When I began my 'aromatherapy' studies thirty years ago I followed the premises and teachings that were presented by numerous authors and by my instructors on the healing benefits of using essential oils. However, I began to question how is it, at all possible that an aroma from a plant can have the potential to boost the immune system, reverse a health condition or prevent humans from developing a systemic disease by simply rubbing it onto the body.
The problem lies with the ways in which essential oils were presented in printed materials over the years.
For example one reference book that I relied on (printed in 1992) indicates that:
Tea Tree oil helps to clear vaginal thrush and general genital infection and anal itching.
I personally do not recommend using Tea Tree oil in this delicate area of the body.
Tea Tree oil alleviates bladder infections, inner ear infections, and furthermore that it casts out intestinal parasites.
The author does not specifically state that Tea Tree oil be used orally, however the information could be misconstrued by the reader that Tea Tree oil has the ability to work systemically, by either implying that it has the ability to be absorbed via topical application (which is impossible). It also implies that the user could ingest Tea Tree to treat these infections which is sheer negligence since Tea Tree oil is an oral toxin.
Tea Tree oil provides protection from radiation therapy related to breast cancer.
This type of reporting is just wrong.
I blame many of the writers of 'aromatherapy books and skin care potion books' for not clearly differentiating between folklore, traditional plant therapy, herbology and scientific phytotherapy. As a result there is now a tonne of miss-information on the internet, purported by ill-informed laypersons, in some cases persons working in health care, bloggers, and not-to-mention essential oil sales persons.
I have done a fair bit of reading and sifting through research and honestly there is very little scientific research indicating that essential oils are 'essential' to human health. For the last 20 years I have aligned myself with the teachings of Robert Tisserand and Dr. Maria Lis-Balchin due to the exhaustive amount scientific research that they have either conducted themselves or have compiled on the bio-activity of essential oils.
With respect to the volatilization of essential oils from an inhalation perspective there does lie some evidence that some essential oils such as eucalyptus may have a positive effect on the respiratory system by causing a local reaction on the mucosa which may help to clear the pathways. Some essential oils possess anti-microbial properties when applied to surfaces and topically. However, most of the research has not made it past the petri-dish.
Read more on Essential Oils Here
An area that I do find fascinating and which holds much scientific merit is how odours manipulate human behaviour by activating on the limbic system. Many essential oils (and odours in general) have an effect on the central nervous system with respect to the ability to perform certain tasks due to the fact that some aromas elicit different responses, for example some are relaxants while others are stimulants.
My Focus Today
Over the course of my career while working with essential oils I have spent a great deal of time teaching folks how to use them safely and effectively, while not purporting lofty therapeutic claims.
I remain a devout user of essential oils from the perspective that we humans resonate well with the natural environment and given the amount of synthetic substances and pollutants in our lives, I believe that the use of natural aromatics work in tandem with a healthy lifestyle especially when it comes to scenting our homes and bodies.
Canadian Professional Aromatherapist since 1993
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