Are Essential Oils Worth the Hype?
Essential oils contain potent natural compounds and intense aromas. For example, lemon oil is a concentrated form of the oils found in lemon peels. These plant extracts smell wonderful, but do they do the things product labels promise?
How Effective Are Essential Oils?
For people who already believe in the power of plant-based medicine, trusting in essential oils comes — pardon the pun — naturally. Few people would argue with the fact that many foods, herbs and other plants contain beneficial ingredients.
For example, your grandparents probably used chamomile for sore throats, and many doctors continue recommending the same thing today. Aloe vera is another plant with proven benefits for skincare, helping to hydrate, soothe and protect irritated skin.
It’s not much of a stretch to imagine that other plant oils have similar health benefits. Some essential oils contain a large number of antioxidants, important vitamins that help protect cells against UV damage. Vitamin C is one antioxidant that helps your skin and your immune system at the same time.
Popular Essential Oils
There are dozens of different essential oils that people use. Here are some you may want to try:
Always dilute essential oils so they don’t irritate your skin. For a gentle massage, dilute a few drops of essential oil in a tablespoon of carrier oil, such as olive oil, coconut oil, sweet almond oil or argan oil. For a relaxing bath, just add 8–10 drops of essential oil to your bathwater.
What Are the Potential Benefits of Essential Oils?
Due to the sheer number of different essential oils, more research is needed to confirm the specific benefits of each one. Here are some general ways essential oils may help you:
Stress and anxiety relief
Relief for pain and inflammation
Help with nausea
Have you ever noticed how the aroma of citrus fruit seems to wake you up in the morning? What about the memories that come to mind when you get a whiff of lavender?
These effects happen because of the connection between your nose and the area of your brain responsible for emotions and memories. Some scientists think that aromatherapy with essential oils may trigger positive effects for other body systems as well, including your gut, nervous system and heart.
Why Should You Be Careful With Essential Oil Hype?
Take health claims about essential oils with a grain of salt. Some products make huge promises they can’t back up, such as claiming that wrinkles will vanish overnight or that diabetes will disappear. None of these extreme claims are supported by science. Instead, essential oils offer generalized benefits for your quality of life, such as calming you down or alleviating some joint pain.
Why Don’t More Scientists Recommend Essential Oils?
In reality, it’s not that surprising that essential oils don’t have much research behind them. Drug companies don’t make their money from herbal products, so why would they pay for research into essential oils?
It’s better to see how these products benefit you personally. If you notice that a bath with lavender oil helps you sleep like a baby, or that a sandalwood and olive oil massage makes your skin feel super smooth, keep going!