Say No to Pseudoscience! The Slippery Myth of Essential Oils – Questions for Science


Among many so-to-speak natural treatments like naturopathy, homeopathy, and blah, essential oils are famous for their relaxation effects on mind & body. In this article, I’d like to expose how essential oils are truly “beneficial”, or rather AREN’T, with a little help from a YouTube channel called Questions for Science (QfS) and his video “Essential Oils | Questions for Pseudoscience”.


In the video, QfS shows how the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA) defines aromatherapy. So according to NAHA…


Aromatherapy, also referred to as Essential Oil therapy, can be defined as the art and science of utilizing naturally extracted aromatic essences from plants to balance, harmonize and promote the health of body, mind and spirit.

As mentioned in the video, using e.g. coconut oil for moisturizing skin or hair is acceptable and understandable.
Here, I will target the people who are considering using essential oils as substitutes for medicine to cure heavier diseases and illnesses.

Okay, now let’s move on to the definition of the essential oils. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, an essential oil is…

A natural oil typically obtained by distillation and having the characteristic fragrance of the plant or other source from which it is extracted.

Pros that QfS mentioned in the video are as follows:

  • Although almost all of the essential oils are proven NOT to have any medicinal effects on human beings, SOME like peppermint, clove or wintergreen oils may mildly help/improve/relieve/ease some symptoms. Apparently, peppermint is good for indigestion, clove oil to a toothache and wintergreen to muscle pains.
  • Essential oils smell real nice.

Cons are:

  • No scientific proof of effectiveness.
  • Expensive and unregulated

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©️ Questions for Science[[
Regarding the first factor, in the video, it’s shown that a company called Young Living had received a warning in the past from FDA for lacking a scientific proof for their advertising (shown above). The advertisement claimed that their essential oil could treat, help recover, ease, reduce, or prevent disease. After FDA went on and scolded them really hard, Young Living deleted those sentences from their ads.
In addition, FDA has also sent a warning to a company named doTerra in 2014 for the same reasons.

Even if we clinically tested the efficacy of essential oils, the level of "stress” or "stress relief” even, would have been different for each person. As it is also mentioned in the QfS video, it is impossible to measure and quantify the level of effectiveness toward "stress-relief”.
I mean, if essential oils had prevented or cured cancer, or really any other diseases or illnesses, wouldn’t it already have been prescribed in hospitals?

As for the price, I’d say it varies. You can find a 10 ml bottle by 5$ as well as a 100 ml bottle that costs around $5000. The price differs on the amount, quality and whether the oil is certified or not.

As mentioned in the video, it would be way cheaper and more efficient to just go and buy a pain-reliever than to spend money on mildly-soothing-but-maybe-not-kindof-placebo essential oils. Especially, if you cannot get it locally, it would be totally idiotic of you to purchase imported, overly-priced essential oils from abroad, or from wherever really.

Concerning the unregularity…well…you can see for yourself. Self-proclaimed "doctor” Josh Axe is not even an M.D., to begin with, is advocating the effectiveness of essential oils on his website, which is apparently "the No. 1 natural health website in the world today” (Yeah, we’ll see about that), and to top this all off, most of the papers he’s citing are all unreliable with 0 credibilities.

In the QfS video, the narrator explains, in an easily understandable and informative way, the difference between "in vitro” and "in vivo”. Both, by the way, are different ways of studies and are important when relying on the clinical experimental data.

To sum all up, Dr. Josh Axe’s cited papers and the whole essential oil boom is just a gigantic scam.


So here it is, with the help of a tremendously informative YouTube channel, I was able to deliver you the (mis)information about essential oils.
If you like the smell, that’s fine. If they fit you and have a benign effect on you, that’s fine as well. But don’t fall into the trap that a drop of oil can solve all of your problems in life. It cannot.

*Also, some essential oils can cause inflammatory reactions when directly applied to the skin. Be careful!

Questions for Science
A popular YouTube channel with over 110,000 subscribers and more than 12 million views. His videos are aimed to deliver accurate, honest good oil and answers to any scientific question that the viewer may have.
Info used with permission from  "Essential Oils | Questions for Pseudoscience
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