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Essential Oils: Drawing the Line Between Hype and Health

Essential Oils: Drawing the Line Between Hype and Health

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.


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

  • Sandy Klocinski
    by Sandy Klocinski

    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

  • Lisa
    by Lisa

    Very helpful, I always wonder what is true or not.

  • Jennylyn Gross
    by Jennylyn Gross

    Thanks for the info

  • kimrk56
    by kimrk56

    I enjoyed reading about the history of essential oils.

  • David Hollingsworth
    by David Hollingsworth

    This is good information to see which oils are good or bad for you.

  • Myst Anglin
    by Myst Anglin

    This has some great information. Thanks!!

  • Isaiah Glasbrenner
    by Isaiah Glasbrenner

    Great Info!

  • Natalie
    by Natalie

    I had no idea about the religious significance of essential oils!

  • Kakhaber Khmelidze
    by Kakhaber Khmelidze

    Thanks for the info.

  • Cleveland White
    by Cleveland White

    this is very informative

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