Essential Oils: Do They Work and Are They Safe?

Do essential oils really work?

Lately I have read quite a few articles from all around the internet regarding essential oils. It seems like everyone who knows anything about them has an opinion, and they aren’t worried about putting it out there. Since I’ve seen quite a few posts bashing essential oils as “fraud” or “unsafe,” I’ve decided to weigh in on the topic.

First off, I will say that my family has been using essential oils pretty much everyday since June of 2014. In that time, I have seen some amazing results with my pregnancy and birth, my children, my husband, and around our house. But this isn’t about my personal experience, because I have already written quite a few articles about that, some of which you can find here, here, and here. I’d like to write this article using actual, scientific evidence to back it up. Quite frankly I’ve seen many people weigh in with not too much evidence behind their opinions. Like them, I’m no expert, just a mom who cares about her family and doing what I can to make them healthier.

That being said, let’s tackle the first question: Do essential oils work?

Again, here I could give you tons of personal testimonies as to how well essential oils work. Not just from myself, but also from the HUGE Facebook community that I am a member of with over 10,000 members (and growing) who also use these oils daily and have had amazing results. I’d rather let the experts talk, though.

What to the experts say about essential oils?

A medical study conducted in 2010 found that after a 2 week, double-blind placebo experiment, those subjects with mild to moderate gingivitis that rinsed with essential oils instead of a regular mouthwash showed reduced bloodstream bacteria. If you don’t know what a double-blind placebo experiment is, it is basically the gold standard for all medical and psychological research. There are 2 groups of subjects assigned into a treatment category totally randomly. Then neither them nor the treating researchers know which group is getting the treatment and which is getting the placebo (or non-treatment). For example, in this experiment, both groups would have received mouthwash not knowing whether theirs had the essential oils in them or not, and the researcher wouldn’t know either until the experiment was over. This controls what is called the placebo effect.

Link to mouthwash study.

Another study was conducted to assess the effectiveness of essential oils in controlling “morning breath.” In this study, subjects were assigned to either brushing their teeth with an essential oil containing toothpaste or a toothpaste without essential oils. On odor control days, they were judged by 5 judges who gave them an odor rating. This study found that those subjects who brushed with an essential oil toothpaste had significantly less odor! Very interesting study, but I sure would have disliked being one of those judges!

Link to morning breath study.

I also came across another study, published in 2014, about the antiviral properties of oregano oil. This study found that oregano oil was effective in inactivating the murine norovirus within 1 hour. It accomplished this by acting directly on the viral capsid and then the RNA. Basically, it fought the virus at the cellular level.

Link to oregano oil study.

With these 3 studies I have made my case that indeed, essential oils do work.These are just a few of the many studies that can be found on pubmed.org. I highly encourage you all to do your own research as well, don’t just take my word for it.

Now for the second question: Are essential oils really safe?

I think this one is a bit more complicated to answer, because first of all you have to realize that there are many different grades of essential oils, from perfume grade to therapeutic grade, and everything in between. That is why you have to make sure that what you are putting in and on your body comes from a source you can trust. Essential oils are very concentrated plant extracts, and in their purest form, yes they are safe. There are 188 references to the use of essential oils in the Bible, and many more found in the hieroglyphics of ancient Egyptians (from the Heart Centered Sharing book by Vicki Opfer, 2013). But you have to be sure that the oils you use aren’t synthetic, adulterated, or diluted with anything. And they need to be grown and produced organically, or else you are opening yourself up to all kinds of chemicals! This is why, after much research, the only oils I will use are from Young Living, because they are the only company with a Seed to Seal guarantee. They own their own farms all over the world instead of sourcing out, so they have full control over every aspect of growing, distilling, and bottling their essential oils.

That being said, you need to approach essential oils with a healthy respect for their power and potency. As with any powerful substance, there is a risk of misuse. In this study, a 15 month old boy developed hepatic failure after ingesting 10 mL of clove oil. Thankfully it was able to be resolved with medical attention. In this case, a 23 month old boy became confused and was unable to walk after ingesting just under 10 mL of melaleuca oil. Again, he was treated and symptoms were gone 5 hours later. Before you jump to conclusions about essential oils being unsafe, you have to realize that 10 mL of essential oil is A LOT!!! A 5 mL bottle has between 85-100 drops, and a 15 mL bottle has between 250-300 drops. So 10 mL of essential oils is approximately 175 drops. Considering that normal usage is 1-4 drops, you can see why ingesting such a large amount at one time, especially in such a small person, could be problematic. Think about it this way: If essential oils weren’t strong enough to be dangerous when used improperly, they probably wouldn’t be strong enough to be effective when used properly. This is why all my oils are kept out of reach of my young children, as they should be!

Almost anything we use can become dangerous when overdoing it. Most parents wouldn’t think twice about giving their small child Tylenol, yet if a child were to get into the bottle and consume the whole thing at once, they would have to be taken to the hospital. Check out this study, which claims that death from accidentally overdosing on acetaminophen (active ingredient in Tylenol) is higher than any other over the counter pain reliever!

Even water, the most necessary substance to life outside of oxygen, can be deadly if too much is consumed. This article and this article are scary reminders of that fact. Yet nobody is writing articles about why we shouldn’t drink water!

Essential oils are coming back on the scene for the first time in centuries. It is understandable that people are wary of using them. I’m not immune to feeling this way. When I first started using them, I rubbed lavender on my children’s feet at bedtime and then got so paranoid, thinking I put too much, that I went in and checked on them probably 10 times to make sure they were still breathing! I have since gotten much more comfortable with essential oils, and like I said earlier, we use them in my house on a daily basis.

Why do I love essential oils so much? It all boils down to the fact that they empower me to take control of my own health and that of my family. I truly want to help others to get healthier and ditch all the chemicals! In the spirit of full disclosure, yes I do “sell” Young Living essential oils, but I look at it more like sharing my passion with people and wanting to help them than I do as actually selling. If you would like to learn more about how you can get some essential oils, check out my page here:

Essential Oils or my Monthly Specials

I hope that this article was a help to you, and I’d love to hear what you think, just please keep it respectful even if you have a differing opinion.

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  • Theresa

    This was very informative, Miranda. I’ve only heard of good things about essential oils. People I know who use them are often passionate about how effective & beneficial essential oils are to them.

    • http://rahabtoriches.com/ Miranda Gonzalez

      Thank you. They are an easy thing to get passionate about!

  • Lauren @bPatty

    I’m so glad you weighed in on the negative. People do forget that there are medical and give them to young kids freely. I agree that they are a better alternative to some things but only when used properly. Thank you for your input on the subject.

    • http://rahabtoriches.com/ Miranda Gonzalez

      Thank you. Although I wouldn’t exactly call it negative, more like exercising common sense, just as you would (or should) with lots of things, especially around children. The best bet with essential oils, as well as with many other things, is to make sure to do your research and start slow. I would definitely tell people not to be scared of them, though. As I pointed out, it takes quite a bit to cause negative reactions. Thanks so much for commenting!

  • http://confessions1rst.blogspot.com/ Maria K. Hass

    I have used essential oil for pain management when I didn’t want to take another pill. Lavender and Peppermint oil are my bffs. As with anything though, I would exercise caution and not turn away from a doctor’s recommendation.

    • http://rahabtoriches.com/ Miranda Gonzalez

      I agree with listening to your doctor, especially if it is a very serious condition, although I sure do appreciate knowing that there are other options available.

  • http://www.livinginretrospect.com Bobbie Gross

    Miranda, I have to admit, I’m a bit of a skeptic. I guess, for me, it’s not that I think none of them work. I just feel like some truth is probably lost in all the hype around essential oils – especially when you get into the random pins from random bloggers saying such and such oil cured such and such thing. I do think there is power in essential oils and other natural remedies, but it’s hard to know what is a legitimate claim and what isn’t, ya know? Thanks for the link to pubmed.org. I’ll be checking that out.

    • http://rahabtoriches.com/ Miranda Gonzalez

      I totally understand the skepticism. I was also very skeptical at first, and my husband even more so! But we both continue to be blown away by just how good they do work. I’d love to chat with you more about them on messenger or e-mail if you have any specific questions 🙂

  • http://creativekkids.com Tammy Doiel

    I think it is great when it can be used to reduce chemicals and drugs. I am also thankful for drugs when needed. I really should get more educated about the oils though.

    • http://rahabtoriches.com/ Miranda Gonzalez

      I agree, there is definitely a time and place for certain drugs and I am thankful for modern medicine, but I am also so thankful to have essential oils to turn to when appropriate instead of relying solely on medications, etc. I’d love to answer any specific questions you have about oils anytime!

  • http://www.frontporchinspired.com Anne Dahlhauser

    This is helpful, Miranda! I have heard so much about essential oils. I tried ginger and peppermint (I think) when I was pregnant and extremely sick all the time. I didn’t notice anything different, so I have kind of dismissed them. This article, though, is interesting and makes me curious. What were the first oils you used – and which are the main ones you’d recommend for beginners?

    Also, thank you for linking up at Front Porch Conversations this week! It’s a new link up, and I am so grateful for all of you who jumped in! Hope to see you back on Thursday!
    Anne

    • http://rahabtoriches.com/ Miranda Gonzalez

      I think I was lucky in that I found Young Living right away, so they were the first and only oils I have used. They are therapeutic grade, top of the line. I know a couple people who started out using other brands (which I won’t name here because I don’t want to brand bash, and can only speak of my personal experience) but they are now using YL and say they wouldn’t switch back because YL works so much better for them. I started with the Premium Starter Kit, which comes with 11 full-size oils, a bunch of samples, a diffuser, and wholesale pricing for life. I really think the starter kit is the way to go because you have such an assortment of oils already and can really see just how well they work for a variety of things. The 4 oils that are my favorite though are lavender, frankincense, Purification blend, and the Thieves blend. I would never want to be without any of those! If you want some more info, check out my essential oils page at http://rahabtoriches.com/essential-oils/ or send me an e-mail at rahabtoriches@yahoo.com or through my Contact form at the top of the page. I love helping people discover essential oils!

      Thank you so much for hosting the link-up. It is the first I had heard of your blog and I really enjoyed it. I liked how you asked a question and started a discussion in the comments. What a great way to build community!

  • Melissa M. Miller

    Thank you for the detailed explanation and the links to the studies. I’m wondering if you can tell me if there are any essential oils that help ease joint discomfort?

    I actually have a deck of essential oils cards that I got from the Conscious Box subscription. I think I might have put it in storage. I need to pull it back out. You talk about essential oils so much that I’m thinking of joining Young Living!

    I’ll shoot you a message on Facebook for more info!

    Love ya lady!

    • http://rahabtoriches.com/ Miranda Gonzalez

      Off the top of my head, I would say Valor and PanAway. I actually wrote a post on Valor a few months back, I will send it to you. I know there is a lot of info in the Quick Reference Guide on this, so when you message me on FB I will have more info for you.

      February would be a great month to join 😉 I am posting my newest promotion tomorrow, and it’s a good one!

      I always love when you comment on my posts 🙂 chat with you soon!

  • Tammy

    I have been using essential oils for many years, all through the growing up stages of our sons as well. Of course, I started out a skeptic, and to some degree I still am to keep an open mind. Of course, I pray over the oils because the real power is in Jesus, certain amount in oils.

    From a scientific standpoint, that won’t wash, I know. But, from a practical and personal experience standpoint, essential oils are my “go to”.

    Just the other day, woke up with real bad sore throat, inhaled some Peppermint and Eucalyptus essential oils for about a minute, done and all gone. This is just one of the simple treatments, we use for alot more.

    Thank you for this post!

    • http://rahabtoriches.com/ Miranda Gonzalez

      I absolutely agree that true healing power lies with Jesus alone. I am so glad for the natural medicine that God gave us as well. Thanks so much for commenting!

  • Wild Style Equestrian

    Wow, this is a lot of great information. We have recently started using essential oils and have loved it. They’re also great for our horse and dogs.

    • http://rahabtoriches.com/ Miranda Gonzalez

      It is so amazing all the different uses they have, isn’t it? Thanks so much for commenting.

  • satrntgr

    Lots of great information. There are some that work great for me and others that I can’t even take due to my prescription. They seem to work for a lot of people though. Great post!

    • http://rahabtoriches.com/ Miranda Gonzalez

      It is always smart to make sure that the oils won’t interfere with your medicine. I’m glad you are at least able to use some of them!

  • Carrie Ann Tripp

    I keep reading posts about essential oils, but don’t personally know anyone in my area that uses them. I wouldn’t want to buy anything without having a seasoned person with me to show me the ropes. We are very much into using herbal supplements, though, and this seems to be in line with that.

    #BigTopBlogParty

    • http://rahabtoriches.com/ Miranda Gonzalez

      Carrie,
      The great thing about our digital age is I could help you with anything online or on the phone! Also, there is a HUGE FB community of over 20,000 members that I get lots of support from. If you are interested, I’d love to chat some more or even send you a sample 🙂 email me at rahabtoriches@yahoo.com
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting 🙂
      -Miranda

  • http://www.jinglejanglejungle.net/ Mary Burris

    Good source of information. I personally use essential oils and have seen some wonderful results.

    Thank you for linking up at Party Under The Big Top. Hope to see you again next week! #BigTopBlogParty

  • Chelsee

    Wow this is super informative! I have always wondered about these but been skeptic of using them. Thanks so much for linking up for the best of the Blogosphere!

    • http://rahabtoriches.com/ Miranda Gonzalez

      Thanks for stopping by! Let me know if I can answer any more questions for you about essential oils, or send you a sample. I was super skeptical at first as well but have come to love them!

  • http://rahabtoriches.com/ Miranda Gonzalez

    They sure are! Thanks for stopping by!