AAA: How Do I Research Essential Oils?

by Bella Martinez July 08, 2020

AAA: How Do I Research Essential Oils?

At Edens Garden, we talk extensively about essential oil benefits, but where do we draw this information from? It’s from extensive aromatherapy research that we’re able to learn about essential oils. While essential oil research may not be as extensive as other fields of study, it has grown extensively in the past decade in correlation with EO’s popularity. 

Contrary to popular belief, essential oil studies are not trade secrets but rather available to the public. Now you may be asking, ‘how and where do I find essential oil research?’ Whether you’re an essential oil skeptic or looking to pursue your own research, let this be your guide on how to study EOs like a pro.  

Where Can You Find Essential Oil Research And Studies?

The best essential oil research comes from credible sources. While we love bloggers and are always intrigued with the research they perform on essential oils, in general, at-home research does not compare with testing and studies performed by medical doctors and scientists. With that said, here are some of the best databases for essential oil research and more.

  • National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI): The NCBI encompasses millions of biomedical articles, including those on essential oils. While there are also many databases within the NCBI, the most extensive studies on essential oils can be found in the PubMed database. Certain articles will need to be purchased or rented in order to view the full study, but there are also a plethora of free studies here as well.
  • Hindawi: Like the NCBI, Hindawi is a database that includes a plethora of research studies and articles on essential oils. Unlike the NCBI, however, Hindawi is an open access database, meaning you can view full articles for free.
  • Tisserand Institute: While there are many wonderful and accurate sources of information about essential oils, there are none quite like the Tisserand Institute. Aromatherapist Robert Tisserand, along with a team of doctors and essential oil experts, have performed research that combines an extensive knowledge of aromatherapy with scientific data and evidence. There is less research to be discovered here as it is only research performed by Tisserand and his contributors, though many popular and relevant aromatherapy topics have been covered by the Institute.
  • Essential Oil Safety, 2nd edition: On the subject of Tisserand, his book Essential Oil Safety includes research-based information on aromatherapy safety, EO composition and how EOs and their components affect the body. It is regarded as one of the best pieces of aromatherapy literature and makes a wonderful research tool. 
  • Essential Oil University (EOU): Dr. Robert Pappas of Essential Oil University is an essential oil expert, chemist and researcher. At EOU, you can find Pappas’ research, information about essential oils and an essential oil database. The database contains the GC/MS reports of various essential oils Pappas has collected. These reports can be used to compare the GC/MS report of an oil you own or are looking to purchase. You can also research essential oil components in the database. By searching linalool, for example, in the EOU compounds database, you can discover which oils contain linalool and how much linalool they contain. 

How To Read Essential Oil Research 

Some studies, especially those found on sites like the NCBI and Hindawi can be daunting and admittedly difficult to understand for the layman. Though it may seem obvious, it does help to Google terms you’re unfamiliar with. There is also a lot you can learn from just reading the abstract and conclusion of a research study. And lastly, if you have a printer, try printing the study and annotating it – write the definition of terms on the side and a few word summaries next to each section. This can help to breakdown the information and make it more digestible. Understanding how to read EO research does take time and a bit of patience but it gets easier.

What To Look For In Essential Oil Research

In regards to studies and research articles, there are a few things to look out for. 

  1. When was the article written? While an article written over a decade ago doesn’t always make it less valuable, check to see if a more recent article on the subject has been released. New technology and information may have inspired new research. 
  2. Is there a conflict of interest? At the bottom of a full research article, there should be a section titled “Conflicts of Interest.” An example of a conflict of interest would be an essential oil company funding the research on an essential oil study. A conflict of interest doesn’t always make the research less valuable, but it is important to keep in mind that the researchers may be biased.
  3. Is there any missing information? When it comes to essential oils, there are a lot of variables, even when talking about the same essential oil. For example, a Lavender grown in Greece is going to have a different chemical makeup than a Lavender grown in the U.S. Furthermore, Rosemary ct. camphor and Rosemary ct. 1,8- cineole have a lot of differences. And in researching essential oils you will likely run into a lack of information, including the chemical makeup of the essential oils being researched, their specific botanical names, chemotypes, etc. It can, therefore, be difficult to draw conclusions about an EO without all necessary information available.

This again applies more so to articles found on Hindawi and the NCBI, but can also apply to essential oil studies not formatted like a research article.     

What’s Not A Credible Source For Essential Oil Research?

While the resources we’ve listed above are not the only credible sources for essential oil research, they are tried and true here at Edens Garden. But which websites should be avoided in your research? 

The information found on health and wellness websites like Healthline and WebMD can be very useful, but it’s important to note that the articles found on these sites are not always written by essential oil experts. Furthermore, when reading a blog discussing EO info you may want to check the credentials of the writer and that the articles are peer-reviewed. With time, you may develop a strong nose for which sources are credible and which aren’t.

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