Essential oils: real health benefits or expensive dupe?
Essential oils are selling like mania. Period cramps, runny nose, stuffed nose, back ache, neck ache, congested chest, arthritis, AIDS, GERD, lupus, better sleep, confidence, focus issues, dying libido; basically, whatever’s ailing you, there’s a potion for it.
You believe in essential oils if you are a fan of Vick’s Vaporub. Vicks is a mixture of essential oils suspended in petroleum jelly.
Essential oils are everywhere. Anyone who is on social media has witnessed the large-scale, multilevel marketing of these oils. What exactly makes an oil ‘essential’, do they really have medicinal properties to heal major burns and cure diseases? Is there any scientific validation of these claims?
How Do They Work?
Here’s a word of caution: essential oils should never be ingested, EVER or applied without dilution.
The ‘essential’ in the lavender, peppermint, eucalyptus essential oils comes from the fact that they have the ‘essence’ or the concentration of the flowers, herbs, leaves, roots, seeds or peels of plants from which they are extracted, usually by methods like, distillation or expression.
They can be directly inhaled from the bottle, handkerchief, your palm or diluted with olive oil and then massaged into the skin. Essential oils are highly concentrated mixtures of more than 200 substances, each vial having a unique composition of tiny molecules in them can be easily absorbed by the skin.
Are the Claims Bullhockey?
Using essential oils for beauty regimens is ancient art. Egyptians were known to use botanical extracts as healers but the oils we know today are a mix of synthetically processed substances with natural essences. Essential oils are surely no fad – they’ve been around for hundreds of years and have passed the test of antiquity as alternative medicine.
The US Food and Drug Administration has come down heavily on many essential oils companies for bizarre health claims like– treats insomnia, migraine, arthritis, spondylitis, forcing manufacturers to put more general claims such as “promotes wellness”,” elevates mood”.
These oils smell great, help relax, can enhance your skin appearance (like any good moisturizer)but the controversy is whether they have medicinal properties or not.
Essential Oils Can’t Treat Critical Medical Illnesses.
Each oil is supposed to be used differently. The main places of application for essential oils are your feet, ears, fingers, and any acupuncture point.
Supporters of essential oils say they can treat everything from autism to Parkinson’s, diabetes, cancers, migraines and everything in between. Here’s the thing, essential oils might be elevating your mood, lighting a scar or even alleviating symptoms of a cold. Many have antiseptic properties but there is sparse or no published, medical evidence that they can cure any potentially serious illness.
There are some clinical studies which validate their mood uplifting, mind relaxing properties, reduce anxiety, stress but people who testify on the magical health benefits of essential oils are pretty silly.
Some oils, like Thymoquinone, are known, effective anti-tumor agents. Perhaps clinical studies should be conducted on these oils to study the chemotherapeutic properties.
Another argument in favour of alternative medicine also is, that clinical research on essential oils, is difficult because patients can’t be blinded to aromas, the mental association to odours is difficult to establish clinically.
Bottomline: Till now, these oils haven’t shown to cure any critical medical condition. They are pretty expensive, a small vial can cost over $25.00 and if used directly on the skin, they can be dangerous.
Is Your Oil Fake?
There is some evidence that these oils can improve mood, such as anxiety, depression, and reduce stress but for all these benefits, it is important to buy a good quality oil.
Buying a high-quality oil is a challenge. The market is full of fakes, some manufacturers ‘extend’ their oils by mixing them with synthetic scents, less expensive nut oils etc.
What are the tell-tale signs?
Put a drop of oil on water and let it dry. It is not pure if it leaves a ring behind.
Quality matters when it comes to these oils. It takes a roomful of plants to get the extracts for one tiny bottle, so if you are getting it at an extremely cheap cost, be wary. Check several websites to know the average price range of the oil you want. Make sure the Latin name is printed on the bottle. If only ‘Lavender Oil’ is written and nowhere does the fine print mention Lavandula Angustifolia, you might be shelling out a lot of money for a hybrid.
One thing that is for certain, is that many pests such as mice and many garden insects are repelled by peppermint oils.
Thanks to Nikita Mishra