Essential oils: A perfect example of alternative medicine exaggeration

Healthcare is a breeding ground for pseudoscience – and for good reason too. When it comes to our health we really are an easy target. Nobody likes to be sick and nobody wants to lose a loved one. It makes sense, then, that peddlers of pseudoscience often set their sights on the sick. There are as many alternative therapies as there are sick people, but I’d like to focus specifically on essential oils – solutions containing concentrated extracts from plants. One of the largest companies selling essential oils is doTERRA, and this quote from their website is a great example of the some of the flawed arguments you’ll hear for essential oils. I have marked the parts I wish to discuss:

Essential oils have been used throughout recorded history for a wide variety of wellness applications.The Egyptians were some of the first people to use aromatic essential oils extensively in medical practice, beauty treatment, food preparation, and in religious ceremony. Frankincense, sandalwood, myrrh and cinnamon were considered very valuable cargo along caravan trade routes and were sometimes exchanged for gold.

“Borrowing from the Egyptians, the Greeks used essential oils in their practices of therapeutic massage and aromatherapy. The Romans also used aromatic oils to promote health and personal hygiene. Influenced by the Greeks and Romans, as well as Chinese and Indian Ayurvedic use of aromatic herbs, the Persians began to refine distillation methods for extracting essential oils from aromatic plants. Essential oil extracts were used throughout the dark ages in Europe for their anti-bacterial and fragrant properties.

“In modern times, the powerful healing properties of essential oils were rediscovered in 1937 by a French chemist, Rene-Maurice Gattefosse, who healed a badly burnt hand with pure lavender oil. A French contemporary, Dr. Jean Valnet, used therapeutic-grade essential oils to successfully treat injured soldiers during World War II. Dr. Valnet went on to become a world leader in the development of aromatherapy practices. The modern use of essential oils has continued to grow rapidly as health scientists and medical practitioners continue to research and validate the numerous health and wellness benefits of therapeutic-grade essential oils.

I’ll describe the errors that I see with these paragraphs in order.

1. “Essential oils have been used throughout recorded history for a wide variety of wellness applications.”

The first red flag I saw when I began researching essential oils was the logical fallacy “appeal to antiquity” – claiming that something has powerful properties because some ancient civilization used it. The fact that ancient Egyptians used essential oils is irrelevant to the claim that they are clinically effective, and we can’t determine whether something is good or bad just because it has ancient origins. Treating disease by ingesting animal feces or applying it to your skin is also an ancient Egyptian remedy, in fact more common than essential oils, but I don’t see that catching on in the same way.

2. “Essential oil extracts were used throughout the dark ages in Europe for their anti-bacterial and fragrant properties.”

There is absolutely no way that essential oils were used in Europe during the dark ages for their anti-bacterial properties. The germ theory of medicine was not developed at the time, and was not used clinically until the 1870s. However, let’s give them the benefit of the doubt and say that essential oils were used throughout the dark ages in Europe for their anti-bacterial properties. When you think “anti-bacterial” do you really think of the dark ages as a good example? Just think, now you too can have a life expectancy of nearly thirty years!

3. “French chemist, Rene-Maurice Gattefosse, who healed a badly burnt hand with pure lavender oil.”

That’s right, the whole of the modern argument rests on one piece of anecdotal evidence. A french chemist burnt his hand and it was healed with pure lavender oil. It’s fine, of course, to mention an anecdote as the reason for pursuing an area of research. The most common example I can think of is Sir Alexander Fleming and the discovery of penicillin. The story of its discovery is famous, but no one says that penicillin works because Fleming noticed that his moldy bread stopped bacterial growth. You can’t claim that lavender oil heals burnt hands because someone says it worked once. Penicillin is well understood and has plenty of research to support its antibacterial claims. Essential oils? Not so much.

4. “The modern use of essential oils has continued to grow rapidly as health scientists and medical practitioners continue to research and validate the numerous health and wellness benefits of therapeutic-grade essential oils.”

This is the most telling sentence of all. Everything before this sentence is full of specific people, times, and places that support the health benefits of essential oils. The second they bring up modern research, though, they become vague and non-specific. Why not say “in recent years, researchers at Harvard have shown that…” or something like that? The reason is simple. There actually isn’t any modern research that supports the claims. Essential oils claim to be effective at treating a wide range of diseases. They supposedly have antimicrobial, antifungal, antiviral, and antibacterial properties. This is not the case. Here are a few studies I found on PubMed:

  •  Adverse effects of aromatherapy: A systematic review of case reports and case series - This study found that not only are essential oils not helpful, they can be harmful. The most common issue is dermatitis. This is because most essential oils are sold as aromatherapy – a technique with a very serious misnomer. “Aromatherapy”, in many cases, is actually meant to be applied directly to your skin. Supposedly the oil absorbs into your skin. Which brings up the question: If aromatherapy has nothing to do with smell and has not been shown to be an effective therapy, why is it called aromatherapy?
  •  Effect of sweet orange aroma on experimental anxiety in humans – This sounds promising, right? A nice, sweet smell to calm your nerves. Should work, right? It seems to me that if essential oils can claim anything it should be that the nice smell will calm your nerves. This study shows that a nice smell actually doesn’t have any effect at all on the amount of anxiety you have.

The real problem I have with essential oils is the exaggeration of their effects. If the only claim that proponents of essential oils made was “this smells good, I think you’ll enjoy it” I wouldn’t be writing this at all. That’s not the case, though. The benefits of essential oils are exaggerated because exaggeration sells. Websites like this one make extraordinary health claims like curing colds, asthma, bronchitis, hypertension, liver congestion, heart palpitations, depression, and boosting your immune system (what does that even mean?). Other websites make fanciful claims like “restore your body’s natural energy balance” – a claim so bad it’s not even wrong.

Of course, this doesn’t mean you can’t use essential oils. As with any pseudosciene, I’m of the opinion that you are free to waste your money on whatever you choose. I just wish those selling alternative medicine products were more honest with themselves and their customers. Trying to sell a sick person something that in the end won’t help them is at least unethical, if not criminal.

Edit: In this article I made a tongue-in-cheek comment about life-span during the middle ages. As this article explains, life-spans are averages so a large contributing factor is obviously infant mortality rate.

Also, I feel the need to emphasize that I am not saying that essential oils have no use. Instead I am saying that their effectiveness is exaggerated.

About Chad Jones

Hi! I'm Chad Jones, a PhD student studying physical chemistry. I also write/manage a science blog. Please check it out! http://www.thecollapsedwavefunction.com Also, feel free to e-mail me: chad@thecollapsedwavefunction.com
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264 Responses to Essential oils: A perfect example of alternative medicine exaggeration

  1. Stephen Propatier says:

    Love it nice breakdown!

      • Brian says:

        Chad, Your article is very factually incorrect. Even your response to the PubMed study on orange oil is wrong – the study clearly says the orange essential oil worked. Quoting the study: “Unlike the control groups, the individuals exposed to the test aroma (2.5 and 10 drops) presented a lack of significant alterations (p>0.05) in state-anxiety, subjective tension and tranquillity levels throughout the anxiogenic situation, revealing an anxiolytic activity of sweet orange essential oil.”

        If you’re truly interested in learning the truth about essential oils and about the actual science behind them (and what makes them work and studies to prove it), I’d be glad to talk to you about it.

        • Eric Hall says:

          I think its appearance in JACM alone is enough to say it probably isn’t valid. Here’s a detailed explanation as to why: http://skeptoid.com/blog/2013/12/07/i-said-show-me-the-science/

          But, let’s talk about the study since I have access to the full text of it.

          First, they excluded anyone with high anxiety. In other words, they only included those who are not really anxious anyway. So someone gets to sit down for awhile, they might relax a little more, especially when smelling something pleasant.

          Some other notes (which I actually give the authors credit for – but then fail to acknowledge it in their conclusion) include the following:

          It is reasonable to question the fact that the intermediate dose failed to produce an effect.

          Then they say:

          This lack of a dose/effect relation is common when dealing with a mixture of compounds instead of a pure substance.

          Um, what?

          I also looked at the data. They really did a number on it – tortured it to death actually. They had 40 participants, but then used 3 different orange concentrations, one of tea tree oil, and one water. Looking at the scores, the anxiety measurements all went up during the test they used to induce anxiety, and the after anxiety didn’t really go down for any of the substances. They really worked some magic in combining some of the measurements to get anything of significance.

          So what Chad is saying is the conclusion might say “hey this works,” but in reality if you read the entire study, it doesn’t work.

          • Brian says:

            Eric, unfortunately the scientific data behind the effects of pure essential oils is still greatly lacking – namely because no drug companies are willing to pay for studies proving that natural substances can replace the need for patented or commercial drugs. While you can poke holes in their study (I can to, how pure was the oil they used?, Where & how was it grown?, was it compared to using the oil topically on the skin?), that doesn’t dismiss the fact that many people with anxiety problems have been helped by the use of essential oils. Anxiety problems can be caused by a wide variety of factors (and a particular oil may not be as effective for everyone … specific drugs aren’t always effective on everyone either!) … why would you want to use chemical drugs (with all the potential side effects) when orange or lavender or another essential oil could help solve your problem?

            The fact of the matter is pure therapeutic grade essential oils each have unique chemical constituents which can have very similar effects on the body as medicine does. Many of the mechanisms are similar or in some cases the drugs use synthetic versions of the compounds present in the oils!

            Here is an interesting study I just came across comparing the effects of aspirin with wintergreen essential oil (applied topically) for preventing heart attacks:
            http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18698012

            Here is a study showing the anti-fungal effects of hinokitiol which is present in Great Arborvitae Essential Oil (for safe foot or skin fungus treatment):
            https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/bpb/31/4/31_4_735/_article

            Many essential oils have anti-viral properties. Some are extremely anti-viral yet safe to use topically and internally. Another study for Great Arborvitae essential oil showing how the thujaplicins present in the essential oil prevent the flu virus (any type) from replicating:
            http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0166354298000345

            Here’s a great study showing 90% reduction in H1N1 by OnGuard essential oil blend:
            http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21078173

            MRSA is quite the problem in hospitals these days … here is some research on essential oils’ effect on preventing/treating MRSA:
            http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1010518212002272
            http://www.mdpi.com/1420-3049/17/9/10276
            http://aromaticscience.com/proving-the-effectiveness-of-essential-oils-against-pathogenic-bacteria-mrsa/

          • Eric Hall says:

            Many things which show results in vitro fail once they are tried in vivo. See the previous comments – this has already been discussed.

          • Brian says:

            Eric,
            Some of the studies I posted were in vivo such as the aspirin alternative. Are you not at all open to objectively considering essential oils? I apologize for some of the advice and opinions that may be misguided, but please don’t let that cloud your judgement. What studies would have to come out for you to consider using essential oils as a compliment and possibly alternative to synthetic pills?

          • Eric Hall says:

            Before I answer that, let me point out using “synthetic pills” as a phrase is what’s known as poisoning the well. While you accuse me of bias, you show your own by trying to use the naturalistic fallacy to say modern, scientific medicine is bad.

            Back to the question – which of the other studies, besides the wintergreen oil (which has also already been addressed earlier, but I will again below), is in vivo?

            Wintergreen oil, like aspirin, is active in the body. This is well known. In fact, after being absorbed, the first thing the body does with it is turn it into aspirin. That’s fine, we know that. In fact we know some plants do contain ingredients which can be active in the body, and can be used for medicine. Other things in nature do to – an early chemotherapy drug came from an Italian fungus. This is not in dispute.

            What is in dispute is the marketing of essential oils as a cure for everything. Wintergreen oil can be toxic. It has killed people. 1/2 teaspoon would kill a child. And though it will work as a NSAID, it doesn’t mean it will kill all microbes, cancer, MS, Lupus, stomach aches, etc. And because many oils are not regulated, there is no way to know how much of the active ingredient is in each bottle. The “safe and natural” thing is going to harm someone.

          • Brian says:

            Firstly let me say I laud more research in vivo. The essential oil company I represent is actually stepping up the research they are funding by an order of 10x, so I look forward to sharing more results in a few years. However, who else is going to pay for these studies? Here is a study proving lavender essential oil can treat anxiety disorder as well as drugs such as Lorazepam:
            http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19962288

            Regarding the aspirin, it can be toxic too. I would image it has or could kill people. There are over 18 very bad side effects from aspiring listed here:
            http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/meds/a682878.html
            While there may be risks with wintergreen (such as improper use or excessive use internally), the list of side effects from using it topically is minimal when compared to aspirin.

            No one should be claiming wintergreen can “kill all microbes, cancer, MS, Lupus, stomach aches, etc.” But there are other essential oils which can help or prevent those conditions. Obviously it can be frustrating which oil and do what (and certain people do react differently based on what their body needs to fight a certain issue) … but that is the case with pharmaceutical medicine too! How many times do people have to go to the doctor to try a different medication either because the first wasn’t working or was producing very undesirable side effects? You bring up side effects as a very dangerous concern. The fact is it’s no more of a concern than with medicine a doctor proscribes you. I believe it’s far less, and based on decades of use it would appear your concerns are grossly exaggerated. Additionally, you can stop or change oils anytime if you do experience a skin sensitivity or some other undesired side effect.

            I agree you could be harmed by using certain brands of essential oils internally. However, these brands of oils are not sold with a supplement facts label, so it’s pretty easy for a consumer to tell. However, I wouldn’t use them on my skin or aromatically either.

          • Eric Hall says:

            Brian – I am glad to see you are taking a fairly reasonable approach and a call for more studies. I don’t think we are that far apart, though it appears to me you still are taking the approach that they work and are trying to find proof they do work. It might be subtle, but I think it still is giving you some bias towards studies which, at best, provide a basis for a hypothesis and do not constitute strong evidence –

            For example, it is concerning to see you say the side effects topically are minimal. 6 or 7 years ago a long distance runner died from topical use of wintergreen oil. There are several case studies of topical toxicity in PubMed (example: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8699558). It also is highly concentrated – thus even a small amount ingested is dangerous.

            Because of this, it also has the potential to interact with other drugs. It could potentially cause Rye’s syndrome in kids (though less likely with the chicken pox vaccine available).

            More generally – the problem I have with the oil thing is they are a complex mix of chemicals. I am sure some of them have the potential to provide therapies for various conditions. Let’s do the studies and find out. Pharmaceutical companies are still looking at plants as sources of drugs (example: http://skeptoid.com/blog/2014/06/28/is-big-pharma-ignoring-marijuana/). The idea that “Big Pharma” is somehow not interested or is trying to downplay the effectiveness is nonsense – because if there is potential to isolate something and make money – you better believe they will do it!

          • Paul says:

            Eric, I think a large part of the problem is that lay people who are using the oils for personal use are making claims. No one should be saying they ‘cure’ or ‘treat’ or diagnose or heal any disease unless they are a recognized medical professional. The oiler community needs to take note and be much more circumspect in how the information is offered.

            People who have used the oils successfully in support of their health or to alleviate suffering associated with various conditions and are unschooled in what language is ‘ok’ and not ok to use need to educate themselves and cease doing so.

            However, this ‘debate’ on this site, which is new to me and I came upon by chance, is quite interesting, because, from what I’ve seen, the ‘skeptics’ are hell bent on proving the point that essential oils are bogus and dangerous and have not truly taken the time to look at more recent research on the subject.

            There are many essential oils on the market which are simply fragrances and not supportive of health in any way and just as toxic as many other formulations on the market.

            The true therapeutic grade oils are a good support for people who have researched their options, for many who have been ill served by the allopathic and profit driven system in our country. To say that it is not about $ for big pharma as I note you did someplace on this page is really naive. Big pharma has not figured out a way to make $ on natural substances – how would they patent peppermint or lemon?

            Would you take the option for people to use various herbs and oils away or put them under the control of big pharma or the medical community? Women were burned at the stake as witches for offering herbs and plant remedies which were much more effective than things ilke blood letting and later removing people’s organs or lobotomies or electro shock treatments as ‘cure’.

            There are studies out there for those who would truly want to research them. In the US and other countries too. I am not a scientist, but perhaps if people on this page are interested, they could come up with some studies which would satisfy even you.

            See what you come up with searching on the research about lemongrass and cancer at Ben Gurion University in Israel.

            But we are not talking about such conditions as cancer – though people should be able to do their own research and find out what they really want to use in support of their own health and well being and that of their family. I know of too many people again on the anecdote side, with horrid and lasting effects of chemo treatments. Is the best we can expect of medicine to offer drugs which kill parts of us to ‘save the patient’?

            People who are sensitive can die eating peanuts and other foods. We are talking about naturally occurring substances specially prepared. One company that I know of is known to have oils with consistent constituent properties and much of the research is done using this company’s oils. I don’t want to get into mentioning names of companies here.

            For me, more suspect is the really big money in big Pharma – and who they pay to do the research, how many products are put on the market too soon…I wonder how many of those folks are laughing all the way to the bank ‘testing’ drugs which supposedly ‘cure’ ebola – on many guinea pics in Africa…that aspect of our healing arena bears much more scrutiny than essential oils.

          • Brian says:

            Eric, you seem very concerned about wintergreen essential oil. Are you equally concerned about Bengay being for sale OTC?

            My doTERRA Deep Blue rub bottle which contains wintergreen says on it:
            Cautions:
            For external use only. Avoid contact with eyes. Do not use on wounds or damaged skin. Do not
            bandage tightly after application or use with a heating pad. If a raised area of redness appears
            after application, discontinue use. Keep out of reach of children to avoid accidental ingestion.
            If swallowed, get medical help or contact a Poison Control Center immediately.

            It has a lot of the same components as Bengay, but in their natural forms. Just smelling the two next to each other you can tell the one is fake and the other natural. Yet Deep Blue works as well or better.

            My family has had similar experiences with other essential oils. They tend to work better and much more quickly than traditional medicine. Often traditional medicine doesn’t have the answers (no drug exists or doesn’t work for that person (i.e. migraine medication) or those answers come with unacceptable side effects (i.e. worse health issues or not being able to drive). Essential oils when used properly (pending any unusual allergic reactions) don’t come with all the negatives of most pharmaceuticals.

            I’ll be sure to share the new studies with you as they come out. I hope you’ll keep an open mind.

          • Eric Hall says:

            Am I concerned about things like Ben Gay? My concern is much less. Why? Because there are specific drug facts on the back. Such as how much of the active ingredients is contained. It also has a maximum dose (do not apply more than 4 times daily). It also says do not use on children under 12 (something many oil sites encourage is use on your kids – cause hey it’s natural!). The consistency of the labeling offers some margin of safety.

            How sis you measure the fact that the oils work better than traditional medicine? Was it the same amount of “better” in every case? What specific traditional medicines were not working? That’s the problem with an anecdote is there is no control. It could be that something entirely unrelated helped improve your condition, but you think it was the oils.

            Example: sometimes it is not necessary to take a medication for a headache. But because people drink water with their pills, they assume the pill helps them. We know things like Tylenol work because controlled testing can help to eliminate the other variables in the equation. Your personal story does not.

            It also concerns me when people shun modern medicine. I worry more and more people will wait too long and cause harm to themselves or others by believing oils are almost magical in their ability to heal. Steve Jobs tried to cure his cancer with food – and admitted to his biographer it was a mistake.

  2. Carole M. says:

    I made plantar warts disappear from my daughter’s foot with tea tree oil. One of my friend’s child’s feet were full of plantar warts, it had become a nightmare for them, they used my method (found on the internet), it cleared both feet in a few short weeks.
    This is anecdotal, maybe, but it is a good thing that I did not wait for any formal research or my child would have been submitted to painful medical procedures which most common effect is to make the problem worse (like for my friend’s child mentioned above).
    The good thing with essential oils is that we have nothing to lose (except a few dollars and hope) and a lot to gain.

    • Chad Jones says:

      I understand what you mean, but the “nothing to lose” argument is pretty weak. I have nothing to lose by jumping on one foot to cure hiccups. I also don’t have anything to gain. Just because you have nothing to lose doesn’t mean it’s worth your time or money.

      Tea tree oil, the one you mentioned, has been shown in vitro to have mild anti microbial benefits (and I did mention it). That doesn’t necessarily mean it will have the same effect in vivo. It may have some effect, but I would not say we have “a lot to gain”. I would be surprised if a future study shows any of the currently used essential oils to have a major clinical effect.

      • Carole M. says:

        This is not the microbial benefits we are talking about here, but the anti-fungal that you said was not proven…
        By the way, which powerful medical lab is going to study tea tree oil really? There is no money to make there… And dermatologists are happy that people keep their psoriasis and plantar warts, they would not have afforded their Porsche otherwise… but that’s another story…

        • Chad Jones says:

          It seems that you’re willing to admit that it’s just an anecdote, but not really willing to admit that it’s just an anecdote. I didn’t just say tea tree oil has no antifungal effect, I showed the research.

          • Angry says:

            i had a doctor tell me to put tea tree oil on shingles for the pain and it worked. But actually I popped on here to say that essential oils can be extremely DANGEROUS. there are companies that suggest you ingest them and my sister is currently violently ill after doing so. She may not recover. She had a complete psychotic break plus violent physical reactions (vomiting, chills, rashes, boils…it’s like a biblical plague.) that are still not gone weeks after stopping use. There is virtually NO information anywhere about the adverse affects of essential oils. I find it terrifying that companies are out there telling people to ingest this stuff with absolutely NO studies done on such things. It’s irresponsible.

        • Mike O. says:

          Firstly, Carole, if you are going to mention “anti-fungal” effects, then perhaps you should be looking into what causes plantar warts first. Plantar warts are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV) as are all other warts. It is a virus, not a fungus. It also seems to be possible to get rid of warts by simply irritating the area so the immune system can take over (there seems to be various methods of doing this) so how do you know the tea tree oil was the cure and not mild irritation? Maybe the warts just went away, as they sometimes tend to do. Just because you rubbed tea tree oil on them and they went away doesn’t mean that is actually what cured the condition.

          Secondly, Mr. Jones did link to a study mentioning Tea Tree oil that is published on the NIH website. So there’s your “powerful medical lab”. There is obviously money to be made there, because people like you will purchase it. Believe me, no dermatologist is worried that they are going to run out of patients any time soon. If they wanted to keep people perpetually sick they would prescribe them these “natural” remedies that are either unproven or dis-proven and overcharge for them. Even if it did work, the process would still be the same. Diagnose > prescribe > results or reexamination > money.

          • popoagie says:

            Mike,
            Sometimes dermatologists do prescribe things like cimetidine for viral warts and it does nothing. Then they try freezing them and it still doesn’t trigger the immune system, but cypress and lemon oil do. And they are less expensive than the laser therapy that was recommended next.
            I find the controversy interesting, as well as the accusations against people that prefer homeopathy to prescribed drugs…maybe it just comes down to trust? pharmaceutical companies care more about the bottom line. The FDA recommends things that often have more to do with farm product lobbying than real healthy nutrition, and people don’t know who to trust anymore. So maybe companies like DoTerra are more about marketing too, but the person trying their oils can at least say they got it from a trusted friend who found it to be effective.

        • Noah Dillon says:

          Carole:

          You should keep in mind that many synthetic drugs are developed from naturally occurring chemicals. You can see this in penicillin: originally from a natural mold, its active chemical has been developed into various different antibiotics that can target specific infections (amoxicillin, meticillin, oxacillin, and dozens of others). It’s not inconceivable that properties out tea tree oil could be discovered and enhanced in a similar fashion.

          There are likely R&D labs currently trying to find new reasons and ways to sell you tea tree oil. If tea tree oil is shown to have any useful clinical effects, you can be certain that there will be a long line of people and institutions interested in capitalizing on it. (The first in line will no doubt be those labs that are already in the business of purifying and manufacturing tea tree oil for the glut of soaps, serums, and other products currently being sold that include tea tree oil.)

          I imagine a dermatologist wouldn’t stay in business very long if they couldn’t achieve any results.

      • Brian says:

        Here is a study showing the anti-fungal effects of hinokitiol which is present in Great Arborvitae Essential Oil that I shared above:
        https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/bpb/31/4/31_4_735/_article

    • mocato says:

      The big point here is the brain..very often the belief will work, because the brain accepts the concept. If you did NOT believe it would work..it would not. My grandfather ‘cured’ my Mom’s warts by rubbing a cut potato on the wart, and burying it in the garden at full moon. Should not work you think? It did. A belief system in my grandfathers forbears.and one that has never failed to relieve warts.

      • Noah Dillon says:

        I don’t understand. Are you saying the potato cured your mother’s warts or that her belief did? Beliefs can’t kill bacteria or viruses any more than they can build skyscrapers. Some sort of physical action is required.

        • SJ says:

          yes it can…placebo effect:)

        • Becky says:

          How do you explain “phantom baby” then?

          • Bob says:

            Are you equating viruses (a discrete physical thing) to phantom kicks (a mental thing that has no physical reality but sure feels real)? Or are you going in some other direction? With the information you provided it is kind of hard to tell.

    • “painful medical procedures which most common effect is to make the problem worse” — Either you’re mischaracterizing medical science here, or it seems to me you are taking weaknesses in medical science to be justifications for alternative medicine, or both. There’s very little sound logic there.

      • I dont believe ANYTHING I read on the internet. I do my own trial and error and so far, all the oils I have used have done what I wanted them to do. I suppose you dont believe in God either? To each his own. I will continue to buy and use the essential oils like I have been, I dont need some scientist to tell me it works or not, I know it works saw it myself and love them.

        • Eric Hall says:

          Anecdote is the worst kind of evidence. Because the memory is reconstructed then rewritten each time, what we remember changes over time.

          So how did you decide to try the oils the first time if you didnt evaluate some evidence that it wasn’t instant death?

          By the way – the oils can be dangerous in many ways http://skeptoid.com/blog/2014/04/05/essential-oil-claims-the-dangers-keep-on-coming/

        • twisted words says:

          Why am I not surprised that someone who believes in god (only one of the many, surely) also believes that essential oils actually do something.

          • Otto says:

            Why not just skip the oils altogether and just pray away your ills. Just as effective and free to boot.

        • Joy says:

          I have to agree. I have experienced such positive results with using essential oils on myself and my family that it becomes irrelevant to me what science has proven. Particularly after peppermint oil (mixed with a carrier oil) gave my husband instant relief from a sunburn that had him in horrible pain. He was also a skeptic of essential oils until that day. We also experienced success using a blend of oils for respiratory support on my son who had a seemingly endless night time cough. His doctor had even prescribed him an inhaler which was near torture to use on him because was so young. We had to literally hold him down and force the mask on his face. After one night of the blend of oils the cough was gone… Now we use it anytime he picks up a cough and it works wonders. I have invested in a few books on essential oil safety and particularly for children because I understand that if misused essential oils like most anything can be harmful. As someone who doesn’t like to waste money, I do appreciate the research put into this post but I personally will continue to use what has proven itself in my home.

  3. “Essential oils” is also a term I’ve heard used in the foodie scene–oil-based infusions do have a lot of flavoring potential. Truffle oil is, I understand, very overrated, but you can make simple pepper oil at home, and it’s very useful stuff. Of course, those peppery, fat-soluble flavoring compounds are also alcohol-soluble… but mum’s Svedka tastes enough like turpentine anyway.

    • Chad Jones says:

      Ya, essential oils are really just concentrated solutions of plant extract. For cooking it will make a difference to the smell and flavor, I’m sure, but you’ll still see crazy health benefit claims, like this one – “Being concentrated, the essential oils contain virtually all of the plants healing nutrients”. (quote from here: http://www.aroma-essence.com/cooking.html)

      Later on that same website warns against microwaving your food, and that’s debunked easily enough. (They say ” 2 seconds of microwave energy destroys all enzymes in the food and alters the frequency of the food.”)

      As a chemist, I can tell you that microwaves are not energetic enough to break bonds and that talking about the frequency of your food makes not sense…

  4. I use tea tree oil shampoo, but not because of its magical properties. I just like the way it makes my scalp feel.

  5. Cary Snowden says:

    I am able to eat hot food much more frequently because of my microwave. Perhaps ‘that’ is what they meant? ;-)

  6. Myk says:

    That’s funny. When I read that article on Tea Tree (melaleuca alternifolia) oil, it seems to list several clinical trials with benefits, such as for a 25% solution to treat tinea pedis (which I use it for myself). I thought it was the alt-med proponents that misrepresented scientific studies?

  7. Myk says:

    Well, actually reading the article on tea tree oil’s “clinical efficacy” section shows that there is a trial showing effective treatment of dandruff, though the trial numbers may be small. There is some evidence, but it’s not great, yet.

  8. Rob Hooft says:

    Chad, referring to http://www.whatstheharm.net and reading your concluding sentence “I’m of the opinion that you are free to waste your money on whatever you choose.”, I recognize you are a big proponent of suicide and you must be a supporter of the Darwin awards ;-)

  9. james says:

    Anesth Analg. 2012 Mar 5. [Epub ahead of print]
    Aromatherapy as Treatment for Postoperative Nausea: A Randomized Trial.
    Hunt R, Dienemann J, Norton HJ, Hartley W, Hudgens A, Stern T, Divine G.
    Source

    From the *Department of Anesthesia, Carolinas Medical Center University, Charlotte, NC;
    Abstract

    Background:Postoperative nausea (PON) is a common complication of anesthesia and surgery. Antiemetic medication for higher-risk patients may reduce but does not reliably prevent PON. We examined aromatherapy as a treatment for patients experiencing PON after ambulatory surgery. Our primary hypothesis was that in comparison with inhaling a placebo, PON will be reduced significantly by aromatherapy with (1) essential oil of ginger, (2) a blend of essential oils of ginger, spearmint, peppermint, and cardamom, or (3) isopropyl alcohol. Our secondary hypothesis was that the effectiveness of aromatherapy will depend upon the agent used.Methods:A randomized trial of aromatherapy with patients who reported nausea in the postanesthesia care unit was conducted at one ambulatory surgical center. Eligibility criteria were adult, able to give consent, and no history of coagulation problems or allergy to the aromatherapy agents. Before surgery, demographic and risk factors were collected. Patients with a nausea level of 1 to 3 on a verbal descriptive scale (0-3) received a gauze pad saturated with a randomly chosen aromatherapy agent and were told to inhale deeply 3 times; nausea (0-3) was then measured again in 5 minutes. Prophylactic and postnausea antiemetics were given as ordered by physicians or as requested by the patient.Results:A total of 1151 subjects were screened for inclusion; 303 subjects reporting nausea were enrolled (26.3%), and 301 meeting protocol were analyzed (26.2%). The change in nausea level was significant for the blend (P < 0.001) and ginger (P = 0.002) versus saline but not for alcohol (P < 0.76). The number of antiemetic medications requested after aromatherapy was also significantly reduced with ginger or blend aromatherapy versus saline (P = 0.002 and P < 0.001, respectively).Conclusion:The hypothesis that aromatherapy would be effective as a treatment for PON was supported. On the basis of our results, future research further evaluating aromatherapy is warranted. Aromatherapy is promising as an inexpensive, noninvasive treatment for PON that can be administered and controlled by patients as needed.

    • ChristieD says:

      James, you fail to address the fact that the descriptive scale they used is likely to overexaggerate any effects of the alleged treatment. I mean, would you be satisfied if your nausea went from a 3 to a 2…could you even reliably state whether that scale accurately described your experience. In most medical literature, most analogue scales are rated between 0-10 to account for this. Very poor study.

  10. Candida says:

    I’m sure I read a couple of years back about one study that did show a positive effect for scent, but it was a very simple one, on perception/tolerance of pain, not a therapeutic one. One of those hold-your-hands-in-icy-water tests.. Pleasant smells – I think sweet ones? – enabled people to tolerate the icy water for longer than unpleasant ones or no smell. Cannot find it now searching, but it got picked up in New Scientist. It sounded pretty much the same as giving your child a sweet when they have a vaccination: simply a pleasant distraction, but an effective one – as long as you just sniff the stuff rather than rubbing something like neat cinnamon oil on your skin. (Of course, that would also provide distraction, of a different type, from the original pain.)

  11. jeff myer says:

    Thank you for giving me some info to help me fight the battle that gets everybody pissed off at me in “Whole Foods” and other ” health food stores” where people hate me, get angry at me …etc. when all I’m doing is help them not to waste their money. Jeff

    • Anonymous says:

      Why do you feel like it’s your duty to keep people from spending THEIR money on things YOU don’t believe in?

      • Marshall says:

        Anonymous, follow this spectrum for a moment: If you saw somebody having a heart attack and about to die without help, would you stop and render aid? What if they had only sprained an ankle and needed help getting across the room? How about if they cut their finger and you happened to have a bandaid in your pocket? What if they dropped a stack of books and needed help picking it up? Or if they were walking towards a door that was about to close and their hands were full, would you hold the door for them? What if they were about to waste their hard-earned money on snake oil that has proven to be ineffective at the things they want to use it for?

        At which point on this spectrum does it become socially acceptable to ignore the needs of others and allow them to come to harm that you might be able to help them avoid? At which point is sociopathy suddenly acceptable? If you think the duty of being helpful to others must somehow be assigned and that it isn’t EVERYBODY’S duty, then there is something wrong with you. Not Jeff Myer, but you.

        • Darla says:

          My Doctor prescribed me medications that caused me harm. Everything has that potential. Just like Essential Oils have the potential to relieve pain, muscle aches and more… Each person must make his or her own decisions based upon their due diligence and their specific health conditions, not someone else’s “perceived” dangers.

          • Eric Hall says:

            It is always about dose. Water is harmful if you drink too much. In fact, distilled water can be very dangerous to drink – yet water is essential to life and makes up a decent percentage of our body. The advantage pharmaceuticals have is the doses are controlled and the side effects versus benefits are studied and understood.

          • Darla says:

            Exactly, and the use of essential oils are used diluted, rarely neat to avoid sensitization to them, like everything, one should do a patch test before using an essential oil. My BF has tinea versacolor, nothing worked this summer to get rid of it, I made him a sugar scrub with coconut oil and tea tree oil, the next day it was 50% diminished, Today,, day three it is all but gone. EO’s and Coconut oil worked where strong prescription drugs didn’t.

          • Eric Hall says:

            “Nothing worked this summer.” I’m not sure what treatments you tried before your scrub, but let me propose this to you: Is it possible it is the mechanical action of the scrubbing and not the oils that are leading to the improvement? Is he continuing the other treatments as well? Or perhaps the other treatments are taking effect and now the scrub is simply removing the skin which was discolored previously, leading to a visual improvement, but the underlying infection was already being or has been cured?

            This is why anecdotes make poor data – because it is not well controlled.

          • Darla says:

            No, he has not used any treatments for some time, at least 6 months Each Component of the scrub has a job. The sugar exfoiliates the yeast from the surface of the skin, The coconut oil provides moisture back to the skin and it is also antimicrobial and antibacterial, the tea tree oil kills bacteria and fungus. There was about a 50% improvement over night. Tee tree oil is well documented for these kinds of treatments and it is an oil that can be used neat, but I do not use any thing neat. And he needed all of these together to treat all of the issues.

          • Eric Hall says:

            How are you measuring this 50%?

            And you said nothing worked this summer? So now he didn’t get any treatment for some time? Why not? Why try this now? And if these things are such powerful antifungals – why is it when I believed in this stuff the tea tree oil didn’t cure my toenail infection?

          • Darla says:

            The stuff he used to use never did work very well, knowing what I know now about it, it does not address all of the issues of Tinea Versacolor. and he was out, He’s a man , men don’t go to the doctor unless they have nearly bled out.
            I make Sugar Scrub, and It just hit me the other morning what would work and that these ingredients together address all of the issues in one step.

            I am sorry that The Tee Tree Oil Didn’t help, Should have tried Mediterranean Oil of Oregano topically and taken in internally, backed up with a probiotic. :D

            You know Eric, Just as in Western Medicine, What works for one person doesn’t work for another. We can not use such a broad brush, it is rather narrow minded don;t you think?

          • Eric Hall says:

            Ahhh – the classic “skeptics are narrow-minded” argument.

            This comes up often when I try to address anecdotes. I am not doubting your outcome, what I am doubting is your conclusion. The problem with yours and most other anecdotes is there is no control or blinding which could lead you to conclude it is your scrub that is causing the improvement, nor do you have a standard by which to measure the 50% improvement. Is it possible the scrub is causing improvement? Certainly. But it could be the mechanical action of scrubbing. It could be the extra time spent cleaning the skin. It could be the longer exposure to water. Without comparing or at least controlling all of these things, there is no way to conclude it is the scrub itself.

            I also should note you accuse me of using a broad brush – but then use a broad brush to make a somewhat sexist statement in saying “men don’t go to the doctor unless they have nearly bled out.” Imagine if I made some broad statement about women like that – not only would it be wrong to stereotype like that, but I would likely get flamed in the comments.

            There isn’t a dichotomy of “Western Medicine” and whatever else it is you are comparing it to. There is medicine, and there is bunk. Medicine is willing to accept the evidence if it is there.

          • Darla says:

            I guess you do not understand WHAT tinea versacolor is. The skin must be exfoilated to remove the yeast from the skin, as it will feed on itself and continue to spread. The skin has to be re-moisturized due to the exfoliation process, and coconut oil provides the needed protection with the natural antimicrobial properties. The Tee tree Oil is a known anti fungal. Simply showering with soap or extra time in the water showering does not clear this, as a matter of fact, heat, water and moisture exacerbate it, This condition is very common in more humid locations.

            Here is how I conclude it IS the scrub. He has been inflamed with it pretty bad for at least 6 weeks, It has been humid here. And it still is. The only thing that has changed in his routine, is the scrub.

            Yeah, like he is going to take time off of work to go to the Dr. for this… LOL. Actually this morning doing some research I did find Doctors that recommended this EO just for this purpose.

            I use it and eucalyptus for my RA to reduce swelling, pain and stiffness. Works great and keeps me off of biologics. (AKA) chemo drugs)

            People have to be their own advocate and do what works for them what ever it may be, Western Medicine is not the answer to every medical problem. or ailment.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Just one example of a study demonstrating the anti-fungal effects of several essential oils:

    http://www.fpl.fs.fed.us/documnts/pdf2006/fpl_2006_yang001.pdf

    • Noah Dillon says:

      That’s a study about soaking wood in oils. It’s a bit like treating wood with a varnish. Your body doesn’t work that way. All of the molds they’re trying to combat are strains that afflict vegetable material, not people. Two of the molds they’re treating the wood for are themselves anti-fungal, so maybe you can use that in aromatherapy. As I skimmed the report, the results seem to indicate that you can combat those molds by getting the oil hot enough to vaporize it so that it penetrates deep into the lumber. And you may have to keep up this action: the most effective fungicide was vaporized dill weed oil, which the authors say probably prevented new fungus growth by suffocation.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Just one example of research demostrating the antifungal/antimicrobial properties of several essential oils:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8893526

    There are plenty more.

    • Chad Jones says:

      Right, and I did mention that in vitro studies have been done. It’s not always true that in vitro effectiveness translates to in vivo effectiveness. I’m not saying that essential oils are useless, or that I would never use them if it were clinically indicated, I’m saying that their effects are greatly exaggerated by the alternative medicine crowd.

  14. Josh says:

    There are numerous studies demonstrating the antimicrobial properties of essential oils. Here is one example that I picked out of the 10,400 results returned from a simple .gov Google search.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8893526

    Tea tree is a poor example of an effective antimicrobial oil. However, it is frequently used for this purpose because it can be applied topically without being diluted in a carrier oil.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Granted, this is a study of molds afflicting vegetable matter which is very different from molds afflicting humans. The argument that the results are skewed because some of the molds themselves are anti-fungal would merit consideration if anti-fungal activity was observed consistently in each trial, not just the trials where the oils were shown to be effective. The results do not specify if the samples were exposed to the spores individually or separately.

    I do not read anywhere that the oils were heated to the point of vaporization. The dip treated samples were immersed in room temperature oil for 15 seconds and the vapor treated samples were “held at room temperature overnight in a glass Petri dish test apparatus with a small glass dish (4 cm diameter) containing 3 ml of an individual test oil placed beside the specimens.” I fail to locate the reference to the fungal growth being prevented by suffocation. However I do see a reference that suggests ketone volatilization likely plays a role in the prevention of spore germination by this oil.

  16. Kay Hanson says:

    We recently started using some essential oils for various health related issues in our own home. My daughter suffers from severe anxiety panic disorder, and she has trouble sleeping. My other daughter, also has trouble sleeping. We put two drops of lavender essential oil on them at night, and it has helped them to sleep better. Our daughter with anxiety says that just smelling it helps her to calm down.

    Now, having given that anecdotal information, whether it is their own mental idea that the oil will help, or the actual oil helping them sleep, makes absolutely no difference to me. At least they sleep better, and are not having to ingest something that could end up being recalled in five years because it causes liver failure or some other Godawful condition. I should also tell you that before using the oil on them, I asked them to try it to see if it would help. I did not promise them it would help nor did I give them a lengthy lecture or discuss it at length with them. I just offered to try it and it has helped.

    I have used a blend of cinnamon oil with clove, lemon, eucalyptus and rosemary on myself for colds. The time I take to get over my colds seems to have shortened since I started applying them for these purposes. I have also noticed that when I apply lavender to the sides of my nose, my congestion during a cold lessens. Again, whether it is mental or the oils actually work, I am glad I don’t need to take as much Sudaephedrine, and Benedryl for these issues. Camphor and eucalyptus seem to really help my sinuses as well.

    Another oil that has worked for us, believe it or not, is Frankincense. It seems to help with acne. I don’t know if it will work for everybody, because everyone has different amounts of oils on/in their skin and their body chemistry is probably not exactly the same as ours, but it has helped us. My daughter has pretty bad acne and it is clearing hers up with regular use in the evenings. I have heard there are other oils that will help too, but have not tried any others for that.

    I think in today’s world, we have to really research things ourselves before we can make a decision as to whether or not it is “fake”, or “phony”. I think that oils might work for some people, and maybe not for others. Not all medicines in the pharmaceutical industry work for everything. Some medicines work for some bacterias, and some work for others. The Sudaphed you have to sign for at the pharmacy works far better for me than the stuff I can just grab and pay for, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t work for other people. I do wonder, however, what the long term effects of it will be on my body. Hopefully, they won’t be too detrimental. I haven’t taken the time to look it up. Maybe I will.

    Long story short, don’t take anyone’s word for anything. Check stuff out so you know for yourself whether or not it will work for you, and if someone is really being honest, they will site the sources. Even then, when studies use people, there are too many variables that could possibly effect the outcomes. I think, unless a study has the people participating, eating and drinking the same foods, doing the same daily activities, in a controlled environment, and yes, even sleeping in exactly the same types of environments, how can they be sure outside sources are not “interfering with”, or “contaminating” the subjects, thus altering the outcomes of the studies? I mean, whose to say someone who eats “healthy”, versus someone who eats “unhealthy” wouldn’t have differing outcomes with any study? Just a thought.

    • Chad Jones says:

      The argument that medicine is not generalizable is compelling. After all, we’re all individuals, right? You mention that a study should involve everyone doing the exact same thing (eating, sleeping habits, work, stress) to truly account for all the variables, but that’s not true. You’re talking about systematic error – the fluctuations that will always be present no matter how well you design a study. That’s one reason for controlled trials, since the systematic error will also be present in the control. You don’t need every person to live the same life or have all the same situations to be able to account for all the variables.

      Also, I think it’s interesting that anecdotal evidence is never compelling until it’s your own anecdote. I don’t say this to mock your comment, it’s an honest commentary on how compelling it is for you because you experienced it for yourself – even though you admit that it is only anecdotal.

  17. Zsuzsi says:

    It seems, after reading all the comments, that discussing aromatherapy products/essential oils is pretty much like discussing religion or politics. If anyone disagrees with one person’s opinion/experience, it is like a personal assault on their souls. Chad made some very valid points in HIS blog, and those visiting it feel wounded because he may disagree with their personal beliefs. I am unsure whether the oils have any legitimate benefits; still doing research. However, the claims made by folks selling the stuff is, at the least, exaggerated, and the most, diagnosing and prescribing without a license. And, as always, the “but it’s natural!” is my biggest irritant … so is poop, doesn’t mean I’m going to rub it on my skin, vaporize and inhale it, or put it in a pill and swallow it. I went to a gathering of women raving about a particular brand of oils. When I asked questions on the validity of some of the claims, or how some piece of equipment shooting electrical current through my body could tell me all that was wrong with me without any bloodwork or other valid testing, I was met with such hostility. I should just believe what I was being told because of the numerous tests that have been done but when asked for specific testing information, none could be given to me. So, while some of these oils may have validity, I am not sure I will ever find out, just because of the experience I had with a group of people who still thought science and trials, was some sort of hocus-pocus.

    • Kerri Lyn Angel says:

      personally I think that all of you don’t even need to fight about any of this. both essential oils and pharmaceuticals work differently for different individuals. I personally use both. there needs to be an integration of natural path E and traditional Western medicine. I am a very complicated case. I hav very bad cranial nerve damage due to 18 and a half hour brain surgery. many many problems another surgery another surgery another procedure another procedure. I have been chasing down normalcy since 2005. it has been very difficult since my tumor was rare and little is known about the post operativ effects. so I utilize both natural path and traditional medicine. both have proven useful in some ways. I have found that things that work for one person do not necessarily work for another person it depends on their disability. it seems foolish to discount either.

  18. Cathie says:

    My husband is a long-time supporter of Skeptoid, so when my friends started on the doTerra bandwagon I wanted to find out more about all of these claims. It is unnerving to see so many people abandoning medicines for these oils. They are applying them topically, diffusing them, and ingesting them. I am confused by their jargon and the frequent connections to “Asian” practices of balancing energies, treating the “whole” body and looking towards herbs and the like to CURE them of ailments and major diseases. My problem are the claims of cure and I agree that the claims are exaggerated. I can see valid uses and possible benefits, but curing disease is something all together different.

    I am not a scientist. I would like to use these oils if in fact they do have real benefits, but how do I know what is right and what isn’t when I am researching? So much is presented as fact it makes it so difficult to distinguish right from wrong.

  19. Trendy says:

    It seems to me that the best way to answer this argument would be for a major Pharmaceutical company to do trials and testing on essential oils. Anyone truly seeking for real answers would want to see this happen. Every time I have tried to look up large studies on essential oils, I always find a very similar phrase “little research has been done”. A skeptoid, or anyone else, should ask….why? Why has not more research been done?
    I believe it is because the Drug companies could never get a return on their investment. They want to develope drugs they can patent. They want to be able to charge double the price in the U.S. vs. Canada or Europe to recoupe their R & D. The big Pay Day happengs when they find a drug they can patent that you must take – every day – for the rest of your life!! Since essential oils are not even regulated by the FDA, IF and I say IF they were proven beneficial, they could actually move customers away from some prescription medications to essential oils. Essential oils can be grown and distilled on any farm….so how would this research benefit the Drug companies? It would not.

    So we are left… to our personal trials…. and anecdotes… and stories from friends and family… and those we trust…. because the medical community largely reports to stockholders… not patients.

    What if I told you a certain essential oil had been proven, in a large, reputable clinical trial, to reduce depression by 50% in 80% of patients? What if I then told you that when selling this oil, you would not have to list a paragraph of potential nasty side-effects that sound way worse than the initial condition? Would you want to try it??? What would happen to the stock value of the companies selling “Oh Welbutrin” (as I call it)

    Have you ever had someone you care about who was completely unhelped – or even harmed by the medical community or the advice of the A.M.A.? Have you ever seen that person finally helped by an essential oil? Something you thought you would never try but were desperate and out of options but then found it to be amazingly helpful?

    Finally, I believe that only a narrow-minded person writes an article like this without, at least, trying some of the oils themselves. By-the-way, there are many grades of oils: aromatherapy grade may only be for smell, therapeutic grad may -or may not- need to be diluted with carrier oil like olive oil, and pure distilled oils, without chemical additives may be ingestible. Because there is limited regulation, it is difficult to know what you get. But, the next time you get a headache, put some high grade peppermint on the area. The next time your Mother has a Hot Flash, put some peppermint on her ankles. The next time you get a wart, put some oregano on them. Hopefully you will get two warts and you can put compound W on one and Oregano on the other. I can’t afford a full blown clinical study. And no one else seems willing to do one. But that does not mean it doesn’t work. Some things are true whether you believe them or not. But to attack what others believe without strong data backing either side- and you must admit even the studies you have cited are weak- does not help any of us. And to draw the conclusion that it is a waste of money from the limited research done is to close a door that some day you may wish you had left open – even if only a small crack.

    • The testing you’re asking for has not been done probably because there are no pilot studies suggesting efficacy. There aren’t really any cogent hypotheses to test.

      The suggestion that drug companies only sell drugs they can patent is incredibly wrong to anyone taking even the most basic look at a pharmacy. Aspirin, for example. Every single product that’s available OTC has an expired patent. Many that are not yet OTC are available in generic form. They’re all extremely profitable.

      If there was some kind of miracle cure-all treatment available, as you suggest, that required no R&D, then they could bring it to market with a fraction of the investment. You think they wouldn’t jump all over this?

      • Magnanamous Dinoflagellate says:

        Limited research on essential oils?

        Trendy, Pick an essential oil, look at the amount of research done on it.

        This is called a “I just made that up” fallacy

        • trendy says:

          I am not sure I should even waste my time in response to someone whose name means “generous algae with a whiplike organelle” and also cannot spell “Magnanimous” but what I said was not a fallacy and not made up. There is a lot of research out there-over 13, 000 studies.That was part of my point to Brian who claimed there probably weren’t any. But can you find one done by a major drug company? I can’t. Pick your favorite Medical Institution or journal. My favorite is the Mayo Clinic. Search for research on essential oils and see if it doesn’t say that little research has been done or that more testing is needed

      • trendy says:

        Brian, you are not paying close attention to my comment. I am not so ignorant as to believe Aspirin is under patent and most meds do not have expired patents etc.etc. I tried to clearly state that drug companies would not get a return on their investment of R&D because essential oils are natural and readily available. Also, essential oils are not regulated by the FDA and so prescribing them as a medicinal cure becomes very problematic. If a drug company cleared all these hurdles, they would clear the path for all others to sell the product without sharing in the cost of getting it to Market.

        And as for “pilot studies” or “cogent hypotheses”…..seriously?? Brian Google Lavender essential oil and anxiety, abrasions, clinical trials, and see what comes up. So please check stuff out before you start out saying “there probably aren’t”

        • Dave says:

          They would make money, period. Think about this, penicillin was invented by studying mold… Is mold rare? Heck I can get moldy bread in a week if I want to. Yet drug companies make money off of penicillin. Why on earth would the refinement of anything within any “essential oil” NOT produce a profit while bread mold derived antibiotics do?

          Unfortunately for the drug companies, unlike DoTerra they have to PROVE efficacy before being allowed to sell their products.

          Btw, notice how DoTerra already makes money off of these supposedly unprofitable products?

          Some of them undoubtedly can do some good, but the claims of their schills far outweigh the evidence.

  20. Magnanamous Dinoflagellate says:

    Thanx for the initial comments, I hope you take them on board for future interactions and avoid an argument initiated by an attempt at diminution. Possibly another avoidance technique that may constitute an argumentative fallacy.. My current Skeptoid tags have been far more successful in getting people to think. Thanx for the immediate reward on dinoflagellates. May “magnanimity” appears to have worked past step one.

    So without further ado;

    a) you did not respond to Brian in your initial post thus I cant comment on what is being thought.

    You are correct that drug companies would not get a monstrous return on anything that is non patentable, You are missing the point that all traditionally sourced compounds that are produced by plants are clearly scientifically evaluated and each compound may or may not be a source for patentable raw materials.

    But, drug companies are chemical companies with a regulatory coat. You may find that drug companies where you live may also produce chemicals for resale in the alternative or supplements market. The term Big Pharma should be retired as Big Chemicals always held sway and, frankly, its a far bigger and easier target.

    I amased that you could only find such a miserly 13000 papers in your search in personally evaluating essential oils, their compounds and their derivatives . Maybe its a keyword issue.

    b) You state therapeutic R&D as some sort of immediacy. .The base properties, (of the raw essential oils), and traditional uses, over many millennia, are very well known by traditional practitioners and perfumers, cooks and herbalists and overarching science., We could infer that the pharmacopoeia, the herbals, cookbooks, perfumers grimoires and science listed to date (whilst not exhausted by a long shot) is exhaustive with respect to the properties required by alternative modalities and traditional uses.

    c) The article goes to alternative modalities exaggeration the effects of their use by self diagnosers (hypochondiacs) and their support base, alternative modalties,, can in fact be harmful.

    Yes, I think its about time that essential oils are sold with an MSDS so the hypochondriacs at least know.their next claims to glory.or be promoted to the solid ranks of Munchhausen diagnostics for friends and family.

    Please reinvigorate your search skills by reviewing your search terms and how to establish what precisely you are looking for.

  21. Herbal oils are very useful… essential oils are used for health purpose, it can used a medicine…. it can be used for beauty purpose also…..

  22. Essential oils are generally extracted by distillation, often by using steam. Other processes include expression or solvent extraction. They are used in perfumes, cosmetics, soaps and other products, for flavoring food and drink, and for adding scents to incense and household cleaning products.

  23. scott says:

    Gee you’re right…there just doesn’t seem to be any professional journal studies out there on essential oils. a quick Google and the results were pretty scarce. here is what i found

    Alexandrovich, I., Rakovitskaya, O., Kolmo, E., Sidorova, T., Shushunov, S. (2003). The effect of fennel (Foeniculum Volgare) seed oil emulsion in infantile colic: a randomized, placebo-controlled study. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, 9(4), 58-61.

    Al-Hader, A.A., Hasan, Z.A., Aqel, M.B. (1994). Hyperglycemic and insulin release inhibitory effects of rosmarinus officinalis. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 43, 217,22.

    Al-Shuneigat, J., Cox, S. D., & Markham, J. L. (2005). Effects of a topical essential oil-containing formulation on biofilm-forming coagulase-negative staphylococci. Letters in Applied Microbiology, 41(1), 52-55.

    Anderson, L., Gross, J. (2004). Aromatherapy with peppermint, isopropyl alcohol, or placebo is equally effective in relieving postoperative nausea. Journal of Peri-Anesthesia Nursing, 19(1), 29-35.

    Bagg, J., Jackson, M. S., Petrina Sweeney, M., Ramage, G., & Davies, A. N. (2006). Susceptibility to melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil of yeasts isolated from the mouths of patients with advanced cancer. Oral Oncology, 42(5), 487-492.

    Ballard, C.G., O’Brien, J.T., Reichelt, K., Perry, E.K. (2002). Aromatherapy as a safe and effective treatment for the management of agitation in severe dementia: the results of a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial with Melissa. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 63, 553-8.

    Barker, S & Altman P. (2010). A randomized, assessor blind, parallel group comparative efficacy trial of three products for the treatment of head lice in children – melaleuca oil and lavender oil, pyrethrins and piperonyl butoxide, and a “suffocation” product. BMC Dermatology, 10, 6.

    Bassett, I. B., Pannowitz, D. L., & Barnetson, R. S. (1990). A comparative study of tea-tree oil versus benzoylperoxide in the treatment of acne. Med J Aust, 153(8), 455-458.

    Benencia, F. (1999). Antiviral activity of sandalwood oil against Herpes simplex viruses-1 and -2. Phytomedicine, 6(2), 119-23.

    Bernardes W, Lucarini R, Tozatti M, Flauzino L, Souza M, Turatti I, Andrade e Silva M, martins C, da Silva Filho A & Cunha W. (2010). Antibacterial activity of the essential oil from Rosmarinus officinalis and its major components against oral pathogens. Journal of Biosciences; 65(9-10):588-93.

    Bouhdid, S, Abrini, J, Zhiri, A, Espuny, M & Manresa, A. (2009). Investigation of functional and morphological changes in Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus cells induced by Origanum compactum essential oil. Journal of Applied Microbiology, 106(5), 1558-1568.

    Brady, A., Loughlin, R., Gilpin, D., Kearney, P., & Tunney, M. (2006). In vitro activity of tea-tree oil against clinical skin isolates of meticillin-resistant and -sensitive staphylococcus aureus and coagulase-negative staphylococci growing planktonically and as biofilms. Journal of Medical Microbiology, 55(Pt 10), 1375-1380.

    Brandao, F. M. (1986). Occupational allergy to lavender oil. Contact Dermatitis, 249-50.

    Buckle, J. (2007). Literature review: should nursing take aromatherapy more seriously? British Journal of Nursing, 16(2), 116-120.

    Burns, E., Blamey, C., Ersser, S. J., Barnetson, L., & Lloyd, A. (2000). An investigation into the use of aromatherapy in intrapartum midwifery Practice. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 6(2), 141-7.

    Burns, E., Zobbi, V., Panzeri, D., Oskrochi, R., Regalia, A. (2007). Aromatherapy in childbirth: a pilot randomized controlled trial. BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, 114(7), 838-44.

    Burt, S. A. (2003). Antibacterial activity of selected plant essential oils against Escherichia coli O157:H7. Letters in Applied Microbiology 36, 162-7.

    Caelli, M., Porteous, J., Carlson, C. F., Heller, R., & Riley, T. V. (2001). Tea tree oil as an alternative topical decolonization agent for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus. The International Journal of Aromatherapy, 11(2). [Originally published in The Journal of Hospital Infection (2000), 46, 236-237.]

    Canyon, D & Speare, R. (2007). A comparison of botanical and synthetic substances commonly used to prevent health lice (Pediculus humanus var. capitis) infestation. International Journal of Dermatology, 46(4), 422-426.

    Cappello, G, Spezzaferro, M, Grossi, L, et al. (2007). Peppermint oil (Mintoil) in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome: A prospective double blind placebo-controlled randomized trial. Digestive & Liver Disease, 39(6), 530-536.

    Carson, C. F., Hammer, K. A., & Riley, T. V. (2006). Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil: A review of antimicrobial and other medicinal properties. Clinical Microbiology Reviews, 19(1), 50-62.

    Chang, SY. (2008). Effects of aroma hand massage on pain, state anxiety and depression in hospice patients with terminal cancer. Daehan Ganho Haghoeji, 38(4), 493-502.

    Chung, M, Cho, S, Bhuiyan, M, Kim, K & Lee, S. (2010). Anti-diabetic effects of lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) essential oil on glucose- and lipid-regulating enzymes in type 2 diabetic mice. British J of Nutrition, 104(2), 180-188.

    Cooke, B., Ernst, E. (2000). Review: aromatherapy massage is associated with small, transient reductions in anxiety. British Journal of General Practice, 50, 493-6.

    Davies, SJ, Harding, LM & Baranowski, AP. (2002). A novel treatment of postherpetic neuralgia using peppermint oil. Clinical Journal of Pain, 18(3), 200-2.

    De Groot, A.C., & Weyland, W. (1992). Systemic contact dermatitis from tea tree oil. Contact Dermatitis, 27, 279-80.

    Dryden, M., Dailly, S., Crouch, M. (2004). A randomized, controlled trial of tea tree topical preparations versus a standard topical regimen for the clearance of MRSA colonization. Journal of Hospital Infec, 56(4), 283-6.

    Dwivedi, C. & Zhang, Y. (1999). Sandalwood oil prevents skin tumour development in CD1 mice. European Journal of Cancer Prevention, 8, 449-55.

    Edris, A. (2007). Pharmaceutical and therapeutic potentials of essential oils and their individual volatile constituents: A review. Phytotherapy Research, 21, 308-323.

    Enshaieh, S., Jooya, A., Siadat, A. H., & Iraji, F. (2007). The efficacy of 5% topical tea tree oil gel in mild to moderate acne vulgaris: A randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled study. Indian Journal of Dermatology, Venereology & Leprology, 73(1), 22-25.

    Furneri, P. M., Paolino, D., Saija, A., Marino, A., & Bisignano, G. (2006). In vitro antimycoplasmal activity of melaleuca alternifolia essential oil. Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, 58(3), 706-707.

    Gao, Y. Y., Di Pascuale, M. A., Li, W., Baradaran-Rafii, A., Elizondo, A., Kuo, C. L., et al. (2005). In vitro and in vivo killing of ocular demodex by tea tree oil. British Journal of Ophthalmology, 89(11), 1468-1473.

    Garozzo A, Timpanarao R, Stivala A, Bisignano G & Castro A. (2010) Activity of Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil on influenza virus A/PR/8: Study on the mechanism of action. Antiviral Research, 89(1), 83-8.

    Gedney, J., Glover, T., Fillingim, R. (2004). Sensory and affective pain discrimination after inhalation of essential oils. Psychosomatic Medicine, 66(4), 599-606.

    Greenway, f, Frome & Engels, T. (2003). Temporary relief of postherpetic neuralgia pain with topical geranium oil. American J of Medicine, 115, 586-587.

    Gustafson, J. E., Chew, S., Markham, J., Bell, H.C., Wyllie, S. G., & Warmington, J. R. (1988). Effects of tea tree oil on Escherichia coli. Letters in Applied Microbiology, 26, 194-8.

    Hadfield, N. (2001). The role of aromatherapy massage in reducing anxiety in patients with malignant brain tumors. International Journal of Palliative Nursing, 7(6), 279-285.

    Hajhashemi, V., Ghannadi, A., & Sharif, B. (2003). Anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties of the leaf extracts and essential oil of lavandula angustifolia mill. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 89(1), 67-71.

    Halm, M. (2008). Essential oils for management of symptoms in critically ill patients. American Journal of Critical Care, 17(2), 160-163.

    Hammer, K. A., & Riley, T. V. (1998). In-vitro activity of essential oils, in particular Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil and tea tree oil products, against Candida spp. Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, 42, 591-5.

    Hammer, K. A., Carson, C. F., & Riley, T. V. (2004). Antifungal effects of melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil and its components on candida albicans, candida glabrata and saccharomyces cerevisiae. Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, 53(6), 1081-1085.

    Hammer, K. A., Carson, C. F., Riley, T. V., & Nielsen, J. B. (2006). A review of the toxicity of Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil. Food & Chemical Toxicology, 44(5), 616-625.

    Han, S., Hur M., Buckle, J., Choi, J., Lee, M. (2006). Effect of aromatherapy on symptoms of dysmenorrheal in college students: A randomized placebo-controlled clinical trial. The Journal of Alternative and Complentary Medicine, 12(6), 535-41.

    Hansen, T., Hansen, B., Ringdal, G. (2006). Does aromatherapy massage reduce job-related stress? Results from a randomized, controlled trial. International Journal of Aromatherapy, 16(2), 89-94.

    Hayashi, K., & Hayashi, T. (1994). Virucidal effects of the steam distilate from Houttuynia cordata and its components on HSV-1, influenza virus, and HIV. Planta Medica, 61, 237-41.

    Haze, S, Sakai, K & Gozu, Y. (2002). Effects of fragrance inhalation on sympathetic activity in normal adults. Japanese Journal of Pharmacology, 90, 247-253.

    Henley, D., Lipson, N., Korach, K., Bloch, C. (2007). Prepubertal gynecomastia linked to lavender and tea tree oils. The New England Journal of Medicine, 356(5), 479-485.

    Inouye, S., Yamaguchi, H. (2001). Antibacterial activity of essential oils and their major constituents against respiratory tract pathogens by gaseous contact. Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, 47, 565-73.

    Itai, T., Amayasu, H., Kuribayashi, M., Kawamura, N., Okada, M., Momose, A., Tateyama, T., Narumi, K., Waka, Kaneko, U.S. (2000). Psychological effects of aromatherapy on chronic hemodialysis patients. Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, 54, 393-7.

    Jandourek, A. & Vazquez, J. (1998). Efficacy of melaleuca oral solution for the treatment of fluconazole refractory oral candidiasis in AIDS patients. AIDS, 12, 1033-7.

    Kane, FM, Brodie, EE, Couli, A, et al. (2004). The analgesic effect of odour and music upon dressing change. British Journal of Nursing, 13(19), S4-12.

    Kejova K, Jorova D, Bendova H, Gajdos P & Kolarova H. (2010). Phototoxicity of essential oils intended for cosmetic use. Toxicology in Vitro, 24(8), 2084-9.

    Khan, M, Zahin & Hassan, S. (2009). Inhibition of quorum sensing regulated bacterial functions by plant essential oils with special reference to clove oil. Letters in Applied Microbiology, 49, 354-360.

    Kim, J. et al. (2006). Evaluation of aromatherapy in treating post-operative pain: pilot study. Pain Practice, 6(4), 273-277.

    Lehrner, J., Marwinski, G., Lehr, S., Johren, P., & Deecke, L. (2005). Ambient odors of orange and lavender reduce anxiety and improve mood in a dental office. Physiology & Behavior, 86(1-2), 92-95.

    Lemon, K. (2004). An assessment of treating depression and anxiety with aromatherapy. The International Journal of Aromatherapy, 14, 63-69.

    Lucks, B.C., Sorensen, J., Veal, L. (2002). Vitex agnus-castus essential oil and menopausal balance: a self-care survey. Complementary Therapies in Nursing and Midwifery, 8, 148-54.

    Messager, S., Hammer, K. A., Carson, C. F., & Riley, T. V. (2005). Assessment of the antibacterial activity of tea tree oil using the european EN 1276 and EN 12054 standard suspension tests. Journal of Hospital Infection, 59(2), 113-125.

    Millar, B & Moore, J. (2008). Successful topical treatment of hand warts in a paediatric patient with tea tree oil (Melaleuca alternifolia). Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, 14(4), 225-27.

    Nguyen, Q., Paton C. (2008). The use of aromatherapy to treat behavioral problems in dementia. International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 23, 337-346.

    Oyedele, A. O., Gbolade, A. A., Sosan, M.B., Adewoyin, F. B., Soyelu, O.L., & Orafidiya, O. O. (2002). Formulation of an effective mosquito-repellent topical product from Lemongrass oil. Phytomedicine, 9, 259-62.

    Price, S. & Price, L. (2007). Aromatherapy for health professionals, 3rd Ed. Philadelphia: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier.

    Rose, J. E. & Behm, F. M. (1994). Inhalation of vapor from black pepper extract reduced smoking withdrawal symptoms. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 34, 225-9.

    Saeki, Y. (2000). The effect of foot bath with or without the essential oil of lavender on the autonomic nervous system: A randomized trial. Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 8, 2-7.

    Sharma S, Araujo M, Wu M, Qaqush J & Charles C. (2010). Superiority of an essential oil mouthrinse when compared with a 0.05% cetylpyridinium chloride containing mouthrinse: A six-month study. International Dental Journal, 60(3), 175-80.

    Sherry, E., Warnke, P. H. (2001). Percutaneous treatment of chronic MRSA osteomyelitis with a novel plant-derived antiseptic. BMC Surgery, 1(1).

    Snow L, Hovanec L & Brandt J. (2004). A controlled trial of aromatherapy for agitation in nursing home patients with dementia. J Alternative & Complementary Medicine, 10(3), 431-437.

    Soukoulis, S., & Hirsch, R. (2004). The effects of a tea tree oil-containing gel on plaque and chronic gingivitis. Australian Dental Journal, 49(2), 78-83.

    Srivasta, K. C., Mustafa, T. (1992). Ginger (Zingiber officinale) in Rheumatism and Musculoskeletal Disorders. Medical Hypotheses, 39, 342-8.

    Takarada, R. et al. (2004). A comparison of the antibacterial efficacies of essential oils against oral pathogens. Oral Microbiology and Immunology, 19, 61-64.

    Toloza A, Zygadlo J, Biurrun F, Rotman A & Picollo M. (2010). Bioactivity of Argentinean essential oils against permethrin-resistant head lice, Pediculus humanus capita. J of Insect Science, 10, 185.

    Torres Salazar A, Hoheisel J, Youns M & Wink M. (2011). Anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer activities of essential oils and their biological constituents. International J of Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics, 49(1), 93-95.

    Tyagi A & Malik A. (2010). Liquid and vapour-phase antifungal activities of selected essential oils against Candida albicans: Microscopic observations and chemical characterization of Cymbopogon citratus. BMC Complementary & Alternative Medicine, 10, 65.

    Van der Ploeg E, Eppingstall B & O’Connor D. (2010). The study protocol of a blinded randomized-controleed cross-over trial of lavender oil as a treatment of behavioural symptoms in dementia. BMC Geriatrics, 10, 49.

    Woelk, H & Schlafke, S. (2009). A multi-center, double-blind, randomizsed study of the lavender oil preparation Silexan in comparison to Lorazepam for generalized anxiety disorder. Phytomedicine, 17, 94-99.

    P.S. I’m a skeptic for the record, but your article is the worst written hogwash I’ve ever seen. You must be a liberal. Like most liberal tactics you take someone’s experiential theories and instead of actually raising a valid point you just call them “dumb” or “wierdos.” As a scientist, I look for facts. Your article had none.

  24. Magnanamous Dinoflagellate says:

    Scott, you did no research or analysis at all to bolster up your spray at the article.

    You merely posted someone elses reference set as Shirley did a few months ago. Your lack of overview and analysis on your posted list shows you a non skeptic

    Viz;
    http://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/explore-healing-practices/aromatherapy/what-does-research-say-about-essential-oils

    So pull up your slackness quotient and throw out all the articles with real results by real scientists and real science.

    Medicos and nurses can be the very worst of position pullers.

    Following suit makes you a non skeptic… and bloody lazy!

    Do some damn homework before posting..

  25. Magnanamous Dinoflagellate says:

    To anyone else who likes science, EB trialling isnt science and doubly blinded placebo control trials are the very worst case scenario. Trialling a bit of junk against the test material to hopefully eek out some sort of result provided all the conditions of a correctly conducted trial is met.

    EB trialling is testing and generally poorly carried out by people who pretend to be doing trials.

    These trials are often poorly carried out because of a number of reasons, marketting is a beauty! Furthermore, there are a lot of folk who live by “publish or perish” and produce junk papers in the journal literature. As a matter of fact, many of the articles Scott cut and pasted from a site reference list are just that, junk papers and mostly junk EBM/EB Alt Mod. Journals.

    Beware the internet trap if you want to be informed.

    How many papers would Scott remove if he threw away all the science based (SB) articles from that list?

    Nearly all of them.

  26. Chad I think your argument is weak at best. Maybe this is an ego thing? I’ve been studying essential oils for 16 years and been using them for that long as well. If they are grown and processed correctly they can be powerfully incredible medicine, in fact was really the only kind of Medicine I would use- I didn’t have medical insurance for 11 years and still even with health insurance I still mostly rely on essential oils. clove thyme cinnamon and oregano are really super powerful anti virals and they work for me. Many oils I use work for me for all kinds of stuff. You should try them. It all depends on the quality of the oil. There are upteem umpteem uses for oils. They really are the powerful medicine of plants in a concentrated form. By the way your skepticism is annoying and is it really that helpful? I think it is more hurtful than helpful actually if you think about it. Anybody who educates themselves on essential oils when know that the efficacy of it depends on many things, mostly quality and you have to do the research yourself. I work in the medical field, I am a registered nurse, I understand how the body works. I am telling you… essential oils are amazing and have added a lot of quality to my life and others as well. Maybe want to put your energy into something more helpful in the future?

  27. Anonymous says:

    I’m a reflexologist . I use several different modalities . Essential oils being one of them. Doterra in particular , I no longer have to take allergy and sinus medicine ,I use peppermint oil and lemon oil, it dries it up, no more issues. I use them to get rid of headaches, nausea, all sorts of things. Doing more using the oils instead of critizing and trying to tear apart words, would probably be more beneficial for your health

  28. Claire says:

    Chad, your arrogance and criticism of things that work for people is sad. It’s such narrow minded thinking to think that if it can’t be proven by science, it must be a hoax or ineffective to treat anything. You would have a wonderful career in the FDA.

    • Claire, I’m confused; how can something both (a) work, and (b) not be provable to work?

      • Maya says:

        Well, according to the Mayo Clinic’s website, there are several problems inherent in the scientific process of “proving” that essential oils work… such as problems having to do with the issue of standardizing the oils (and thus rendering them no longer natural) and problems having to do with how to manage blinded studies. Mayo Clinic also mentions the problem of getting approval to do the study on humans in the first place, wihout extensive and expensive animal testing first, even though humans have been using EO’s for thousands of years. And then there’s the issue of funding, since “proving that something works” doesn’t come cheap. So Brian, I think that for these reasons and others, it is indeed possible for something to both a.) work, and b.) not be provable to work. Which is to say, from a practical standpoint, we don’t live in an ideal world where we can go around “proving” (conducting peer reviewed scientific studies) on everything, just because we might like to. That being said, it is generally accepted now, even in the traditional Western medical community, that there is a relatively small but growing body of peer reviewed research in support of the clinical applications of essential oils. Even the Mayo clinic admits that; indeed their director of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (an MD) supports the responsible use of aromatherapy, calling EO’s “powerful medicine.” Your article seems oddly strident and one-sided for someone who prides himself on having a scientific frame of mind. Sure, some sellers of EO’s may make exaggerated claims, just like anyone selling anything tends to make exaggerated claims. If that bothers you, then I suggest you take a stand against unethical or opportunistic advertising in general, no need to throw EO’s out with the bath water.

        • Eric Hall says:

          Would you trust a vehicle to be safe in a crash without expensive design and engineering and crashing expensive prototype cars? Or are you ok with assuming cars are safe in a crash because people have driven them for over 100 years?

          Yes, Mayo Clinic, like the NIH, has a CAM division. They need to pander to the politics – even though it is all BS. Alternative medicine that works is medicine.

        • Eric Hall says:

          Essential oils in the US alone exceeded 1 billion dollars in revenue last year. They can’t spare a little to prove their product works? Or would that perhaps ruin the business?

  29. Scott says:

    Chad,

    Sometimes there are things that cannot be explained by science. I know this has nothing to do with essential oils, but it’s an example of how these studies you reference may not get the whole picture. When my son was an infant, and when he would get the occasional fit of hiccups, my wife (from El Salvador) would get a piece of red thread, put it in her mouth to soak it in her saliva and then roll it up into a ball and stick it on his forehead. His hiccups would go away immediately. The first time she did that I was wondering what the hell she was doing and looked at her like she was a crazy woman. When it worked the first time I thought, okay…lucky. But she would do this repeatedly with the same results. When I tried it, it would NEVER work.

    We were recently at a friends house discussing various things and this story came up. As soon as I said red thread, this other lady (from Panama) jumped up and said “Yes! We do that too! It really works!” The other people at the table were understandably looking at us with skepticism, which I completely understand. Had I not seen it work so many times I would have been highly skeptical too.

    From a scientific standpoint, the focus would be on the red string that had been soaked in saliva, but like I said, I had done the same thing and had no result at all. I believe it’s more of a case of what the person applying this home remedy believes in, and thus it becomes less about the red thread and more about the power of the human mind.

    So someone in a lab performing research who is skeptical of essential oils may achieve a far different result than someone who has genuine belief in it. Not everything in this world is black and white. Maybe your opinions shouldn’t be either.

  30. Tara says:

    Thank you so much for all of this – It’s so difficult to figure out what is right and what is wrong or what is true or not – it’s all mixed up with marketing messages and talking points.

  31. Lauren says:

    As for the argument for using standard drugs with plenty of scientific studies versus little scientific research on essential oils and aromatherapy–who cares? It’s a personal decision that should be left up to the individual.

    And yes, I have my own anecdote. I am 28 years old and have had chronic bronchitis and asthma my entire life, to the point of missing at least two weeks to a month of school or work each year and lengthy hospitalizations every few years. I am allergic to most antibiotics and have suffered a wide range of reactions from serum sickness to rashes, and once anaphylactic shoc (according to my mother, I was too sick to remember). I developed steroidinduced psychosis after one particularly brutal episode of pneumonia that required IV steroids multiple times a day. I have taken a prednisone dose pack two to three times a year my entire life and it causes weight gain, depression, and anxiety every single time.

    I began using essential oils mainly for allergies and respiratory issues, namely Peppermint, Lemon, and Lavendar, almost a year ago in addition to the daily medicines I have been taking for years (antihistamine, inhaled corticosteroid, albuterol inhaler as needed). During this time I have not taken a single antibiotic, oral steroid, OTC cold medication, or injected steroid. I also have not missed a single day of work for the first time since kindergarten (if you count all those years of school as well).

    I am not a distributor or receiving any financial gain for my use of essential oils.

  32. Dennis says:

    You sir… Are a complete and utter idiot. Use Doterra’s products and you WILL see that they work. I was a skeptic for 2 years. I firmly stand by the product. They’ve cured me of several ailments, my kids are never sick anymore, and I KNOW what I’m putting in my body. But you think you know it all… That’s a horrible way to live your life. I know, I was there 3 years ago.

    • Eric Hall says:

      Are you sure you know what your are putting in your body? I looked at the Doterra website. One prominent claim is “guaranteed to be safe.” One product being sold is clove oil. Here’s from the MSDS info on clove oil:

      Potential Chronic Health Effects: Very hazardous in case of skin contact (irritant), of eye contact (irritant), of ingestion, of inhalation. CARCINOGENIC EFFECTS: Not available. MUTAGENIC EFFECTS: Not available. TERATOGENIC EFFECTS: Not available. DEVELOPMENTAL TOXICITY: Not available. The substance is toxic to the nervous system, mucous membranes. Repeated or prolonged exposure to the substance can produce target organs damage. Repeated or prolonged inhalation of vapors may lead to chronic respiratory irritation.

      It also has an LD50 of 2650mg/kg in rats. So one 15 mL bottle has the potential to kill an infant if ingested.

      Don’t assume because something is labeled “natural” it can’t be harmful.

    • Eric Hall says:

      Another is grapefruit oil. MSDS:

      0.5 to 5.0 g/kg May cause death in humans.

      And

      Ingestion: has shown effects on kidneys in animals. Seek medical attention if ingested.

    • Eric Hall says:

      Now like everything it is all about dose. While a few drops for an otherwise healthy individual are unlikely to cause harm – claiming absolute safety or “knowing what is going in your body” is also a questionable claim.

  33. Alan Motter says:

    IF essential oils are claimed to be used to cure illnesses, then the practitioners and sellers of oils should be subject to the same regulatory process as physicians, pharmacists and drug companies . As it stands now, a high school dropout can “diagnosis” and “treat” with no more training than reading the essential oil company’s brochure. Buyer beware!

  34. Toni says:

    It’s cool that you are a skeptic and all but sometimes it’s counter-productive, like in this article. While most people know that 80% of alternative medicine is pure BS, there are a few exceptions in this. It is, indeed, possible for a substance to be a part of modern medicine, and alternative medicine at the same time. Some examples of these substances include Oil of Cloves (which is scientifically studied and widely in use by dentists all around the world, mainly due to the ingredient eugenol). Some other exceptions also exist.

    I am not a scientist, nor a doctor. But all it takes is a list of essential oils, and a look at the scientific evidence, studies and what it is actually used for and by whom.

  35. A skeptic aromatherapist says:

    So I guess this means BenGay is fraud; as is CamphoPheniq, and hmm – oh yeah – the use of peppermint candy after dinner as a digestive. How about clove oil, which was once used “as is” in dentistry and now its primary active chemical component, eugenol, is the topical dental anesthetic of preference? What else – oh I know, Vicks Vapo-Rub! Totally scam right? Because everyone knows aromatherapy is just a waste of money. Forget Tiger Balm for headaches and muscle pain – the possibility that camphor (an essential oil), wintergreen (an essential oil) and eucalyptus (an essential oil) might be useful medically is preposterous. Hope you never need to take aspirin – which was first synthesized from its original form, which was to boil white willow bark until its essential oil was released into the water, and drinking the infusion.

    How’s Listerine mouthwash for ya? Thymol is its primary active ingredient. Take a guess where thymol comes from (answer for the kids: thyme essential oil).

    In short: yes, many essential oils have been tested, and are used in pharmaceuticals and in over-the-counter treatments. Can they cure disease? I’ve seen no evidence of this. Can they treat illness and eliminate a variety of symptoms of illness and disease? Absolutely.

    • Anonymous says:

      I think most people here can make a claim that oils help with symptoms, the trouble is that the line is quickly crossed to “Cures”

    • Eric Hall says:

      As a general comment, it is interesting you point out all of these treatments, as they contain specific amounts of ingredients derived from these plants, not just a generic extract. They are monitored by the FDA and at least have some studies done on them and plausibility. Similar to those touting cannabis oil, the problem is you have no idea the concentration of any of the ingredients that might be helpful.

      BenGay and similar like tiger balm and Capsaicin work in a sense by distracting your brain. By stimulating the pain receptors in the skin, the muscle pain is masked until the body has time to heal it.

      Vapo-Rub has been well studied and has no effect on colds – not even a placebo effect can be found (no, I am not going to link the studies – go ahead and look them up).

      Listerine works mostly by the effect of the alcohol killing the bacteria. Yes, certain ingredients found in the oil (such as Thymol) do have some anti-bacterial properties, but again it is in specific amounts and not the oil in general, but one component.

      Show me the studies of “essential oils” being studied. I have found studies which cannot be replicated, studies which are small and haven’t been repeated, or commentary. The only real science is in the constituents of the oils, and not the oils as a whole. If you can find a good series of studies, I would be interested in seeing them.

      You also mention Aspirin – sure, derived from willow bark. So, are you going to extract oil from willow bark and hope it helps you, or are you going to take the pills of a known amount of active ingredient which has been tested extensively. (Naturalistic fallacy anyone?) It is also a false equivalency – Canola oil is pretty good for you – but the oil as it comes out of the rapeseed can be toxic.

      Here’s another editorial on the bogus-ness of essential oils: http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/doterra-multilevel-marketing-of-essential-oils/

      • Dennis says:

        You have an opinion here, plain and simple. I have GERD… I was on prescription medication for years, now I use Doterra essential oils (DigestZen) and I no longer need to take pharmaceuticals… I heal my sore muscles with essential oils, not BenGay, my children are never sick because we use essential oils to stave off colds and flu’s… You sir are operating on a tremendous amount of irresponsible ignorance. Write a real article with real substance.

        • Eric Hall says:

          I have a scientific likelihood based on scientific study. You have an anecdote. I suggest looking up anecdote and confirmation bias and reevaluate your story.

          Staving off germs with essential oils has little plausibility and no evidence. The remaining anecdotes are just that.

          http://skeptoid.com/blog/2013/10/26/it-is-likely-this-post-will-get-anti-science-comments/

          • Paul says:

            I was not aware that The National Cancer Institute and NIH are considered “a bit of junk”. These are from a quick search on google – and they are older studies. 2004 and 2011. Someone with an honest interest in learning more could do a more extensive study to see what new studies have been performed.

            http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/cam/aromatherapy/patient/page2
            http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15555788
            http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22171782

          • OK Paul lets look at this from a medical standpoint and not dismiss the research you posted.
            1. Not research, online advice for aroma therapy as a possible relaxation technique for subjective improvement of symptoms- true for every relaxation technique from prayer to massage. Hard evidence of effectiveness zero. Possible unsupported mechanism.
            2. Staph in vitro study, small scale, never reproduced and 10 years old. With a very small statistical effect of organism suppression for staph aureus. No blinding on the researchers plus they did the colony counts. Not saying that they fabricated the results. Just a poorly structured study.
            3. Published in a alt med journal in Britain. Methods lacked scientific rigor controls was untreated plate. In-vitro study, Added heat treatment as a variable and didn’t control for it. Poor study unreplicated. Small numbers no controls and no blinding.
            Similar to to other alt med studies, scientifically curious but as basis for efficacy… useless. They sound good unless you actually look at the studies.
            I must agree with eric’s assessment three bits of junk not really research.
            As is often said in skeptical circles you can stack cow pies 40 feet in the air but is still a stack of cowpies.

          • Paul says:

            Whoa, Stephan Propatier – I am not a scientist nor was I citing these studies as any representative example or ‘proof’ of anything.

            I simply noted that I read some of the posts noting no evidence/research on effectiveness of essential oils and in just a few second google search, there were lots of studies which came up, these were but 3 and from government sites, and they are from years ago (this is not my hobby or livelihood and I really don’t have the time or inclination for in depth research – however, I do not enjoy seeing bullying in ersatz clothing), so perhaps (but not for skeptics it seems) it is possible there there is a larger body of research out there with more information? For those with a genuine hunger for the truth?

            I am new to this site and am a skeptic myself and like conspiracy theories among the best of them.

            But I confess I have to be skeptical of all the so called skeptics on this page who seem bent on ridiculing and disproving something with lack of real research on the literature. Most of you seem bent on proving your hypothesis at all costs.

            People who use complementary practices are by and large people who seek alternatives to lobbyist, special interest paid for drugs, big pharma, etc. They do their own due diligence to find support on their journey to heal and well being sans toxins, and other harmful substances and modalities.

            Many of these comments seem to assume that people are fools.

            Most of the people working with essential oils are grandmothers in their kitchens, mothers who seek toxic free environments for their children. Not greedy corporate entities like big pharma. Even the MLMs, pittance compared with big pharma.

            So, it would be nice to truly understand where many of your skeptics are coming from. i thought this was about dialogue, sensible conversation – name calling and ridicule are often coverups for specious arguments, meant to charmingly disarm.

          • Paul says:

            Whoa, Stephan Propatier – I am not a scientist nor was I citing these studies as any representative example or ‘proof’ of anything.

            I simply noted that I read some of the posts noting no evidence/research on effectiveness of essential oils and in just a few second google search, there were lots of studies which came up, these were but 3 and from government sites, and they are from years ago (this is not my hobby or livelihood and I really don’t have the time or inclination for in depth research – however, I do not enjoy seeing bullying in ersatz clothing), so perhaps (but not for skeptics it seems) it is possible there there is a larger body of research out there with more information? For those with a genuine hunger for the truth?

            I am new to this site and am a skeptic myself and like conspiracy theories among the best of them.

            But I confess I have to be skeptical of all the so called skeptics on this page who seem bent on ridiculing and disproving something with lack of real research on the literature. Most of you seem bent on proving your hypothesis at all costs.

            People who use complementary practices are by and large people who seek alternatives to lobbyist, special interest paid for drugs, big pharma, etc. They do their own due diligence to find support on their journey to heal and well being sans toxins, and other harmful substances and modalities.

            Many of these comments seem to assume that people are fools.

            Most of the people working with essential oils are grandmothers in their kitchens, mothers who seek toxic free environments for their children. Not greedy corporate entities like big pharma. Even the MLMs, pittance compared with big pharma.

            So, it would be nice to truly understand where many of your skeptics are coming from. i thought this was about dialogue, sensible conversation – name calling and ridicule are often coverups for specious arguments, meant to charmingly disarm.

          • Eric Hall says:

            The NIH pubmed is a repository for publications. It does not necessarily indicate approval or disapproval by the NIH. The first one falls under the CAM portion of the NIH – which was formed due to lobbying pressure and not good science. I could do 100 studies on how water cures the common cold and likely get them published in an open access journal – but I would have to be nearly dishonest with my data to do so. Airborne was tested in a study and the conclusion of the study was it shortened the duration of a cold. However, looking at the data, the result was a 27 MINUTE improvement. I don’t know how one could look at that data and call it significant enough to make a conclusion that it was better – but someone did.

  36. Anonymous says:

    DoTerra in particular has a cult-like following and if you are unaware enough to be sucked into that company, you become part of the cult. IF you ever dare question (even a mild question) you are likely to be ostracized and removed from the “cult.” This is my experience with that company and before I was “kicked out” (literally from the Facebook group) I saw this happen to others.

    I still use essential oils and will continue to do, topically and diffused in the air. Everything I have ever read (online and printed) says never ingest. DoTerra has made it their standard practice to encourage their customers to eat the oils. When I asked DoTerra advisers why they say ingesting Eucalyptus oil is prohibited, but ingesting a popular blend containing the same oil, I was told “It’s OK because lots of other people ingest everyday, and they are OK.” This came from the TOP down (direct from Dr. Hill). “Doterrans” are insane and spout the same non-sense back and forth to each other with wide eyes like they are experience some kind of supernatural amazement. I buy my oils from company based in Oregon which also sells teas, herbs, food products, etc. They make no inflated claims of the curative nature of their products and they are reasonably priced. Even taking into consideration the inflated costs to cover paying the consultants, DoTerra product costs are ridiculously high. They claim the high cost is for a better product, but when I did some simple evaporation tests comparing DoTerra to “Cheaper” “Inferior” brands, I saw little to no difference. In fact, DoTerra came up third in some tests. I only tested 3 oils.

    DoTerra is extremly shady in their practices (the very vague claims they make and extreme dependence on circumstantial and anecdotal “evidence,” just to name a couple).

    Everyone I have ever met who claims to be cured by the “healing powers” of DoTerra (and they will also claim that ONLY DoTerra is restorative) will always at one point say “Just Try It! You will be changed.” Imagine if all medicine was treated like this – we would all be dead in a year.

    Most of the people selling and/or buying from DoTerra (Young Living and any other direct marketing company) are struggling desperately to make ends meet AND are often living with major chronic conditions or a form of Cancer. DoTerra feeds off that desperation and is making MILLIONS off those cultists/distributors/Indepedant Product Consultants.

    • Dennis says:

      Your argument is so simple to explain. You don’t understand what you’re saying.

      So because of your experience in a company with a small subsect of bad leadership you judge the entire company? Lmao

      You recognize that people will use the product regardless because they’re desperate Lmao, I’m not desperate, neither are you… So why do you use them? BECAUSE THEY WORK!

      Idiocy of your caliber is reversible, all you need is an open mind, some common sense, and understanding that you don’t know it all.

      As for me, I know the science behind the product, I’ve had universities test my samples week beforei decided to involve myself and my reputation in this company.

      I make a modest living with this company, and I don’t have to recruit, they come to me. I make no promises, they buy, try, and either stay as a customer or continue taking their pharmaceuticals… It’s that simple.

      Furthermore, do your own research and stop counting on peer reviewed articles and other biased and agenda driven resources. They’re no better than the media sometimes.

      Primary research > Secondary Research

      Learn the difference.

      • Eric Hall says:

        What tests did you have done? Are they simply tests of content, or tests of effectiveness? If of effectiveness, were they controlled, double-blind, randomized trials? Were the results published and subject to peer-review?

        Common sense, intuition, open-mind, etc, are all hallmarks of pseudoscience. We know through science that the mind is easy to fool, which is why proper science is the method in which we remove a large part of the foolishness of human brains.

      • Anonymous says:

        Spoken like true DoTerran. Thank you for continuing to confirm everyone’s opinion of this company and essential oils.

  37. intrigued says:

    Not a scientist or doctor, little to no opinion on essential oils, the link below seems to me to be authentic research and if i was able to translate anything correctly seems like it supports that some essential oils are effective in inhibiting growth of viruses and bacteria. The study is quite difficult to read as a layman so any qualified interpreters out there please relate your view after reading it.

    http://jac.oxfordjournals.org/content/47/5/565.full

    • Dennis says:

      I tried to let this guy know… But he is impervious to common sense… His reaction to anything that questions his current belief is to denounce and relate to something that points a finger at him being right.

      The reality is that I’m correct, he has to prove ME wrong. I’ve made a case in favor of common sense and all he’s done is support his own position with total disregard for MILLIONS of Americans and tens if not hundreds of millions of people worldwide who find natural medicine effective and efficient as a means to treat, cure, or prevent disease.

      I firmly believe that there is a time and place for Western medicine, but NOT EVERYTHING needs a pill.

      • Eric Hall says:

        It is not science for me to prove you wrong. If I say there are unicorns living all over the United States – is it up to me to prove I’m right, or up to you to prove me wrong?

        Again – if this is going to help millions of people, it should be easy to design a study to show that. Design the study, publish it, and if your hypothesis is correct sales of your product should only go up.

    • Eric Hall says:

      Certain oils are known to kill various bacteria and viruses on surfaces. In fact, several products have been introduced over the last few years that work on this principle. I use a commercial product in my home and spray the door knobs and other germy surfaces to try to help prevent at least a cold or two from spreading among the kids.

      This is far different than ingesting the oils and expecting them to work in the same way. The key here is the level of the effectiveness of the various applications. I know spraying this stuff on surfaces will kill at least some of the microbes – it smells nice – and in the low amounts in the product if my kid happens to get a couple of drops worth in his mouth it won’t cause any serious harm.

      Think of it this way – I know that bleach also does a great job of killing germs on surfaces, including in pretty low concentrations in a spray. But, I am not going to drink bleach or expect it to have the same effect in my body.

      • Dennis says:

        Is… Bleach… Natural??? What is your disconnect?

        If it kid kills bacteria and viruses on surfaces, what makes i it’s effectiveness any less capable when on the skin surface of the body or operating inside the body?

        I’m not sure if you’re trolling, or if you’re really just not capable of understanding this stuff.

        • Eric Hall says:

          If I get Hydrochloric Acid on my skin what happens to my skin? Yet, my stomach excretes HCl as part of digestion. So do things act differently on my skin versus in my body? Of course.

          Acetic Acid is also antimicrobial on surfaces. But I don’t get the same benefit if I chug pickle brine. I can also get burned in high enough concentrations. The vapor can kill germs on surfaces as well – yet it can cause damage to the lungs if inhaled, but if I smell a jar of pickles I don’t get hurt (nor does it cure my cold).

          Your body metabolizes things you ingest – whereas a countertop does not. Your skin is a much different chemical makeup than a doorknob, so the reactions that will take place are different.

          • Dennis says:

            Last I checked we were talking about essential oils, now you’re talking about volatile acids and chemical compounds produced by the body and hypothetically applied to the skin.

            You’re not even deserving of another reply. Enjoy your pharmaceuticals and subsequent side effects like cancer, blindness or anal seepage… Maybe all three if you’re lucky!

            Call me when you then wasn’t to try something that won’t hurt your body but rather help it.

            I’m sure I’ll have an oil for you.

            Until then, happy pill popping for you.

          • Eric Hall says:

            When one is not able to counter the science, it is common to resort to ad hominem attacks and untestable or downright false claims in order to keep one’s position.

            You said that oils would act the same inside the body as outside. I gave examples where this is not true as evidence for plausibility of my hypothesis that the same would hold true for oils. What evidence do you have that essential oils survive in their pre-ingested form through digestion and into the blood stream to be delivered to an infection and will then specifically kill those microbes?

          • Dennis says:

            The fact that common colds and flu’s are completely avoided, that athletes foot and hedydrosis, skin rashes, yeast and bacterial infections completely eliminated. How about less pain and inflammation from muscles and joints, how about having GERD and not needing to ingest a people pill to stop my gallbladder from secreting bile in large doses, how about instant headache and tendon relief. How about my contracts with THE US ARMY and MULTIPLE HEALTHCARE PROVIDERS who use my CPTG oils to aid soldiers and civilians with PTSD through aroma and touch therapy… How about ear infections, sinus infections, nail infections, how about dental pain… I can keep going, but you won’t get it because you think you know it all…

            YOU think YOU and your extremely limited argument are smarter than MILLIONS of testimonials from REAL PEOPLE who are nowhere near as “desperate” for healing as you so eloquently purport.

            Wake up!

          • Eric Hall says:

            Ah – you’ve now reached the “Wake Up Sheeple” portion of the comment. I am always amazed how that comes out at some point when someone is promoting nonsense.

            All of the things you point out for you personally are what is known as anecdote. There is no control to know if it is the oil, or something else. Perhaps because you are drinking more water with the oil – it is in fact the water helping improve your digestive issues. That could also be what is helping with your other aches. dehydration is a very common cause of all of those things. Whatever it is, I can say with a high degree of certainty that adding oil to your normal routine is not the only change you made.

            If the army is using you oil – it is another example of the government not doing their due diligence. We also saw the military buy boxes that they placed pictures of bombs in and were told it would detect bombs. It caused the death of many soldiers. I only hope the oiled soldiers are also getting actual help so that they can work to get better. By the way – that should be public knowledge – your contract with the government – so why not reveal your name and/or company so we can all verify the validity of your claim.

            We know testimonials and the like are extremely unreliable. Look at some of the recent science. It is really easy to fool the brain. And again, these testimonials do not control the variables, so we have no way to know if it is the oil or some other change actually causing some improvement of symptoms. We also have no way to measure the outcomes from testimonials. Let’s say oils do work, but only cause a small reduction in pain, while a simple medication can cause a significant reduction in pain – which is better? I’ll take the one that measures a larger net benefit.

            Science people!

  38. intrigued says:

    So is there a doctor or scientist in this post that could shed some light on the study provided and a layman’s explanation of what is says?

  39. intrigued says:

    So that’s it when the hard question is asked everyone hides their head in the sand?

  40. Eric Hall says:

    I did reply to you intrigued http://skeptoid.com/blog/2013/02/02/essential-oils-a-perfect-example-of-alternative-medicine-exaggeration/#comment-43452

    The study is about killing bacteria, in a solid container, with very concentrated oil vapor. That is far different than inside the body.

  41. djdan63 says:

    I’m a 66 year old college educated broadcaster from Burton Michigan. I’ve read all these comments and been pitched doTerra by a nice lady in Lapeer Michigan. It seems like there’s a comparison to Amway here–if you’re a believer we’re pals and if you don’t “buy” my anectodal evidence i get angry. The rep in Lapeer told me “addictions come from the liver and essential oils can cure that”. Does that even SOUND scientific? Not trying to hurt anyone’s feelings and i’m open to holistic healing and new ideas, but i think there’s the placebo effect at work here–if i tell you something and you believe it strongly enough your mind can indeed help to correct some conditions. I don’t think doTerra or any essential oils are harmful but i’d need to see a lot of objective scientific proof before i bought or used much of it. I’m sure it’s pleasant and calming. But anyone who seriously think addictions come from the live is very puzzling to me. Dan McPhail, Burton M

    • Dennis says:

      Unfortunately, as with any business, there will always be quacks. In my circles, it’s all about education, sharing, and facts. He don’t like quackery. If someone sounds quacky, I don’t associate with them, it’s a cancer to my business.

      I run a successful Doterra business, I’m a living testament to the oils working to CURE my skin conditions. You don’t have to believe me, in fact I don’t expect you to. But my mind I’d not going to help my skin heal no matter how much I believe in a product; it with works or doesn’t, pain and simple.

      85% of all my customers ever acquired STILL BUY after 3 years. When I speak with them they tell me stories of no more asthma, no more need for virtually all medications, you name it, ive heard it.

      That’s all I have to say, this thread has consumed too much of my time already.

      I’ll leave you all with one thought.

      Don’t judge a book based on how YOU read the cover.

      • Eric Hall says:

        Look at your aggressive nature in the other comments. It sounds like the broadcaster above had the same experience you have given all of us here.

        I haven’t called you names, or insulted your intelligence. I actually had one of your comments removed due to your behavior. For example, towards me:

        “He has no idea how stupid he sounds.”

        “What a disrespectful and irresponsible dumbass. I hope he never procreates.”

        So – I think if we are to judge a few pages of this essential oil book – it would be that you will defend it at all costs, even the cost of rational and reasonable conversation. I prefer science.

      • Dave says:

        Dennis you sell essential oils or their application correct? You mentioned your “contracts with the army”, so you make money by their use, whether they actually work or not. I think I understand your motivation and evangelical rants. Please just stop, go have a tea of something wonderful and healing to equalize the imbalance these negative energy posts are having on your jing and shen. Your life will be well, as the great integrated Maintenance healer Barnum once said ” There’s a sucker born every minute” for your products.

  42. intrigued says:

    What is your background Eric? What shingle hangs on your wall.

    • Dennis says:

      He’s one of the people that couldn’t make it in Doterra… Obviously Lmao

      He’s just a one of those complainers that enjoy sounding extremely intelligent but verbally backing himself into an “irrational” and “highly biased” corner.

      • Eric Hall says:

        I would never involve myself in scamming people. If I were to sell oils, I would have to be truthful and say these smell nice, so they make great air freshener.

        So far, I’ve provided scientific evidence, plausibility (or lack of), and have also asked you questions regarding your claims. You haven’t answered my questions and supplied anecdotes. I believe you are arguing from the irrational corner.

    • Eric Hall says:

      My formal education is in physics, which is what I currently teach.

      My experience includes spending several years as a safety officer in which I had continuing training in many scientific fields as some of the materials used where I worked had dangers and required precautions to protect those working with those products.

      I also, in general, consult my friends who are medical doctors and PhD biologists (an advantage of working in academics) before posting things on medical/biology topics with which I am not familiar.

      So if you are wondering about the veracity of my information, it has plenty of education behind it.

  43. Janet says:

    As essential oil users, we are well aware that there are not enough studies regarding the efficacy of these amazing gifts. Where we gain our knowledge is through what we call experiential evidence. Many many people use these oils on a daily basis and share their testimonies on how these oils have worked for them and their families. We in the oil community would love if there was more scientific study, unfortunately there is still not enough. I believe that with the success of companies like doTerra, the medical community has already and will continue to take notice and I believe there will be further studies by the scientific community in the future. In the meantime, if I can cure myself from an earache without ever using an ear drop or an oral antibiotic and if I can rid myself of a sore throat without ever using a throat lozenge or oral antibiotic and if I can break a fever for my 6 year old nephew without having to give him any over the counter or prescription medication…as long as I can do these things (just to name a few) and I can witness the benefits in my own home and in the homes of many others who have chosen to incorporate essential oils into their families health and wellness plan, then I will continue to do so. As long as I feel comfortable and confident that these oils have made a difference, I will continue to use them. If you have never used an essential oil because you are so scientifically minded, that is your option. I will not judge you for your personal choices in how you choose to approach your health and would ask for the same courtesy in return. You seek scientific studies to prove to you that essential oils are effective, but does the lack of studies prove that they are not? You never know, future studies (and we will see them) might show us just the opposite. I agree that sometimes statements are made incorrectly and sometimes oil users/sharers misrepresent and misinform people…ie addiction comes from the liver…but that is one person who chooses to speak without properly educating themselves. Using essential oils is a continuous educational process and some users/sharers may use the wrong words, but you will find this same problem even in scientific communities. You could quote for days things that are printed and claims that people make regarding oils that may be inaccurate, but that is NOT evidence that essential oils do not work or that their effects are simply psychosomatic. As an experienced oil user, I can and do speak only about my personal experiences and the experiences of my friends and family and I can say that essential oils have been very powerful healing agents and I am thankful that I have this invaluable resource when it comes to health and wellness in my home.

    • Eric Hall says:

      I have to say Janet – it is frightening to think you are treating children with fevers with oils. While a low fever for a couple days isn’t worrisome, I wonder how long you would wait before seeking legitimate medical care.

      As far as your question – does lack of scientific evidence suggest they do not work – the answer in this case is yes. Because testing has been done and hasn’t shown an effect, along with the lack of plausibility, makes it very unlikely the oils work in the ways claimed.

      I dont care if people use useless products, but my concern is that when added to belief they are working, there is the potential of harm.

      http://whatstheharm.net

  44. Janet says:

    Eric I am not an idiot as you might assume. If a child had a fever that got to a dangerous level I would absolutely seek medical care. But I have treated MANY fevers whether you care to believe it or not. I don’t think you need to be concerned with what others believe. Worry about yourself and your own home and we will continue to do the same. We are simply looking for natural, holistic treatments so we do not have to turn to synthetic drugs with potential for side effects every single time there is an illness in our homes. I can’t speak for others but I recognize when there is a need for medical intervention and would never hesitate to seek it out when necessary. The point is…it is not always necessary. There is a potential of harm in every drug on the market. Are you concerned about that as well? Would you care to bulky big pharma?

    • Eric Hall says:

      Janet – the problem is advocates of “natural” medicines often put themselves in opposition to the traditional evidence-based medical community. In doing so, people often wait too long before seeking medical care because they believe this “traditional” medicine will do more harm than good.

      If you read your original post – you refer to the oils as “very powerful healing agents.” It is that statement that led me to my concern. How powerful do you think they are? You’ve now cleared up that point in saying they are very powerful (by opinion) but not powerful enough to not seek medical care when it is needed (by science).

      Some people take their belief so far that they won’t seek medical care – whether by prayer, oils, homeopathy, etc – and kids have died because of belief in things that dont work in they way being sold.

    • Eric Hall says:

      One other point – just because i dont believe in nonsense being sold by alt-med people doesn’t mean I implicitly trust all new drugs and think everything from pharmaceutical companies is perfect. In fact, in discussing medications with my doctor, he often starts with older medications because they are cheaper and better understood because they have existed longer to be studied. We certainly have examples of pharmaceuticals that should have been used with more caution or on a more limited basis. But guess what – we know about these errors because of science and evidence. Because of science – I understand the risks of my medications – why is it I never see precautionary statements with “natural” medicines such as oils – which can also be dangerous.

  45. Janet says:

    Bully big pharma?

  46. Knowledgable Consumer says:

    It does not appear that any legitimate research on Essential Oils has taken place here…

    Maybe this will help anyone who wants some factual information about them:
    http://www.kingdomnaturals.com/about-essential-oils/scientific-studies-on-eos

    • On the contrary, I’d suggest that someone looking for valid, objective information about this (or any product) NOT turn to the seller’s marketing materials.

    • Cathie says:

      Dear “Knowledgable Consumer,”

      There are many, many errors on this site, I will stick with the historical ones for now.

      Galen has a plague named after him. In fact, he was driven out of Rome for his practices. Marcus Aurelius called for his return to help with the plague outbreak (the one later named after him) and yet Marcus Aurelius himself would actually die from the plague in spite of having Galen at his side.

      As for the reference to Hippocrates, I find it interesting that man dubbed the “father of Modern Western Medicine” would be so proudly featured in an essential oils for cures website.

      To say anyone anyone used anything because of their “antibacterial” properties before the mid-1800’s is false. Germ theory was not popular and most people believe it was “bad air” or vengeful gods which cause illness.

      Also, the final claims of essential
      oils being used for “infection control” in France is very vague and intentionally misleading – a dangerous sign for the consumer.

  47. clara t. says:

    Thank you! I’m adding this post to my list of why most EO are a big fat hoax. I watched my grandpa die from something that would have been treatable if he had merely listened to his doctor. Instead he and my grandma spent thousands of wasted dollars on vitamins, essential oils, and other alt-medicine products sold by MLM companies. It was heartbreaking and criminal how the reps would call my grandmother every day and tell her to try just one more thing because it would heal him. I was 19 years old at the time and helped with his hospice care. He died a horrible death that lasted years. I want to see these companies fined, sued, and punished for these crimes and it hurts to see my close friends being sucked into their marketing scams and false advertising. They are rubbing undiluted oils on their newborn babies! I cringe to think that some of these could in fact be toxic and the levels of toxicity and their effects on young children just haven’t been discovered. I read all of the comments and I applaud you for standing up for science and common sense that so many are lacking the further they slip into this world of quackery.

    • Dennis says:

      I’m glad you said “most EO”, honestly sorry to hear about your parents, but even doctors kill their patients. I’m not supporting in any way shape or form what those IRRESPONSIBLE REPRESENTATIVES did, but that stigma should not be cast upon the entire community of EO reps and users. If so, then by the same logic, all doctors are murderers.

      There is also a certain level of common sense and fervour we should all have regarding our health, a balance between recognizing what works, when to use it, and when and if there is a professional need for western medicine.

      EOs work, they are effective treatments for a wife variety of ailments and diseases, but there is also a time and place for Western medicine, and we all must adhere to this principle if we are to avoid the “quackery” side / extremist side of the lot.

  48. Keith Castillo says:

    I seen personally that Essential destroying tumors and curing the cold far more effectively than the ‘medicine’ from the doctors office. For most all essential oils their is no bad side effects along with there health benefits. Those prescription and non prescription drugs are design to keep people sick so that doctors can be rich off the expense of the sick. Essentials oils, herbs and good nutrition cures deceases and are far cheaper.

    • Eric Hall says:

      I don’t know about your doctor, but most doctors do not benefit from prescribing certain drugs other than a few pens and a coffee mug. That classic statement is the hallmark of quackery.

      Do you have published evidence to support your anecdote?

  49. Willow says:

    Have you checked out the book the biology of belief? Very interesting take on the whole brain/belief as it relates to health..

  50. Eric, I would love to hear your take on the explanation for the continuous claim that we keep hearing that “essential oils can enter the bloodstream by penetrating the skin”. I have searched and searched for concrete information on this. By my research so far, It appears that certain medications that are able to penetrate into our bloodstream transdermally if they are have a volume less than 500 (whatever that measurement is, I’m no chemist) and they are “hydrollipic” and everything I have read indicates that essential oils are hydrollipic. I was surprised by that because I thought the opposite would be true. There is information all over the internet that states that the “essential oils molecule size is small” but what does that mean? Are they all less than 500 or do they vary in size? I apologize for not knowing what the measurement is when I say “500” but that’s the number I saw on PubMed about transdermal meds and I can’t find the article quickly. right now.I’m in your camp believing they can be beneficial but the claims are over-rated and can be dangerous. But as a licensed massage therapist (0ver 22 years now) and licensed skin care professional (esthetician) who has a neighbor selling doTERRA, I feel the need to get to the bottom of all of this for the benefit of my clients, etc. Thanks for you helps!

    • Eric Hall says:

      That is part of the problem is these oils. while I will believe they are oils from the plants they claim, we have no idea as to the purity nor the amounts of various ingredients which would be active in the body. Think for example of a hot pepper. A Serrano pepper can have anywhere from 10,000-23,000 SHU. This is because the growing conditions and the genetics of the plant can cause the amount of capsaicin to vary widely. However, under controlled conditions, we can isolate the various capsaicinoids and then use it in a cream that works as a local analgesic. It works as such because it is able to penetrate the skin because of its size. So certainly some of the ingredients in these oils could penetrate the skin. The problem is how much? and what? The dose, the varied amount of ingredients, and the health claims are all questionable. It would be like taking “big pharma” medicines and having the bottle say “each pill contains between 200-500mg of active ingredient and may give you super powers.”

      The 500 number is the atomic mass unit or Dalton – meaning basically how many protons and neutrons does each molecule contain in total.

  51. Oh, in the above comment, I was not surprised that the essential oils are hydrollipic, I was surprised that PubMed indicated that hydrollipic substances penetrate through our skin better than non-hydrollipic (I could look up what that is but it was easier at this late hour to write that instead). I was thinking that watery substances like gasoline seem to soak in faster than grease.

    • Bob says:

      Shelley, oil/water emulsions delivering low molecular weight hydrophobic payloads achieve the best transdermal penetration. Given that, it makes sense that gasoline (a relatively low molecular weight hydrophobic chemical) would achieve better penetration than grease (a higher molecular weight hydrophobic chemical). BTW, mayonnaise is an oil/water emulsion and butter is a water/oil emulsion. The skin is a hydrolipidic layer which basically means it is a water/oil emulsion. Actually it is quite a bit more complicated than that, but that is what the “hydrolipidic” term is all about. Most essential oils are simply relatively low molecular weight lipophilic substances. Most are also hydrophobic but certainly not all. Thus if you want to dilute them you need to use alcohol or oil or an emulsion to do it. As such, many of them can achieve transdermal penetration and thus should be used in only small amounts on the skin. I do use essential oils for skin lesions, acne, chicken pox (lavender oil stops the itch). But I would never ingest them or smear large quantities on my skin. I also find most of them irritation and obnoxious to inhale. I know lots of people claim to like the smell of lavender oil but I personally find it unpleasant. Tea tree oil is also an unpleasant scent to me. Frankincense is somewhat pleasant smelling but I wouldn’t use it as cologne. I seriously doubt the ability of essential oils to tackle cancer, cold or flu viruses and the like. Show me some well designed, peer-reviewed, double-blind studies and you will have my attention.

      • Thank you for your reply Bob you sound like a smart guy. So it sounds like the essential oils may indeed be able to enter the bloodstream if they are applied “neat” into the skin. I have been skeptical of this claim as many who use these oils recommend rubbing them in the feet so they will absorb thru the skin especially the feet, I was thinking not much if any can enter the bloodstream thru the thick skin on the feet, especially an adults foot.

  52. Debbie says:

    I work with all women the majority of them have been caught up in the essential oils BS. doTerra is laughing the whole way to the bank because of these ladies. One claims that peppermint oil works wonders for her migraines. If it works so well why is she constantly reapplying it? It’s okay to rely on modern medicine for our ailments.

  53. Renee says:

    Lemon, peppermint, lavender (brand with a food supplement label – but I’m not here to argue brands) taken in a capsule, completely takes care of my seasonal allergies…same brand – oregano oil dissolving a large skin tag on my neck…frankincense oil clearing up granuloma anulura after YEARS of prescription meds and steroid shots and thousands of dollars spent with ZERO results!
    Say what you please and laugh all you want..but then read what is in YOUR listerine – go ahead, I’ll wait. go right to their website and look up the active ingredients in it…
    Essential Oils are making a comeback and for good reason. They were the first medicines, and have been used for thousands of years. To bad a plant cant be patented (though no doubt Monsanto will find a way) because if they could the funding for research would be there.
    Nothing wrong at all with using both modern and traditional methods to benefit our health.
    Are these companies profiting – of course they are. But not nearly as much as big pharma is.

    • Eric Hall says:

      Renee – so can you produce a detailed diary of all of the other things which could affect your immune system? For that matter, can you determine which oil caused what effect? granuloma anulura, for example, is due to an over-production of white blood cells. Seasonal allergies are caused by another excess of production by the immune system. So are you sure it wasn’t the lemon oil and not the frankincense oil? How do you know it isn’t because you changed brands of furnace filter and reduced your exposure to allergens? Or could it be your immune system has simply lowered in function as is bound to happen as we all age? Your skin tag could have fallen off due to the irritation. I get them often, and they usually fall off after a period of time when my collar rubs on them. It could have been the mechanical action of applying the oil and not the oil itself.

      What you are doing is making a correlation error, when there is low plausibility these oils treated all of these conditions. Another problem – you are doing uncontrolled experiments with unknown quantities of materials.

      Blood letting was also a popular treatment in the past. So was exorcism. The argument from antiquity is no reason to believe it is good.

  54. Diana E says:

    I am pleased to find this commentary. I am not against essential oils and do find the relaxing benefit of the scents. A few of my work friends have been introduced to Do terra and thus it is the talk at work. Mind you I am an RN in a neonatal intensive care unit. We have already received work email to keep the oil sharing at a minimum as there were complaints about the smells.
    I did go to one of the parties and was almost sucked in. I had already become aware of a controversy between Do terra and Young Living because there was one person who made the switch from companies. I am inquisitive and thought I’d look into why.
    The party had all of the samples and all of the anecdotes…I must say I was a bit confused. For example, the oils tout as much as say 75 cups of tea for a drop of peppermint oil…yet it is safe to ingest. ??? I assumed that it must be or there would be many lawsuits? Another; Somebody had a child who accidentally drank an entire bottle of the orange one(citrus bliss?) and the mother panicked and called poison control. When they asked the mother what brand of oil she said “Do terra” and the person at poison control said, “Oh, they will be fine, it’s a Do terra product”. Uhhhh…..really? This type of thing would mislead me into believing that you could ingest bottles of any of the ones marked safe for oral use, yet above there was comment on how dangerous clove oil could potentially be.
    To host a party I was given a bottle of Tri-ease which is lavender, peppermint and lemon and is meant for allergies. Mind you, I was still wondering about the ingestion part, since it’s equivalent to so many cups of whatever. When reading the ingredients I noticed it also had carrageenan which has a lot of controversy on it’s own. This simple thing made me go online and start reading more info on the oils which led me to this sight.
    At the party they were diffusing a combination of the orange and peppermint and it smelled terrific. That’s what I will use it for and I will try some topically on what I think is a fungus on my toe….Guess I want to guinea pig myself a little bit.
    I am really curious why many essential oil and aromatherapy sights say do not ingest, yet Do terra and Young Living promote it?
    It is nice to find a sight covering both sides. Although a skeptic sight, I found it refreshing to allow both sides without belittling people.
    On a side note, I also had a mother who was against modern medicine and ended up dying unnecessarily from breast cancer. At the end she did up with chemotherapy and radiation for palliative care…Yet a simple surgery would have saved her early on. She preferred the route of shark cartilage and those cure all juices.
    Anything that touts itself as a cure all for so many ailments makes me wary now…and yes, a bit of a skeptic!

    • DianaE says:

      I looked at the Do terra chart and to be correct, I believe the orange oil I mentioned above was the Wild Orange not the Citrus Bliss blend

  55. Darla says:

    I guess you overlooked this from NYU: http://www.med.nyu.edu/content?ChunkIID=37427. Essential Oils, like synthetic drugs work for some people and not others. I would rather give a natural remedy the chance to work instead of pumping my body full of drugs. I have RA, allergies and have had back reconstructive surgery. I control everything with essential oils and diet. I rarely take medications. I get better pain relief in my hands and feet from the use of Eucalyptus oil than I do hydrocodone and the effects are longer lasting.

    • Eric Hall says:

      I’m not sure you read the information on the link you sent. One, it is about aromatherapy, not topical application. Second, from the link:

      “Unfortunately, most published studies on aromatherapy fail even to achieve this level of rigor, falling far below minimal scientific standards of reliability.

      Thus, everything written below about true aromatherapy—that is, inhalation of an aroma—must be taken with a grain of salt.”

      I wouldn’t call that a rousing endorsement.

      • Darla says:

        Yes i read it… And if you had you would see that there is discussion for oral and topical uses…Personally I use oils topically and internally. For example, Mediterranean Oil of Oregano stops food poisoning dead in it’s tracks. I have used it while traveling for this purpose for myself and friends and never leave home with out it. Eucalyptus stops the pain of RA which is debilitating in my hands and feet. Each person must decide for themselves what works and what does not. To use such broad strokes that EO’s do not work is kind of shameful. Vicodin doesn’t work for some people, but Tea Tree Oil does. When used properly EO’s can provide safe alternatives for those of us who choose to not load our bodies with synthetic pharmaceuticals that are later proven to be toxic and considerably more dangerous and costly.

        • Eric Hall says:

          People used to drink mercury as a cure for many diseases. It is “natural.” Should people try it and see for themselves or should we go with existing data.

          Alcohol occurs naturally. It can be beneficial in small doses. It is poisonous in large doses. Should we just try it and see what dose works? Or should we use the data?

          From bottle to bottle and plant to plant, you have no idea what’s in the dose you are applying or ingesting. You could get 1mg of active ingredient one time and 5mg of the ingredient another time. If the compounds in these oils were indeed beneficial, science could isolate them and provide a consistent safe dose.

          But as the link you provided said – essential oil science so far is essentially worthless.

          • Darla says:

            Yet many FDA approved medications have proven deadly. I find the FDA equally worthless. Big pharma consistently buys them off to approve drugs that are dangerous. Only to have them pulled from the shelves later. Data on FDA drugs are dependable and to be trusted? That is laughable. At least I know what I am getting into with an EO and personally one has never caused me harm and only made my life better and nearly pain free, all without the use of narcotics. BTW. I have no effects crippling joints and minimal pain from RA, However, others who are being pumped full of RA drugs still fight joint degeneration and horrible pain. They themselves will tell you these drugs hardly work if at all, and the side effects are worse than the disease. But some people, such as yourself, will never accept that there is anything better or equally effective than what Western Medicine has to shove down your throat and will continue down the path of more pills… Good Luck.

          • Eric Hall says:

            How many drugs? Can you provide a list of drugs that were pulled from the market completely because of safety? Not recalls because of manufacturing issues – but actual complete market withdrawals?

          • Darla says:

            Would like like that list for just the US or the world or US Canada… should I include Europe and Asia? Alphabetical order or random… ?

            I found this quote from an interview. One of many and very interesting. Dr, Sidney Wolf, Director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group since its founding in 1971.

            Interview from a PBS Special on the FDA.

            Question: How well is the safety of the American public assured today by the system we have for approving and monitoring drugs?

            Dr. Wolf: “In the 31 years that I’ve been monitoring the Food and Drug Administration, what has gone on in the last five and six years is unprecedented. There have been an unprecedented number and percentage of drugs taken off the market; in many cases, drugs with known problems before they came on the market.”

            Also Class one recalls should be included as per the FDA: “Class I” recalls, which means there is a “reasonable probability that the use of or exposure to violative product will cause serious adverse health consequences or death.”

            And of course lets not forget about Vaccines. of which 2007-2010 there were more than one dozen recalls most due to adverse affects.

            Here is a short list of a few: it list the drug, when it was pulled what is was used for and why is was taken off the market. This is only 10 drugs. http://www.mastersinhealthcare.net/blog/2010/10-prescription-drugs-pulled-from-the-shelves-and-why/

          • Eric Hall says:

            Well, anyone who cannot understand the statistics on vaccines is not a trustworthy source for understanding other scientific studies. Vaccines are very safe with very low incidence of serious side effects. When weighed against the benefits, there is no doubt vaccines have a huge benefit.

            If you read the article you linked, many of these drugs are over 30 years old. Two main reasons the drugs were pulled – one is drug interactions were not tested as thoroughly as they are now. It was those drugs actually that brought increased safety because that testing is now required. One of the interactions is with grapefruit juice (something “natural” which actually can interfere with many drugs. The other is people not taking it as prescribed. Again – things can be dangerous in any dose. You can overdose on water – but I don’t see any shelves at the local store being emptied of bottled water. Aspirin can be dangerous – something derived from a “natural” ingredient. So as new drugs that can be taken in higher doses without serious side effects come to market, the old ones are usually taken off the market if they can cause harm if taken above the prescribed dose. You can’t blame that on the FDA – when the FDA provides the warning that too much can cause harm.

            And again – still no number. You and Dr Wolf say huge percentages and large numbers – I see 10. Out of the thousands of drugs out there.

            I don’t think the FDA is perfect. I would like to see improved oversight and enforcement. But it isn’t the FDA I am looking at. It’s the science. That is what I trust.

          • Eric Hall says:

            Essential Oil harm – why are these oil websites not disclosing this?

            Prolonged Aromatherapy May Harm the Heart – http://www.livescience.com/25174-essential-oils-heart-health.html

            Essential Oils may damage liver and kidneys – http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2051976/How-aromatherapy-oils-poison-Tiny-particles-oils-damage-liver-kidneys.html

            Essential Oils can harm a fetus – http://www.agoraindex.org/Frag_Dem/toxicitymyths.html

  56. Darla says:

    You should read your links better. The first one, the heart rates and BP were decreased in the first hour. They rose slightly after 120 minutes. But there was no conclusive evidence that the VOC’s created by the Bergamot or if “other pollutants” in the air were the cause. It could have been caused by sitting and not moving in a room filled with ANY scent for two hours. I use bergamot in a spray that I produce and sell. I Love it, but would not want to sit in a room pumped full of it for that long. And I agree that oils should be used with great caution, and this is what I tell my readers. http://beautifulbotanicals.wordpress.com/

  57. From cancer.gov, one can read this:
    (go here http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/cam/aromatherapy/patient/page2 to acquire the links within the text)

    “5. Have any preclinical (laboratory or animal) studies been conducted using aromatherapy?

    Many studies of essential oils have found that they have antibacterial effects when applied to the skin. Some essential oils have antiviral activity against the herpes simplex virus. Others have antifungal activity against certain vaginal and oropharyngeal fungal infections. In addition, studies in rats have shown that different essential oils can be calming or energizing. When rats were exposed to certain fragrances under stressful conditions, their behavior and immune responses were improved.

    One study showed that after essential oils were inhaled, markers of the fragrance compounds were found in the bloodstream, suggesting that aromatherapy affects the body directly like a drug, in addition to indirectly through the central nervous system.”

    That said, it is a fact that many people who recommend essential oils delude themselves (and their clients) when they think or convey the message that EOs are natural, thus devoid of side effects.

  58. Alison says:

    Who the hell cares about your OPINION if you’ve never tried any of it? Would you want to listen to my opinion on something I’ve never tried? Just because everyone tells me that aspirin works, I wouldn’t go trying to write an article on it if I hadn’t tried it before. It’s fine to form an opinion on something based on studies or lack thereof but without ever having tried it it seems like you are just farting in the wind. Go get a few warts and try to cure them with all methods. It’s ok, I don’t think you’ll die from a few drops of essential oil on your skin. Educate yourself and use it safely as you would any western treatment (since people have been doing this for thousands of years there is plenty of info on safe usage) and do a study on your warts. Sitting behind your computer without any experiential knowledge is useless to anyone. After you have any experience at all I think your article would be easier to swallow. We are all different. Why can’t my body tolerate dairy and eggs? Why did I have seizures when I took wellbutrin or full body rashes when I took diflucan? The dr said it would cure my yeast infection in a day but instead I had a full body rash for 3 weeks. Anytime we try anything it is an experiment. We are all different. I have come to learn my system is incredibly sensitive. I know this because I try things. This gives me answers I can trust and rely on. Not all essential oils work for me either, just like western drugs. I use what works, preferably with the least side effects since I don’t like to suffer. I won’t walk away from your article trading in my years of experiential knowledge with essential oils because you are telling me they don’t work. I know the effectiveness because I’ve tried it. Why don’t you trade your skepticism in for curiosity and then write the article. Maybe you don’t know it all from just reading about it on your computer. Live a little folks. Try things. Inhale a little essential oil and just enjoy the sensory experience! Olfactory senses are powerful and inhaling that sweet orange oil takes me back to peeling an orange as a child. I like it. It makes me happy. Don’t try to ruin something for everyone that you won’t even try. After you experiment a little your article will be much more valuable to us all. I promise if you read about safe oil usage you will probably survive it, just as my body has survived the countless western meds that have harmed me over the years. Don’t be too afraid of those plant aromas! If one bothers you, don’t use it again. I stay away from writing about things I have no experience with. You should too. Let your curiosity open yourself to things instead of spreading your opinion as fact. There were times when everything has been in its infancy. Before antibiotics worked their way into western medicine there were no studies about it. And you have to admit that it’s just harder to study something related to olfactory senses. I don’t know if we have the technology yet. If, in the future more studies come out because we understand more about how to study it, I hope you will be open. Luckily there is a master’s program in this field now, rooted in research, at the American College of Healthcare sciences in Portland. I think we are on the brink of trying to figure out how to learn more about this field. That’s about all we can do is learn more and do what works.

    • Noah Dillon says:

      Alison:

      This isn’t opinion. It’s the result of a lot of research by trained experts. Look: what do you think happens if you shoot yourself in the foot? Do you think it’s painful? Do you need to do that in order to be convinced of it? Most of the time the weakest form of evidence is the testimony of individual people who have tried things. I know lots of people who have taken Wellbutrin without getting rashes. Most people don’t. Your testimony about its likely effects is not very useful.

      You don’t need to try something to know about it. And I’m more likely to believe someone who’s looked at the results of several hundreds of people trying a treatment than I am of someone who has tried a treatment once under uncontrolled circumstances.

      I can’t respond to everything in your post, but there was research done about antibiotics before doctors started prescribing them to people.

      No one is trying to ruin your reminiscences, happiness, or appreciation for orange oil. It’s good that you like that stuff. All that’s being said is that it’s unlikely to cure a disease. Essential oil are very pleasant, they’re just not useful as curatives.

  59. this is the dumbest article I have ever read. there is no point in arguing with ignorance. I could post every study on essential oils here just look at pubmed.gov and aromaticscience.com. most oil studies have been done on internal use. but when someone doesn’t want to believe something not all the science in the world will get them to believe it. for example peppermint is mostly menthol, however scientist can reproduce it synthetically, its packaged and sold as drug. apparently if its sold as a drug it ‘works’ if its in peppermint there isn’t science behind it. this article is so completely ignorant.

    • Eric Hall says:

      Thanks for making the point regarding the difference between a drug and nonsense. When packaged and sold as a drug, the dose and purity are controlled. The dose is well studied for effectiveness.

      No one is asserting oils do not contain useful ingredients. It is the way marketed and sold as cures for everything and no consistency as to what cures what that makes it nonsense. Please feel free to provide examples of studies that fit your criteria if a legitimate study and let’s discuss them. That is how science works – not by insulting.

  60. one of many http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25065265 many oil and perfume copanies do not test their oils, as the FDA also does not require it. You will see nowhere on doTERRA’s website claiming a cure, the FDA simply does not allow it, its not marketed this way thru doTERRA. however because people have such remarkable experiences with the oils they will say ‘this cured my son’s allergies’ etc, when in fact its not a doTERRA claim, but someone’s personal claim. doTERRA can’t regulate what people say and apprarently this is what upsets you. The good news is that even though there is no industry standard or FDA standard on essential oils, doTERRA does in fact use 3rd party testing labs to check for contaminants, pathogens and synthetics, as well as chemical constituents. Those chemical constituents have been studied in their natural non sythentic form, hence the posted study here. The difference between the natural menthol and the syhtnetic is that the synthetic can not be exactly copied, in other words you can’t clone nature. So unfortunately for science, the synthetics contain negative side affects, scientist call the synthetic the one with the ‘split personality’ whereas the natural form of menthol does not have the unwanted side affects. An essential oil suppresses the sympathetic nervous system, while incresing parasymapthetic nerve function. The synthetic molecule suppresses both sympathetic and parasympathetic, hence the ‘dummy clone’ doesn’t really know how to act in the body intelligently like the organic plant based form of menthol. The chirality of the molecule is what makes it not clonable, in other words, there is nothing you can do to make your right hand function like your left, even though they are the exact same. Hopefully this clarifies. The reason this article is so ignorant is because its guaranteed that the writer doesn’t understand this concept whatsoever.

    • Eric Hall says:

      Ok, so a pretty large dose of peppermint oil causes yeast to mutate. Certainly interesting. What happens when exposed to human cells? Could the same mutation happen? Perhaps we shouldn’t be ingesting it? That study doesn’t tell us anything about safety or efficacy in humans.

      The FDA would allow health claims to be made if they were studied and shown to actually work.

    • Eric Hall says:

      Oh — can you show studies of your actual claims? Do you have studies of this “split personality?”

      • It’s basic chemistry on chirality. Yeast cells are in humans, that’s why it’s important to know that it’s affective for killing yeast. Because over growth of yeast which is extremely common due to the over use of antibiotics, causes problems in humans especially inflammation aches and pains, eczema just to name a few health conditions that yeast over growth causes. That’s the we point of the study is that it fights yeast. That is only one thing peppermint Aida with. Peppermint is an herb it’s considered Gras by the fda “generally recognized as safe” for human consumption example peppermint oil in gum, peppermint tea, peppermint brownies. Etc. If you want to to study chirality and cloning of chemical constituents found in essential oils, its just basic science and chemistry. If you are truly interested you can go to my website under “how to use your oils” and find a plethora of webinars and information on how to safely use oils. http://Www.healthyfrugalandwise.com

        • Eric Hall says:

          Are you just throwing around buzzwords to deflect my questions? Because you still haven’t answered my questions. In fact you’ve contradicted yourself. You are ok with and FDA designation for peppermint, but not ok with genuinely studied medicine? Can you explain how that works?

          • Look I’m on my phine here and honestly you’re not going to get a true essential oil education on this thread. If you truly want one watch the webinars on the site I just posted. Particularly the science behind essential oils, MD panel talking about why they use essential oils in their practice etc. To say you want to see studies on if essential oils are safe to consume almost all studies on oils are internal consumption. Just go to pubmed.Gov a government site. In the meantime look at this study on swine flu and doterras onguard blendhttp://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2994788/
            The stories you hear of people getting sick are usually with cheap perfumey oils, even some that claim they are good are not. This is why I only use and consume oils tested by third party Labs un affiliated with doterra

          • Eric Hall says:

            The study published in a journal known for publishing weak studies. The study shows a very mild effect in vitro in dog kidney cells against a dog flu. While interesting, this is far, far from an in vivo study. Very often, something that shows something in vitro ends up not showing anything in vivo. Again, I am not sure how you translate this study to say it works on people.

            You do realize it is doterra that came up with the standards for testing? Some interesting notes is they don’t talk about how long the storage period is (though they talk about holding the oils in storage while testing). This is a problem since oils do degrade and oxidize. One of their tests is a microbial test. If these are so good at killing microbes – why would you need to test for this? Shouldn’t the oils stay sterile on their own if they kill microbes on contact?

  61. h1n1 is swine flu not dog flu, but like I said in my previous post, there is no reason to show anything else because people who don’t want to believe something, wont. Yes doterra came up with industry standards and use 3rd party labs to test so there is regulation, just not goverment regulation with doterra oils. For example they source their lavender from france because the linelol levels are much more potent than lets say utah, where lavender doesn’t grow well, yet some companies source it from there because its cheaper, yet the linelol (the medicinal constituent in lavender) is almost non exisitant in utah lavender. Yes there is oxidation, that’s why they use this new invention called ‘lids’ to store them so they don’t oxidize. I have used oils for ear infections. strep throat, staph bacteria and plenty more microbial infections. Usually for klling microbes, the placebo effect doesn’t work. I had a friend with staph on her face, the prescription she had been using for over a year didn’t work, two days of onguard and oregano did. oh wait, you’re not interested in ancedotal. Here is the thing about anecodtal, people make most of their decisions with their limbic brain (that’s science) its the emotional part of the brain, therefore when someone who has staph for over a year hears that onguard has antimicrobial benifits, of course they are willing to try it. because she tried it for her staph and it worked, it opened her up to trying some for her son’s ADD, she successfully got him off his meds after swtiching to a doctor that supported the use of lab tested oils for proper chemical contituents. That website doesn’t have weak studies, you just choose to disagree for the sake of not wanting to be wrong. Its okay really it is;) Also doTERRA has a 65% retention rate, that means that 65% of all people who order, order every single month, I could see people buying something one time and if it didn’t work, not buying it again, but 65% order monthly? sounds like people have found a way to successfully replace their meds. I got off steriods for autoimmunity by using frankincense internally because of its anti inflammatory benefits. Also use it for headaches instead of advil. But that’s just a personal story, what do i know:) The doctors were going to give my son allergy medication 300 bucks for his cough. thats when someone gave me an oil sample and he slept thru the night without coughing. I used it topically on his chest and aromatically. it had peppermint, rosemary, eucalyptus and lemon in it. I know all my stories probably bore you, but for many, pure essential oils are life changing. But keep drinking your coolaid (with dye in it) and taking your big pharma tested drugs if that’s what works for you, but to criticize what works for others based on ‘science’ (although there isn’t any science that proves oils don’t work) without an understanding of what an essential oil even is, and how it works with the body’s cells is just ignorant. I have no desire to talk to a brick wall anymore, if you are looking to prove something wrong, you’ll never be open to logic and the science that is out there on essential oils. And that is your loss, because likely you have a medicine cabinet that doesn’t serve you well and essential oils would be of great benefit to anyone with cells (everyone has cells) so that means you too. Essential oils work on human cells as well as plant cells. you obviously have not watched the videos I sent you to that clearly explains how oils work on human cells by a harvard MD.

    • Eric Hall says:

      Since you find it necessary to be condescending I will be as well at least briefly. You obviously did not read your own study because the actual virus they tested was PR8. They mention H1N1 in the introduction as a way to generate interest in the study and nothing else.

      Your explanation of the emotional decision making is exactly why we need science and logical thinking to avoid emotional bias. Human sacrifice used to be a common cure for all sorts of natural disasters and diseases. Bleeding used to be used to treat disease. Just because it “feels right” doesn’t make it so.

      If I may return to being condescending for a moment, does your makeup contain any dyes?

      I dont trust big pharmaceutical companies any more than I trust your oil selling organization. I trust the data – meaning the science. Your anecdote is not data. Did your friend take the medications correctly? Did they keep it clean before? Did your child really have ADD (actually ADHD now which tells me either the diagnosis was old, incorrect, or perhaps of parental influence)? Have you considered that your child has either outgrown it (which happens), is self medicating with other stimulants (like caffeine), or perhaps has simply found better ways of coping with it? You see how your anecdotes do not control for any of these possibilities.

  62. Her child had ADD not mine and the child was 12 and no, they didn’t out grow it in two months, that’s how long it took her to wean him off the meds. no my make up doesn’t contain dye, nor does anything I eat or put on my skin contain synthetics, carcinogens or neurotoxins, I make everything homemade with essential oils and raw organic ingredients. Thats a life style choice. yes my friend used the skin prescription as prescribed, and if unclean skin caused her medication to not work, why did onguard work?

    you obivously didn’t read the whole study it was H1N1. swine flu along with other viruses.

    My friend doesn’t use caffiene in their home. I helped her with a complete overhaul of their diet and oils along side her doctor who helped the 12 year old wean off the drugs that she stated were as powerful as cocaine. She said her child not only had a growth spurt after the dietary changes we made, but no longer has anxiety and isn’t a zombie like he used to be after school. he loves his life now and he loves his oils, one less child on phychotrophic drugs. We are changing lives using essential oils and luckily for us there is science and stories to back up the efficacy of oils, like I said before you choose not to look at the science and when you do, you still dont’ believe it. The mother did nothing else besides take her child off meds, change his diet and put him on essential oils topically, we also addressed gut health, the doctor has it documented in his medical file that the changes in his meds were do to the life style changes, not coincidence. But even after the ‘doctor’ has said this, I am certain you will find a way to ‘prove’ him wrong. that’s why i don’t generally engage in conversation.

    I am not trying to be condesending, but rather get to the point of the matter, that there is science and social proof of the essential oils, but you believe neither, so it doesn’t matter how much science we show you, you’ll never believe, even if it killed MRSA in front of your eyes, you may say, show me the study. we would and you still woudln’t believe. thats my point in sharing stories.

    • Eric Hall says:

      They tested PR8. I make this distinction because it is a lab variant and not a naturally occurring virus. I am wondering why you trust that this would work the same in humans since this virus is not present in the wild. How can you trust the science here, but anecdotes when convenient?

      My point is that while a lab variant gives useful information, it doesn’t constitute proof of it working in vivo. I apologize for not being clear – this is not wild H1N1 – but one modified for lab use.

      There are some problems with the controls of the study, including no discussion as to why they picked Canola as the control oil, the fact they froze the viruses in the treating oil, along with a few others. Again, I acknowledge it is interesting, but it is a far cry from proving this would work in a living human. You can’t climb one step up a ladder and declare you are at the top.

      Oh – so this child was only on the meds for two months. How can you be sure that they didn’t have an effect on the outcome? And there was an entire lifestyle change, not just the oil? So perhaps paying more attention to the child, eating a balanced diet, maybe even exercising would help with this type of condition? Of course it does – science shows us that. The doctor didn’t say “the oil did it.” The doctor said “lifestyle changes did it.” That’s a massive difference.

      Social “proof” provides us with a path to form hypothesis, but it doesn’t constitute proof. Cults form all the time, and they are sure of their particular brand of believing they will be saved by aliens or whatever else. It doesn’t mean that because the whole group believes nonsense that it is true.

      Show me a study that oils kills MRSA in humans (in vivo) and I will be happy to look at the data. Please. I would love to read the study. If it is a good study, I promise I will write about it on this blog.

    • Eric Hall says:

      You do realize this is not a study? This is an experiment. There is no publication. There is no peer review. In fact, we don’t even have pictures of the colonies. It might give us something on which to form a hypothesis, it isn’t proper science.

      Assuming for a second the results are correct, it is still an in vitro study. That’s a far cry from showing it would work in humans. How much would you have to take? How would it be metabolized by the time it gets to the infection?

    • Eric Hall says:

      Again the specific oregano study is in vitro. They used different methods to examine the cultures – and they don’t really address the why they chose that method. In most of the cases, the traditional antibiotics were more effective, though the oil did have some effect. I also wonder about their dilution methods – but that’s a whole other discussion on oils in general.

  63. they used it on mice, read the whole thing

    • Eric Hall says:

      Oh there are multiple studies. Ok I see.

      Here’s one major problem with the data. The groups receiving the oregano oil got doses ranging from 8.66 mg/kg to 52 mg/kg. The olive oil control only got 1 mg/kg. Being that oregano oil contains various fatty acids and other things of nutritional value, is it possible the mice recovered because they were force fed extra nutrition? That’s quite a difference of intake between the test group and control.

      Again – interesting. But this study is from 2001. How come there hasn’t been a more extensive follow-up – perhaps even in humans? I am sure there are some non-lethal fungi that could be tested using oils versus placebo. Why not do that study?

  64. it also says it was more effective and it needs to be considered instead of drugs because they are more effective! here is a quote.
    “While this investigation was performed only in test tubes and on a small number of mice, the preliminary results are promising and warrant further study,” Preuss said. “The ability of oils from various spices to kill infectious organisms has been recognized since antiquity. Natural oils may turn out to be valuable adjuvants or even replacements for many anti-germicidals under a variety of conditions.”
    so you can read that and see that oils do have as powerful if not more powerful response on mammal cells than drugs and you wouldn’t want to use it over a drug with side affects? thats just crazy talk, Eric, lets make up, email me your primary family ailments and I will send you some oils free just so you can have a personal anecdotal story to tell no one, becuase those obviously are misleading and then you can have a healthier more empowered family now knowing how to care for simple household ailments such as ear infections, colds, allergies, etc. we’ve already told you doTERRA guarnatees they check for contaminants and the right levels of constituents. show me reported side affects other than a few ‘anecdotal’ stories online that mean nothing according to you because they are just stories. and lets be friends! I wont tell ANYONE you tried EO’s

    • Eric Hall says:

      More effective? The mice all survived in the medication group. They talk about judging appearance, but they don’t quantify that in any way except that the oil mice “looked better.” The mice had oil – oregano and olive mixed together. So yes, taking in fatty acids will improve fur health. OK. That doesn’t tell us how it treated the disease.

  65. here are some petri dishes on a MRSA study, https://www.escholar.manchester.ac.uk/api/datastream?publicationPid=uk-ac-man-scw:1d9623&datastreamId=POST-PEER-REVIEW-PUBLISHERS.PDF
    “Several conclusions can be drawn from this study. We have shown that essential oils can have different effects on different strains of the same bacterial species. Some combinations of essential oils produce a greater antibacterial effect than the single oils alone when in contact with the bacteria. The vapour from essential oil combinations can also have a greater antibacterial effect than the individual oils and can be different from that seen when in direct contact with the bacteria. The vapour from some combina- tions of essential oils can inhibit MRSA, which may prove useful in eradicating them from a wound. “

  66. here is the conclusion, for whatever reason, plants were put on this earth, their oils contain anti microbial properties, its a pity that there is so much misinformation out there about them. If you are concerned with a usage guide, there are additional studies that show how much to use, when to dilute and how quickly they metabolize out of the body. would you like me to post those as well?

    • Eric Hall says:

      The plants weren’t put here for “some reason” – they evolved for their own survival. The “some reason” isn’t even a conclusion – it is a belief.

  67. what are you reading? they didn’t give the mice drugs, they only gave them oregano, carvacal and olive oil, oregano was the most affective, olive oil did nothing. where do you see they gave them drugs?

    • Eric Hall says:

      See the positive control?

      In two separate experiments, groups of mice (6 each) infected with C. albicans (5 × LD50) were gavaged, daily with origanum oil or carvacrol in 0.1 ml of olive oil for 8 days and 30 days. The amount of antifungal agents administered was calculated based on the body weight of the mice. Control
      mice received either olive oil orally alone (negative control), or olive oil orally plus amphotericin B 25 μg i.p. (positive control).

  68. well, we eat plants, 60% of drugs contain synthetic modifications of natural botanicals, why not use the botancials if they are better and the orignal and we no have them studied, checked for contaminants and potent constituent levels. if you think the plant oil is only to keep the plant alive, then I guess you are missing out, the oils work on anything that has cells, humans have cells, plants have cells, I choose to use the oils because they work on my cells, to keep my healthy. You don’t have to use oils if you don’t want to, but don’t bash people who use them especially when there are plenty of studies proving they do in fact work.

    • Eric Hall says:

      Aspirin is an example of a plant that we made a modified version of where we get all the good aspirin stuff without being as hard on the stomach. So why use the “synthetic” stuff? Because we can isolate it, control the dose, and reduce the side effects. That’s why.

      • Paul says:

        Aspirin has also been proven to foster ulcers, etc.

        Not sure where you are coming from, Eric but there are research studies out there if you do a google search…I cited some in a comment at the end of this blog comment section, but I don’t know if the moderator will approve them.

        Here is one, from 2006 on Oregano, this is one older study

        http://jmm.sgmjournals.org/content/56/4/519.full

        Here are a couple more from the National Cancer Institute and NIH

        http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/cam/aromatherapy/patient/page2
        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15555788
        http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22171782

        A main consideration with essential oils is that they need to be 100% pure Therapeutic Grade oils – most oils are merely fragrances and are diluted with other, sometimes toxic substances to make the aroma more appealing and dilute them to make them cheaper. The company Chris and you cite does not have all therapeutic grade oils and is simply a knock off company.

        Wonder if these responses will be censored?

        • Amy Martin says:

          Thank you for stating lots of studies and emphasizing 100% pure therapeutic grade oils. The company I use is strict in their quality of single note oils and blends. I love their products and refuse to use any other oils at this point. I’m a massage therapist and in my 14 years out in the field I have not seen anything like them. As long as you know the supplier of your oils is using purity testing and standards that keep the oils pure you’ll likely be satisfied with your results. Of course, any western meds you’re taking will list contraindications like grapefruit for certain blood pressure regulating meds., but as long as you’re moderate in your approach and do not go against contraindications, you might just try it…inhaling only…to see if you have a response. When a product is therapeutic grade, it’s better than fragrance oil or even food oils. When it’s pure also then you’re at the top of the certification pyramid and only the finest products land here. I hope you can appreciate the information and healing available on this wonderful blog! In Good Health, Amy

        • Eric Hall says:

          Just because a study is published does not make it valid. Is it repeated? Is it even repeatable? What type of data is it? What do the studies in aggregate say? Two of the studies above come from alternative medicine journals. While that doesn’t eliminate the study as invalid by itself, it does hurt the credibility http://skeptoid.com/blog/2013/12/07/i-said-show-me-the-science/

          The other two studies — one study was on bio films — in much higher concentrations than the “100% therapeutic grade.” This 100% therapeutic grade has no meaning to science – it is simply an industry buzzword made to sound like a standard. Back to the study – the biofilms were affected by the oil – but at much higher concentrations than what is in these consumer oils. INteresting, but often in this type of study, it turns out high concentrations of just about anything will kill bacteria (salt for example).

          The other is again a topical treatment. I pointed out that the studies with treating burns with TTO is interesting and shows some promise when used along with traditional treatments. I don’t think enough study has been done here to determine if it is just noise in the data or actually significant, but interesting.

          That doesn’t automatically mean all of the claims made by oil peddlers should be believed – like the 2 big companies recently saying Ebola could be treated with oils. Nonsense – and dangerous.

    • Eric Hall says:

      And I don’t bash the people that use them. I bash the people that sell products based on bad science. It hurts society when people are misinformed about science.

      “We live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology, in which hardly anyone knows anything about science and technology.” – Carl Sagan

  69. okay I see it now, it says that when oregano was combined with the drug that a higher percentage survived. I don’t really care that it was done in 2001. I am sure I could find more recent studies, but its just beating a dead horse, like I said, it all comes back to you not wanting to believe it. did you watch the harvard MD video? its 2 minutes, he explains why the oils work better than drugs and obivously they have done more recent studies as that video was just made this year.
    okay so aspirin is a good example, its hard on your stomach right? when used in wintergreen essential oil which is the non sythentic version, its used topically and doesn’t hurt the stomach, plus its not synthetic. you are right when the oils dont come with dosage information, thats why its important to work with a practitioner when using them internally etc. but like I said the synthetic will never work like the original molecule will and thats exactcly why there are more side affects with drugs, just look at the list of side affects that drugs cause, look at the side affects oils cause, they are all positive side affects. thats the difference between an intelligent molecule and a clone. and isolation doesn’t mean better. look at the oregano study, they isolated carvacal because they thought it was the best constituent, it turns out, it was much more powerful against the fungus when the whole oregano oil was given and not isolated. make sense?

  70. good point…how about this ‘no reported side affects” safer than ‘reported and studied side affects’ seriously though, doesn’t it make more sense to go with something that is plant based? its like saying, “well, we dont know the side affects of celery so don’t eat it! ” its plants for petes sake, we know they have been studied for helping, but there haven’t been reported side affects. so you want to know if oregano has side affects? well too much of anything isn’t good, but i have talked to so many people who have come to me saying their doctor told them to use melalueca oil for this or that and they came to me to get the oil, so MD’s are telling their patients to use oils and the patients are going to me to get the oils because doTERRA guarnatees purity. You are really telling me after watching those videos and studies you’d rather have a drug with proven side affects than an oil with no proven side affects? are you ready for me to send you some to try now? because youve got to be curious, come on, ear infections, eczema, head aches, what do you take drugs for, let me send you some for free. I appreciate your analytical brain, really I do, but there are plenty of reasons to try a plant first one being ‘no proven side affects”

  71. oh man, those granola blogs that are anti mlm are just so boring, I can’t bring myself to read them! their logic is so stupid I seriously can’t get past the first paragraph

  72. you can have allergies to certain plants that is true, Its much more common to have an allergic reaction to a drug LOL! I am allergic to antibiotics. The plants doTERRA sources and sells aren’t poisoinous plants. I could care less about sites that bash network marketing. And I honestly can’t vouch for other brand oils there are a ton of oils and companies who sell highly synthetic and market them as pure therapeutic grade, people have reactions, there is no regulation, so of course its easy to find a sucker to get some brand that isn’t reliable. doTERRA is reliable and its the number one selling oil company in the world because its works, people dont buy stuff that doesn’t work repeatedly, like I said, they may try it once, if it doesn’t work, why would they continue to buy it? 65% retention rate speaks volumes about reselling.

    Ive never done network marketing before, I just use the product because it works and saves me doctors visits. but if you are happy using drugs, go for it seriously! in doTERRA its not the top 5% that just make money, when a product is versatile and works, there are thousands of successful reps in doTERRA making an incredible income including myself. But most people just use the oils, only about 15% of us actually sell them. so if you want to bash oils and network marketing go ahead, but I think your argument is extremely weak. and that’s just my opinion. And you are entilted to your own opinion, but its certainly not scientific to say oils don’t work, and I thought you were a science based blog. But what do I know I am just a stay at home mom that makes an incredible income doing network marketing by sharing natural solutions for families. I didn’t mean to make money, i just happened. I really am just happy my son isn’t on asthma meds and allergy meds which he was prescirbed.

    • Eric Hall says:

      This is a science based blog. You’ve shown me in vitro and a mouse study. Where are the human studies? Why not sure studies at least on human cells? Where’s the data?

      Here’s some math on MLMs http://www.consumerfraudreporting.org/MLM_pyramid.php
      Why do people buy them? Good marketing. People bought sketchers shapeups by the millions too thinking they were working without realizing it was the walking that was doing it.

  73. to say networking marketing is fraud is silly, donald trump, robert kioysaki and warren buffet the greatest investor of all time, all endorese MLM’s just watch this, you’ll see how ridiculous it is to bash on mlm’s https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HkAHgDiWJgI on top of that. the purpose of mlm’s is not to have everyone sell, thats ridiculous, like I said about 85% of doterra people just use teh product because it works, the other 15% market it as well as use it. how in the world is that fraud. You are losing credibility by and by with each post, we are moving now from oils to the chosen business model of oils. do you feel you need to change the subject because your lost your argument on essential oils not having enough science? we went from them being not scientifically working to actually proving by science that they work, to ‘well show me the proven side affects’ of essential oils because ‘I only use drugs with proven side affects’ LOL! I enjoy an intelligent debate, but this is getting silly. show me your human studies and side affects on drugs the results are horrific, using humans as guinea pigs and additionally to prove it actually has scientifically proven “controlled” side affects. I didn’t go here originally, but as long as its being brought up, properly prescirbed drugs are the 3rd LEADING cause of DEATH in the united states. above car accidents and AIDS by a long shot. but don’t get me near an essential oil with ‘no proven side affects’

  74. oh man, I shouldn’t have, but looking at the ‘science of proven side affects’ is a just a little bitty bit more scary than the side affects not proven by essential oils http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/drug-side-effects-explained
    now those are some things I want to be putting in and on my body LOL!

  75. oh man these look just a little worse than someone who OD’d on essential oils and got a tummy ache. ‘serious internal bleeding’ below it says it suppresses the chemical acetylcholine, leads to of course the common symptoms when suppressing the parasympathetic nervous system. this is exactly what I was referring to when I said the cloned synthetics supress sypmathetic and parasympatheic nerve function. THIS IS EXACTLY WHY DRUGS HAVE WAY MORE SIDE AFFECTS AND PROVEN THAN ESSENTIAL OILS EVER WILL. this is just a small sampling of the article.

    “Some drugs can’t help but trigger side effects because of their chemical structure. One example is the common allergy drug diphenhydramine (also known by the brand name Benadryl). Though it eases allergy symptoms, it also suppresses the activity of the body chemical acetylcholine, and that leads to drowsiness and a host of other side effects, including dry mouth.

    Some drugs have barely noticeable side effects when dosed properly. For example, Warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven), used to prevent blood clots, is usually well tolerated, but serious internal bleeding can occur.”

    • Eric Hall says:

      Let’s look at oregano oil – Can cause irritation and allergic reactions. Can reduce iron absorption. Can cause miscarriage. Can interfere with anti-coagulant medications, hormone birth control, and anti-diabetic medications. Gastrointestinal upset. http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/oil-of-oregano/ and http://www.med.nyu.edu/content?ChunkIID=111715

      From the MSDS –

      Acute toxicity (oral, dermal, inhalation), categories 1,2,3
      Eye Contact Aid: Flush immediately with cold clean water for at least 15 minutes,
      contact physician immediately.
      Skin Contact Aid: Thoroughly wash the affected area with soap and water. Flush with large quantities of water. If irritation persists, call a physician.
      Inhalation Aid: Remove individual to fresh air, contact physician if necessary
      Ingestion Aid: Administer water or milk to dilute. Contact a physician or local poison control center immediately.

      If in a confined area, NIOSH approved respiratory protection may be required. Remove individuals from area if they do not have respiratory/dust protection. Spray material with water to prevent dusting and remove to an approved disposal container.

      Eyes: The use of goggles or a face shield is recommended.
      Respiratory: Respiratory protection is normally not required in well ventilated areas. However, NIOSH approved respiratory protection may be required when the material is rated toxic by inhalation or if the material is to be used in a confined area.
      Other Protective Devices: Chemical resistant gloves are recommended (i.e. Nitrile gloves).
      Ventilation: Ventilation meeting ACGIH Standards should be employed.
      Work/Hygienic Practices: Use good personal hygiene practices; Limit exposure to product whenever possible. Wash any contaminated clothing or shoes before each use.

      Oral LD50: 95% limits=1.5-2.2 gm/kg (rat)
      Dermal LD50: >0.32 gm/kg but <0.64 g

      Hazard statement(s)
      H227 Combustible liquid
      H302 Harmful if swallowed.
      H311 Toxic in contact with skin.
      H315 Causes skin irritation.
      H319 Causes serious eye irritation.

      General advice
      Consult a physician. Show this safety data sheet to the doctor in attendance.Move out of dangerous area.
      If inhaled
      If breathed in, move person into fresh air. If not breathing, give artificial respiration. Consult a physician.
      In case of skin contact
      Wash off with soap and plenty of water. Take victim immediately to hospital. Consult a physician.
      In case of eye contact
      Rinse thoroughly with plenty of water for at least 15 minutes and consult a physician.
      If swallowed
      Do NOT induce vomiting. Never give anything by mouth to an unconscious person. Rinse mouth with water. Consult a
      physician.

      Appropriate engineering controls
      Avoid contact with skin, eyes and clothing. Wash hands before breaks and immediately after handling the product.

      Skin protection
      Handle with gloves. Gloves must be inspected prior to use. Use proper glove removal technique (without
      touching glove’s outer surface) to avoid skin contact with this product. Dispose of contaminated gloves after
      use in accordance with applicable laws and good laboratory practices. Wash and dry hands.
      Body Protection
      Complete suit protecting against chemicals, The type of protective equipment must be selected according to
      the concentration and amount of the dangerous substance at the specific workplace.
      Respiratory protection
      Where risk assessment shows air-purifying respirators are appropriate use a full-face respirator with multipurpose
      combination (US) or type ABEK (EN 14387) respirator cartridges as a backup to engineering controls.
      If the respirator is the sole means of protection, use a full-face supplied air respirator. Use respirators and
      components tested and approved under appropriate government standards such as NIOSH (US) or CEN (EU).

      HMIS Rating
      Health hazard: 2

      Perfectly safe and no side effects?

    • Eric Hall says:

      A couple of drops a day is an OD? That sounds pretty dangerous to have around.

      • oregano is some potent stuff, but these people are so stupid, you don’t diltue oregano oil with water! LOL! you dilute it with a carrier oil like coconut oil or olive oil, water actually makes it worse! water and oil dont mix! oh my word, this has a health hazard of 2. so scary. so you wanted ‘proven side affects’ I guess there you have them, controlled, so that is why its recommended by any essential oil expert that you dilute with a carrier oil when using topcially and internally, it says it right on the bottle. there are some hot oils, cinnamon, clove, peppermint, oregano that yes you want to dilute, instrcutions are on the bottle. its not that hard to read instructions is it? don’t put oils in your eyes, ears or other orfaces, is that hard to understand? its as potent if not more potent than a drug, oregano especially shoud be used with care, but even then its safer than drugs. antibiotics can cause life long damage to the intestines.

  76. and last but not least, even after all their testing…. “Still, sometimes not everything is known about a drug’s side effects until after it enters the marketplace and more people start using it. That’s where MedWatch comes in. The FDA’s post-marketing surveillance program seeks voluntary input, mainly from health care professionals, on adverse effects they may be seeing in ”the real world.” Sometimes these reports are numerous and/or serious enough for the FDA to take regulatory action, such as adding warnings to a drug’s label. One example of that involves the psoriasis drug Raptiva. The FDA required that the drug carry the agency’s strongest warning, known as a black box warning, after it received reports of brain infections and meningitis in patients taking the drug.” if essential oils were as dangerous as drugs, they would be regulated by the FDA and illegal, that’s why its so silly to say they are dangerous, first of all, second of all, to say that because the FDA doesn’t regulate it or test it makes it not scientific is a false statement.

    There is plenty of study’s on humans as well, shall I start posting those as well? here is one on human breast cancer cells. there is also one on franckincense createing apoptosis on human bladder cancer cells as well. here is one. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22171782
    apoptosis is the destryong of mutated cells aka cancer cells

    • Eric Hall says:

      Again – in vitro

      One other thing I picked out is they used two different distillation temperatures. The claim is the higher temperature distillation was “more potent” yet the “less potent” distillation killed all the healthy cells as well. They also didn’t use the same concentrations for each distillation which makes me suspect a little anomaly hunting.

      Again – interesting – but a far cry from “take this oil and your cancer will go away without anything else.”

  77. here are more human studies double blind studies, the bottom one shows that the tiger balm blend was more affective than the tylenol for tension headaches. there are so many studies on humans, I could fill this entire thread. shall I keep going?

    “Inhalation of Essential Oils

    Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Forms of Dementia

    Essential oil of lemon balm has also shown promise for this purpose; in a double-blind study of 71 people with severe dementia, use of a lotion containing essential oil of lemon balm reduced agitation compared to placebo lotion. Here, absorption through the skin may have played a role.

    Researchers have also studied aromatherapy as a potential treatment for the cognitive (eg, memory) impairments caused by dementia. 64 In a small study, 28 elderly people with dementia (including 17 people with Alzheimer’s disease) were exposed to rosemary and lemon oil in the morning and lavender and orange in the evening for 28 days. When researchers compared the dementia assessment scores during the treatment period to the scores from the previous month (control period without aromatherapy), they found that all of patients experienced an improvement in their symptoms.

    Cigarette Addiction

    A controlled study suggests that inhalation of black pepper vapor may reduce the craving for cigarettes. 8 In this trial, a total of 48 smokers used cigarette substitute devices that delivered black pepper vapor, menthol, or no fragrance. The results showed that use of the black pepper-based dummy cigarette reduced symptoms of craving for the first morning cigarette.

    A topical ointment known as Tiger Balm has also shown promise for headaches. Tiger Balm contains camphor, menthol, cajaput, and clove oil. A double-blind study enrolling 57 people with acute tension headache compared the application of Tiger Balm to the forehead against placebo ointment as well as the drug acetaminophen (Tylenol). The placebo ointment contained mint essence to make it smell similar to Tiger Balm. Real Tiger Balm proved more effective than placebo and just as effective and more rapid-acting than acetaminophen.”

    faster than tylenol and just as effective, only not taken internally, tylenol causing stomach lining inflammation and oils topcaily on the forehead do not, I don’t know about you, but id much rather use a topical oil studied to be ‘just as effective and more rapid-acting than acetaminopehn”

    I dont’ have the source for this study as my analytical brother sent it to me as he was very impressed with the study. he is also a skeptic, I can get the source if you would like.

    • Eric Hall says:

      MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:
      Headache severity and medication relief scales were measured by self-report.
      RESULTS:
      There was a statistically significant difference (p < 0.05) in headache relief between Tiger Balm and placebo. The difference between Tiger Balm and medication was not significant.

      Self-reporting. This again leads us to a problem with bias. I remember studies where people would take tylenol or placebo and rate their headache before and after and the placebo working just as well. Why? Because doing something helped relieve the tension. Drinking water helped cure any dehydration.

      Here’s an anecdote for you. My doctor says I am the only one who has ever reported kidney stone pain as less than a 10 on the 1-10 or 0-10 scale. So why is my pain level different? Self-reported pain levels aren’t necessarily the best way to measure effectiveness.

  78. you asked for a study on humans i just gave you 4, it worked as good as the tylenol only faster
    is what the result was. now, look at the ingredients in the tiger balm, all major antinflammatories, no wonder it worked

  79. Darla says:

    Melody I use Essential Oils daily, I use them in a safe manner. I often warn others about DT & YL Oils, which are a MLM joke and are out for NOTHING more than to scam sick people. YLO promotes Raindrop therapy which the NAHA has white paper on and condemns. You people promote the use of these oils internally which is not recommended unless through the strict guidance of a certified aromatherapist. Do you know that 1 drop of essential oil could be equal to 75 cups of herbal tea of the same plant? DO you know that DT and YLO sells and uses oils that other producers of EO’s will not even sell because they are so toxic. The FDA could shut both of these companies down if they had the time. As even allowing a customer to make medical claims on a website is against FDA regulations.

    http://www.fda.gov/ICECI/EnforcementActions/WarningLetters/2012/ucm321094.htm.

    I have read on EVERY DT and YLO site that I have been on the dosing out medical advise. Telling people to cease heart and blood pressure meds and to start using X oil with zero regard the the real health of the person. Suggest rubbing an oil on ones chest which could drop the BP so significantly to do harm or cause death. I have yet to see one single person that sells the doTerra or Young Living Oils that is a certified Aromatherapist. NOT ONE! You use these oils on elderly, infants of 4 days old, on pregnant women, when many oils should not be used by them. You use them on any one with no regard for their health or safety.
    These oils are like medicine and should be considered such. They can be toxic, they do have dermal effects the fragrances alone can cause reaction in certain people and could be toxic to animals. Nearly all must be diluted properly and are not meant to used neat, You people make me sick! And it is people like YOU that give Essential Oils a bad name. All you are regurgitating upthread is is all the BS you have been handed in order to sell a product. You have zero education in Naturopathy or aromatherapy, because if you did, you wouldn’t be selling DT.’s over priced oils to people that can get another brand of equal quality for less than half the price. You are nothing more than a thief in a skirt.

  80. Heather Liner says:

    Articles such as these are equally informative, and amusing, thanks to the comments. I’m always so surprised as how God always comes up, and people jumping on someone’s comments for believing in a higher power. I’m a Christian, and I loved this article. I believe that as far as the commenters go, yes, the placebo effect and belief in getting better can improve your attitude, therefor eliminating your stress level, allowing your immune system to grow stronger, and then improvements in your bodies natural ability to fight off infections can happen.

    All that being said, I will take my chances with a doctor. I eat healthy, I exercise, I like the smell of lavender on my pillow. I will not, however douse myself in oils to “heal” my health issues or my children’s’. I am a mom of soon to be 7 kids. Yes, before any tacky comments come, they were all planned. We can afford them and they are all pleasant, well behaved children. However, due to whatever the reason, many of us are living with auto-immune diseases. Many are life threatening, and no, none are communicable.

    I have had many people who sell essential oils come to me and tell me how these oils will get us all off our meds. I always politely listen and just walk away. Why? None of them will give me research that shows me that I can prescribe my kiddos a bit of peppermint and lavender oil and suddenly, they will not die without their meds. It upsets me and insults my intelligence. I have told at least 7 women now, show me the studies. They say they will send them, but nothing. Even the Bible (for my fellow believers out there) warns of these fads. You can’t just douse some oils on yourself and assume every time you get better, it was because of these oils. I personally need proof before drinking the kool aid.

    I thank you for this article, and I thank all the commenters, as they always give me a chuckle. Hope all of you who are using these oils are well enough to where if you are wrong, it won’t be deadly. Until I read research of blind or double blind studies and the oils effectiveness, I will stick with our epi pens and methimazole, and the list goes on….
    :)

    • Paul says:

      Hello Chad Jones, “a PhD student studying physical chemistry” who “write/manage a science blog”. I do hope you are passing your courses because your points lack a degree of integrity and scrutiny. The way you refute the selected quotes you bring are rather disingenuous or just plain silly.

      I just did a quick search on google (disclaimer: I don’t have a PhD and am not a scientist) and found 3 articles within seconds – re research on mrsa, cancer and lavender essential oils. Here are 3, 1 from The National Cancer Institute, 2 from NIH, Pub Med. One study was from as far back as 2004, another 2011…

      A main consideration with essential oils is that they need to be 100% pure Therapeutic Grade oils – most oils are merely fragrances and are diluted with other, sometimes toxic substances to make the aroma more appealing and dilute them to make them cheaper. The company you cite does not have all therapeutic grade oils and is simply a knock off company.

      And re ridiculing past culture’s use of herbs, essential oils and other plants for healing. What will a future culture say about us using treatments like chemotherapy and radiation to kill a patient’s immune system in order to ‘cure’ cancer? or lobotomies to alleviate mental health disorders/socially unacceptable behavior?

      So, please do continue to study ways to debunk use of feces for healing – but please don’t use your credentials and humor to justify your opinions and mislead people for whatever your underlying agenda.

      Why not use your skills to see how many people have been harmed by pharmaceuticals? Or actually do your own studies?

      • Alison Hudson says:

        “they need to be 100% pure Therapeutic Grade oils”

        Now no criticism of oils is legit unless it’s “100% Theraputic Grade”>? Special pleading. Also, what certifying body determines “100% Theraputic Grade”? Is there a formal standard which one can study and implement? I see a lot of marketing sites using this term but none of them provide an actual explanation beyond [paraphrasing] “It’s grown and bottled special-like”.

    • Paul says:

      No one should be telling you the oils are there to ‘heal’ or get anyone off their meds. That may be some individuals’ point of view and incorrect use of the language – the oils are there to support healthy functioning, offer healthy lifestyle/preventative options, and to give people non-toxic alternatives to many of the household and personal care products on the market now. It is about personal choice.

      These arguments are largely specious. Western allopathic medicine has it’s place for emergencies and critical health issues. People who educate themselves can make their own informed choices about other options when it comes to their health and the health of their families.

      There is more research lately about the uses and effectiveness of the therapeutic grade oils (and let the buyer beware) and more information about unfortunate side effects of many drugs on the market, the plastic ‘seeds’ in personal care products and the effects of drugs entering our waters, etc and lack of adequate testing of some drugs already on the market with big pharma money behind it. Drug companies are going directly to the public with fancy advertisement promising all sorts of things with the tiny disclaimers quickly added at the end.

      People should be able to make their informed choices. I fail to understand the venomous rhetoric, not necessarily ‘fact driven’ seen on this page.

      • Eric Hall says:

        Please – define what “therapeutic grade” means. What is the protocol for determining the grading of the oils?

        • Brian says:

          Eric, unfortunately there is no ‘government protocol’ (which is what I think you’re looking for). This would actually be good regulation to have since many companies dilute or use synthetic compounds in their oils either due to poor growing and/or QA practices or through intentional means. I think Paul’s intended meaning behind ‘therapeutic grade’ means 100% pure, unadulterated oil from a plant or fruit which was grown in the perfect conditions (soil, climate, organically (no chemicals)) so that is has the correct makeup. Please check out this study which compared 20 commercially available frankincense oils – they were all over the map in terms of their makeup.
          http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0254629910001705
          This is a very good explanation for why there are not always consistent results in all studies and experience with essential oils. Looking at the science (and I do appreciate your intention of objective science based view), each constituent in each essential oil has a different effect on the body. If that constituent is not present or if there is another compound present (or worse, contamination), then a person’s experience will be totally different with that oil.

          The effort which goes into quality control of essential oils is in a spectrum from zero to testing of every batch with several different methods to QA lack of contamination and correct makeup (to confirm it was grown the way it is claimed to be grown). Dr. Robert Pappas is one of the leading (if not the leading) expert on essential oil testing. He posts some of his findings here if you’re interested in learning more: Editor’s Note: Facebook link removed

          • Eric Hall says:

            Sorry, but I am not a fan of having links going out to those kind of sites, so I am removing the link.

            No, I’m not looking for a government regulation, but I am looking for what “therapeutic grade” means. You say “perfect” conditions – but how do you control the climate without building a massive greenhouse? Organic doesn’t mean “no chemicals” (look up d-limonene – an organic herbicide with the same LD50 as glyphosate or pytherins – an insecticide used in organic farming which is more toxic than the commercial stuff). They use chemicals – just not the regulated ones. But you still haven’t told me what it means as far as active ingredient. How can I be sure what the dose is, especially with the claims that these oils are so powerful? I certainly do not want to overdose.

          • Brian says:

            Eric, I hope you will still check out his site as he approaches essential oils very objectively (from a constituent perspective at least) which I hope you will appreciate. By perfect conditions, I mean as perfect as possible. For example, the most perfect lemon oil comes from Italy. The best and only safe arborvitae oils comes from Washington state.

            I understand your frustration regarding ‘therapeutic grade’. Many companies sell their essential oil with improper (i.e. lying) labeling. Some (rarely) even sell essential oils that are extracts. It’s unbelievable. One example we like to show is how lemon essential oil can be different in its effectiveness. We can show you how our lemon oil will clean the glue residue off of a glass bottle. A common brand found in health food stores will not even clean the bottle – the glue just gums up and smear over the bottle. Another test for lemon oil is to see if it will pop a balloon. In this case the common brand will generally not cause a penetration to form. So if certain brands are not even effective at these tasks, how would anyone expect them to product consistent results on our bodies?

            Regarding what ‘therapeutic grade’ means as far as an ‘active ingredient’, it means the oil has the correct compounds which are expected from naturally grown, perfectly distilled crop. Each oil has constituents which are consistent when the crop is grown in the right climate and soil. Just like grapes from a region have generally consistent properties which define the wine they form. In other words, you can tell the difference between wine grown in upstate NY and wine grown in Château. Another example would be the best cigars come from tobacco grown in Vuelta Abajo, Cuba. While these may not be exact comparisons, because essential oils are so concentrated and each component is important not only to taste or smell but also to effectiveness, the place where it is grown becomes even more important. Using various testing technologies, you can identify what is in each essential oil. Using plants or fruit you know are pure, chemists can determine the ‘standard’ for that oil. Unfortunately no common standard exists, but that does not mean there are no sources which can be trusted. Dr. Pappas is one of those. He sometimes requires multiple kinds of tests to identify a diluted or synthetic oil.

            Regarding dose, it is generally difficult to overdose an oil as long as sensibility is used (and that oil is safe for internal use, if it is being used internally). There is a GRAS list from the gov’t which identifies which oils are safe to use internally. Amusingly though smaller doses (more often) are usually more effective with essential oils, so there is no reason to overdose.

  81. EF Beck says:

    Your first mistake was the brand you chose. Make sure they have control over their farms and how the product is harvested. They don’t have the answers to all those kind of questions because they don’t have 24/7 oversight, nor do they own them.

  82. Dragonseeker says:

    I don’t believe that Essential Oils can cure /everything/. I do believe, however, that there are some things that they can be beneficial to when used right.

    I don’t expect that someone with cancer can start using Essential Oils and miraculously be cured. Now, if you have a case of indigestion, a drop of peppermint oil in your water will take care of that rather quickly.

    I don’t expect that someone with a broken leg can rub some lavender on it and be healed.
    But if you have a headache so severe that you can’t manage to swallow anything without vomiting (which I have had) peppermint and lavender rubbed on the temples, across the forehead and across the back of the neck can calm the headache enough to finally be able to take something.

    No, Essential Oils are not a cure-all. They can help with some things. Essential Oils are also not for everyone. There are some people that have sensitive skin or sensitive sinuses. Essential Oils are strong in smell and can cause skin irritation if applied inappropriately. Most oils will tell you if you need to dilute them before applying them. For instance: I can’t use cinnamon Essential Oil because I have a cinnamon allergy. No amount of diluting changes that. It gives me a wretched headache and, if ingested, gives me severe indigestion. I’ve not had the courage to use it topically because of the other things it does to me. I don’t want to test out my theory that it’d cause skin irritation as well.

    That doesn’t negate the fact that some oils can be beneficial to some people. The truth of the matter is that there isn’t really a lot of research on Essential Oils. Most studies that have been done are typically biased. Those who run the studies are, usually, either for or against the oils and their results frequently reflect their bias.

    Feel free to try and “rip me a new one” for my opinion. I won’t be back to look at this so your angry replies will go unread by me and will ultimately do no good to change my mind. But if it helps you get that aggression out, go for it. Happy screaming, my darlings.

    • Alison Hudson says:

      So your position is, “I’m gonna come here and speak my mind, but then ‘Neener neener neener, I can’t hear you!’ to any responses”? Wow. Well played, good sir. Well played. I guess we can all pack up and go home now; that logic is irrefutable.

    • Eric Hall says:

      Even if they will go unread by you I will respond for others that read it.

      You may be taking a more pragmatic approach to essential oils, which isn’t really the concerns we as skeptics and scientists have with oils. At least for me, there are two problems with the way oils are marketed and the way people approach them.

      First is the lack of acknowledgement of any dangers or concerns. You touch on this in your “may cause irritation” statement, as well as your “won’t cure cancer” bit. But for some, they market these oils on a dangerous line – such as for treating fevers. Will rubbing a oil with a low vapor pressure soothe a minor fever? Probably. But there is no distinction in the claims about a low versus higher temp fever. These are important distinctions, and the lack of acknowledgement of the limitations is disturbing. https://skeptoid.com/blog/2014/04/05/essential-oil-claims-the-dangers-keep-on-coming/

      The other problem is the misunderstanding of the mechanism on how the oils work. For example, rubbing the oil on your head raises the tmep of the oil, thus increasing its evaporation rate. The smell gets stronger – it helps relax you, thus reducing your headache symptom. It might be part placebo, or just the fact that our senses do affect our mood and thus our brain chemistry (in a way how a placebo works). So great, it works for an otherwise inconvenient but not dangerous condition. Let’s not misrepresent science by proposing nonsense mechanisms for how it works.

  83. Your argument has a lot of missing points and information to make it valid. It is a nice read but it proved your ignorance to some pretty substantial facts. I came out feeling like you sat down to win your arguement based on where you sit on being informed. And you are not. If you want to win your argument learn about the topic and do better at research. Otherwise, it just looks like you talk well and twist things to make it look like you want it to instead standing on truth and what is real.

  84. Denise M. says:

    I love the “exaggerates claims” point. What I would like to know is why the claims always come from a multi-level marketing scheme. This is just another scheme. BTW are people still drinking Noni? That was a cure all too! I believe these products are just a touchy feely type of venture. I do oil pulling with sesame oil and doterra distributors tell me I need to buy their product. Interesting!

    • Paul says:

      And I would like to know why the “exaggerated” claims always come from the big pharma companies…BTW, are people still using Risperdol. Vioxx, Celebrex, dilaudid, accutane?

  85. melanie says:

    Thank you for this. It is so good to not only see footnotes but a link where you can read the study yourself!

  86. G. Segerson says:

    Thank you Eric. After reading your posts, and going to your links. I am more convinced than ever that essential oils are far safer and healthier for you than the prescribed medications. I find it amazing to me how some people are not even open to the possibility of being healed by something so natural and readily available. I was told once that people would be so surprised if they knew how many of these oils are actually used in many of the prescribed medications they are given.

    • What prescription medicines contain essential oil?
      Even if it is that doesn’t mean it has any effect, carbon and hydrogen are in almost your prescribed medicines. That doesn’t mean that it is chemically the same as the active ingredient, or that is effective in any way.

    • Paul says:

      I think the problem is using the language of ‘healed’ – if we just say supports healthy functioning, promotes natural defenses, etc, perhaps we would not be having this protracted debate. The language of ‘treat’ ‘heal’ , “cure” somehow seems to be the domain of big pharma. People can just educate themselves and make informed choices about what they will ingest and which approach they will take for themselves and their families. Many people are fearful and believe everything they see on TV and all the claims. I think it is far more misleading to show people romping on a field and claiming they will have great sex, etc if they take this or that drug…listen to the disclaimers at the end of so many drug ads these days…big pharma is going straight to the consumer vs the doctors these days. anyone have any issues with this?

  87. dissapointed says:

    You know what is amazing, first of all I wasted an hour of my time reading the whole comment thread. But, neither side is willing to compromise. Eric and his followers say “show me research” and others provide the research. Then, skeptoids spend their time saying how irrelevant the research is. Its all the same excuses: not controlled enough, not in the body, not the right growing environments, too many factors, too little factors, where’s the evidence, where’s the follow up study, etc” So then, we are taking a “physics teacher” not a leader in the field of physics or a person who is furthering the physics field. Just a teachers word as solid. In addition to his family and co-workers. Which, we have no clue what their backgrounds are, are these people leaders in their field? Do they do any actual research? If we take them at face value by the degree they claim and by their educational experience? Then I would hope they are all well versed in their opinions. But, how do I know how much experience they have? Is it relevant? Eric, you talked about being the “safety officer” and how you had to develop ways to keep people safe from the chemicals used. But have you ever used those chemicals? Tested on them personally? Have you done the research on them or did you just pull your information from the shoulders of greater men (or women) who did the research, who created those MSDS sheets?? There’s a ton of “google” experts on here. And some how no one has done their own research and if they did there will always be someone to tell them how their research was done wrong, what they could have done better, why it is valid, why it is invalid. As neither pro-oils or anti-oils I find myself turned off by both sides of the argument. Would I keep my family and friends away from toxic chemicals, yes! Do I believe this blog has the correct information for me to fend off essential oils… absolutely not. And the fact that you seem to provide self promotion by using your own links to prove your points… it’s rather arrogant? Maybe because you want to say “hey I proved that point already, or it’s already been written about.” But, if I am reading a current article and sorting through bs on both sides of the argument why in the world would I want to read another one of your blog pages that has such a high potential for the same spill on the subject. Or even a related spill for that matter? What a mess!! IF you wanted to write about how dangerous they are for goodness sakes please provide more references so I can better see your side of the argument without seeing you cut down Susie homemaker and her blog which is what your “scientific” argument is based from. At least cut down someone who is a CEO creates/ sells the stuff?? That way I can see how it is stupid from the top down. Not how you can pick on someone who is clearly uninformed, may not have formal education, or much of an education at all. Maybe she is a doctor? Who knows. Because you cherry picked her site. I would appreciate a good reason to continue to follow the blog. But regarding this topic I think the comments section really destroys the quality of your writing and the last line says that you don’t believe the oils are useless yet your comments seem to imply that. I look forward to your next topics but this one is seriously off base and the scientific evidence to support the opinion trying to be expressed in the article is greatly lacking because throughout the comments there’s several comments stating how certain sites can be completely dismissed… so which ones should we consider relevant? Which ones are not a “repository.” I get it was supposed to be a piece about “exaggerated claims” but in the same manner, I expect a MLM to exaggerate. They are trying to get me to buy their junk….

  88. dissapointed says:

    Here’s something that cracked me up as well – you said “Treating disease by ingesting animal feces or applying it to your skin is also an ancient Egyptian remedy, in fact more common than essential oils, but I don’t see that catching on in the same way.”

    I guess you missed this cause we are totally using human “fecal transplantation” in todays modern medicine!! HAA HAA!! And they are looking at frozen pill form as well. Maybe those idiot Egyptians were trying to figure out how to solve this condition??

    http://www.mayoclinic.org/medical-professionals/clinical-updates/digestive-diseases/quick-inexpensive-90-percent-cure-rate

    • Noah Dillon says:

      Putting animal dung on your skin is not the same as getting some other human’s intestinal flora as a transplant or pill.

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