Are essential oils beneficial for our health?

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For many months now I have been hearing about more people using essential oils in alternative to traditional medication. I have been wondering are essential oils beneficial for our health? After conducting research, I have found that citizens use essential oils as a natural alternative for medication and it can be used for anxiety, depression, acne, physical pain, insomnia, and so much more. After finding out that it is claimed to help with things such as depression or anxiety it made me wary. How can oils help with disorders? I can understand that essential oils are used as a part of aromatherapy but does it help is what I am curious about.  In the first source that it says that “there is limited scientific evidence that they actually improve people’s health or mood.” (1) That is discouraging to read. In another source, it says that one of the benefits to using essential oils in alternative to medication is that “Each plant is unique in its chemistry so essential oils are never exactly the same-this is different from pharmaceutical drugs that are synthetically reproduced to be identical every time.” (2) Since it says that essential oils are never the same I find this to be beneficial but also alarming. Medication being produced and being the same ensures that it will work for its purpose. Essential oils being different and not the same every time sounds alarming. What if it does not have the same results?  The article continues to reassure my suspicions about there being scientific evidence of essential oils being a reliable alternative to prescribed medication. In the article, it says that “it is difficult to conduct blinded studies with aromatic substances and other researchers have used alternate scents assumed to have no therapeutic properties as controls. These approaches are problematic, however, because people associate smells with past experiences. Thus, it is difficult to account for individual variation in how essential oils affect people.” (2) People are still buying essential oils and are believing it does what it says it does. If there aren’t enough blind studies and the article says that “it is difficult to get approval and funding for essential oils” (2) then should essential oils be promoted the way they are. One of the arguments for essential oils supporters is that Rene-Maurice Gattefoss, a French chemist, commonly called the father of Aromatherapy, healed himself from a burn injury using lavender oil. This cannot be believed because this is the common evidence of an antidote. This cannot be reliable evidence as there is no science or no study. This is the same thing people did when answering the question do prayers heal?essential-oils-003

Picture: northwestpharmacy.com

The studies that have been done on essential oils have not been large enough to say they really heal. There is one study that I found conducted on women students in a college but there were only 42 women in the study. The results were 60% of the women said the oils helped them. (3)  Another study tested oils on 139 rats and 4 more experiments after that were conducted to see if oils had any effect on rats and their sleeping tendency. (4) Even after reading some of the studies done on essential oils I still believe there is not enough studies to fully say essential oils solves problems such as physical pain, physical healing of wounds and disorders such as depression and anxiety.  While it says, it is rare essential oils can still “induce side effects, such as rash, asthma, headache, liver and nerve damage, as well as harm to a fetus.” (5) Some women use essential oils on their children and with the side effects I would not want my child to come into contact with the oils. While some research is there I still believe there should be more research to prove with science that it is very safe to use essential oils in alternative to pharmaceutical drugs.

 

 

Sources:

  1. Nierenberg, Cari. “The Science of Essential Oils: Does Using Scents Make Sense?” LiveScience. TechMedia Network, 03 Sept. 2015. Web. 17 Nov. 2016.
  2. Halcon, Linda. “What Does the Research Say About Essential Oils? | Taking Charge of Your Health & Wellbeing.” Taking Charge of Your Health & Wellbeing. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Nov. 2016.
  3. Taehan Kanho Hakhoe Chi, Taehan. “[Effects of Lavender Aromatherapy on Insomnia and Depression in Women College Students].” National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, Feb. 2006. Web. 17 Nov. 2016.
  4. Komori, Teruhisa, Takuya Matsumoto, Eishi Motomura, and Takashi Shiroyama. “The Sleep-Enhancing Effect of Valerian Inhalation and Sleep-Shortening Effect of Lemon Inhalation.” The Sleep-Enhancing Effect of Valerian Inhalation and Sleep-Shortening Effect of Lemon Inhalation. N.p., 20 July 2006. Web. 17 Nov. 2016.
  5. Ehrlich, Steven D. “Aromatherapy.” University of Maryland Medical Center. N.p., 09 Aug. 2011. Web. 17 Nov. 2016.

1 thought on “Are essential oils beneficial for our health?

  1. Samantha Liebensohn

    Last semester I had told my Aunt that I was extremely stressed so she bought me some lavender oil. I was extremely skeptical because I really did not think it would work; however, I found that when I did use the oil I felt very calm and was able to collect myself. Although you have found that there is a lack of scientific evidence I would like to strongly encourage you and anyone else reading this to give the oils a chance. Here is a list of what different oils can be used for: http://www.aromatherapy.com/most_popular.html

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