Essential Oils: Health or Hoax?

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Alternative medicines have been widely debated for years, but the worldwide population has recently revisited one method in particular. Essential oils are sold in most stores alongside over-the-counter medicines, promising to relieve headaches, promote sleep, relieve stress, fight infections and more. With any alternative medicines, however, a cloud of uncertainty surrounds their effectiveness. Is there significant proof to back up the claims that essential oils are worth the time and money?

 The Breakdown

Essential oils are made up of concentrated liquid that contains a plant’s chemical properties. The concentration within the liquid is known to be most effective when not diluted. Some of the most common oils are peppermint, lavender, tea tree, eucalyptus and lemon. Aromatherapy with oils and more has been used for thousands of years and is thought to have been discovered independently by many of the world’s cultures. Recently, its popularity struck up again, still making waves in the medicinal industry by offering aid through topical and aromatic methods.

 Here are a few claims made and how evidence does or doesn’t back them up:

Essential oils fight bacteria and viruses.

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The eternal war against bacteria wages on as antibiotics are rendered ineffective by bacteria’s resistance. The constant use of man-made antibiotics may have given bacteria the power to fight back, offering another method a chance to take up a weapon. Some researchers have examined essential oils as a possible remedy, finding promising, yet not firmly proven, results.

Peppermint and tea tree oils give hope as an antiseptic mouthwash and may even serve a dual purpose to relieve a sore throat. However, the antiseptic properties in these oils are not uncommon in other products. Swishing a shot of tequila kills bacteria the same as essential oil test tube studies conclude.

Overall, the possibility of switching to essential oils as a sole remedy has yet to be proven, although research gives an expectant nod in their direction. 

Essential oils promote sleep.

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Instead of grabbing a nightly dose of melatonin, lavender essential oil might be worth a try before bed. Strong evidence for lavender oil shows its ability to promote relaxation and improve sleep quality through aromatherapy. Diffused in a room or rubbed below the nose, this alternative may be a good method in getting enough deserved beauty sleep.

Essential oils relieve headaches.

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              Peppermint essential oil is a top contender in pain relief and offers a reliable alternative to ingested pain medicines. When applied to the forehead and temples in a double-blind study, the oil offered a vast reduction in sensitivity to headaches. A number of laboratory tests conclude that the effectiveness of peppermint oil solutions are recommended as a standard treatment for tension-type headaches. Try putting down the acetaminophen and picking up the oils for a quick reversal of headache pain.

 Research is still out on the effectiveness of constant use of essential oils. While many of these oils need to be tested further, they have a strong voice in the medicinal world. Don’t ditch your pills and creams quite yet, but several essential oils are worth consideration. Though they might not be for everyone, a few choice oils may earn their keep in your medicine cabinet. As with any medicine, these oils come with risks if not used properly. Find out more about safety with essential oils here.

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