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Diffusing Essential Oil Myths and Truths

Do essential oils really live up to their hype? Are essential oils really a beneficial natural remedy? Find out the truth about essential oils here!

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When it comes to health, our brains automate to a nutritious diet and exercise. But devoted health goers are adding essential oils to their regimen.

But do essential oils really live up to their hype as a natural remedy? Find out the truth about essential oil information and if they are really an alternative medical solution!

What Are Essential Oils?

The use of essential oils, also known as aromatherapy, is not a new concept. Cultures around the world have put these oils into practice for centuries, mainly for religious and healing purposes.

Essential oils are concentrations created from natural chemicals of plants using steam or pressure. Flavors and odors are specific and unique to the plant the oil originated from. The chemical composition also effects how it used and absorbed by the body.

The potential outcomes further vary by inhalation, ingestion, and topical techniques. Essential oils ultimately end up in perfumes, food flavorings, medicines, and as alternative therapies and treatment options. With their widespread use, what are the myths and truths of essential oils?

Diffusing Essential Oil Myths and Truths

From determining if essential oils expire to their proclaimed benefits to treat health conditions, find out the truth about essential oils.

Essential oils never expire.

MYTH. Although it may be surprising essential oils have a shelf life, compounds and chemicals can change as time progresses.

The shelf life of essential oils is dependent on essential oil production, purity, and storage. In general, most essential oils have a shelf-life of two to five years.

Aromatherapy has been used in cancer treatment.

TRUTH. The use of essential oils has been used to complement traditional cancer treatment.

Essential oils may reduce anxiety associated with arising cancer stress. Additional critical illnesses and hospitalized patients have also practiced with essential oils.

Sedative effects and positive behaviors have been shown in animal studies, too.

Brain health and memory may improve with the use of some essential oils.

TRUTH. Essential oils may support people living with Alzheimer’s disease and its associated symptoms.

Research suggests the inhalation, topical application and oral administration of mint can enhance memory and cognitive processes.

Stress reduction can be achieved by inhaling essential oils.

UNKNOWN. To date, studies have been inconclusive for attributing stress reduction to essential oils.

You never need to worry about allergic reactions.

MYTH. Like any ingested or topical product, adverse side reactions effects may arise. Individuals often attribute skin irritation and discomfort as part of the “detox” process.

However, continuing with essential oils following irritations can increase the severity and inflammation of these reactions.

Essential oils can be used to treat hypertension.

MYTH. Essential oils do help promote a beneficial state of relaxation.

However, to date, clinical research has not shown convincing evidence that essential oils can effectively be used to treat hypertension.

Essential oils have a significant role in dental health.

TRUTH. Essential oil mouth rinses have been found to inhibit plaque.

A meta-analysis of peer-reviewed research studies has shown a 6-month rinse with essential oils in between dental visits can significantly reduce gingivitis and plaque build-up.

Additionally, wound dressings with essential oils may have therapeutic effects following oral surgical procedures. Lavender has also been shown to reduce anxiety associated with dental services.

Essential oils can be used to treat fungal disease.

TRUTH. Some essential oils have been shown to have anti-fungal properties. Coriander oil has been shown to reduce oral thrush.

Melaleuca, also known as tea tree oil, has been shown to inhibit and kill fungi. It can be used to treat fungal infections of the skin and nails, too.

The Essential, Bottom Line

Generally, essential oils are safe to use. But when choosing essential oils, do your research regarding the brand and dosage recommended. This includes finding a trusted company preparing and selling pure essential oil products.

It is likewise important to remember just because they can be safe, does not mean they are effective. Although several individuals swear by their use, research backing up beneficial claims is limited yet ongoing.

Really when it comes to the recommendation, it is up to the individual’s own discretion whether or not aromatherapy is put into practice.

Written By Christy Zagarella, MS, RDN. Medically reviewed By Rob Brown, MD. Published on June 30, 2016. Updated on July 12, 2019.

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