If you’ve smelled a Christmas tree, experienced the smell of a freshly peeled orange, or inhaled the scent of flowers, you have experienced essential oils. This means that pretty much everyone out there has interacted with them at one point in their life, even if they weren’t aware at the time.
I’ve written about essential oils a few times on my blog and if you know me in real life, you probably know about my love for essential oils (sorry not sorry for talking about them all the time). In fact, I recently wrote about My Top 5 Essential Oils for Natural Health that are a key aspect of my wellness routine. The therapeutic benefits of essential oils fascinates me and I am constantly learning more about them every day.
But there are also a lot of myths out there regarding essential oils that I experience on a regular basis and think are important to address. I am passionate about holistic health and believe that it is important for everyone to know and understand how essential oils can be a great tool for a healthy life. Whether or not you choose to use them is up to you, I’m just here to educate.
A few key items that will be helpful to understand before I do dig into these myths…
Essential oils are volatile liquids that are distilled from different parts of plants, including the seeds, bark, leaves, stems, roots, flowers, and fruit.
The term volatile means that they evaporate easily when exposed to the air.
They are made up of chemical constituents, the diversity and quality of which determine the therapeutic value of the oil.
These chemical constituents are both small in molecular size and are lipid soluble, meaning they blend well with fats/oils and are absorbed quickly into the skin.
Essential oils are hydrophobic, which means that they do not mix with water.
Now that we know just a little bit more about what essential oils are, let’s debunk 4 common myths
They are too “woo-woo”
This is probably the biggest one people probably jump to first when they hear me speak about essential oils. No, you do not have to be a hippy to use essential oils. It is an alternative to conventional medicine similar to the supplements you take, acupuncture, massage therapy, and chiropractic medicine, to name a few. They aren’t a replacement for standard medicine; they work in conjunction with standard medicine to improve health, just like these other modalities.
Aromatic plants have been used for their therapeutic properties long before medical care became a thing. Egyptian papyri and Chinese manuscripts describe the medicinal use of aromatics (aka essential oils) employed thousands of years ago. There are also many references to essential oils such as frankincense and myrrh in the Bible and Torah.
They just smell good and don’t have any health benefits
While essential oils do smell good, they do so.much.more.
Their chemical constituents have antibacterial, antifungal, anti-infectious, antimicrobial, antitumor, antiparasitic, antiviral, and antiseptic properties. They are also powerful antioxidants. Because essential oils can consist of hundreds of different chemical constituents, a single oil has the potential to produce a myriad of effects on the body, both systemically and locally to where the oil was applied.
The benefits of an essential oil are directly related to the quality and diversity of its chemical constituents. While I don’t want to go into too great of detail, I want to point out that the quality of essential oils is key. Only therapeutic-grade essential oils of the purist quality, extracted and processed correctly, will support desired health benefits. As with everything I put in my body, I believe that it is important to know where it came from and that I am giving my body the best possible product/food/supplement that I can.
doTERRA, the company from which I purchase my essential oils, recently announced that it will soon be opening its first medical facility in Utah, followed by more facilities nationwide. These facilities will take an integrative approach to healthcare by combining traditional western methods with essential oils and wellness services.
They can’t be used on children
While I am no expert here and want to preface this by saying that you should consult your doctor or an expert first, they are safe for children. As essential oils are very potent, you should combine it with an oil before it is used on little ones. As I mentioned above, essential oils do not mix with water, so oils such as fractionated coconut oil, jojoba oil, and avocado oil are recommended. General rule of thumb is 1 drop of essential oil to 1 tablespoon of carrier oil.
Another great way to use essential oils with children is by diffusing it into the air. The majority of diffusers use water and a few drops of essential oil can go a long way. It is more diluted and you can get many of the same benefits by inhaling the aroma as if you applied it directly to your skin. I personally diffuse lavender oil in my bedroom at night to promote a restful night’s sleep.
They are too expensive
While there are some oils that can be pricey, this isn’t the case for many of them. My main go-to oils such as lavender, peppermint, and lemon are very reasonably priced.
Pure, therapeutic-grade essential oils may be pricier, but that is because they do not have any fillers or additives, and it can sometimes take several hundred pounds of plant material to extract one pound of pure oil.
Also, as I mentioned before, essential oils are very potent so one drop is sometimes all that you need. As essential oils are volatile compounds that evaporate easily, combining it with a carrier oil can actually be more beneficial, as less of the oil will be exposed to the air and more will be absorbed into your body.
Since the chemical constituents of essential oils are so small in molecular size, they are absorbed easily into the skin. Rubbing essential oils on the bottoms of your feet is a great way to use oils as the pores on your feet are larger and the oil will be absorbed more quickly than it would on other parts of the body.
By using one drop at a time, you can significantly extend the use of a pure, therapeutic-grade essential oil and still experience its benefits.