Are Essential Oils Essential for Your Health

Are Essential Oils Essential for Your Health

Unless you’ve been under a rock the past two years, you’ve probably seen, heard or been exposed to essential oils (EO) in one form or another. It’s not that they’re new; in fact, they have been around for literally thousands of years. What has put essential oils on the North American map lately is the wild success from key multi-level marketing companies (DoTerra, Young Living, etc.).

Due to their popularity, hundreds of millions of articles and images have popped up on blogs and various websites–and everyone now is an EO expert. People need to be careful, though, and evaluate Internet sources with a discerning mind.

What I see happening today are that EOs being used as sort of a band-aids rather than how they were originally intended by God to be used.


When it comes to essential oils, I am repeatedly asked a lot of the same questions, which is why I put together this FAQ. Specifically, there are 5 questions that I hear all the time.

Are essential oils processed or are they natural?

This is actually a trick question because it all depends on what your definition of “natural” is. Technically, essential oils are not natural because people have manipulated plants to extract the oils out of them. However, I would personally put my “all-natural” stamp on them, as long as they don’t include artificial ingredients. This is a very sensitive topic to EO enthusiasts, because everyone claims that everyone else’s product has synthetics in them. The EO war on the Internet is raving mad, so beware! We are at the mercy of the internal standards of each manufacturing company. If you are going to use EOs, my personal recommendation is to only purchase them from a company that regularly monitors their product through internal and external 3rd party testing. Again, you can never “prove” that their product is totally pure, but at least you can rest assured that they did their due diligence.

How are essential oils made?

A natural follow-up to question #1, the manner in which the oils are extracted from their original sources has a significant effect on their medicinal potential and effectiveness. First off, there are two primary ways that the oils are extracted: steam distillation and expression (cold-pressed). Multiple historical accounts confirm that steam distillation has been around for over 5,000 years. (Distillation – the process of boiling a liquid, condensing, then collecting the vapors.) This is actually quite remarkable considering the time and labor required to retrieve the oil from the various plant sources. Cold pressing is typically reserved for citrus fruits. Traditionally, the rind is soaked in warm water and then a sponge is used to press the oil out of the fruit.

If I want to benefit from the essential oil from plants, why not just consume the plant in its whole, natural form?

Think of this: Why, for example, consume grapefruit essential oil for its natural detoxifying and weight loss benefits when you can simply eat a grapefruit? It’s actually a good question, but somewhat misleading. Essential oils are concentrated, volatile, aromatic compounds that are literally up to 50 times more therapeutically potent than the original plant from which it was extracted. A 15 ml bottle of lavender, for instance, is made up of 150 pounds of lavender flowers. Can you see how it would take a considerable amount of lavender tea to have the same effect as just one drop of lavender EO?

Can essential oils really cure [Fill in the blank]?

I’ll address this question at length in another article soon, but suffice it to say that, no (technically speaking), ESSENTIAL OILS CANNOT CURE ANYTHING. However, one thing at which some of them are marvelously effective is killing harmful microorganisms and therefore putting your body in the position where it can heal itself efficiently. This is one of my favorite questions because it brings up another good point that I see a lot: Taking a symptomatic approach to health care is never the answer. By and large, natural health enthusiasts treat symptoms and use natural “remedies” via an outside-in approach instead of focusing on the body’s ability to heal itself. Take turmeric, for instance. People treat it an anti-inflammatory, instead of viewing it as an actual food or spice.

Same thing with chiropractic. A gentle, specific chiropractic adjustment has never been shown clinically to “reverse” disease – and I’ve definitely never suggested that it would. What it does accomplish is infinitely more significant. By removing neurological interference, improved spinal health puts your body in the position where it can function at its best and is, therefore, better suited to fend for itself. When operating at full capacity, your own immune system takes care of those infections – and often, the reasons you got them in the first place!

How do essential oils work?

Because they are transdermal, meaning that they penetrate the skin and work at the cellular level, an essential oil will penetrate every cell in your body within 21 minutes of being placed anywhere on the human body. Diffusing oils is also very effective. Because the hundreds of millions of nerve endings in the nose that detect odors extend back to your brain, essential oils can immediately affect brain function, which is the primary tool to promote immune function.

So now you are informed. It’s still not easy picking a good EO, but I hope this helps. Good luck!

Dr. Aaron Ernst, D.C. is host of News Talk 1110 WBT’s “AskDrErnst” show and clinic director of Maximized Living Charlotte.

He specializes in providing customized nutritional and detoxification total body healing programs, utilizing the 5 Essentials of Maximized Living.