Essential Oils-Facts vs. Pseudoscience
As I have gone through training as an aromatherapist and done many hours of research about essential oils one question stands out. Do essential oils work?
There are those who come down on the side of believing that essential oils are total pseudoscience and they are simply used by the ignorant and uninformed. The other side makes totally fantastic claims that defy rational scientific scrutiny.
My belief is that as with most things, the truth is probably somewhere in the middle. I base this conclusion on my searches of scientific papers testing essential oils and the chemical constituents they contain, as well as my 34 years in the medical field as a respiratory therapist.
I would also state right at the beginning that I sell essential oils from my website. If you look at the descriptions of the oils I believe you will find that there are no outlandish claims about what the oils can do for you individually. Likewise, when I write a blog post offering the benefits of a specific oil I do my best to provide links to articles published in research journals so you can make an informed decision about whether the use of a particular oil is right for you.
It also should be noted that many studies are done using animals or human tissue cell lines in a laboratory. That does not necessarily mean it will provide the same effect in the human body. Even if it has been tested in humans, that does not mean it will have the same effect for you individually.
A doctor may have to try several drugs to treat your particular condition. Does that mean the drug doesn’t work? No, it means it doesn’t work for you individually. But it may be exactly what another patient needs and will treat his/her symptoms and provide relief.
This is not in any way to state that essential oils equate to medications that have gone through rigorous human trials. We are simply just now beginning to test the effects of essential oils for things that we used pharmaceutical drugs for in the past exclusively.
The many chemical constituents of essential oils have the possibility to add to the arsenal of tools that modern science uses to enhance our lives and our health. Remember, many drugs were initially isolated from plants.
I say all that to get to the fact that it drives me crazy when people are duped by scientific sounding claims that have no basis in any scientific fact just to sell oils. I prefer to present the facts and if you believe it is right for you then you’ll buy it. If not, then you won’t. It’s as simple as that.
Will I potentially lose a sale because I won’t make fantastic claims about what the oils I sell will do for you. I’m sure that’s possible. On the other hand, I would be intellectually and ethically dishonest if I claimed that an essential oil can cure anything. In addition, I would be running afoul of the FDA.
In fact, the two major MLM companies that sell essential oils (I will not mention names) both received letters from the FDA in 2014 because their MLM reps were making claims that essential oils could cure everything, including Ebola. Really?
Another fantastic claim that I find all over the place is that essential oils can keep you healthy by raising your vibrational frequency. On one of the MLM websites it even mentions that the founder was able to separate out the vibrational frequencies of the body. I did extensive research to find out what instrument was used to measure the frequencies. Any references I found linking to a machine supposedly invented to measure vibrational frequencies of substances all came back with a “page not found” error. Apparently the only monitor ever produced was called the BT3 monitor, and is no longer produced.
However, apparently the founder of one of these MLM companies used the monitor to measure the vibrational frequencies of essential oils. He came up with a range of from 52-320 MHz. There is also a listing of the vibrational frequencies of different body parts, as well as the vibrational frequency of a healthy body, and disease states.
Not getting into the quantum mechanics of the whole claim, the list is simply hard to swallow on its surface. For instance, it claims that human brainwaves have a frequency of 72-78 MHz. However, anyone who has done an EEG knows that human brainwaves have frequencies much lower than described. Here is a link that shows that. In fact, they are in the range of Hz, not MHz.
In the same infographic, it claims that human bone has a frequency of 38-43 MHz. I’m still trying to ascertain how they were able to measure living human bone frequencies and filter out the frequencies of all the tissue overlying the bone. Because if they measured only bone that was not attached to living tissue it should have a frequency of only 20 MHz, which they claim is
It also makes the claim that at 42 MHz cancer can set in. How does bone not always have cancer if it is naturally below the frequency that cancer can set in unless it gets to that 43 MHz frequency level and stays there?
I’m not sure where the 20 MHz measured for death even came from. Were they standing by just waiting for someone to die? How did they then decide if the person was clinically dead vs. being biologically dead? Did they get the measurement over the heart, over the brain, or over the whole body and average the results?
The most outlandish claim I saw was that if you send positive thoughts to your essential oil you can raise the frequency by 10 MHz. But if you send negative thoughts you can lower the frequency by 12 MHz.
Do you see where I am going here? It doesn’t take a lot of skeptical analysis to see that claims such as this are not plausible. Yet I know people will most likely lash out at me for writing this and challenging their beliefs.
Another claim that drives me crazy as a respiratory therapist is the claim that the molecules in essential oils are oxygenating and carry oxygen to the cells in our bodies that need it. Nothing could be further from the truth!
I’m not going to go into the cycle of respiration that every first-year respiratory therapy student has to learn. I will simplify it to state that oxygen is carried throughout the body bound to hemoglobin contained in the red blood cells.
Hemoglobin is a protein contained in red blood cells which contains an four iron atoms bound in a heme group. Each molecule of hemoglobin can carry four molecules of oxygen bound to the iron atoms.
Essential oils contain hydrocarbons and other chemical constituents including alcohols, esters, etc. Hydrocarbons are organic compounds that only contain carbon atoms with hydrogen atoms bound to them.
So to claim that these substances are “oxygenating” in any way is scientific nonsense.
I’m not saying that anyone who believes things like this or the other claims made by these companies and their reps are anything other than people who have been fooled because they didn’t exercise some skepticism.
I am saying that if you are told that it is OK by some advertising materials to give your child up to 12 drops of an essential oil internally daily and you don’t do the research to find out why this is dangerous, then you are being neglectful. For that matter, if you believe you should take essential oils by mouth without doing your research and deciding for yourself if the risk vs. benefit is something you are willing to live with, then you are being neglectful.
In my opinion, essential oils can have a positive effect when used properly. If you understand that these oils contain chemical constituents that have been shown to have effects that can be beneficial then you can make an informed decision about whether using them is right for you.
But don’t use just one source of information. Read something other than the marketing materials and read opposing views. Seek out the scientific literature and then make an informed decision.
As with anything else in life, I believe essential oils can be used or they can be abused. They can be safe and they can also cause harm when used incorrectly. They can be a miracle for one person and not do a thing for another. We are all unique biological entities. There are no blanket one size fits all solutions to anything.
So the next time someone comes up to you and makes the claim that you are sick because your body frequency is wrong and you can raise it using essential oils, at least you will know you should walk away from that person very fast, or better yet, RUN!
So do essential oils work. I believe they do if you need something to help your mood, relieve joint or muscle pain, clean and disinfect your home, repel insects, and a host of other uses.
They should not replace seeing your physician for serious health issues. Also, you need to talk to your physician of you decide to use essential oils and you are taking any medications to make sure you will not suffer from any drug interactions.
Keep reading this blog if you want to get up to date information on essential oils and follow links to the research being done on the ways essential oils can help us.
If you want to purchase pure essential oils please use this link and help support us so I can continue to bring you this information. I would like to thank you in advance for your support.