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.
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:
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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