A team of researchers from Taipei Medical University in Taiwan set up an experiment to model conditions of a typical spa – including the use of a vaporizer dispensing bergamot essential oil into the air. Healthy spa workers were then recruited to stay in the room for two hours at a time during 3 separate visits. During the first hour the workers heart rates and blood pressure dropped slightly, however, after 75 minutes heart rates and blood pressures increased. Research leader Dr. Kai-Jen Chuang said that aromatherapy oils are volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are seen as indoor air pollutants and can cause irritation to eyes, throat, and lungs. An article in the journal Environmental Engineering Science published last year reported that spas using fragrant essential oils during massage therapy may have elevated levels of indoor air pollutants including VOCs and ultrafine particles.
Keep in mind that these studies looked at large amounts of concentrated essential oils in small controlled environments. If a few dabs of lavender or peppermint oil rubbed into your temples to ease a headache, or control stress works for you, do it. The take home message is that “natural” in large doses is not always safe…….Boston Globe 12/5/12