Sunday Skeptism: Rethinking Essential Oils

Having a chronic illness that has no cure and only a little research often makes someone vulnerable to try anything once. Some people pray off of that vulnerability and try to market “natural” products. These people take advantage of the poor science education most of America receives by making their claims sound scientific. They usually aren’t. In the case of essential oils? The claims are definitely not scientific.

Now I will admit I have received “aromatherapy” during a massage and it was nice and relaxing. I am not saying essential oils and aromatherapy are even a bad thing if you just are using them because you want to smell something nice. The problem I do have with essential oils is the medical claims being made.

Essential Oils
Essential oils and aromatherapy claim that oil extracted from plants treat all sorts of conditions and symptoms. There is no denying that some plants do have uses, we have some medicines from plants that  have medicinal properties. For example, aspirin is from the willow tree.The majority of these claims about these plants have no merit.

If you want to take a look at some of the absurd claims these companies make go here. Not only are these claims not backed by science, but they can actually be dangerous. Take a look at the chart below which actually suggests different essential oils are alternatives to certain medicines. Following this chart instead of your doctor’s advice could be deadly.

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Claim: Essential oils are a safe an effective replacement for modern medicine.

The process to have a drug approved by the FDA is long and involved. Essential oils avoid this process by hiding under claims of it being “alternative medicine.” Like most alternative medicine there aren’t many quality scientific studies showing their effectiveness. Essential oil companies don’t even have to prove what they claim is in their product in their product. They aren’t pressured to provide scientific evidence proving the claims they make about these essential oils.

Claim: Essential oils are safe and natural.

In reality, natural is not always better. People seem to be convinced that there are less risks with natural products. This assumption is not necessarily true and can cause people to overlook the risks associated with these natural products. For example, essential oils can interact with medications, burn your skin, cause allergic reactions, and may be deadly if ingested.

Claim: Tea Tree Oil has been suggested to have antimicrobial and ant-inflammatory properties.

There is a small amount of science to back up this specific claim and this is the only claim I researched with any merit. However, these properties haven’t been observed in the human body and are quite weak. More research needs to be done before I rush out and buy tea tree oil.

The Cost

Each tiny bottle may cost as much as $20 and a “Family Physician Kit” costs $113. If your doctor uses these you may want to see a better doctor. Essential oils claim different properties for each type people are often sucked in and end up with dozens of these overpriced essential oils. It can become a really expensive “treatment” very quickly.

Many people claim that essential oils do help them and I’m not going to insist they listen to science and stop using them. However, do not replace medical treatment with Essential Oils! Maybe just enjoy them for what they are instead of buying into false claims. After all, they can smell pretty dang good.

I understand wanting to try everything in hopes that you might feel a little better. I really do. However, these “therapies” won’t help and may even hurt you. Don’t fall for their tricks or let them take advantage of you. Oh and never trust Mercola.

Coming Soon:
8/30- Essential Oils

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