Essential Oils: Anti-Microbial Truths and Myths

The purpose of this piece is not to completely down-play the use of essential oils, because when used appropriately and in low dilutions they do possess many positive features.

From a psychological perspective people are definitely starting to panic during this Covid-19 pandemic and I can not stress enough that folks should not be using excessive amounts of essential oils at this time.

From a health and safety perspective it is imperative to follow Approved Government Health Directives.

For many, the use of essential oils and related aromatherapy products have become an integral part of a conscientious and healthy living

regime. Many folks choose to use essential oils in ultrasonic mist diffusers in order to emit a pleasant aroma throughout their home.

The psychological effects of essential oils and other odorants can have far reaching effects, which can be pleasant or even unpleasant, depending on the idiosyncratic nature of an individual and past as well as present experiences, which may evoke changes in mood etc. Pleasant feelings can usually be achieved by using ‘nicely scented’ odorants (essential oils), and the general feeling of well-being and relaxation can be greatly enhanced through the concomitant use of massage, a relaxing atmosphere, a friendly person to listen to one’s problems and a comfortable and warm bed to lie on.  How much of the benefit of such essential oil therapy is due to the essential oils has not be determined, and could vary, but a large proportion is probably due to the placebo effect, which is purely a psychological effect. (Lis-Balchin, 2005 p. 74)

Some folks prefer to use body care products, perfumes and massage oils that have been scented with essential oils rather than with synthetic fragrances.

Many people also like to use essential oils as part of their disinfecting cleaning regime and that’s fine but please be aware that Mixing Different Cleaning Chemicals can be very dangerous, and adding essential oils could create further chemical changes. Click here for Poster.

Research indicates that essential oils do possess some antimicrobial† properties. However, antimicrobial is a broad statement that covers a wide range of microorganisms. A microorganism is simply a tiny organism. Many organisms are an essential component to all life on our planet, while other organisms can wreak havoc.

There are many scientifically proven antimicrobial solutions and pharmaceutics drugs that help to control the spread of bacteria, fungi, viruses, and parasites. Antimicrobial solutions used for disinfection purposes must also meet efficacy and safety standards depending upon the setting and application.

There is no empirical evidence indicating that essential oils are antiviral or virucidal substances.

Essential oils are concentrated highly aromatic volatile chemical compounds derived from plants. Every essential oil possesses a unique profile that is comprised of anywhere from 50 to 300 different organic compounds such as terpenes, monoterpenes, and several oxygenated compounds such as alcohols, aldehydes, esters, ketones, oxides and phenols. Often, it is simply just one or two of these particular constituents that occur within the matrix of an essential oil that when isolated may have some promising applications depending upon the context with which they are used. Sometimes that one constituent that occurs in a higher volume which may possess some therapeutic action, but that same substance could cause ill effects due to the oxidization of that particular chemical.

For these reasons it is imperative to have a solid understanding as to which essential oils may cause: dermal, mucous and respiratory irritation, and which oils are not indicated to be used with children, the elderly, and by those who have underlying health issues, or by pregnant and nursing mothers, therefore it is always advisable to consult with your physician before using any natural health product if you have health concerns that relate to contraindications.

Despite the ‘we don’t test on animals’ movement – science must test on animals and to-date there is little scientific evidence that essential oils are valid treatments for animals or humans when it comes to preventing or curing disease.

Much of the scientific research that involves essential oils pertains to in vitro testing. Which simply means science in a dish.  Whereas in vivo pertains to research that is conducted within a living organism such as in humans and animals. From a microbial perspective, most of the evidence comes from in vitro testing where essential oils have been studied to determine the efficacy of controlling microbes in a petri-dish.  Often the science points to only a handful of constituents within an essential oil that may support the research hypotheses.

There are diverse functions of essential oils, depending on the mode of application, the actual essential oil, the adulteration of the essential oil, the species of animal to which the essential oil is applied, etc. The pharmacological effect in vitro on different tissues in the same and different animals can also vary. It is therefore not possible to generalize about the bioactivity of essential oils on microorganisms or in animal tissues in vitro, let alone in vivo in humans. (Lis-Balchin, 2005 p. 57)

For further information about Essential Oils consider reading some of my other blog posts at

Sharing Truths – Not Nonsense.

Sandra Topper, has been a Certified Aromatherapist in Canada since 1993 and is registered with the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy as a Clinical Aromatherapist & Aromachologist.

References & Good Resources:

Lis-Balchin, M. (2005). Aromatherapy Science: A Guide for Healthcare Professionals (1st ed.). Amsterdam, Netherlands: Amsterdam University Press.

Lis-Balchin, M. (1995). Aroma Science: The Chemistry & Bioactivity of Essential Oils (1st ed.). United Kingdom: Amberwood Publishing.

Tisserand, Robert, and Rodney Young*. Essential Oil Safety: A Guide for Health Care Professionals. 2nd ed., Churchill Livingstone, 2013.
*This author is not affiliated with the Young Living Oil company.

Click here great resource: Irritant and Allergic Reactions to Essential Oils

Click here great resource: Essential Oils and Coronaviruses

†These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration or by Health Canada. This information and/or these statements are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease and should not be relied upon when making important medical decisions.
Note:  Aromatherapy, like any other natural therapy is intended to complement not replace traditional medicine.

When in doubt about any medical condition, always seek medical advice.
See Further Legal

Essential Oils On Feet: Immune Boost or Bust


Foot Care is an import component of health care and essential oils are wonderful substances – that can be incorporated into a health conscientious regime,

❌Rubbing essential oil Roller-Ball Blends on your feet will not boost your immune system! Essential Oils Do Not Contain Vitamins & Nutrients

What will improve your immune system?
✅Get Plenty of Rest 😴
✅Eat A healthy Diet 🥦🍊🍎

✅TAKE extra anti-oxidants such as Vitamin A, C, D & E and Selenium & Zinc, research indicates that these nutrients are important in supporting the immune system.
✅Exercise: 🏃🧘🏾‍♀️💃 improves health.
✅Want to improve your health? Don’t smoke 🚭 and reduce alcohol🍷intake.
✅Reducing your exposure to synthetic perfumes and fragrance is one component of living a healthy life.

Essential Oils on your feet will make your feet smell great – and may help to control athletes foot, because some essential oils have anti-fungal properties.

A foot rub or body massage with some olive oil, coconut oil or lotion with a few drops of various essential oils added may help with the temporary relief of musculoskeletal pain. 

❌But the Peppermint oil rubbed on your feet or on your belly won’t fix your irritable bowel syndrome. But the massage might make you windy, and that will feel better. 💨😌💨 Except it may not make the person next to you feel better. LOL

A foot rub with a lavender lotion will smell and feel fab – but you had better keep your foot near your nose while sleeping🦶+👃 = 😴🤣

Now there is some validity to smelling lovely aromas – they do in fact – Inhibit and Excite cells in the olfactory area of the brain 🧠 which release certain neurotransmitters that may have positive physiological and psychological outcomes.

Selling Truths – Not Nonsense.

†These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration or by Health Canada. This information and/or these statements are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease and should not be relied upon when making important medical decisions.

Note:  Aromatherapy, like any other natural therapy is intended to complement not replace traditional medicine.  When in doubt about any medical condition, always seek medical advice.  See legal

TinyFlowerSandra Topper, #dropinforawhiff
Canadian Professional Aromatherapist & Aromachologist


Lavender: is it the be-all and end-all & what on earth is linalool?

Every day folks come into my little Aroma Apothecary questioning.
Do you have any Lavender essential oil?  I have heard that lavender is good for just about everything from; insomnia, anxiety, depression, anger, heart palpitations, hormone balancing, headaches, restless legs, sore muscles.

Then they ask . . . is this true? … because I would love to get off my medication and use something more natural.

I proceed to say – well it’s complicated!

The common factor with all of the above symptoms is that we all suffer from them, why because:
– we don’t get enough sleep,
– we are over-exposed to a plethora of synthetic chemicals,
we work too hard,
– we abuse our bodies,
– we don’t eat well,
– we consume too much sugar
– we have a lot of stress in our lives,
– our lives are frantic,
– politics and bureaucracy make us angry,
– life is expensive,
– we live with grief,
– we live with mental health issues,
– we are a living organism that is susceptible to disease, due to genetics and the environment, and
– as much as we don’t want to hear – we get old and the vehicle breaks down.

First and foremost, don’t stop taking your medication that was prescribed by your doctor if you have a serious medical condition.

Secondly there are many natural wellness modalities that we can incorporate into our lives in order to maintain our wellbeing.

Yes Lavender is known to elicit a calming effect on the central nervous system because it smells lovely and looks beautiful. The psychological calm that it produces when we smell lavender is the result of primarily one chemical constituent that occurs in lavender and it is called linalool.  However linalool also occurs in nearly 200 different aromatic plants.  When our olfactory bulb detects linalool it immediately produces an . . . ah effect, however smell is very subjective and some people simply do not like the smell of lavender.

In actuality, any aroma that you love, can have a calming affect when you pair it with relaxing breathing techniques, so you don’t have to always default to lavender.


In fact, the mere act of taking a deep breath and exhaling slowly will cause your shoulders to relax, the corners of your mouth turn up and eyes soften.  Olfactory research indicates that any pleasant fragrance can produce an immediate change in physiological parameters such as blood pressure, muscle tension, pupil dilation, skin temperature, pulse rate and brain activity.

Each of these aromas are lovely on their own, but a couple of them are quite tenacious and are more suited to being blended with other essential oils that dampen down  their aromatic sharpness.

I personally do not recommend using all of the linalool rich oils together at the same time. Because if you put all of your good eggs in one basket then you have nothing to work with when you develop a tolerance to your concoction.  I am always happy to explain further how to blend your oils, so drop into the Apothecary for a whiff.

Note:  Aromatherapy, like any other natural therapy is intended to complement not replace traditional medicine.  When in doubt about any medical condition, always seek medical advice.  See legal

TinyFlowerSandra Topper, #dropinforawhiff
Canadian Professional Aromatherapist & Aromachologist

I have used essential oils for more than 25 years, and yes I sell them, but …

Essential Oils… the do’s and don’ts

The use of Essential Oils with in the context of Aromatherapy is a modality that falls under the umbrella of Complimentary Health.

There is much to be said about providing the right environment for the human body to heal and many ways to protect one-self from developing or acquiring disease, this is where complimentary health modalities come into play and adopting a healthy lifestyle.

In my opinion it would be negligent to solely use complimentary treatments to treat serious medical conditions. While raising my family and for my own health and wellness I have always adopted a balance between allopathic health treatments and complimentary health modalities.


Throughout my years of experience as a natural health product advisor via ownership of health food stores and my personal use of natural health products, be it; vitamins, herbal supplements, herbal teas, homeopathic tinctures and essential oils – there are five points that I have always stressed to my clients:

  1. If you have a new or worsening condition visit your doctor for tests and diagnosis.
  2. Learn and understand fully what the condition entails; signs and symptoms, underlying cause, how to treat, make a list of questions to take to your doctor.
  3. Take all prescribed medication as indicated by your doctor.
  4. Research fully all natural solutions and complementary modalities that may help to lesson your symptoms and reduce harm. Then ask your doctor and pharmacist if there are any natural remedy interactions that may interfere with your prescribed medication.
  5. Once you have become an expert on your particular condition – work towards finding a healthy balance between your allopathic health treatment and complimentary health modalities.

Essential Oils & Aromatherapy
Essential Oils are aromatic essences that are extracted from plants. They are complicated substances – and yes they contain substances that when isolated are used in food flavourings and in pharmaceuticals, but in their whole form they also contain other substances that might be harmful, so I don’t promote using essential oils internally, unless you are using oils that have GRAS status (generally recognized as safe) meaning they are essential oils that can be used for culinary or flavour purposes.

Other useful and recent posts include:

All About Essential Oils & Aromatherapy
Lavender: is it the be-all and end-all and what on earth is linalool?
Antimicrobial Activity of Essential Oils
Frankincense: Let’s put this in perspective!

Note:  Aromatherapy, like any other natural therapy, is intended to complement not replace traditional medicine.  When in doubt about any medical condition, always seek medical advice.   See legal

TinyFlowerVisit us – we’ll turn your nose on



Neroli ~ Citrus aurantium L. and/or Citrus bigardia L. possesses GRAS status (generally recognized as safe).  Neroli oil contains more than 70 different natural occurring chemicals, however the constituents that are responsible for its lovely scent are primarily:
linalyl acetate (43-68.5%)
linalool (23.8-54.3%)
geraniol (2.8 – 5.9%), and
limonene (traces up to 10.2%). Percentage levels vary from batch to batch, due growing conditions, geographical location and species.
The essential oil of Neroli is derived by the steam distillation of orange and/or bitter orange tree blossoms. Neroli is one of the most expensive essential oils on the market (approximately $8,000 Cdn. per litre) because it takes about 100 kilos of blooms to create just 1 litre of neroli oil.  At that price it is not economically viable for candle and soap manufacturers to use pure essential oil of Neroli in their products and so they often use synthetic knock-offs.

In contrast, just 1 litre of distilled Petitgrain (orange or lemon LEAF oil) is approximately $160 Cdn. per litre, this is due to the fact that the orange leaf yields much more oil than the blossom. When you smell Neroli and Petitgrain side-by-side it is quite clear that they have similar aromatic notes with Neroli being very sweet and floral, while Petitgrain has more sharp, and tenacious green notes.

Neroli oil is highly valued by perfumers for its sweet and middle floral notes, with a slight smokey green pepper undertone. Skin care alchemists declare that Neroli helps to combat dry, irritated and sensitive skin and it may help improve the skin’s elasticity which in-turn may slow down the occurrence of thread veins and prevent scaring.

True Neroli oil is prized by Aromatherapists as being one of the most important oils in their collection, as the scent of Neroli can produce feelings of euphoria and lower respiration, thereby helping to reduce stress and help to quell anxiety.

Two of the chemicals that occur naturally in Neroli and Petitgrain (and in approximately 200 other different species of aromatics plants) are Linalool and linalyl acetate. Research indicates that when the scent of linalool and linalyl acetate are lightly vaporized they have relaxing and positive effects on the central nervous system, helping to quiet the mind and lower respiration and may be useful from a pain management perspective.

In a laboratory setting, the application of Neroli oil was found to have antibacterial action against several species of bacteria while it’s vapour was less effective.  Neroli oil application proved effective with many forms of fungi.

Given the fact that Neroli possesses anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties it does not indicate that the oil be used as an alternative to treat bacterial infections in humans.  Based on the fact that Neroli possesses anti-microbial properties, some ‘essential oil sales folks’ may entice or suggest that people buy Neroli oil and add it to their home-made cleaning products.  In my opinion this is sheer nonsense and an un-ethical sales pitch. Don’t waste your money or your Neroli. There are plenty of other essential oils that contain constituents that are anti-microbial and are more affordable for your do-it-your-self natural cleaning products. 

Petitgrain ~ Citrus aurantium L., Citrus reticulata, possesses GRAS status (generally recognized as safe).  The primary chemical constituents in Petitgrain are:
linalyl acetate (46-71%)
linalool (12.3-27%)
geraniol (1.4-4%)
limonene (1-8%)
a-Terpineol (2-8%), and
Geranyl acetate (1.9-3.4%).
As previously mentioned Petitgrain oil is derived via steam distillation of leaves and twigs primarily from the lemon and orange tree.  The odour of Petitgrain oil is comprised of nearly 400 different components.  Dermal sensitization and phototoxicity is rare with Petitgrain oil unless it has been adulterated with cold pressed citrus oils.  In a laboratory setting, the application of Petitgrain oil was found to exhibit relatively good action against several species of bacteria and fungi, however its vapour was less effective.

Given the fact that Petitgrain oil possesses anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties it does not indicate that the oil be used as an alternative to treat bacterial infections in humans.  Since Petitgrain is a very affordable essential oil it would make more sense to add a little Petitgrain oil and not Neroli oil to your homemade natural cleaning products. Petitgrain oil is an excellent fragrant choice that could be used to naturally scent unscented mediums such as carrier oils, lotions, creams, deodorants, soaps, shampoos and shower gels.  In the palm of your hand with a dollop of your choice (lotion, carrier oil, soap) add 2-3 drops of petitgrain and enjoy.

Linalyl acetate also possess promising anti-inflammatory properties.  Linalyl acetate often occurs in conjunction with linalool in many essential oils but it must be understood, that while essential oils possess these valuable properties it does not mean that essential oils should be used in leu of conventional therapies.

Most of the empirical research (scientific) involving essential oils has been conducted in laboratory settings in vitro (controlled environment outside of a living organism) often on skin tissue or ileum (smooth muscle intestine samples) excised from laboratory animals.

Neroli in it’s pure or neat form could cause cutaneous irritation therefore it is imperative to dilute neroli in a carrier oil such as fractionated coconut oil.  Typically safe dilutions of all essential oils should be maintained at less than 6-10% per volume, however harsh essential oils (those essential oils that are known to be severe dermal irritants) should be maintained a lower dilutions such as 1-2% per volume.

Because Neroli is so darn expensive it would be a waste of money to use it in wash off products or to diffuse it in an electric aromatic diffuser.  To truly benefit from the relaxing effects of Neroli consider blending 20 drops of neroli in 10 ml bottle of fractionated coconut oil or jojoba oil and use it to perfume your wrists and palms of your hands, and then cup the aroma around your nose in order to benefit from it’s odour – this is what ‘Aroma’-therapy is all about.

Neroli is a very delicate aroma – blending it with other essential oils takes some skill and understanding because some will compliment and others will compete. At Bespoke Aromatics – I personally create custom blended natural perfumes with pure essential oils – drop in for a whiff sometime – and ask about my Neroli Solifore perfume.


Lis-Balchin, M., Dr. (1995) The Chemistry & Bioactivity of Essential Oils.

Lis-Balchin, M., Dr. (2006) Aromatherapy Science, A Guide for HealthCare Professionals.

Tisserand, Robert & Young, Rodney. (2014) Essential Oil Safety, A Guide to Health Care Professionals, 2nd Edition.

Online Research Resources:

Anticonvulsant activity of Citrus aurantium blossom essential oil neroli: involvment of the GABAergic system.

Effects of Inhalation of Essential Oil of Citrus aurantium L. var. amara on Menopausal Symptoms, Stress, and Estrogen in Postmenopausal Women: A Randomized Controlled Trial.

Effects of aromatherapy on the anxiety, vital signs, and sleep quality of percutaneous coronary intervention patients in intensive care units.

Essential Oils for Complementary Treatment of Surgical Patients: State of the Art.

Anti-inflammatory activity of linalool and linalyl acetate constituents of essential oils

Lavandula angustifolia Mill. Oil and Its Active Constituent Linalyl Acetate Alleviate Pain and Urinary Residual Sense after Colorectal Cancer Surgery: A Randomised Controlled Trial.

Note:  Aromatherapy, like any other natural therapy, is intended to complement not replace traditional medicine.  When in doubt about any medical condition, always seek medical advice.  See legal

TinyFlowerSandra Topper, Professional Aromatherapist & Aromachologist





Frankincense: Let’s put this in perspective!


Frequently people ask – which Frankincense is the best one to ingest? Then they proceed to tell me how they read an article on the emojiinternet, or that a friend told them to place a few drops under their tongue or rub some on the roof of their mouth every day in order to treat or prevent cancer, to reverse the affects of concussion syndrome or reduce the inflammation in their joints.

Frankincense Essential Oil (EO) is obtained by distilling a resin (a sap like substance) that exudes from the Boswellia family of trees which predominately include sacra, carterii, frereana and serrata.  Frankincense oil contains a variation of chemical constituents predominately monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes and ketones which are dependent upon the Boswellia species and the geographical region to which the tree is grown. From a scent perspective the EO of Frankincense has a fresh balsamic peppery aroma, with a slightly dry green note, with coniferous tones and is used extensively in the perfume industry.

Traditional Health Uses
From a traditional health perspective the aroma is said to help reduce the symptoms of anxiety, nervous tension and stress-related conditions.  From an inhalation perspective it seems to lessen symptoms associated with asthma, bronchitis, catarrh, coughs and laryngitis. Topically, indigenous persons throughout the world have used the resin in natural skin care preparations for blemishes, scars and wounds and is often touted as improving dry skin, and reversing UV damaged skin.

Massage Therapy & Aromatherapy Massage
Frankincense EO would serves as an excellent adjunct to Massage Therapy, as Frankincense EO contains constituents that may help to improve circulation and reduce inflammation due to the monoterpene levels specifically a-pinene, which is dependent upon the species of the Frankincense EO. Since there is reputed research pointing to the benefits of Massage Therapy combining a few drops of Frankincense EO with a natural vegetable carrier oil such as coconut oil may have a positive affect on arthritic and muscular conditions when massaged into those areas of need.

The Contrary Hype
Despite all the chatter on the internet by those who sell false-hope, distilled Frankincense EO does not contain any boswellic acid, and this is where the problem lies or where the inflated statements and headlines are actually prevaricated.

Scientific Study
In a laboratory setting when bacteria is grown in a petri dish, Frankincense EO has proven to be quite effective as an anti-bacterial agent, and food chemists have investigated its properties to control various types of Listeria monocytogenes. However, Frankincense EO has yet to be proven as a substance to treat human pathogens.

Other research points to the oral use of Boswellia extract which may in fact have some positive health benefits due to the presence of boswellic acid.  If you are hoping to benefit from boswellic acid then check out your local natural health clinic shop for an oral supplement containing a standardized dose of boswellic acid that has been approved by the FDA or Health Canada. You can identify licensed natural health products by looking for the eight-digit Natural Product Number (NPN) or Homeopathic Medicine Number (DIN-HM) on the label.

Under no circumstance should Frankincense essential oil be taken internally because during the distillation process the boswellic is lost and other constituents are heightened, and/or altered into other substances which are not safe to ingest.

Frankincense Essential Oil Preferences
Frankincense sacra, carterii, frereana and serrata are all suitable for general aromatherapy inspired products.  Presently I am using serrata in my skin care products because it is an affordable oil and happens to be organically grown.  I prefer carterii in massage oils and for inhalation due to the higher content of a-pinene.  I flip back and forth between the two when it comes to creating natural perfumes.  Serrata possesses more of a punctuating top note whereas carterii is warmer and more full-bodied.

Price should not be Indicative of Quality
Some Frankincense oils are more expensive than others, this has nothing to do with the quality. Different species of Boswellia resin yield different amounts of Frankincense oil. For example when the same volume of serrata and carterii resin are distilled the serrata will produce more oil.


Lis-Balchin, M. (2005). Aromatherapy Science: A Guide for Healthcare Professionals (1st ed.). Amsterdam, Netherlands: Amsterdam University Press.

Lis-Balchin, M. (1995). Aroma Science: The Chemistry & Bioactivity of Essential Oils (1st ed.). United Kingdom: Amberwood Publishing.

Tisserand, Robert, and Rodney Young*. Essential Oil Safety: A Guide for Health Care Professionals. 2nd ed., Churchill Livingstone, 2013.
*This author is not affiliated with the Young Living Oil company.

Boswellia Serrata; A Potential Anti-inflammatory Agent

Effects of Topical Boswellic Acid on Photo and Age-Damaged Skin

Frankincense Essential Oil & Cancer

Frankincense Essential Oil – Cancer in Perspective

Note:  Aromatherapy, like any other natural therapy, is intended to complement not replace traditional medicine.  When in doubt about any medical condition, always seek medical advice.  See legal

TinyFlowerSandra Topper, is a Professional Aromatherapist & Aromachologist


Making Scents: The aromatic world of flowers

Not only can plants mimic other plants, but some flowers mimic animals. The flower of the bee orchid smells and looks, to the male bee, just like a female bee. The duped male bee attempts to copulate with the orchid’s petals, and the insect spreads pollen between the deceptive flowers. And flowers don’t just imitate bees. A few orchid species smell like female flies, and others replicate the aroma and texture of scarab beetles.

[Image credit: Ian Capper via]
Molecules in plant fragrances have powerful effects:  Reblogged from Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program – an excellent article and resource about aromatic flowers.  Click here to read more.

TinyFlowerVisit us – we’ll turn your nose on