Herbs that heal
Essential oils used for health seem to be everywhere we turn right now. Ads and articles pepper social media, you might even be seeing these oils in local grocery stores, or know friends who have become distributors. Do these small glass bottles really contain the answers for everything from diabetes to thyroid disorders?
Human research on essential oils is in its infancy compared to this booming market – the trend has swept consumers faster than science has been able to keep up. There are a few essential oils, that as a naturopathic doctor I use in practice to treat things like anxiety, IBS and acne that actually have some research on them regarding human use. These include:
This is one essential oil that has been studied in different forms largely for stress and anxiety. There is evidence to suggest that daily use of a standardized capsule dosage can help some people with generalized anxiety disorder. Using this oil as aromatherapy may also help with sleeping issues in some.
It is well known that peppermint can help soothe an upset stomach – and that is because of its essential oils! The oil in peppermint leaves has an antispasmodic effect (which means it helps to calm spasms in the intestine) and has been shown to help some people with irritable bowel disease (IBS) in capsule form. Covering a steeping peppermint tea is a great way to trap these oils in and get this benefit too!
TEA TREE OIL
Tea tree is a tried and tested topical treatment for acne. Research suggests that this essential oil can have antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory actions to help blemishes and inhibit bacterial overgrowth in mild to moderate acne. Irritation of the skin may occur if the oil is not diluted or you have a reaction, and spot testing before widespread use is always recommended.
It is important to understand that essential oils are very concentrated and potent, each with a myriad of active ingredients. Some of these ingredients can be toxic to the body in high amounts. Not many are safe for internal use, and I only recommend some encapsulated forms mentioned above that are specifically manufactured, standardized and studied for human ingestion. Internal consumption of oils added to drinks or foods can irritate the throat and stomach, and put a burden on liver detoxification. The liver has to process every compound and toxin our body comes into contact with through the air we breathe, food we consume, or formulas we apply on our skin. The components in essential oils enter our body through all these pathways and affect the liver in high amounts. Essential oils in topical or oral form should be used with extreme caution in children, as these compounds can be harder for their liver to break down.
While research shows that some essential oils can provide health benefits to those who use them, caution should be taken to avoid excessive exposure. Remember that not everything natural is safe! ~