When thinking about essential oils, there are always various discussions that will take place whether or not they actually do anything. While there may be limited research to determine the effectiveness of essential oils in regards to human health, there are many promising lab studies, such as finding persistent Lyme disease bacteria can be killed off by herbs and essential oils from garlic.
Some studies on aromatherapy and health benefits have shown that is has improved anxiety and depression, the quality of life - especially for those with chronic health and mental health conditions, and sleep quality.
Since neither the FDA or any other government agency in the US provides a grading system or certification when it comes to essential oils, there are some important factors when it comes to shopping for the right brand and scent. According to Harpreet Gujral, DNP, FNP-BC from Johns Hopkins Medicine and Linda Halcón, PhD, MPH, RN, RATC from University of Minnesota’s Center for Spirituality & Healing, some of these important factors include looking at the label, evaluating the company, choosing a dark-colored, glass container, avoiding “fragrance oils,” and comparing prices.
When looking at the label, you should see the Latin name of the plant to ensure you have the right plant in the container. There should be information on the purity and other ingredients added to it - organic, wild crafted, therapeutic grade, and purity. If there are combination oils, companies may add a carrier oil to dilute the actual essential oil. This will cause there to be less than half the quantity of essential oil to what you should have. Look for 100% essential oil to ensure it has not been mixed with anything else.
On the label, the companies should indicate where the plant has been grown. The quality of plants can vary from country to country, which companies will market to knowledgable and general customers. Do your research when evaluating companies. You will want to purchase products from an aromatherapy company that has made a statement through years of being well-known and reputable.
For containers, you want to purchase a dark-colored, glass container. Since it is highly recommended to purchase 100% pure essential oils, they will be highly concentrated - which can dissolve plastic bottles over time. To protect the quality of their products, nearly all companies will package the oils in either a small brown bottle or a blue glass bottle.
Fragrance oils are not the same as aromatherapy oils. The average fragrance will contain 14 chemicals that are not actually listed on the label - this can cause health issues as it will accumulate your body. Fragrances typically will contain a combination of synthetic chemicals, whereas essential oils are derived fully from plants.
In comparing different products, outside of these factors, you should take a look at pricing. Essential oils will vary in price depending on the plant harvested and produced. So, if you are looking at more expensive oils, such as rose (absolute) and sandalwood, they should be pricier than sweet orange.
Overall, the overall impact of quality will come from the plant used, the processing of the plant, packaging and handling, and storage.
While there are a number of ways to use essential oils, the two most common (and safest) methods are by inhaling through various kinds of aromatherapy accessories, or by applying them to your skin through various cosmetic products. Although there have been claims for ingesting to be safe in a few cases, it is not safe to do this and you should contact your doctor if you are unsure of ways to utilize essential oils for what is best for you.
Options for inhaling oils include the following:
For topical (directly to skin) uses, it is important to pay attention to your skin - fully concentrated/full-strength essential oils can cause skin irritation. Some ways you can dilute your essential oil before using it on your skin directly, is by adding a drop or two of your favorite carrier oils, such as coconut or olive oil. Some areas you can apply essential oils to, are your temples, chest, stomach, and feet. They can help relax you before you go to sleep, help relieve any congestion or cough, calm a nervous stomach, and massage reflexology points in your feet.