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Understanding Essential Oils: A Fact Check

At a time when many of us are spending less time outside, a great deal of people has expressed interest in aromatherapy as a natural way to help enhance life at home. It is a fairly new concept to most people, so it is only natural that they dive into the vast amount of information on the internet in order to gain a better understanding of the topic, particularly on the use of essential oils.

While the abundance of available information online is a convenient thing, it can also be confusing and overwhelming, especially for non-professionals. This puts people at risk of taking in details that are not backed by facts and evidence, therefore having people develop their own interpretations and pass on misinformation to others. As a result, many people may not use aromatherapy and essential oils for the right reasons.

We’re here to help you find some facts on essential oils. In this article, we will provide scientific studies that will debunk common aromatherapy misconceptions.

Facts on Essential Oils

Essential oils are mostly for external use.

Because essential oils are extracted from plants, herbs, trees, and crops, they are considered natural products. You may have encountered several marketers and companies that say essential oils are safe for consumption. However, there is no real information that proves this claim.[1]

There were reported cases of poisonings from unauthorized high-dose ingestions of essential oils, such as peppermint oil, as provided in a study by Nath, Pandey, and Roy (2012).[2] All aromatherapy oils companies would warn their customers to keep these bottles away from children. Their young minds are extremely curious, making them eager to experience every single thing, so there have been reports where children accidentally consumed essential oils, which then resulted in life-threatening situations.[3] All these things considered, unless prescribed by your physician, it’s best to completely avoid consuming essential oils.

Aromatherapy oils mainly help promote wellbeing.

In relation to the preceding point, the consumption of essential oils must be approved and administered by a medical professional. Essential oils are versatile; specific blends contain antimicrobial properties and are sometimes used for medical purposes,[4] but in general, aromatherapy is recommended for improving one’s quality of life, which is why pure, scented essential oils are significant tools in infusing a calming atmosphere to its user.[4][5]

Essential oils can be compatible with selected people.

Aromatherapy is indeed an interesting way to indulge in a serene, relaxing experience with its natural and organic sources. Still, it would be better to check if you have certain sensitivities to fragrances or oils, for reports have shown that some people developed allergic reactions to various essential oils.[6][7]

There are also specific essential oil blends clinically-recommended for pregnant women and nursing mothers,[8] so make sure to do intensive research and consult your doctor first.

Some essential oils are safe for pets.

You only want what's best for your animal friends, and it's completely understandable to have the desire to share the wonders of holistic aromatherapy with your pets. Just know that aromatherapy oils differ in essence; the same way that not all animals are created the same. For instance, dogs and cats have an extremely heightened sense of smell.[9] Essential oils with gentle fragrances such as lavender may have a calming effect on some canines,[10] but caution must be exercised for cats since they are much more sensitive to scents.

Pet owners should first check with their veterinarian before introducing aromatherapy to their small companions. It would be better to start slow and stay alert for any kind of reaction from them.[9]

Essential oils have a shelf life

There are claims freely going around that pure essential oils do not expire. The truth is, they may not have a determined expiration date, however, essential oils deteriorate and oxidize over time. Essential oil lifespan varies depending on numerous factors, like its method of distillation, quality of the herb, storage conditions, chemical composition, etc.[11]

Most citrus peel essential oils tend to have a shorter shelf life, ranging from one to two years, while the rest may retain their therapeutic quality up to four years.[1] If the aroma has changed and the oil turned cloudy and thick, then it's best not to use it anymore. But, you can still maximize its shelf life by keeping them tightly sealed in dark glass bottles stored in a cool, dry place.[11]

With the right guidance and information, it will be easier to immerse into the serene experience of an aromatic lifestyle. We at Essence et Sérénité wish to help you have a safe and meaningful journey to self-discovery within your space at home. Check out our wonderful collection of scented essential oils and make sure to read our disclaimer.

  1. Tisserand, R. & Balacs, T. (2013). Essential oil safety: A guide for health professionals (2nd Edition). Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone.

  2. Nath, S. S., Pandey, C., & Roy, D. (2012). A near fatal case of high dose peppermint oil ingestion- Lessons learnt. Indian journal of anaesthesia, 56(6), 582–584.

  3. Flaman, Z., Pellechia-Clarke, S., Bailey, B., & McGuigan, M. (2001). Unintentional exposure of young children to camphor and eucalyptus oils. Paediatrics & child health, 6(2), 80–83.

  4. Wińska, K., Mączka, W., Łyczko, J., Grabarczyk, M., Czubaszek, A., & Szumny, A. (2019). Essential Oils as Antimicrobial Agents-Myth or Real Alternative?. Molecules (Basel, Switzerland), 24(11), 2130.

  5. Worwood, V. (2016). The Complete Book of Essentials Oils and Aromatherapy, Completely Revised and Expanded: Over 800 Natural, Nontoxic, and Fragrant Recipes to Create Health, Beauty, and Safe Home and Work Environments. New World Library.

  6. Hagvall, L., Karlberg, A., & Bråred Christensson, J. (2012). Contact allergy to air-exposed geraniol: clinical observations and report of 14 cases. Contact Dermatitis, 67(1):20-27. doi:10.1111/j.1600-0536.2012.02079.x

  7. Rudazki, E., Grzywa, Z., & Bruo, W. (1976). Sensitivity to 35 essential oils. Contact Dermatitis, 2(4):196-200. doi:10.1111/j.1600-0536.1976.tb03026.x

  8. Clark, D. (2017). The Complete Book of Essential Oils for Mama and Baby: Safe and Natural Remedies for Pregnancy, Birth, and Children. Althea Press.

  9. Bell, K. (2002). Holistic Aromatherapy for Animals: A Comprehensive Guide to the Use of Essential Oils & Hydrosols with Animals (Comprehensive Guide to the Use of Essential Oils and Hydroso). Findhorn Press.

  10. Wells, D.L. (2006) Aromatherapy for travel-induced excitement in dogs. Journal of American Veterinary Medicine Association 229(6): 964-967


Posted March 22, 2022, in ESSENTIAL OILS by Essence et Sérénité

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