After getting asked a lot of questions about various aspects of aromatherapy and essential oils, I realized there are a lot of aromatherapy and essential oil myths out there.
I can’t say that I am too surprised about this. Some trends, especially those associated with alternative healing, tend to get mired in myths and controversies.
Unfortunately believing in these essential oil myths can prevent you from enjoying the benefits of aromatherapy and essential oils.
Even worse, it could lead you to make some mistakes that could have serious consequences.
Essential Oil Myth #1: Essential Oils are the Same as Fragrance Oils Only More Expensive
This is completely untrue. The strict definition of essential oil discounts any other type of oil that is man-made, including chemically produced perfumes or aromatics.
Essential oils are produced by a very specific distillation process that extracts natural oils from plants, flowers, and herbs. No unnatural perfumes or chemicals added at any time during the process.
100% pure essentials oils are therefore deemed therapeutic grade, and no substitute will do. There are no synthetic components included in 100% pure essential oils.
Read more about the difference between Essential Oils and Fragrance Oils.
Essential Oil Myth #2: Higher Quality Essential Oils Are Thicker
Most people automatically assume that the thicker the essential oil, the higher the quality. I have read many reviews written by users who have complained that the essential oil they bought was not very good quality as it seemed very watery.
Yes, you will find differences in the thickness of different oils but that’s only because different plants create oils of different consistencies. For instance, Myrrh essential oil is thicker than Lavender oil, since it is derived from the thick, gooey resin of the plant. The same is true of Frankincense when compared to most other essential oils.
The quality of any essential oil depends on the distillation or extraction process it went through to arrive at its present state and whether it has been diluted or not.
Essential Oil Myth #3: “Therapeutic Grade” is Just a Label and Does Not Necessarily Mean Anything
Therapeutic Grade is not “just a label’. It indicates that the contents of the bottle are 100% pure, and undiluted.
Unfortunately, the problem is there is no universally recognized standard for assessing essential oils. This leaves it open to interpretation, with the result that there are several therapeutic grade standards.
So how do you know which one to trust?
Read what others in the aromatherapy community are saying, and always perform your due diligence. The bottom line is that some manufacturers operate with more integrity than others do.
Reading about a brand before you buy will help you make informed decisions about which essential oil brands you can trust.
These are some of the essential oil brands that have earned a reputation of being completely trustworthy:
There are a few more reputable and trustworthy brands out there but I have not looked into them more closely yet. I will add to this list as I test out the other brands.
Unfortunately, in the United States and elsewhere, there are no restrictions regarding the declaration of essential oil purity. A “100% pure essential oil” label does not necessarily mean a thing if the brand behind it is not on the up and up.
The brands mentioned above are all trustworthy and their essential oils are 100 % pure.
Essential Oil Myth #5: Essential oils from reputed brands last forever
All essential oils have a shelf life. The quality of most essential oils degrades with age because of oxidation.
Storing your essential oils properly in a dark-colored glass bottle away from direct sunlight will help to extend the life of the oil but it will not prevent it from getting oxidized. Every time you open the bottle, it gets exposed to the oxygen in the atmosphere. Over a period of time, this incremental oxidation compromises the quality of the oil.
Some oils degrade faster than others. Others, such as sandalwood, patchouli, and vetiver have longer shelf lives and in fact get better with age. Well, you still can’t keep them forever but they do last relatively longer.
Citrus oils are especially prone to degradation. This is because they contain high levels of limonene which gets oxidizes relatively easily. When limonene comes in contact with atmospheric oxygen, it forms limonene oxide. This changes the properties and odor of the citrus oil and destroys its therapeutic properties. Once you open your bottle of any citrus essential oil, you must go through the bottle within a year.
Essential Oil Myth #6: For Best and Fastest results, Essential Oils Must be Applied to the Skin at Full Strength
Essential oils are highly concentrated plant extracts. In their pure, undiluted form, they are very strong and when applied direly on to the skin, they can cause severe irritation. In extreme cases, they can even result in permanent sensitization in that area.
Essential oils should NEVER be used full strength for any topical applications. Whether you use them as a perform blend, to reduce scars, for anti-aging or to make your own massage oil, you must always first blend the essential oil with the appropriate carrier oil before applying on to your skin.
Read more about How to Use Essential Oils Safely.
Essential Oil Myth #7: Aromatherapy Can CURE Certain Illnesses And Ailments
Using essential oils, aromatherapy is an effective TREATMENT or PREVENTIVE measure for an endless list of physical and mental health problems.
Aromatherapy is also widely used to create or alter mood because the human sense of smell invokes specific responses in the brain based on the aroma.
For example, the scent of roses, lemongrass or lavender as just a few examples elicit the relaxation response in the brain. By helping you feel more relaxed, aromatherapy essential oils support stress reduction and indirectly support healing.
Any essential oil or aromatherapy manufacturer that boasts its products can cure anything may be stretching the truth a bit. There are no medical studies that support this claim.
The FDA in the United States and similar organizations around the world disallow the use of the word “cure” where aromatherapy and essential oils are concerned.
I’m sure there are a few more essential oil myths doing the rounds. I have only clarified the facts about some of the more common myths about essential oils. If you have heard of any others or you want to know whether something you’ve heard is myth or truth, do let me know in the comments below.
Disclaimer: This information is not intended to serve as medical advice. Please consult your physician before using essential oils. See Full Disclaimer here.