Essential Oils: Drawing the Line Between Hype and Health

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In the recent years, essential oils have gained a lot of popularity. This is partly because of aggressive selling through models like multi-level marketing. Indeed, some of the leading brand names in essential oils have been put on the spot for various controversies and have – it can be argued – given essential oils the reputation of a fad or a pseudo-science, due to badly-motivated sales practices.

Some players in the conventional cosmetic and wellness industry have also been stunned and threatened by the exponential growth of essential oil products as an alternative to beauty and wellness. In this regard, many have looked to discredit or water-down the merits of essential oils.

There is no doubt that some marketers (both for and against the spread of essential oils) have placed their bottom-line first, leading to wild claims regarding what essential oils can do. Having said this, the discourse should not downplay the role and function of essential oils. Do they work or are they just being hyped by companies looking to cash in big?

The best way to understand essential oils is to go back to the source. The modern age has learned about these oils from past generations. In this regard, looking at how essential oils were in the past and why, may hold the key to their relevance and efficacy.

It is really hard to conclude that these oils did not serve a vital role in wellness. This article therefore goes back to where it all started to see how essential oils worked and why they were so dear to many cultures of the world.

Use of essential oils in ancient Egypt

If you know a bit of Egyptian history, beauty was at the heart of their identity. It is estimated that these oils were used from 2000 BC. In addition to promoting beauty, Egyptians cherished wellness, spirituality and empowerment of the mind. They were even passionate about life after death. Essential oils were the center of the beauty and medicinal regimes of Egyptians. Icons like Cleopatra were documented to have used these oils to achieve optimal beauty in conjunction to the fatty oils, clays and sea salts available to her. Men and women of means showed off their status by adorning excellent scents that could distinguish them accordingly.

The upper class was well defined owing to ointments and salves they could afford. Pictorials on temple walls of ancient Egypt tell a story of how they extracted and valued essential oils. The royal families valued the various recipes and formulas; they would unearth powerful oils for beauty and wellness.

The ancient pyramids of Meroe in Sudan’s desert

Upon the discovery and excavation of King Tut’s tomb in 1922, more than fifty jars of essential oils were uncovered. These jars are as valuable as the gold that was also in the tomb. The uses of these oils in Egyptian culture were for beauty or skin care, medicinal, aromatherapy, status and spiritual reasons.

Use of essential oils in India

India is known for its ancient healing system known as Ayurveda. This method of healing has been practiced for over 5,000 years. Ayurveda is an Indian text that means ‘life knowledge’. At the core of this ancient healing model are essential oils. This approach to healing combines practical elements, philosophy as well as the spiritual.

Ancient literature about the healing system documents hundreds of herbs and aromatic oils used for natural beauty and wellness. The oils include ginger, myrrh, sandalwood, cinnamon and more. Today, Ayurveda is gaining traction as more people look to alternative medicine. To be specific, the western world has opened its eyes to natural alternatives that utilize essential oils to achieve beauty and health naturally.

Use of essential oils in China

Shennong was a Chinese ruler who is best described as the father of Traditional Chinese Medicine. His medical journal dated 2700 BC detailed the use of over 350 plants for healing and wellness. This ancient herbalist is said to have tested herbs and oils himself to understand their use and effects. In fact, he is said to have discovered tea. This cultural hero pioneered and taught how to use nature for healing.

The Great Wall across the historical northern borders of China.

China has indeed contributed greatly to the development of medicine and is a great producer of essential oils. Modern medicine also borrows a lot from Traditional Chinese Medicine and this goes to show that essential oils cannot be overlooked.

Use of essential oils in 19th century Europe

Over the years, the importance and significance of essential oils only increased. In 1910, a French cosmetic chemist suffered an accident in his lab where he burned his hands severely. He dipped his hands in a large container filled with lavender essential oil. Immediately, the burning and tissue gasification stopped and healing started the next day. This French chemist named Gattefosse developed a keen interest in investigating the effect of essential oils on burns. In the second world war, he treated many wounded soldiers with essential oils and went ahead to coin the term ‘aromatherpie’. 

Biblical references

For Christians, the bible is the ultimate authority on spirituality and knowledge. To this end, this sacred book refers to essential oils not less that 9 times. In fact, the holy book mentions at least 12 essential oils. Among the oils mentioned include frankincense, myrrh, fir, cinnamon cedarwood, spikenard and more. In context, all essential oils in the bible depict positivity and healing. There is great importance assigned to these oils and for this reason, many Christians use the oils religiously.

User reviews

Independent customer reviews give you a clear picture of how the products work; if they work. In light of this, look at honest reviews and see what people say about essential oils. There are many oils that serve different roles. You should come to an informed conclusion before buying.   


The above history is just a small snapshot of how essential oils have shaped cultures and brought beauty, health and healing. Today, it is important for you to test the oils. Find out whether they work for you or not. Distinguishing between sales goals and the merits of the oil is the best thing to do. You will discover that high quality essential oils are indeed a viable alternative to beauty and health today.

132 thoughts on “Essential Oils: Drawing the Line Between Hype and Health

  1. Sandy Klocinski says:

    The rise of the wellness industrial complex has put things like natural beauty and essential oils in the spotlight for their perceived lack of chemicals. But you’d be wise to be aware of their limitations

  2. Tamra Phelps says:

    I definitely think that certain scents can lift a mood. I’m not sureo I believe the more extravagant claims about essential oils, but they might help.

  3. Beth Wiggins says:

    Helpful as I’ve heard quite a bit about essential oils in the past few years and have wondered if it was true. Thank you.

  4. joeline curtobernal says:

    Ancient times is a good source to rely on and egypt and the oils they used sounds awesome and I didn’t know the oils were biblicle.

  5. Christina A. says:

    It’s amazing to think about the history of such things–we have been using these products for thousands of years!

  6. sheila ressel says:

    I can see why essential oils are used so much around the world. I love using them in my home and they really work!

  7. Minta Boggs says:

    I have never tried essential oils but I have heard great things like they even help with headaches. Wow! I didn’t realize how long ago they were being used.

  8. B.J. Bernal says:

    Such an awesome post, I learned a lot of new things! I love using essential oils, they help so many different things!

  9. P Baver says:

    I have never come across spikenard before. But on a general note, Interesting that these royal luxuries are now widely available.

  10. Pamela Gard says:

    We can learn so much about healing by looking into the past/history and how did they maker due to heal from sickness or the stimulate healing

  11. Marshall says:

    I’m running Sweet Orange through the diffuser for an air freshener as we speak.. My wife is learning, over time, that I have legitimate chemical sensitivity(The night I woke up covered head to toe in painful hives was a wake up call for us both)..

  12. Kristin Smith says:

    Ive heard from a friend who is an ambassador for an essential oils company, that some essential oils are in fact still full of unhealthy chemicals…how do you know which ones to avoid! They all seem to be “good” for you…but is that really the case?

  13. Tracy Kirkpatrick says:

    Have not used essential oils because of lack of real information. Thank you so much! I will be doing more research.

  14. Monica Sanders says:

    So much research has gone into your products so we don’t have to. We can just be naturally beautiful, thank you

  15. robyn donnelly says:

    Essential oils are healing and calming as well. I have been using them for about 6 months myself on a more regular basis. Still have to be careful because they can and will interact with certain medicines.

  16. Lynn Tereba says:

    Love that essential oils can work for just about anything, for me is the great smells for my house and using it in beauty products.

  17. Kathy McGhee says:

    Oils have been used for years and some people have good body chemistry that can work great and others do not. I believe that the oils do have very calming reaction to our smells. Thank you for the opportunity to enter your sweepstakes.

  18. Shawna O says:

    Very interesting information. I don’t know a lot about essential oils so this was very helpful information for me to learn. I’m interested in using essential oils. Thanks.

  19. Gabrielle says:

    The one thing that concerns me is that I’ve heard that essential oils can be toxic to pets and so I’ve been leery about them for that reason.

  20. Joanne says:

    I have done product testing on some of the ‘hype’ products and look for ward to trying more personal care /health products that will do what they are supposed to and not harm any part of me.

  21. Monika says:

    I can’t stand the multi level marketing brands of essential oils, and the “training” the sales people get who then give advice is ludicrous. Thank you for pointing this out.

  22. Linda Henderson says:

    I do like using essential oils and I always try to make sure they are the real thing before I use them.

  23. Kristy Chown says:

    I swear by the essential oils I have and only learned about them last year! I didn’t know you could use them in food.

  24. April says:

    I was always intrigued by “balms” in the bible. They were always infused with plant essences and were used for healing and in ceremonies. But I agree we should test oils first. I remember using peppermint oil orally after a friend told me “her” brand of oil was safe to do so. I immediately regretting doing so. I’ve had some oils be a miracle cure for me, others NOT. But I think it works differently for everyone. I’ve had some friends swear by one oil for something and it did nothing for me, and then what an oil did for me didn’t work for a friend the same way. Strange. Great post, thanks!

  25. April P. says:

    I used to be a consultant for an essential oil company and do believe they work a lot of the time. I love EOs and still use them on occasion!

  26. ikram says:

    Loved reading about the use for essential oils in China! Learned a lot about the history, this was amazing!

  27. Suzie Marie Stewart says:

    This was so interesting , I’ve always loved oils but this is a ne6w level, thank you for a very special article

  28. Amy says:

    I’ve heard a lot of essential oils–they seem to be all the rage. Sounds like they have been around for ages though.

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