Aromatherapy entails the use of essential oils to help alter, treat, or prevent certain mental or physical ailments or conditions. The practice of aromatherapy — the techniques which have been around for thousands of years — promotes the prevention and treatment of disorders or states of mind by leveraging the natural properties of essential oils through diffusion, topical application and sometimes ingestion. But practitioners of aromatherapy need to know all the facts in order to use essential oils safely and effectively; below are common myths that need to be dispelled.
Myth 1: Essential oils and scented (fragrance) oils do the same thing.
Essential oils are naturally extracted from different plants, such as basil, peppermint, and eucalyptus. Scented (fragrance) oils, however, are produced synthetically with chemicals for man-made products like air fresheners. Unlike essential oils, scented oils are not produced naturally and therefore do not have the same kinds of restorative properties (despite smelling nice).
Myth 2: Essential oils never go bad.
Some essential oils, like patchouli and sandalwood, do get better as they age, but others degrade as time goes on due to oxidation. Citrus oils are particularly susceptible to spoiling, so it's best to use them within a year of purchase.
Myth 3: Essential oils can be ingested.
Although some oils can be ingested for positive benefits (such as alleviating indigestion), this is not the case for all essential oils, and ingesting some oils can actually be dangerous. Even when an oil can be ingested, it needs to be substantially diluted for safe consumption. Essential oils come from natural sources like plants and herbs, but they're too potent to consume in this concentrated form. Proceed with caution as there is little science backing ingestion of essential oils and the side effects it has on the body.
Myth 4: Essential oils can be used in the bath.
This myth is partially true and partially false. Many essential oils can be used in the bath if they are first diluted, emulsified or in products like Plantlife’s Bath Salts. Simply pouring essential oils into bath water, however, will result in the oil sitting on top of the water — oil and water don't mix!
Myth 5: Aromatherapy can cure illnesses.
Although proper use of aromatherapy techniques can help treat an illness or alleviate symptoms (in additional to bolstering ones mood and helping with relaxation and mindfulness), they cannot be said to cure any disease or ailment (according to the FDA). Be wary of any essential oil merchant who claims that aromatherapy can cure specific illnesses.
It's important to be educated about aromatherapy best practices and to know the myths and the facts of aromatherapy before embarking on your journey. Safe, correct usage of aromatherapy techniques will ensure that you reap as many of the amazing benefits of essential oils as possible.