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Essential Oils: A Natural Living Pyramid Scheme or Nature’s Gift?

Essential oils are the natural liquids distilled from plants that are used in perfume, food flavoring, medicine, aromatherapy, and many other home remedies. They give off a strong fragrance and are said to hold the medicinal properties of their source plant.  Some of the most popular oils include lavender, peppermint, lemon, ylang-ylang, and frankincense. 

Over the past few years, both the use and distribution of essential oils has become a huge trend, specifically among stay at home mothers and young people interested in natural/homeopathic medicine. Large companies sell the idea that essential oils are a safe and effective cure for many different ailments. Personally, I follow three different “oily-moms” or “oily-families” that preach about the wonders of essential oils in an attempt to get other people to sink their money into the products/program. Tension headaches relieved by applying peppermint oil to the temples, nausea eliminated by inhaling spearmint oil, and tea tree for athletes foot are just a few examples of what some people believe essential oils can do.

There is no official scientific proof that essential oils have medicinal properties. There have been studies done on both mice and humans, but have been deemed ‘inconclusive’ due to the high possibility of placebo effect. Traditional doctors and medical professionals tend to steer patients away from oils because of this fact. However, in recent years, hospitals have began hiring individuals certified in homeopathy and aromatherapy to help patients during the healing/recovery process. 

Personally, I believe that some essential oils do have health benefits. I have watched countless documentaries and read articles about how incorporating oils into one’s daily life can have major positive mental and physical effects. There are thousands of websites, blog posts, and social media profiles that share tips and tricks about essential oils, as well as the properties of each. There are lists of what oils are best in aiding digestion, healing scars, improving skin elasticity, getting rid of yeast infections, and even what oils can help with chemotherapy side-effects/aid in cancer treatment. I struggle with fungal acne and routinely apply tea tree oil because of its antifungal properties. I have seen a decrease in the redness and inflammation of my acne after applying te tree oil, and the pimples tend to go away much faster than they would without the oil.

While I do not believe that all information online regarding essential oils is true, or that they are magical cures for all types of illness, I think that they can still be used medicinally in some situations. Even if you dive deeper into the world of oils and decide that the medicinal uses are complete bologna, they still have some amazing other uses. Citrus essential oils, specifically lemon and orange, are often used in homemade non-toxic household cleaners. Some therapists recommend that those struggling with personal loss/grief choose a specific “grounding” oil to smell in times of deep sadness or dissociation in order to anchor themselves to the present moment. A small drop or two of essential oil can add flavor to a meal. Smelling a strong oil in the morning (I use peppermint) can help wake you up for the day. There are so many different ways to use essential oils and they are often deemed safer than chemical/artificial alternatives.

It is important to do your research when it comes to incorporating essential oils into your life. They can definitely provide you with some amazing mental and physical health benefits depending on how they are used and for what purpose. It is especially important to note where your oils are coming from. Essential oils from large brands are likely to be the safest and most pure.  But, some large oil and natural living companies have created multi-billion dollar corporations designed to pull people into the “oily life”.  Representatives preach about the wonders of essential oils, convince you to purchase a few, and then attempt to get you onto their sales team to convince other like-minded friends and family members to join in on the business. I include this detail because it is important not to let others influence your experience with essential oils. They are great, natural products that can enhance your life, but it is important to know what you are getting into when buying from big oil brands.

Essential oils can be extremely useful and can have wonderful health benefits when used properly. I encourage you to look into essential oils and see how they can be used in your daily life. 





Victoria Adams is a sophomore Marketing major at Temple University. She loves cooking, working out, spending time outside, and is currently learning how to knit. You can follow her on insta @toriiadams, or connect via LinkedIn @VictoriaAdams.
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