Currently we seem to be getting an enormous amount of enquiries regarding the skin absorption of essential oils and their clinical properties. Especially when marketers are promoting the essential oils as having disease fighting properties when the oils are absorbed through the skin and into the bloodstream.

The most shocking was a question relating to a post that mentioned treating and curing serious diseases such as sexually transmitted disease, malaria, tuberculosis, herpes, diabetes, colitis and chrone’s disease to name a few using essential oils.

We have over 120 conditions in our Aromatherapy certification course that essential oils work with which are backed by research that has been conducted on human skin and not animal skin.

When research is conducted on animal skin there is a variation in the permeability of the skin. Animal skin absorbs chemicals more readily than human skin.

Ethyl alcohol in perfumes enhances percutaneous absorption, and a study showed 75% of fragrance was absorbed through the skin when occluded (covered) regardless of the fragrance as opposed to uncovered skin.

When we consider the amount of essential oils used by aromatherapists in a massage, and the fact that the essential oils used in massage has to be diluted in a base or carrier oil otherwise skin irritation or sensitization can occur, but the carrier oil lipid factor has to be considered as a larger molecule that cannot enter the bloodstream through the skin as it will not be absorbed. Considering the volume of essential oil with carrier oil was not of significant volume for pharmacological actions to take place.

Mistakes made by essential oil users are that if the herb has properties used for certain diseases then the essential oils will do the same. This is totally incorrect as most herbal formulas are suspended in an alcohol base.

Example fennel essential oil as a diuretic. This is from the herbal essence when used in warm water.

A study I followed on cilantro, claimed the uses of this herb being of great value in aiding blood pressure, blood sugar levels, weight loss, and so much more and the essential oils contained in the herb as a whole when used in cooking or in soups and salads. But to start claiming the same properties of the essential oil to the herb is totally incorrect to be relied upon for these serious conditions.

Far more essential oils are taken internally by our food and drinks than the minimal amounts used in massage.

Human skin seems to readily permit absorption of a number of water soluble plant chemicals, such as nicotine patches. Nicotine being a water soluble alkaloid unrelated to essential oils. Very little evidence supports the theory that human skin readily permits the lipid fat soluble portions of plants, barring a few exceptions. Therefore  whole essential oils applied to the skin with a base oil does not get absorbed into the blood stream to affect any of the organs and fight disease as promoted by many marketers.

Covering an area such as a poultice or compress will aid penetration by preventing evaporation of the active volatile molecules.

It’s a buyer beware situation of misunderstood research.

The researches which we promote in our materials are from tests on human skin application and understanding that conditions treated with essential oils have quite a powerful effect and success rate.

After working with essential oils and Aromatherapy for almost 30 years, I see more and more people being taken for a ride when the holistic industry should be a healing industry of compassion and integrity, but this does not seem to be the case from the number of enquiries we receive.

It is sad to see that there are some money mongers in the midst of this industry that are not about healing and compassion or integrity.

We urge the public to ask more questions and search some of the true facts versus the hype.


If you would like to join the Essential Oil Safety Board and receive up-to-date training on the proper use of essential oils do not hesitate to contact us at Learn more about becoming a member here.