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Essential oils are pretty hot right now.
But do they really work?
I mean just about every single person who recommends them gets a commission…
This video series is an unbiased, sales-free look at the most common uses for essential oils, and if there is any science to back up the health claims.
TITLE – Do Essential Oils Work? 2 Popular Claims Examined
First let’s quickly cover the fundamentals:
An essential oil is a concentrated liquid that contains a plant’s chemical properties.
The oil is termed “essential” in that it contains the “essence of” the plant’s fragrance and aroma (its chemical compounds).
Each type has a different chemical composition that affects how it smells, how it’s absorbed, and how it effects us.
Okay so let’s look at 2 popular healh claims surrounding the use of essential oils:
Essential Oils Kill Harmful Bacteria In Your Body
To my surprise, there has actually been quite a lot petrie dish studies investigating the anti-bacterial effects of essential oils.
They appear to kill many common bacterial and fungal strains, such as E.Coli and Candida albicans. They can also make a useful antiseptic mouthwash.
This may all sound very promising, but there is only so much we can take away from test tube studies on bacteria. A shot of tequila will kill bacteria in a petri dish too. Same if you were to swish it around your mouth.
This is why it’s an extraordinary claim to say that inhaling or ingesting essential oils will kill harmful bacteria in your body, improve immune function or “eliminate toxins”.
Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.
Essential Oils and Anxiety
Rodent studies have found that essential oil inhalation under stressful or painful conditions can lead to noticeable neurological and behavioural responses.
So the fragrance compounds do have a direct effect on the brain, at least in mice.
The potential psychological effects in humans has also been researched to some extent. Studies tend to involve cancer or heart surgery patients in hospital.
In the year 2000, a large review concluded aromatherapy is ineffective for treating anxiety… and it seems opinion has not changed since.
The latest blinded controlled trials using oxygen masks are quite telling. Inhalation of essential oils has not been found to have any clinical effects on anxiety levels in adults or children, at least after heart surgery or stem cell transplantation.
Other studies focused on different mental health conditions or topical treatments (on the skin) have highly conflicting results. It seems that for every study that found a positive effect, there is one that didn’t.
If you still aren’t convinced, a recent review of 201 relevant studies concluded that out of the 10 that were actually good quality, aromatherapy does not improve high blood pressure, depression, anxiety, pain relief, or dementia.
SNIPPET: … the evidence is not sufficiently convincing that aromatherapy is an effective therapy for any condition.
As you can see many varieties of essential oils will likely help clean wounds and potentially treat skin infections, but once we venture into more serious health claims – such as anxiety or other mental health disorders – the proof starts to fall short.
I didn’t find any relevant studies looking at cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, asthma or other serious medical conditions, but it doesn’t seem plausible that they could help.
My best advice before you buy is to ask questions and think critically about how extreme the health claims are. If it sounds too good to be true, unfortunately it is.
If you enjoyed this please give it a thumbs up and leave a comment, maybe even subscribe to the channel. Otherwise check out the next video where I look at useful uses of essential oils.