There is a lot of confusion and disagreement among Christians regarding essential oils. Are they New Age? Witchcraft? What about the physical and especially the mental health claims about them?!
So how do we reconcile this? What is the truth?
Well, we look to God’s Word for the answer, of course!
The Truth Is…
More than any other therapeutic substance mentioned in Scripture, aromatic plants appear over 1,000 times throughout the Bible.
Seventy percent (70%!!) of the books of the Bible mention essential oils, their uses, and/or the plants from which they are derived.
Essential oils were a part of everyday life for prophets, kings, queens, the disciples, and even the Lord Jesus Christ.
Let’s look at some of the many examples found in God’s Word about essential oils, starting with the two most important ones that are crucial knowledge for our health:
In James 5:14, we are told exactly what to do when we are unwell.
In Mark 6:13, it tells us how the disciples followed Jesus’ command to use oils and prayer to do exactly that when he sent them out: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Mark%206:13
It wasn’t because there weren’t doctors around back then, because there are very specific instances before this in Scripture that demonstrate there were.
This is a Biblical practice called Unction: the action of anointing someone with oil or ointment as a religious rite or as a symbol of investiture as a monarch; treatment with a therapeutic oil or ointment.
Benson’s Commentary says: “This single conspicuous gift, which Christ committed to his apostles, (Mark 6:13,) remained in the church long after the other miraculous gifts were withdrawn. Indeed it seems to have been designed to remain always, and St. James directs the elders, who were the most, if not the only gifted men, to administer it. This was the whole process of physic in the Christian Church till it was lost through unbelief.”
Lost through unbelief. Whoa. How can we expect to experience the best health possible if we don’t have faith in the One who gives health?! How many times have you been encouraged by your church to go there and follow the practice of unction when your health needs support?!
Regardless of the absence of this practice and command in today’s churches, these are the instructions God gave His people. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
From this, we can see that plant oils are definitely NOT New Age but are precisely the thing God commanded us to use for our health!
And these are just such a small example of the many examples throughout God’s Word of plant oils. There is the Holy Anointing Oil recipe in the Old Testament which included the plant oils myrrh, cassia, cinnamon, and calmus.
Esther 2:12 tells us of the six months of beauty treatment with the oil of myrrh that Esther received before being presented to the King.
David sings of God’s plant aroma in Psalm 45:8: “All your robes are fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia;”
We all know that Jesus was given Frankincense and myrrh as an infant.
When Jesus was about to be nailed to the cross, he was offered wine mixed with myrrh–a common practice at the time.
And all four Gospels tell a story of a woman who anoints Jesus with a very costly ointment of aromatic oil(s).
Have you dug into the many references throughout Scripture of plants, plant oils, and what God says about them?!!
There are so many more amazing things in God’s Word about plants/plant oils!
Regarding Claims of Mental/Spiritual Effects
There are many people who claim that the mental and spiritual benefits of essential oils are proof of occult/pagan practices.
Why is the pineal glad pagan? It’s an organ in the body. God created it and it has a very special purpose.
There is only one of our five senses that is connected directly to the emotional center of our brain, and that is the sense of smell. This is part of God’s design for our bodies to be mentally affected by the things we smell.
Have you ever had a smell that distinctly reminded you of a memory? This is aromatherapy, a bodily process designed by our magnificent Creator!
We will never completely understand (until we get to Heaven) the full capabilities of our bodies, especially our brains and organs like our pineal and pituitary glands. But we do understand a great deal more than some of the bloggers and people who claim that saying essential oils affect us mentally is pagan.
Scientifically, we can prove that certain essential oils contain chemical constituents called sesquiterpenes. Sesquiterpenes have been proven able to cross the blood brain barrier which means they can access brain tissue and cerebrospinal fluid, a feat many things cannot accomplish and a characteristic many research scientists desperately seek to find in plants and man-made chemicals.
Sesquiterpenes also increase oxygen levels especially around the pineal gland. Sesquiterpenes are also a natural sedative. Very close to your pineal glad is your amygdala which is instrumental in storing and releasing emotional trauma.
How often do you feel fully engaged when you pray? Do you feel tired? Distracted? Uninspired?
If I am using oils that can affect oxygen levels (among other things) in areas of my brain that are so obviously engaged when in prayer, why wouldn’t they be able to enhance my prayer experience?
For thousands of years, it was part of religious rituals, including for Christians, to burn Frankincense resin. Of course for most of that time, there was no scientific evidence to back up this practice. Until recently. An international team of scientists, including researchers from Johns Hopkins University and the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, describe how burning frankincense (resin from the Boswellia plant) activates poorly understood ion channels in the brain that affect our mental health.
I encourage everyone to click here and read the research for themselves as I am limited under commercial speech laws. Check it out: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080520110415.htm
Research is proving what people knew for thousands of years–aromatherapy is a powerful way to affect our emotional, mental, and spiritual health.
And even before research, God’s Word told us this.
There are FOUR specific Bible passages that refer to anointing oils as vehicles of joy, gladness, and rejoicing. For example:
Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart. (Proverbs 27:9)
(In Biblical times, ointments and perfumes were aromatic plant oils as they did not have artificially-synthesized fragrances like we do today.)
I will take away their sadness, and I will give them the oil of happiness. (Isaiah 61:3)
You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy. (Psalm 45:7 & Hebrews 1:9)
Why would the Bible suggest that a physical substance like an aromatic plant oil be associated with an emotional state by God’s blessing if this is New Age or witchcraft?!
Regarding Names On Some Essential Oil Blends
As we can see from the oil of joy example, it is absolutely not against God’s Word to have a blend of essential oils with a name showing that it can produce mental health benefits.
So what about other blend names like Abundance, Harmony, or Release?
This is exactly the same thing as the oil of joy. There are scientifically-proven mental health benefits of the single oils contained in these blends to help activate the areas of the brain responsible for stored memories as well as for helping provide relaxation and reduction of stress. I appreciate how a fellow sister in Christ stated it:
I love the oil blends that people seem to be wary of! I apply them and pray in agreement with whatever the oil symbolizes. (I ‘release’ ‘abundance’!) God is a God of abundance!!! (Malachi 3:10!) There’s nothing wrong with praying for that or releasing His provision over your situation or prayerfully applying an oil named abundance as a prophetic declaration of what God wants to release. And I see nothing wrong with the various things they have created the oils for– the oils DO have a frequency and they DO have various chemical constituents that affect our emotions and our physical bodies in different ways. With that knowledge, YL has created blends to create various emotional/spiritual atmospheres. I see nothing evil or demonic in that. What those oils can do is in them because God put it in them. He created the oils with those effects and properties. I guess I’m not one that is sensitive to wording that may be considered new age. I see the heart of meaning behind the words and I think that heart is good and Godly.
On that note, what about the “Energy” and “Frequency” claims surrounding some essential oils?
God literally spoke creation into existence. We find the phrase, “And God said…” nine times in the first chapter of Genesis in the creation account.
Word is a vibration, a frequency, an expression of energy. When God created the plants by his speaking voice, he imbued them with his Word and his intelligence. This includes the oils of the plants… (Dr. David Stewart, retired minister and former university science professor)
There is so much we do not yet understand about the most detailed characteristics of the things God has made. Any conclusions made on this topic are simply without actual evidence.
For now, here are just a few research links of what we do know as proven by research about the emotional effects of essential oils (be sure to click on these and read scroll through them!):
Regarding the Founder(s) of Companies
There are some who seek to prove that essential oils should not be used because of the person who owns or who founded a particular company, such as Young Living, and that person’s personal beliefs.
But if that’s the case, does this mean we only shop at stores owned by Christians who have the same beliefs as us?
And when we shop at that store, do we only buy the products produced by companies owned by Christians who have the same beliefs as us?
And when we pay for the few items we can actually buy (if any), do we use a credit card from a company and a bank that is owned by Christians who have the same beliefs as us?
And is our drive home in a vehicle owned manufacturered by a Christian company with gasoline produced by ethical, like-minded Christians?
Maybe I’m being condescending, but you see where I’m going.
For example, anyone shop at Whole Foods?! Has anyone ever questioned that?!
There’s no getting away from that.
But because Young Living is a network marketing company, I am personally free to run and promote my organization with my own priorities and principles. While that means a lot of religious diversity, it also means religious freedom.
That’s the beauty of having a career in network marketing. Unlike a public school teacher, I am not restricted from basing my work on God’s Word and Biblical principles.
My Young Living team is an incredible source of Christian encouragement, accountability, and support for 300 people and growing on a daily basis! I wish everyone could experience this for themselves!
The Enemy wants to twist and turn all things created by God for our physical, mental, and spiritual health. This is why New Age practices have infiltrated the very things He has given us. Anything ‘new age’ is simply a twisting of the true and original design. New age meditation is a twisting of biblical meditation. Does that mean we should not meditate? Should we abandon everything God has given us that the Enemy twists?! Of course not! We would have nothing left!
Of course, we must always be on our guard with everything!
Please be sure to check out my other posts with additional information on the topic:
In Medicine We Trust (This one goes more in depth about the Biblical references to Pharmakeia.)
Now we don’t have to let a lack of knowledge of God’s Word prevent us from experiencing the best health possible and utilizing the things He has given us as a blessing!
Essential oils are a gift from God to us, His children. They are special. They have been a gift too long ignored and misunderstood. The time has come to correct those misunderstandings and bring essential oils back into the uses for which God intended them. (Dr. David Stewart)
It is my hope that the uneducated ideas and myths out there by our paganistic, pharmaceutical-driven society do not continue to allow so many of God’s people to miss out on one of the most amazing blessings for our physical and mental health!
Blessings of good health,
~Sara Jo Poff
Holistic Health Practitioner