Essential oils are highly aromatic and volatile. You can paint your light bulbs with them, for example, sprinkle your linens with them, or apply them to the skin during massage. They are not meant to be taken internally.
Some aromatherapy claims are truly extravagant: that essential oils can fight bacteria, boost immunity, alleviate arthritis pain, and (applied topically) cure herpes and shingles. The right scents or combinations of scents are said to induce sleep or a sense of well-being. Essential oils, rubbed into the scalp, are promoted for hair restoration. Youll hear enthusiastic testimonials, but scientific confirmation of such claims is scanty or nonexistent.
However, most proponents of aromatherapy dont promote it as a cure for anything, but merely allude to healthier states of mind, for instance, or coaxing the mind and body into harmonious balance. Its easy to show that lavender oil wont cure herpes, but hard to demonstrate that it has, or doesnt have, psychological effects.
A matter of preference
Reactions to scents are highly personal. If you think that dabbing lavender oil on your pillowcase improves your mood or helps you sleep, theres no need to wait for a clinical trial funded by the National Institutes of Health.
Some essential oils are toxic if swallowed, or can cause skin irritation. Some people feel ill after inhaling them or are allergic to fragrances. Indeed, the trend in cosmetics these days is fragrance-free.
If you want to experiment with essential oils, remember this:
* Dont swallow them or allow them to get into your eyes.
* If you have a skin disorder, dont apply them to your skin.
* If you have epilepsy, dont use oils of sweet fennel and rosemary, which are said to induce seizures. This may not be true, but dont chance it.
* Smells cant cure or prevent diseases.