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! Also, feel free to e-mail me:
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156 Responses to Essential oils: A perfect example of alternative medicine exaggeration

  1. Stephen Propatier says:

    Love it nice breakdown!

  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:

            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:


          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.

    • 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 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.

  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:

      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.

    • Chad Jones says:

      Like James Watson said, “Blueberries best be eaten because they taste good, not because their consumption will lead to less cancer.”

      This same quote applies to a wide variety of quakery, especially essential oils.

  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 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.

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

    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:

    • 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:

    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.

    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


    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.

  29. Scott says:


    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.


      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:

      • 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.

  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.

    • 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

    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.

  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:

    • 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: 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.

          • 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 –

            Essential Oils may damage liver and kidneys –

            Essential Oils can harm a fetus –

  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.

  57. From, one can read this:
    (go here 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.

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