We are reaching out to health professionals to ask about the legitimacy and benefits of essential oils, and are publishing all good comments people are sending to us in this piece. Links and references to sources are included.
As this relates to your health, please read our disclaimer and consult with your doctor before choosing to try any kind of essential oil(s) on the basis of what is written here.
I have a Master of Science Degree in Aromatherapy and have studied essential oils extensively. My specialty is in finding scientific research to demonstrate the benefits of herbs and essential oils. There are thousands of scientific studies showing potential therapeutic uses of essential oil plant extracts.
In this very brief review, I will provide you with one key research backed benefit of seven of the most popular essential oils. Please also know that essential oils represent potent plant extractions and safety should be considered with use.
This includes proper dilution, being aware of possible contraindications, and more. Consult with your Doctor if you have any questions about using essential oils with your family.
Cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum): Hundreds of in vitro studies have demonstrated a significant antimicrobial activity of cinnamon essential oil against a wide variety of microbes (1). The next step is to conduct in vivo studies to determine effective dosages that are also safe for people and animals.
Citronella (Cymbopogon nardus): Citronella is widely popular for its insect repelling and pesticidal capabilities. Multiple human studies have been conducted and the EPA considers citronella oil to be a safe and effective pesticidal (2).
Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus): Multiple small human studies have demonstrated that the aroma of eucalyptus has helped with mucus clearance (3). Larger studies are needed to further demonstrate a safe and effective protocol for respiratory congestion.
Lavender (Lavendula angustifolia): The calming aroma of lavender has shown in multiple human studies to help reduce insomnia (4).
Peppermint (Mentha piperita): The topical application of diluted peppermint essential oil along with its menthol constituent has shown to offer analgesic and anti-inflammatory benefits to local areas (5).
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis): The mood boosting aroma of rosemary can help improve concentration and alertness (6).
Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia): Tea tree has long been used by people to help with foot fungus issues. Several human studies have demonstrated that tea tree oil may help reduce Athlete’s Foot (7).
1. Kalemba, D., & Kunicka, A. (2003). Antibacterial and antifungal properties of essential oils. Current medicinal chemistry, 10(10), 813-829.
2. EPA (2014). Citronella Fact Sheet. Retrieved on 9/7/2020. Retrieved from: Source
3. Rakover, Y., Ben-Arye, E., & Goldstein, L. H. (2008). The treatment of respiratory ailments with essential oils of some aromatic medicinal plants. Harefuah, 147(10), 783-8.
4. Chien, L. W., Cheng, S. L., & Liu, C. F. (2011). The effect of lavender aromatherapy on autonomic nervous system in midlife women with insomnia. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2012.
5. From: Pergolizzi Jr, J. V., Taylor Jr, R., LeQuang, J. A., Raffa, R. B., & NEMA Research Group. (2018). The role and mechanism of action of menthol in topical analgesic products. Journal of clinical pharmacy and therapeutics, 43(3), 313-319.
6. Sayorwan, W., Ruangrungsi, N., Piriyapunyporn, T., Hongratanaworakit, T., Kotchabhakdi, N., & Siripornpanich, V. (2013). Effects of inhaled rosemary oil on subjective feelings and activities of the nervous system.. Scientia pharmaceutica, 81(2), 531.
7. Satchell, A. C., Saurajen, A., Bell, C., & Barnetson, R. S. (2002). Treatment of interdigital tinea pedis with 25% and 50% tea tree oil solution: A randomized, placebo‐controlled, blinded study. Australasian journal of dermatology, 43 (3), 175-178.
--Kathy Sadowski, MS in Aromatherapy, Registered Aromatherapist, Wellness Aromas
Essential oils are natural extracts of aromatic plants, traditionally used worldwide as relaxing and stimulating substances. Some also have disinfectant and anti-inflammatory properties. Aromatherapy massage using essential oils helps to relax and rejuvenate.
In some tension headaches, essential oils like peppermint and lavender oil are proven to be beneficial. These essential oils are aromatic and, when applied to temples, allows your mind to relax. Inhaling the aroma of these oils can help to relieve headaches.
Lavender oil - is an essential oil obtained from the lavender plant. It is beneficial to your skin and is used in aromatherapy, or for topical application on the skin, or can also be taken orally. It improves the quality of your hair. It has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties that will enhance your health as well. According to studies, lavender has anxiolytic, mood stabilizer, sedative, analgesic, and anticonvulsant and neuroprotective properties. Typically lavender oil helps in relaxation and reducing anxiety and mood disturbances. (Source)
Bergamot essential oil is used for aromatherapy, which is believed to have some healing properties. It helps to alleviate mood by relieving stress. According to studies, bergamot oil stimulates the brain to release neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine. These chemicals are mood regulators; thus, it helps to boost your mood. (Source)
Peppermint oil - peppermint tea is a known, effective therapy for tension headaches. It also enhances your skin health. Menthol present in peppermint has an analgesic effect which can be soothing to your skin. (Source)
--Dr. Rashmi Byakodi, Best for Nutrition
Essential oils are good for many things, but from as a dementia prevention specialist (nutritionist, sound therapist and health coach), I can advise that many essential oils help with brain health and there are countless studies confirming this. Here are the main ways essential oils help with cognition. This is an edited excerpt from the chapter on aromatherapy in my book, Don't Let the Memories Fade.
Rosemary: In one study, researchers exposed subjects to the aroma of rosemary while they were doing mathematical and visual-processing tasks. The stronger the rosemary aroma, the faster and more accurately the subjects performed their tasks and the more their mood improved! In another study, researchers found that school-aged children who were placed in a room infused with rosemary had significantly higher memory scores than children who were in a room without the scent.
In another study, researchers gave rosemary water to subjects given tasks to perform. Ingestion of the water enhanced memory-based aspects of cognitive function, improved alertness, and reduced stress. There was also an indication that it delivered cardiovascular benefits.
Lavender essential oil has long been used to alleviate stress, headaches, depression, and anxiety, all of which fall under the umbrella of neurological conditions.
In 2010 the International Journal of Psychiatry in Clinical Practice confirmed lavender oil’s efficacy in seven separate trials. In one case, lavender oil ingested in a capsule was shown to consistently relieve symptoms such as sleep disturbance and anxiety and improve the quality of life for those with these conditions. None of the subjects reported side effects, interactions, or withdrawal symptoms, unlike with pharmaceuticals that are used for the same conditions.
A 2012 study from Germany demonstrated the restorative benefits of inhaled lavender essential oil vapor. Patients with dementia inhaled lavender for 60 minutes a day, resulting in significantly improved sleep, moods, and health. Individuals with PTSD reported reduced states of depression.
Frankincense: In a 2013 meta-study, several studies were analyzed, all of which showed that frankincense can help improve memory. The study authors believe frankincense aids in increasing the number of dendritic segments and branching in the neurons of the hippocampus, creating more synaptic connections, which therefore improve learning and memory.1 It has also been shown to improve mood and have a calming effect, all important for a healthy brain.
There are certainly other essential oils, like the citrus-based essential oils and bergamot, that are helpful in reducing stress. One study found that bergamot aromatherapy helped increase the level of GABA in the right hippocampus, helping to ease anxiety. Other studies found that bergamot increased focus, which can help with anxiety and stress. All of this contributes to a healthier brain.
--Kate Kunkel, BA, VAHT, Vegan Nutritionist and Health Coach, katekunkel.com
Essential oils are popular in today’s society. There are many essential oils that have been on popular demand due to its claimed benefits. Some of the most popular ones are tea tree oil, peppermint, lavender oil and so on. There are a few studies that show essential oils can be an alternative therapy for anxiety and stress. However, some studies concluded otherwise. Hence, the verdict is still inconclusive on the efficacy of essential oils as an alternative treatment for stress and anxiety. Two small studies in the 90s showed that peppermint oil and ethanol mixture applied to the temples may alleviate headache pain. Studies done on a traditional Persian treatment for headaches and migraines shows that the combination of chamomile and sesame oil may help with those problems. Another benefit of essential oil is to improve sleep quality. Smelling oils like lavender have been shown to produce a positive effect on sleep habits, as reviewed by Lillehei and Halcon in their publication; a systematic review of the effect of inhaled essential oils on sleep. Some essential oils are also known to reduce inflammation and work as antimicrobial agents. Examples of these oils include thyme, oregano and tea tree essential oils. Numerous test tube studies have been conducted on tea tree oil for its antimicrobial properties. However, to properly back these claims, more studies are needed to be done to ensure its safety and efficacy in humans.
--Dr. Sashini Seeni, DoctorOnCall
Essential oils have their benefits and have been widely used since ages. Research has proven about their antibacterial, antiviral, anti-fungal, antioxidant, and anti-diabetic effects.
Essential oils that showed antiviral activities include Artemisia arboreseens, Melissa officinalis L., Lemon Grass, Peppermint, Eucalyptus, Santolina insularis mainly against HSV-1 and HSV-2 viruses.
These oils can also act as antibacterial agents against many strains like Streptococci, Samonella, E.Coli, and Listeria. Thyme, Oregano, Artemisia annua, Achillea clavennae are effective antibacterial agents.
Many good companies' mouthwashes also contain essential oils due to their antibacterial activity.
These also express antioxidant properties. Essential oils of basil, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, oregano, and thyme as natural sources of phenolic components and have proven antioxidant properties.
They demonstrate antidiabetic effects too. Oral administration of a combination of essential oils like cumin, cinnamon, oregano, fennel, myrtle, etc. was able to enhance insulin sensitivity in type II diabetes.
As essential oil has an aroma, therefore they are used for psychological and physical well-being via inhalation. They affect brainwaves and can alter the behavior. Lavender oil shows a sedative and relaxant effect due to its effect on the central nervous system.
Essential oils also showed benefits against vaginal infections, disorders of GIT, respiratory tract, hemorrhoids, UTI, and additionally act as pesticides and insect repellents.
--Dr. Waqas Ahmad, Insurecast