With so much health information available to us, how do we separate the myths from the facts? Readers have been sending me some great questions about essential oils. While there is quite a bit of scientific evidence that exists (and is emerging) about essential oils, it is in the interpretation of these scientific studies where some myths come from.
I hope that this post will help you identify reliable sources of information about essential oils and integrative medicine. Please remember that it is important to connect with your healthcare provider on all health topics. 1
First of all, essential oil therapy is sometimes practiced as a part of an integrative medicine approach. Integrative medicine, sometimes called complimentary and alternative medicine (CAM), uses both Western Eastern philosophies. And, this approach “emphasizes the therapeutic relationship between practitioner and patient, is informed by evidence, and makes use of all appropriate therapies.”
Essential oils, according to the US National Cancer Institute are compounds that are removed (usually through steam or pressure) from various plants. These oils are used therapeutically for various health benefits.
So, where can you go to get reliable information about essential oils? Here is a list of research institutes, government agencies, and books that I recommend.
Part of the University of Arizona College of Medicine, the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine became the first center of its kind to create an academic curriculum on integrative medicine. The Center has a great list of resources and fact sheets about various forms of integrative medicine, including herbal medicine.
One of five international centers, the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine represents a “unique combination of care, research, and education is moving medicine toward a new model of wellness and healing.” Check out their “Latest News” section for studies that are coming out about integrative medicine.
The University of Maryland has a fantastic online guide that provides accurate, scientifically-based information about herbal remedies.
The “Taking Charge” program provides an overview of both aromatherapy and essential oil therapy. It also explains the research behind essential oils, and provides a great general overview of the topic.
US National Institutes of Health: National Center for Complimentary and Integrative Medicine
This center is a wealth of knowledge for all types of therapies. There is an in-depth section called Herbs-at-a-Glance,which provides comprehensive summaries of different herbal techniques.
US National Institutes of Health: National Cancer Institute
The National Cancer Center is a division of the United States National Institutes of Health. It provides a wonderful overview of both Aromatherapy and Essential Oil therapy. And, check out their section on “Questions to your your Healthcare Provider.” It’s always good to come prepared with questions for your next visit.
US National Institutes of Health: Office of Dietary Supplements
While this is not exactly the website to do research on essential oils, check out this Office for a great guide to figuring out the reliability of health information online.
And, if you want to look up scientific studies on essential oils yourself, go no further than the National Library of Medicine. The website offers a great search feature that will identify reliable scientific studies on the topic of your choice. However, not all studies will be full text (meaning, only the summary, or “abstract” is available).
Dr. Tieraona Low Dog is a physician and former Director of the Fellowship at the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine. Her book gives an evidence-based overview of herbal medicine and essential oils. I highly recommend it.
While this book does not have specific information about essential oils, it is a wonderful book that spells out how to take care of yourself. And, it is evidence-based, meaning that it relies on scientific studies throughout.
Have you used essential oils? Where do you go to get reliable information? Let us know by commenting below!
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