Clinical Research

Why is clinical research important?

Clinical research

Enter the words “essential oils” into a scientific research database search 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 environment, have made their way into scientific journals. And nearly all of those published clinical trials were conducted in an academic setting, by entities without any connection to the essential oil industry. The lack of clinical research is one of the main reasons that the use of essential oils has played a marginal role in the eyes of the health community for years. As the only name in essential oil science, doTERRA is single-handedly changing that.

What is clinical research?

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), clinical research is scientific research that involves living people. 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 effecting healthy change in humans. Human clinical trial participants are exposed to new substances (personal care products, dietary supplements, essential oils, pharmaceuticals), new treatment processes or methods of application, or behavioral change to help researchers gather 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 setting in non-living organisms (in vitro), simulated on a computer (in silico), in animals (that doTERRA does not run or support), or isolated human cells (in vivo) provides insight into what can happen when a person 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 being in its natural environment. In medicine, any new pharmaceutical substance or treatment begins a clinical trial and must meet accepted safety and efficacy thresholds in order to be used in the US by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Personal care, nutritional supplements and complementary medicine are a little different; because the risk associated with the use of these products is generally minimal, no clinical research is needed. And what is not necessary is not often done. Clinical studies are extremely complex, time consuming and expensive, and the results may not be what the researchers expect or want. Because of this high risk and cost, clinical research is rare within essential oil, nutritional supplements and personal care. The results of experimental research are often all we need to do regarding the safety and efficacy of these products, but not with doTERRA.

Clinical Research at doTERRA

Visit the doTERRA campus any time of the year and you are likely to see multiple clinical trials underway. doTERRA has a whole team of scientists involved in research and a specific department that focuses solely on clinical trials. Previous studies have been published, and doTERRA scientists have conducted seven clinical studies on single oils, novel blends and nutritional supplements in the past few months. The results of several of these clinical studies will result in scientific publications. doTERRA is no longer dependent on experimental research by outside agencies. doTERRA is revolutionizing the science of essential oils, personal care and nutritional supplements by demonstrating the safety and efficacy of their products through in-house clinical research. So you can rest assured that their products are the most tested and trusted in the industry.

Reliable Essential Oil Research Resources

Since 1950, more than 120.000 scientific research papers have been published on essential oils and their chemical constituents. But only recently have scientists recognized the potential uses of essential oils in healthcare. In the last two decades, there has been 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 health care. This is partly because much of the research, while promising, is still experimental, and essential oils are still seen as alternative and complementary solutions. Also, the essential oil industry is limited in the way it explains the benefits of essential oils because they are not registered as medicines.

Because of these limitations, many essential oil users and healthcare providers have shown an increasing interest in doing personal research to help them understand the properties of essential oils. Unfortunately, there are many resources on the web that contain information that is either misleading or inaccurate. or, at best, poorly substantiated 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 educate yourself about the biological activity of essential oils. s


PubMed is a free search tool that 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 physicians and scientists seeking research on any topic in healthcare. Two drawbacks to 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 potential downside is obscuring your results with articles that aren't relevant to your search.


AromaticScience is a free database dedicated specifically 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 with the publisher. Newly published essential oil studies are posted daily to AromaticScience.†††

† Information from experimental research should never be used in place of or in contradiction with directions from your healthcare provider.

†† These resources are for personal use only 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.