Aromatherapy, the holistic, natural treatment adopted by massage therapists, beauticians, doctors and the like, is gaining some popularity amongst the mass commercial market, and for good reason. In addition to the health benefits they offer, essential oils can leave your home (and you) smelling awesome. It’s like an air freshener but with an added medicinal boost – a clear win/win.
With recent developments in diffuser technology, aromatherapy jewelry, and research into essential oils as supplemental treatment for anxiety, eczema, headaches, etc., this category is creating a boom in the HABA industry (1).
News and Recent Discoveries
According to market research, the essential oil and aromatherapy market is estimated to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 6.5% from 2018 to 2023 (1). A big, positive contributor to this forecast is the increasing use of aromatherapy for skin treatments. Since the potential side-effects of most essential oils tend to be mild (symptoms like skin irritation, headaches, nausea), people are generally willing to give them a try (2).
According to researchers at Ohio State University, complementary treatments like acupuncture, aromatherapy and reflexology can help reduce both pain and anxiety resulting from cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation. During a study, researchers found that “patients required about 40 percent less pain medication during the procedure than those who didn’t receive these therapies” (3).
Despite the recent success of the essential oils market, hard scientific evidence of aromatherapy’s effectiveness relative to disease remains minimal (2). Therefore, it’s crucial to remember that aromatherapy is meant to be a complementary therapy. It should never replace any doctor-approved treatment plan (3).
The Rise of Diffusers
There are a ton of ways to use essential oils. You could do a topical application by adding them to a facial toner, lotion, shampoo or conditioner. You could also opt for an essential oil-infused bath by putting a few drops of oil into bath water (2). There’s even aromatherapy jewelry with charms containing replaceable, essential oil-soaked pads (4). While any of these methods are effective, the trending and most communal way to enjoy your oils in 2018, is with a diffuser.
Diffusers slowly evaporate essential oils, releasing them into the surrounding air. Tipper Lewis, aromatherapist for Neal’s Yard Remedies, explains that oil burners have traditionally been used to diffuse oils, but now “there are several types of diffusers. They’re often multi-sensory, with mists, lights and timers, so you can opt for either a 30-minute burst or keep them going all day” (5). There are even diffusers you can plug into your car for aromatherapy sessions on-the-go.
If you’re looking for a good diffuser for the winter months, Lewis suggests a misting diffuser. She claims they are perfect to have in your home this time of year because they “help counteract the ‘drying effect’ of central heating” (5).
Blending oils for diffusing is trending, too. The idea not only encourages people to buy more oils, but also introduces them to the “layers of aroma” concept. There are cases when someone may be seeking the medicinal benefits of, say, tea tree oil, but can’t stand the smell of it. Solution: create a blend containing tea tree oil and another oil with a stronger, more pleasant scent. This way, the customer can still reap the therapeutic benefits of their tea tree oil without its aroma (6).
Aromatherapy for Babies
The target market for aromatherapy products is growing. Many essential oils have proven to be baby-friendly.
For instance, chamomile is safe, and can help calm restless babies, allowing baby and parent to get a good night’s sleep. When combined with lavender, chamomile “can relieve symptoms of colic.” So, if your baby won’t stop crying, try soothing them with an oil blend. On the contrary, if your baby is groggy and tired after a nap, distilled lemon oil is great for delivering a quick energy boost (7).
While you should always dilute your essential oils prior to use, dilution is especially important when dealing with babies. “For babies older than 3 months, the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA) recommends a safe dilution ratio of .5 to 1 percent, compared to a 2.5 to 10 percent dilution for adults. Because babies have more sensitive skin than adults, the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians notes that essential oils should not be used at all on infants under 3 months old” (7).
Like with anything, different people often experience different reactions to the same oil. Therefore, you should always test a small amount of any essential oil (already diluted) on your child’s arm or leg before going full throttle with administering said oil. If no irritation or allergic reaction occurs over the next 24 hours, you’re good to go. By the way, this process is known as a “patch test,” and it works on adults as well (7).
The Importance of Oil Purity
Keep in mind that many of the essential oils we purchase are sourced from across the globe and are difficult to harvest in large quantities. So, as with many mass-produced goods, companies have been known to cut corners in the oil manufacturing process to obtain a higher yield of product (and money). The result: adulterated, synthetic oils that lack the health benefits provided by pure essential oils.
According to Mark Blumenthal, founder and director of the Botanical Adulterants Prevention Program (BAPP), this has been happening frequently in the tea tree oil business. Blumenthal states that “the rise in tea tree’s popularity has motivated unscrupulous suppliers to add cheap, sometimes synthetic chemicals to materials that are fraudulently being marketed as tea tree oil” (8).
Retailers should be sure to do their research and buy only pure oils from trusted manufacturers. There are plenty of ways to reap the benefits of essential oils as long as your customers are educated and practicing safely. WF
- “Essential Oil & Aromatherapy Market Estimated to Grow at CAGR of 6.5% from 2018 to 2023.” Digital Journal, Market Research Future, 2018, www.digitaljournal.com/pr/3968853.
- Cronkleton, Emily. “Aromatherapy Uses and Benefits.” Edited by Debra R Wilson, Healthline, Healthline Media, 15 May 2018, www.healthline.com/health/what-is-aromatherapy.
- Curley, Bob. “Aromatherapy, Reflexology Among the New Treatments for Chemo Side Effects.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 8 Oct. 2018, www.healthline.com/health-news/new-treatments-evolving-to-ease-chemotherapy-side-effects.
- Radginski, Josh, and Sara Radginski. “Essential Oil Diffuser Necklaces and More.” Drops of Joy Jewelry, 2018, www.dropsofjoyjewelry.com.
- March, Bridget. “Essential Oil Diffusers: Everything You Need to Know.” Harper’s Bazaar, Hearst Communications, 9 Oct. 2018, www.harpersbazaar.com/uk/beauty/fragrance/a23676400/essential-oil-diffusers/.
- Chiarello-Ebner, Kaylynn. “Affordable Luxury.” Whole Foods Magazine, 22 Aug. 2011, wholefoodsmagazine.com/haba/features-haba/affordable-luxury/.
- Harper, Emma. “Safe Essential Oils for Babies and How to Use Them.” Edited by Debra R Wilson, Healthline, Healthline Media, 1 July 2016, www.healthline.com/health/parenting/essential-oils-for-babies#1.
- Whole Foods Magazine. “ABC Issues Tea Tree Oil Lab Guidance.” Whole Foods Magazine, 1 Oct. 2018, wholefoodsmagazine.com/news/main-news/abc-issues-tea-tree-oil-lab-guidance/