A friend recently sent me a link to a research study that has been publicized in a lot of the media lately, even on the Today Show. I read it, and the story made me angry. Some quotes below, then my immediate reaction:

"Researchers taped cotton balls laced with either lemon oil, lavender oil or distilled water below the volunteers noses for the duration of the tests.

The researchers tested volunteers ability to heal by using a standard test where tape is applied and removed repeatedly on a specific skin site. The scientists also tested volunteers reaction to pain by immersing their feet in 32-degree F water."
"While lemon oil showed a clear mood enhancement, lavender oil did not, the researchers said. Neither smell had any positive impact on any of the biochemical markers for stress, pain control or wound healing."

... But we still failed to find any quantitative indication that these oils provide any physiological effect for people in general."

My response? I love it when they use an oil inappropriately, and then use the fact that this test didn't work to generalize that aromatherapy as a whole has no effect.They did find that lemon oil, by inhalation, "clearly enhanced the mood of the subjects." Of course. All citrus oils do. We have stated that for years, as have many professionals. There is research showing the positive effect of citrus oils on emotional states.

Had the lavender been applied topically, in proper dilution, they would have seen wound healing results. There is also reseach indicating that.

I question whether there is any substance that will help deliberately irritated skin heal more quickly simply by inhalation. In our essential oil arsenal, we have a wide range of products that would, if applied properly, have hastened healing. Lavender is one, both Roman and German chamomiles, Helichrysum Italicuum, the list is long. Applying the Lavender oil, properly diluted, to the irritated skin of some of the subjects, would have given dramatic results.
This would be a valid research project. But the pharmaceutical companies might not like the results.

In my parents' generation, a "bunch of Malarkey" was (according to Webster) "insincere or foolish talk." I think the media is pushing a whole bunch of malarkey!"

Read more: http://naturesgiftaromatherapy.blogspot.com/2008/03/bad-science-faulty-r...

Author's Bio: 

Founder and President of Nature's Gift Aromatherapy and author of Essential Oils and Aromatics.