Ward away bed bugs, get rid of your acne, and regulate your digestive system—all with just a few drops of essential oil. That’s the claim, but could it possibly be true?

Essential oils may currently be all the rage, but that doesn’t mean they’re new to the scene. Actually, these potent plant-based extracts date back thousands of years to legendary people and cultures, from the ancient Chinese to the infamous Egyptians. In fact, the United States National Library of Medicine can even trace such oils to prominent 12th century Islamic botanists who explored their usefulness for all types of medicinal practices.

Today, over one hundred different oils from all over the world have been named. It seems there’s an oil for each and every cough, scratch, and blemish. Could one of these oils be the all-natural cure you’ve been waiting for? Dig through the details, including input from leading industry experts, to decide.


Essential Oils 101

What are essential oils, anyway?

Erika Elmuts, brand strategist and essential oil expert at ARIIX, explains, “Essential oils are fragrant, highly concentrated natural compounds distilled from plants. These can be from flowers, leaves, bark, roots, or other areas of the plant.”

It was early Islamic botanists’ knowledge of this same basic distillation process, in fact, that enabled these pioneers to craft their own oils generations ago. Through distilling, highly concentrated oils can be extracted. These oils are even more concentrated than herbs. It takes nearly five thousand pounds of rose petals to make just one pound of rose essential oil. This means that even one little drop of essential oil is extremely potent and potentially powerful.

In addition to rose, other types of common essential oils include:

  • Lavender
  • Peppermint
  • Lemon
  • Eucalyptus
  • Tea Tree
  • Frankincense
  • Bergamot
  • Myrrh
  • Chamomile
  • Cedarwood

Each oil has its own home, its own history, its own function. Some are also quite valuable. “Because they are made from plants, the raw materials for oils are susceptible to Mother Nature. If there is a drought one year, the yield of that crop could be substantially reduced, making that oil even more precious than it already is,” says Elmuts.


The Many Functions of Essential Oils

A high-quality essential oil can serve any number of purposes. Most commonly, these aromatic oils are used to regulate mood by relieving stress.

If anyone is in the business of stress relief, it’s Marilyn Eppolite. Eppolite is an energy therapist at The Wisdom Within, where she helps clients “transform drama, trauma, and chaos into emotional balance.” She helps patients overcome fear and anxiety through energy healing, a practice that focuses on unlocking inner wisdom through mindfulness, examining and improving one’s ‘self talk,’ and rebuilding confidence.

Over the course of 15 years, Eppolite has experimented with using essential oils in a variety of ways. In her therapy work, she most commonly puts oils to use for emotional balance, particularly when helping clients overcome overwhelming anxiety, grief, or sadness. On a personal level, she has used different kinds of essential oils for everything from hormonal balance to post-surgery healing and muscular problems.

“I started using [essential oils] because I am sensitive to drugs,” Eppolite says. “I find that essential oils are both gentle and powerful, easier to assimilate,” she noted.

Other popular uses for essential oils include:

  • Eliminating odors
  • Easing discomfort of digestive issues
  • Treating headaches
  • Flavoring food and water
  • Cleaning
  • Providing skin support to minimize blemishes
  • Managing muscular pain
  • Assisting in meditation


How to Use Essential Oils

Curtis Hays, of Curtis Hays Consulting, and his wife, Stefanie, were originally skeptical. Like many, the couple had come across essential oils here and there. They’d hear mention of it at the gym, from that talkative mom at the school bus stop, or through posts on social media. At first, they rolled their eyes, shrugging the hype off as “a new fad.” But despite the skepticism, their curiosity had been sparked. Curtis and Stefanie started experimenting, just a little, with different types of essential oils. Over time, they joined the trend wholeheartedly. Today, they continue to be amazed by the results.

“We’ve been using essential oils for more than a year and a half,” says Curtis. “Stefanie is an independent distributor, and they have completely changed the health and wellness for our family,” he remarks.

There are three main ways the family actually utilizes the oils they have become so passionate about: aromatic, topical, and internal.

“Aromatic can be through a diffuser or just straight-up opening the bottle and smelling it. Pretty easy, right?” asks Stefanie. “On top of the amazing smells, you are actually gaining health supporting benefits just by breathing in the tiny molecules.”

“Topical is the equivalent of putting a drop of oil in your hand, mixing it with a carrier oil, and putting it on your skin.” As a carrier oil, Stefanie suggests using coconut oil, olive oil, or any fatty oil you have in your pantry.

Finally, “Some oils can be ingested, and when used properly are extremely powerful.” To try ingesting essential oils, simply add a drop of oil to your water, whatever you are cooking, or place directly in your mouth, per the oil’s instructions.


A Word of Caution

Due to their high concentration, it’s important to note the potential risks involved with essential oils. That’s the message from Jay Goodbinder PScD, who serves clients at The Epigenetics Healing Center, based in Overland Park, Kansas. Though Goodbinder openly affirms the use of essential oils, he cautions against using them daily.

“At the level of concentration they are at, they are powerful. They can be effective, but they can also harm someone,” Goodbinder said.

As an example, Goodbinder looks to lavender, one of the most commonly used types of oil for reducing stress and improving sleep. Though lavender can be wonderfully therapeutic, Goodbinder points out that the oil also has “an estrogen creation ability.” This means that, at its extreme, exposure to too much oil could result in men developing breasts and women getting fibrocystic breast disease, breast cancer, uterine fibroid, and other serious conditions.

This doesn’t mean nixing essential oils altogether. Rather, Goodbinder recommends treating essential oils with the same respect you would any other natural medicine: follow directions and consult your doctor with any questions or concerns.


Essential Oils Recipes

Whether or not essential oils are the cure you’ve been seeking is completely up to you. Discover the answer for yourself by trying essential oils at home today. Start with one of these DIY essential oil recipes, shared by the experts.

Hundreds of years of history, hundreds of different oils, one tiny drop. Essential oils may not be the cure-all answer for everything and everyone, but the verdict seems clear that, for many, these fragrant oils have worked wonders. From making your own all-natural face wash to simply sweetening a glass of water, how might you take advantage of one of today’s most trendy topics and history’s most renowned remedies?



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Freelance writer Summer Fanous sees the world through unique lenses, thanks to her experiences living in North America and the Middle East. Her passion is using words to craft effective, concise and meaningful written content.