WRITTEN BY Macy Roberts
As their use has grown in popularity over recent years, essential oils are often regarded with skepticism over the extent of their effectiveness. While there is little research conducted on the true effectiveness of essential oils from a medical perspective, there are a handful of studies suggesting certain health benefits can result from the practice.
Essential oils are commonly used to practice aromatherapy, which aims to improve health through the stimulation of smell receptors. According to Mayo Clinic, aromatherapy can relieve anxiety and depression, improve quality of life and improve sleep.
If opting to use essential oils for aromatherapy, a diffuser can be a helpful tool. Different diffusers come with different instructions, but generally speaking, essential oils must first be mixed with water before they can be dispersed. Diffusers are relatively easy to use and not too difficult to seek out.
Essential oil diffusers can be found at designated home good stores, but more popular chain stores like Walmart and Target usually provide cheaper options. Additionally, they can often be found at discount stores such as Ross and Marshalls.
In addition to aromatherapy, essential oils can also be applied directly to the skin, although this comes at the potential risk of developing adverse side effects like irritation. To combat intense reactions, it is recommended to dilute essential oils before application.
While some essential oils result in a variety of benefits ranging from reducing inflammation to supporting memory, others are extremely toxic and should be avoided altogether. This is why it is important to conduct independent research on particular essential oils before use.
For example, tea tree oil is a popular essential oil that is typically used as an antiseptic and to treat fungal conditions like acne. However, tea tree oil can be neurotoxic, making it dangerous to diffuse in certain conditions.
Moreover, belonging to particular demographics requires approaching essential oils with more caution. For instance, those with weak immune systems are more susceptible to adverse reactions, as are children, seniors and pregnant women.
When purchasing essential oils, be sure to seek out those that are 100% pure, meaning they have no added ingredients. If shopping in-person, organic grocery stores and health stores are great places to look.
Because other factors may be at play when testing the effectiveness of essential oils in improving health, results from studies are not conclusive. However, this does not mean the use of essential oils is pointless.
Even if their use does not directly result in a major health improvement, essential oils can have smaller impacts worth considering. At the very least, they aid relaxation and provide temporary relief from sensations like stress and anxiety.
Whether or not you’re on the fence about using essential oils, many professionals recommend first reaching out to a doctor. While most people do not react to essential oils too dramatically, it is better to lead with caution.
If you’re interested in learning more about essential oils, personal accounts can be useful, but ultimately look into a variety of different medical journals like Cleveland Clinic and Geisinger, which were used to guide this article.