Essential oils come in a variety of forms, some to be ingested, some to be applied directly to the skin and some simply to be used for fragrance, like in a candle.
Each essential oil has its own purpose and is said to be a natural remedy to a variety of health or beauty concerns. Some people use these oils as a replacement for certain processed products.
“I think a lot of people use them,” Sara Rauch, owner of Planet Beach Spray and Spa in Manhattan, said. “They just have great benefits and it’s all natural, so instead of taking pills, they just have all sorts of benefits.”
Nick Nordstrom, freshman in biology, said essential oils can be considered a way to find results using less processed products.
“There’s a lot of times when drug therapy can be pretty damaging to your body and sometimes it could be to a person’s benefit to think about some sort of alternative treatments to go along with, or even replace, some of the more dangerous, or even toxic, substances you put in your body,” Nordstrom said.
Michelle Kalmer, wellness advocate for doTERRA, an essential oils company, said she also works with college students as the financial aid and compliance manager of Bellus Academy in Manhattan. Kalmer said she has noticed some issues that students may have that can be managed using essential oils.
“I see a lot of students that deal with trouble focusing, maybe on studying, so there are ones that can help with that focus,” Kalmer said.
Kalmer said her choice of oil blend to improve focus is peppermint and wild orange. Certain oils, however, can also be used as a part of a beauty regime.
“As far as hair goes, one of the ones that is recommended is rosemary for strengthening and supporting that healthy hair and scalp,” Kalmer said.
There are different ways someone incorporate essential oils into the day, Rauch said. One way is using a diffuser to disperse the essential oils into the air.
“They can purchase a diffuser anywhere, and they can get the oils in there as well,” Rauch said.
Rauch said essential oil sprays can be used as a body spray or can even be sprayed on a yoga mat or in a car.
In fact, one use acknowledged by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is the use of lemon eucalyptus oil as bug repellant, according to the “Protection against mosquitos, ticks and other arthropods” page of the center’s website.
While there are different oils and distinguished uses for each, there are also possible risks to monitor and consider when using essential oils.
“I think the downside, first and foremost, sometimes there can be some skin reactions and stuff like that, which can be minor, could be severe,” Nordstrom said.
One reason for this could be that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not have specified regulations for products to be considered “natural” or “organic,” according to the “Aromatherapy” page on the FDA’s website.
“Many plants contain materials that are toxic, irritating or likely to cause allergic reactions when applied to the skin,” according to the website.
Nordstrom said every person’s body is different and may react differently to different remedies and substances.
“I just don’t believe that it’s personally something that could be the only option for fixing things,” Nordstrom said. “You have to just be weary and understand that. Not everything works the same way for every person.”
Kalmer said that if any essential oil is to be ingested, the consumer should be vigilant of the quality of product they use.
“First of all, you definitely wouldn’t ever want to take anything internally unless you knew exactly what the quality was and that it was intended for internal use because it can be harmful if it’s used improperly,” Kalmer said.
One way to determine how to properly use and apply essential oils or to assess their effectiveness is to do research and become more educated on the topic. Nordstrom said students can read and research the topic to learn more.
“If you’re interested about it, there is a ton of literature on it, both daily lifestyle and medical,” Nordstrom said.
Kalmer said she and her team hold informational meetings during the evenings at Radina’s Coffeehouse and Roastery in Aggieville. These meetings vary in time to allow for people with a variety of schedules to attend. These dates and times are posted on Kalmer’s business Facebook page called Shelli’s Essentials.