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When Essential Oils Don't Work

Updated: Jan 15, 2021

Your friends and family can't stop raving about essential oils, so you finally decide to give them a try. You experiment with your first oil (I'm assuming it's high quality), how exciting! And then, wait for it, wait for it…nothing happens. Have you been duped? I can’t blame you for thinking that, and the truth is you’re not alone.

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When my sister was first introduced to essential oils, she used a popular blend on my nephew that typically helps people feel calm and relaxed. Instead, my nephew was bouncing off the walls! My dad tried using essential oils, and our mom told us to stop talking about them with him because he didn’t think they worked. I originally started using oils to help my son focus at school, and it took some trial and error before we noticed a benefit.

Fast forward to today.

That same blend making my nephew bounce of the walls actually does have a calming effect on him. My dad now has his own oil stash he keeps on his nightstand and his own daily regimen. My son has his own essential oil collection and daily regimen. So what changed? Let’s talk about it.

Allowing Time to Work

Just like anything else we expose ourselves to, it can take time for us to experience the benefits of essential oils. It is true that in many cases people notice the benefits almost immediately, but not always. I once read parenting advice that indicated it takes as long to resolve an unwanted behavior with an intervention as long as the behavior has been occurring. For example, if your toddler has been biting for 3 months, you could expect it to take 3 months for that issue to resolve with appropriate intervention. I’ve been told by a health care professional it takes 6-8 weeks for an antidepressant to get into your system and for you to notice if it is helpful or not. After you begin an exercise regimen and stick to it, it can take about 2 months for you to start noticing muscle tone. It is reasonable to assume if you are using essential oils for a specific issue that you have been experiencing for an extended period of time, it might take some time and commitment before you experience the results you’re seeking.

Essential oils contain chemical constituents to work with your body. One of the easiest ways I’ve had this explained to me is that these constituents can help “clean” our cells, “erase” misinformation in our cells, and “reprogram” our cells to support normal function. Cool, right?

So when we introduce our bodies and minds to something new for supporting our overall wellness, it is important we allow ourselves to acclimate to the changes we are making. I always recommend people new to essential oils to begin low and slow to give you time to adjust to your new lifestyle. While giving essential oils time to work for you is critical, there are also other important factors to consider. Let’s talk about the different ways to use essential oils.

How to Use Essential Oils

There are 3 common ways to use essential oils: aromatically, topically, and internally. The German method prefers to enjoy the aromatic benefit of essential oils. The English model focuses on topical application through massage. The French model promotes ingesting them. Whichever method(s) you choose, ALWAYS read the label on your essential oils to see if it is safe to use topically or to ingest. If it does not say it is, DO NOT use it in that way.

image with text aromatically topically internally

Using Essential Oils Aromatically

You can experience the therapeutic benefit of essential oils through its fragrant influence. There are several ways to do this:

  • Diffuse in a cold-water diffuser

  • Inhale directly from bottle (start with bottle at the waist and slowly bring closer to the nose)

  • Use diffuser jewelry

  • Add oil to a cotton ball and place in a vent at home, in a hotel room, or your car

Using Essential Oils Topically

You can apply oils topically by rubbing into the skin. You will want to dilute your essential oil with a carrier oil. A carrier oil is a vegetable oil such as extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, or grapeseed oil to name a few. A carrier oil will not decrease the effectiveness of your oil; it will simply reduce the possibility of skin sensitivities and allow you to cover a larger area of skin without having to use so much of your essential oil. Here are different ways to use essential oils topically:

  • Use for massage

  • Make your own creams, lotions, and serums

  • Apply to VitaFlex points on the feet

  • Create your own signature scent and wear on wrists and/or back of neck

Using Essential Oils Internally

Certain essential oils labeled for dietary supplement usage can be used internally. They can be used to enhance the flavor of food and beverages or to help support normal, healthy body function. Some ways to enjoy your essential oils internally include:

  • Using in cooking and baking

  • Adding to your beverages

  • Taking in a vegetable capsule topped off with a carrier oil

Again, always check the label to know the appropriate uses for your essential oil. Now that you know the three main ways to use your essential oils, let’s get back to discussing the issue of them not working how you expect.

Using the 3 Ways to Your Advantage

Since essential oils are so versatile and can be used in a variety of ways, this allows you to experiment with the different applications to see what works best for you. When you try one of the ways and don’t see the results you’re seeking, experiment with a different way. For example, if you are diffusing to experience an uplifting feeling but aren’t, try applying topically to the back of your neck, your wrists, and/or your chakras. In the case of me trying to find essential oils to help with focus at school, we experimented with diffuser jewelry, VitaFlex points, and topically on the wrists and back of the neck to find our favorite routine. We also used a capsule of lemon, lavender and peppermint essential oils and found the combination of the capsule and applying other essential oils to the bottom of the big toe, shoulders, and wrists were very helpful. It did take some time, patience, and trying different things, but we found what we needed.

I have seen people talk about using essential oils aromatically, topically on location, and internally and did not find success, but then they decided to apply to a specific VitaFlex point and that did the trick. (Sorry, I can’t say what the issue was for.) All our bodies are different, so give yourself some grace as you discover your favorite ways to use your essential oils.


About the Author: Serena James is a holistic healer and the author of Vibe Higher. She offers a variety of energy healing services and workshops to help individuals experience a life of love, abundance, and wellness as they were meant to.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent any disease or illness. Any action you take as a result of this information is self-prescribed and your right to do so.

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