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Diffusing Myths and Truths of Essential Oils

Do essential oils really live up to their hype? Are essential oils really an alternative medical solution? Get the facts here!


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. Do essential oils really live up to their hype? Are essential oils really an alternative medical solution? Get the facts here!

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 Myths and Truths

Essential oils never expire.

MYTH. Although it may be surprising essential oils have a shelf-life, compounds and chemicals can change as time progresses. Shelf-life is dependent on the 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.

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

TRUTH. Essential oils may support people living with Alzheimer's disease and its associated symptoms. Research suggests topical and oral use of mint can enhance memory and cognitive processes.

You never need to worry about allergic reactions.

MYTH. Like any ingested or topical product, adverse side 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 have a significant role in dental health.

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

The Essential Bottom Line

Generally, essential oils are safe to use. When choosing essential oils, do your research regarding the brand and dosage recommended. It is 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. When it comes to recommendation, it is up to the individual's own discretion whether or not aromatherapy is put into practice.


Essential Oils. PubMed Health. Available at:

Dagli N, Dagli R. Possible Use of Essential Oils in Dentistry. Journal of International Oral Health. Available at:

Written By Christy Zagarella, MS, RDN. Published on June 30, 2016. Updated on June 30, 2016.


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