Why is clinical research important?

Clinical research

Enter the words “essential oils” into the search function of a scientific research database and you’ll get endless pages of content. In the last two decades alone, more than 10,000 studies evaluating essential oils and their constituents have been published in peer-reviewed scientific journals. In the history of modern science, fewer than 300 human clinical studies evaluating the effects of essential oils on the human organism, in a real world setting, have found their way into scientific journals. And almost all of those published clinical trials were conducted in an academic setting, by entities with no connection to the essential oil industry. The lack of clinical research is one of the main reasons that the use of essential oils has been marginal in the eyes of the health community for many years. As the only name in essential oil science, doTERRA is changing that on its own.

What is clinical research?

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), clinical research is scientific research involving living humans. Unlike experimental research, the sole purpose of clinical research is to determine whether a specific treatment or behavior is a safe and effective means of bringing about healthy change in humans. Participants in human clinical trials are exposed to new substances (personal care products, dietary supplements, essential oils, drugs), new treatment processes or application methods, or behavior change to help researchers collect data to draw conclusions about what is the safest and most effective way to promote a specific outcome.

Why is clinical research important?

Clinical research is important because it is directly relevant to you. Research conducted in a laboratory environment in non-living organisms (in vitro), simulated on a computer (in silico), in animals (which doTERRA does not perform or support), or isolated human cells (in vivo) provides insight into what can happen when a human is exposed to a new substance or treatment. But the results are not as powerful or generalizable as clinical research because an agar solution in a petri dish is very different from a human in its natural environment. In medicine, every new pharmaceutical substance or treatment begins with a clinical trial and must meet accepted thresholds for safety and efficacy to be used in the U.S. by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) . Personal care, dietary supplements and complementary medicine are a little different; because the risk associated with using these products is generally minimal, clinical trials are not required. And what is not needed is not often done. Clinical trials are extremely complex, time-consuming and expensive, and the results may not be what researchers expect or want. Because of this high risk and high cost, clinical trials are rare within essential oil, dietary supplement and personal care. The results of experimental research are often all we have to go on regarding the safety and efficacy of these products, but not at doTERRA.

Clinical research at doTERRA

Visit doTERRA’s campus at any time of the year and you’re likely to see several clinical trials underway. doTERRA has an entire team of scientists dedicated to research and a specific department dedicated exclusively to clinical trials. Previous studies have already been published and doTERRA scientists have conducted seven clinical studies in recent months on single oils, new blends and dietary supplements. The results of several of these clinical trials will result in scientific publications. DoTERRA is no longer dependent on experimental research by external agencies. DoTERRA is revolutionizing the science of essential oils, personal care and dietary supplements by demonstrating the safety and efficacy of their products through in-house clinical research. So you can be sure that their products are the most tested and trusted in the industry.

Reliable sources for essential oil research

Since 1950, more than 120,000 scientific research articles have been published on essential oils and their chemical constituents. But only recently have scientists recognized the potential uses of essential oils in healthcare. The last two decades have therefore seen an explosion in research into essential oils. Three quarters of all studies ever published on essential oils were published after the year 2000.

Despite this explosion of scientific research, essential oils have not yet been integrated into clinical healthcare. This is partly because much of the research, while promising, is still experimental, and essential oils are considered alternative and complementary solutions for the time being. Also, the essential oil industry is limited in how it explains the benefits of essential oils because they are not registered as medicines.

Because of these limitations, many essential oil users and health care providers have expressed increasing interest in doing personal research to help them understand the properties of essential oils.† Unfortunately, there are many sources on the web that contain information that is either misleading, inaccurate, or at best poorly supported by scientific findings. At doTERRA, we encourage the use of scientific research to validate the proper use of essential oils. We have compiled a list of reliable sources that you can use to inform yourself about the biological activity of essential oils. ††


PubMed is a free search tool you can use to search the MEDLINE database, a huge compilation of research maintained by the US National Library of Medicine (NLM) and the National Institute of Health (NIH). PubMed is the library of choice for most doctors and scientists looking for research on any topic in healthcare. Two disadvantages of using PubMed are that some research articles are not included in the MEDLINE database, and often the search for essential oil research can be clouded by unrelated studies. Many of the studies in this database are only accessible with a paid subscription with the publisher.

Google Scholar

Google Scholar is also a free search tool, and you can use it to find any research article on the Internet. Many of the studies that appear in a Google Scholar search are only accessible with a paid subscription to the publisher. Like PubMed, one possible drawback is clouding your results with articles that are not relevant to your search.


AromaticScience is a free database specifically dedicated to publications on essential oil research. The library includes a search function, article summaries and links to the full text. Often the full text is only accessible with a paid subscription from the publisher. Newly published research on essential oils is posted daily at AromaticScience.††††

† Information from experimental research should never be used in place of, or contrary to, instructions from your healthcare provider.

†† These resources are intended for personal use and may not be used to promote or sell doTERRA products.

††† AromaticScience is affiliated with doTERRA, but is not intended to promote any particular brand of essential oils.