research on many of them.
However, this is beginning to change as more scientific studies on essential oils are conducted around the world."
"Clinical studies are currently underway in Europe, Australia, Japan, India, the United States, and Canada. Many of these studies describe the remarkable healing properties of various oils."
So what does the scientific research that has already been done conclude?
Again, according to the University of Minnesota:
"Research studies on essential oils show positive effects for a variety of health concerns including infections, pain, anxiety, depression, tumors, premenstrual syndrome, nausea, and many others."
Essential Oils Bottom Line: Do They Work?
As we have shown, even doctors, scientists and people who have had bad experiences say that essential oils do work. They caution to use them with proper guidance and expertness.
And of course, women who are pregnant or nursing should always be EXTRA cautious.
But the bottom line is essential oils work.
Essential Oils help with a myriad of problems people have.
They are the amazing essence of the beautiful plants God has given us.
We humans would be wise to use these gifts with skill and gratitude.