There are many oils that may be applied topically or used aromatically to reduce body aches and pains. One study that displays this essential oil benefit evaluated the efficacy of these oils on neck pain. For the study, the experimental group received a cream that was composed of marjoram, black pepper, lavender and peppermint oils, and the control group used an unscented cream. The creams were applied for 4 weeks, directly to the painful area after bathing. Researchers found that the experimental group had improved pain tolerance in the neck and showed significant improvement in the 10 motion areas that were measured. (15)
Some essential massage oils may make their way into the placenta, an organ in your uterus that grows along with your baby and helps to nourish it. It’s not clear if this causes any problems, unless you take toxic amounts, but to be safe, it’s best to avoid certain oils if you’re pregnant. Those include wormwood, rue, oak moss, Lavandula stoechas, camphor, parsley seed, sage, and hyssop. Ask your doctor if you’re unsure.
Having discussed the many ways we can get the oils into your system, how do we know which oils to use? Firstly, it is important to think about your objectives for using essential oils. Are you hoping to become more relaxed? Are you wanting to sleep better? Do you feel like you need reviving with a boost to your immune system? Are you wanting to detox? Do you have congestion following a cold? Are you in need of an antiseptic? Do you need uplifting? Are your hormones in need of balancing? There are different essential oils for all of these different things; some of them working on several ailments at once.
In the era of modern medicine, the naming of this treatment first appeared in print in 1937 in a French book on the subject: Aromathérapie: Les Huiles Essentielles, Hormones Végétales by René-Maurice Gattefossé [fr], a chemist. An English version was published in 1993. In 1910, Gattefossé burned a hand very badly and later claimed he treated it effectively with lavender oil.
“An essential oil is a concentrated hydrophobic liquid containing volatile aroma compounds from plants. Essential oils are generally extracted by distillation, often by using steam. Some important information that you should know about an essential oil is the botanical name, chemotype (if applicable), origin of plant (this can drastically change the chemical constituents percentages) and extraction method.” (source)
According to a review published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, “at least 90 essential oils can be identified as being recommended for dermatological use, with at least 1,500 combinations.” What gives these oils their skin benefits is their ability to fight against pathogens that are responsible for dermatological infections. Oils can also help to improve inflammatory skin conditions, like dermatitis, eczema and lupus, improve the general appearance of your skin and even aid wound healing. (16)
There are also quite a few studies that have found essential oils to be helpful for hair growth. One such study, conducted in 2015, evaluated the efficacy of rosemary oil on patients with androgenetic alopecia, or male or female pattern baldness. Patients were randomly assigned to rosemary oil or minoxidil (a medication commonly used for hair loss) for a six-month treatment period. Researchers found that both groups experienced a significant increase in hair count at the six-month endpoint. They also indicated that scalp itching was more frequent in the minoxidil group. (17)
And a 2014 study involving 82 participants evaluated the effectiveness of aromatherapy for elderly people with chronic pain and symptoms of anxiety and depression. Researchers found that after four weeks of treatment with essential oils, there was a significant reduction in negative emotions, including feelings of anxiety, stress and depression, among the intervention group. (13)
Before we talk about where I buy my essential oils, I think it’s important to discuss two terms often used in the buying controversy: “therapeutic grade” and “certified pure therapeutic grade”. It’s important to note that there is no agency that regulates these terms, rather they are made up by the essential oil industry. Don’t let these terms fool you or effect your buying.
DO: Read as much as you can about aromatherapy. It is very easy to get started with aromatherapy, but there are safety issues that you need to be aware of. AromaWeb offers safety tips and information to help you on your way, but you are wise to read even further on the important subject of essential oil safety. Visit the Book Shelf for categorized essential oil book reviews.
There is no good medical evidence that aromatherapy can prevent or cure any disease. For cancer patients, aromatherapy has been found to lower anxiety and depression symptoms. In 2015, the Australian Government's Department of Health published the results of a review of alternative therapies that sought to determine if any were suitable for being covered by health insurance; aromatherapy was one of 17 therapies evaluated for which no clear evidence of effectiveness was found.