Research studies have continued to show that people are receiving the majority of their health information from the internet and social media outlets. The Pew Research Center asked health and technology specialists about the impact of digital life on people’s overall well-being over the next decade. 47% of the respondents predict that digital life will help an individuals well-being, while 32% say it will not. The lists of pros and cons can be easily argued on this topic but realistically, no one can be sure. One way to make sure the health of individuals will be positively impacted by the internet can be done by the constant open discussion between patients and their providers, with the patient always referring back to their physicians before taking any online medical advice into consideration. An increasing popularity in online self-help and holistic therapies can be beneficial or detrimental, depending on the course of action being taken.
The rise in DIY (Do It Yourself) at home treatments are becoming increasingly popular, with some treatments being backed up by research and others by social media influencers with no medical backgrounds. With all of the DIY treatments out there, essential oils have been one of the top researched and published.
A 2017 report by Grand View Research Inc., projects the essential oil market to reach 7.34 billion USD by the year 2024. Their 2015 market size for essential oils was valued at 3.36 billion USD, indicating a substantial rise in the industry. Even though many studies have proven essential oils to be a successful homeopathic treatment, there is still important safety information that providers can educate their patients on if the conversation arises.
For the medical professionals and interested readers, this article serves as a foundation for discussion and education. The provided information should not be interpreted as medical advice or a suggestion to alter current medical treatment, so please always speak with your physician and medical professionals for further information.
What exactly are essential oils?
Some plants hold fragrant essences that are made by special cells from those plants. By crushing, adding pressure, or by steaming these plants, the volatile oils commonly known as “essential oils” are released.
What is aromatherapy?
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, Aromatherapy is the “inhalation or bodily application (as by massage) of fragrant essential oils (as from flowers and fruits) for therapeutic purposes.” WebMD explains how experts believe that when essential oils are inhaled through the nose, smell receptors are activated which then sends information to the brain; This process is said to influence the brain to have a chemical response on the body.
What are the benefits?
Research presented by WebMd shows some benefits of aromatherapy include: Relaxation, the lowering of stress, ease of anxiety, bacteria fighting properties, rise in positive mood, and decreasing nausea.
How do I know the quality of the oil?
Usually a high quality essential oil does not run cheap, this is due to a high concentration of the oil as well as the extraction methods. Looking into the company, customer reviews as well as labeling, help as well. Make sure the bottle reads “100% Pure” under ingredients, as well as the Latin name of the oil which indicates you are getting that exact plant extract.
Are there any precautions I should take before using?
Yes! Always consult with your physician about any treatments you are interested in trying. Some oils may be only for aromatherapy and are unsafe to apply to skin therapeutically. There is also a chance the essential oil can have adverse effects with your current prescribed medication. Speaking with your doctor is a great practice in general, and the conversation can lead to better health outcomes.
Essential oils are definitely a hot topic and for a good reason! The research is growing for the positive health benefits and the industry is on the rise, but medical advice from professionals should always be the primary resource. However, the use of online knowledge can be helpful when approaching medical professionals with questions.
Free Applications for Essential Oils:
Essential Oil Guide – MyEO: Information on each type of oil, and oil blending compatibilities Essential Oil Blending Tool: An interactive way to save your “Blend Recipes” in one placeز
Anthony Calzetta-Raymond is a current graduate student at the George Washington University, Milken Institute School for Public Health. At Milken, Anthony is in the Public Health Communication and Marketing masters program. Anthony is passionate about the marketing and communication of health products, health devices, as well as healthy lifestyle promotions.