Aren’t Essential Oils New Age and Only Used by Crazy Hippies?

Welcome to the our series: The Skeptics Guide to Essential Oils.  Specifically I was very skeptical about how the oils worked and if it was all just an airy fairy new age concept.

We are having a whole series with our Oil Explorers group, which is a wonderful group of people who are on an oil exploring journey together.  If you join our team of explorers, you will have the support of a great group of people with access to facebook groups and our website.

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© Dusk / Dollar Photo Club

I started using essential oils on a bit of a whim, and then I started to research them.  When reading what is written about them, I at times read a lot of existential words, which completely turned me off, but then I learned more about the biology and chemistry behind them and saw that they make biological sense.  There are certainly some crazy hippies out there who love to use essential oils, but I have learned through my research that even though the hippies might be crazy, the essential oils are not.  It is fascinating to learn both the history of oils and the chemistry of oils.  They have been used for centuries, and are currently being used in many different settings.  I was particularly interested to find out that some Occupational Therapists (since I am an OT) use them to add more dimension to sensory activities and, depending on the oil and its scent, as a stimulating smell or as a calming smell.

So back to why the oils aren’t crazy.  The oils have a very small molecular structure so they are able to pass through the skin membrane and enter our bodies.  The best ways to use them is through skin contact (massage) or inhalation (scent and diffusing), and some oils can be ingested but not all of them.  The scent can have an association with it that has an effect on the person, and the molecules can enter our body and interact with our body on an organic chemistry type of level.  I am not a chemist so I won’t go into a discourse on that (but you could get a book that does, and I recommend one by Kurt Schnaubelt who has a phd in Chemistry The Healing Intelligence of Essential Oils: The Science of Advanced Aromatherapy), but I have taken enough chemistry to know that those interactions are real, not mystical.

In some of the discussion about essential oils, it is recommended to rub the oils onto the bottom of the feet.  I thought that this was kind of weird.  The reason that the feet are recommended is that since the oils are directly absorbed into the skin and then into the blood system, the skin on the bottom of the feet is the toughest skin on our body and has the least likely possibility of a skin reaction.  It is also far away from the nose for those oils that don’t smell so great.  Many oils can be massaged or placed close to where you want them to react with the body, but it is not necessary because they are distributed through the body.  Each oil has its own organic chemical make-up which works in different ways with your body.  You need to do research specifically on each oil to see what their compounds are and how they interact with the body.  Essential oils are not meant to replace good medical care, but they can be useful for the everyday boosts.

You are still going to hear about crazy claims.  Some truly may be crazy, but some may have some basis in science, so don’t write it off immediately.

Here is some more reading you can do to learn more:

I have to tell you, I’m having a great time collaborating with and learning together with others.

Perhaps you are an essential oil skeptic. Do they really work? Are they worth the money? Is it just a fad? Do brands matter?

**** I often will link to things on Amazon. These are usually affiliate links that will pay me a couple of dollars if you happen to buy something while there.