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Friday, July 24, 2015

Essential Oils: Are They Okay?

The origin of using distilled natural oils (essential oils) doesn’t seem to be tied to religion. (The only exception is that some Hindu Vedic practices use oils.1 I didn’t find this problematic, as we use oils in many ways for healthy living. Think of the popularity of coconut and olive oils.)

I became interested in essential oils because it has become a bandwagon fad in the Christian community. It’s a multi-million dollar business. Many good Christian people are distributing essential oils.

I’ve also noticed the possessiveness of people when it comes to essential oils. They often use phrases like “my essential oils” or “my (brand name).”

One gets the impression that it's almost a cult!

Is it?

I decided to take a look. I found these definitions for “essential oils.”

Essential oil: 
  • "An oil derived from a natural substance, usually either for its healing properties or as a perfume. Some pharmaceuticals, and many over-the-counter or 'holistic' remedies, are based on or contain essential oils. For example, products containing camphor or eucalyptus essential oils can help relieve congestive coughs, and many essential oils are used in the practice of aromatherapy.”2
  •  “A concentrated oil containing aromatic compounds from a plant. Essential oils are responsible for the scent of the plant and most often found in the flowers and leaves. The scents are thought to have therapeutic properties. Essential oils are used in aromatherapy, massage therapy and in other alternative therapies. . . . Essential oils evaporate easily into the air, which is why they’re also called volatile oils.”3

So far, so good. We’ve seen that both the medical profession and holistic health people define essential oils similarly.

I explored the uses. According to some, essential oils can cure just about any ailment. Some say they even cure cancer! I’ve seen diagrams for using them on different areas of the feet, and instructions for diluting, storage, and much, much more.

I Googled “Are essential oils safe?” and almost every source listed cautions. They often cited skin reactions because of the strength of the oils. It seems to be very important to dilute the oils enough. Some companies advise against taking any of their oils internally.

I looked into companies: which is the best? Which products are the purest? Which are the safest? I am sooooo glad I didn’t have to do the research myself. Adrienne, from “Whole New Mom,” blogs about her investigation over seven long, thorough posts. She compares several companies, including some I never before heard of, and at the end, she announces the one she likes best and explains why. (Her first post of the series is in my footnote4 below.) Cris, from “The Homestead Garden” did her own investigation and comes up with a list of criteria for evaluating essential oil companies on your own.5 She also shares her “winning” brand but says she’s not averse to mixing brands. Her research seems sound and practical, as does Adrienne’s. (They recommend different brands, by the way.)

I’ve never used essential oils, but that doesn’t mean I never will. From what many people say, they’re helpful with pain relief, treating cold symptoms, and many other issues.

I believe some cautions are appropriate:
  • Make sure you’re not overly self-diagnosing. There are some times you need a doctor.
  • Be very careful when using essential oils with children. Their skin is much more tender, and they are much smaller than adults. Properly diluting the oils is even more important for little people.
  • Think of Christian stewardship. Now, I realize that, if you can put a couple of drops of oil on a bad knee and it relieves the pain, it might save you spending much more money on painkillers. (Plus, you’re not ingesting drugs.) And, if you diffuse an aroma in a room, it might help your family breathe better. I’m not against that! But . . . essential oils are expensive! Very expensive! I found that a 5 ml. bottle is over $37 in one brand. I realize that you only use one or two drops at a time, but only 5 ml. isn’t many drops! A set of 7 bottles was well over $200. I don’t know about you, but I would pray about how best to use $200.
  • Be careful about becoming cultish. Essential oils are natural medicines. They’re not cure-alls. Just because you use them doesn’t mean they’re right for everyone. You don’t need to get “evangelistic” about them.

My personal conclusions:
  • I was glad to discover that essential oils aren’t religious in nature. (Young Oils has a mixture called “Faith” and doTerra has a product that includes “zen” in the title. Marketing?)
  • I was amazed at the variety of companies, from those that only make one oil, to the big franchises everyone’s heard about, with their huge variety of products.
  • I'm shocked at the prices.
  • I will probably, sometime in my lifetime, try one or two essential oils. I would try a free sample for a specific health need and see if it helps.
  • I have no interest in smelling like a Eucalyptus tree!

What are your thoughts about essential oils? Do you use them? If so, how have they helped you? Please share in the comments.




  1. In my mind they are just another bandwagon.

  2. I've only used ones given to me but it seems to help some. I used some peppermint oil on my baby last night when she woke up congested but I used it with other stuff and all the stuff tied together helped her breathe better. I think it is a help but not cure all. I also have a hard time spending money on it but it has helped me avoid the doctor a few times.

    1. Thank you, Elizabeth! I'm glad your baby could breathe better. God bless you!

  3. This is the type of information I’ve long been trying to find. Thank you for writing this information.


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