In the extensive world of essential oils, there is a great amount of info about how it can help your mind, body, and environment. But as with any vast or popular movement, there’s bound to be misinformation spread out across the internet.
If you visit essential oil dedicated websites or social media, you’ll come away with the idea that essential oils are the next best thing since the polio vaccine. Got a headache? Rub some on your temple. Feeling restless? Inhale some to get that zen. Losing your faith in humanity? Dab some in your eyes and you’ll be good to go! Okay, I made that one up.
On the contrary, a lot of skeptics will make it seem that essential oil is worse than smoking! The funny thing is, cigarettes were invented in the 1880s, but wasn’t proven to be dangerous to your health until the 1950s! So maybe it’ll take that long as well to figure out the exact benefit and detriment essential oil will have on your body and soul…
But until then, here are some myths and facts that we know for sure to set you straight!
Myth 1 – If you use an essential oil on your bare skin and it causes a burn or rash, then it’s just your body’s way of detoxifying
Believe it or not, there’s a significant amount of people who have their thoughts set on this idea. Just because something is natural, doesn’t mean it’s always good for you. Take spring allergies for example. Some people get itchy eyes, runny nose, and constantly sneezes when the spring rolls around (I have personally never experienced this since there’s usually a day of transition between winter and summer around here). Thus, typically people take allergy pills to get it under control, because the pollen and new life are screwing up your body!
The same logic can be applied here. If your body is affected in such a way that it’s getting red rashes, you’ll definitely need to stop doing whatever it is you did. Detoxifying is taking bad things out of the body. So when a burn or rash appears, that’s the opposite of what you want.
Myth 2 – If you don’t like the smell of a certain essential oil, this means your body needs it
Listen to your gut. That’s the moto that people have lived by in order to survive the early times. If your body is rejecting something, it means that it’s warning us against the product. Know someone who pees a lot when they drink alcohol? That’s their liver knowing that alcohol is poison and it’s trying to get rid of it. What the liver doesn’t know is that it’s Friday night and its owner is about to get smashed regardless.
Myth 3 – The order which you mix essential oils for aromatherapy determines the way it smells and its therapeutic function
This one requires a bit of scientific explanation instead of common sense.
Providing that you are blending each oil in the same percentage every time, the mixing order of the essential oils would never result in a significant difference for the smells and therapeutic function. Some people claim that there is a difference, but it’s usually because they cannot conduct a quantitatively accurate experiment. For example, from the essentialoils.org website:
“It would not be a scientific experiment to do various blends using drops of essential oil from orifice reducer bottles or even by counting drops from a pipette. The reason being that drops are often drastically inconsistent, even when using the same oil with the same dropper. The only way to accurately put together the blends is to use a digital scale, I recommend one that can weigh out to at least 0.001 gram. If all the components are added to blend in the exactly the same amount each time the blend is made and the components mixed thoroughly then the odor and chemistry should be identical each time, regardless of order they were added to the blend.”
Myth 4 – If a certain herb treats a certain ailment, then the essential oil from that herb will also treat that ailment
Essential oil makes up a miniscule amount of the overall chemistry of the distilled herb or plant. The herb contains more molecules than essential oils, both water soluble and non-soluble. The really useful chemistry part of the herb loses its molecules when it gets distilled. Thus, one shouldn’t take essential oil as the same level of treatment as its herb host.
But this doesn’t mean that essential oils are useless. In fact it’s far from it. In the case of many essential oils, using it with its CO2 extract will result in better overall effectiveness.
Myth 5 – Essential oils can cure my cold
Certain essential oils such as tea tree oil have demonstrated their capability to prevent the spreading of viruses. However, essential oils in general will not make your cold go away. There is no evidence to show that essential oils can actually cure a cold. Nevertheless, essential oils certainly can help by soothing a sore throat or clearing up that stuffy nose.
Myth 6 – Running the diffuser full time in the home is good for the air
Well, depends what you mean by full time. A lot of diffusers nowadays come with an automatic shut-off timer. Or it’ll give you an option to choose how long to run the diffuser for. However, running the machine continuously could have negative effects:
- You will get used to the aroma and not smell it anymore
- Because of this, you may put more essential oil than necessary in the diffuser, causing your environment to have an over-abundance of essential oil
- Too much built up of essential oil in the air may cause itchy throats or watery eyes. It may also affect your pet or children
Myth 7 – Rosemary essential oil can improve your memory
This one could actually be true! A recent study placed test subjects in one of two rooms, one with a diffuser emitting rosemary essential oil and the other with none. Both groups were given memory exercises to complete. Those in the rosemary room resulted in a better performance. From blood tests taken after the exercises, they had higher serum levels of a unique rosemary phenolic compound. This is congruent with previous animal studies where they displayed interactions in the memory system in the brain with the rosemary compound. Thus, the relationship may be causal and indicative of rosemary oil’s efficacy.
Myth 8 – Lavender essential oils can reduce anxiety
There is some truth in this saying as well. With a lot of dental patients after a major operation, lavender oil aromatherapy seemed to be effective in reducing anxiety when compared to a placebo. When taken orally, it also seemed just as effective as Xanax. In Germany, oral lavender oil has been deemed a legitimate medical treatment for anxiety disorder.
So what does all this mean for the world of essential oils? Well, they’re not just glorified air fresheners. They actually contain pharmacological with bioactive compounds, many of which could compete with prescription drugs.
However, they’re not completely harmless either! Over usage may cause irritation, allergies, or unknown side effects to pop up.