Essential oil sales trend up during pandemic

Anna Mellor
Stress relieving and immune system-boosting essential oil products have experienced a spike in sales since the onset of COVID-19. (Photo illustration by Anna Mellor)

The essential oil business has grown significantly over the last decade and hasn’t slowed since the onset of COVID-19.

In fact, it seems like more people are turning to these oils for their relaxing, immune-system boosting and disinfecting properties to help cope with the stresses of the pandemic.

Essential oils have been a huge part of Alisa Burrows’ life since she was in high school. The Orem, Utah native uses them to help her cope with pain, nausea and sleepless nights. Burrows said her usage amount hasn’t necessarily increased since COVID-19, but she’s seen how the oils have helped her cope with pandemic-related issues. When the “panic buying” phase of the pandemic unfolded, she remembered many people being concerned with stocking up on Tylenol and other painkillers.

“I don’t think our family was too worried because we had a huge stash of essential oils that have similar properties that can help,” Burrows said. “I don’t think you should not use medication if you have a medical problem, but the oils can definitely be a good adjunct therapy.”

Burrows’ mother, Brenda, recently underwent surgery, so the family has been vigilant in keeping up with high sanitation standards. They’ve diffused cinnamon and oregano oil to help clean the air in the home, and have used lemon oil to wipe down and clean surfaces.

“Lemon oil has antibacterial and antiviral properties, so when we couldn’t find Lysol at the store, we would use lemon oil to help disinfect and clean,” Burrows said. 

Brenda Burrows said she’s always enjoyed using essential oils and feels like they’ve been helpful in her life, especially when using them as an added precaution in strengthening her immune system following surgery.

“I think I’ve resorted to using it even more now since the pandemic,” Brenda said. “There’s more we need to be doing to increase our body’s ability to have a strong immune system.”

A look into the sales

Two of Utah’s major essential oil companies have shared insight into their sales trends and how people are turning to their products in a time of crisis.

DoTERRA is an essential oils company that manufactures and distributes personal hygiene, health and wellness and food supplement products. DoTERRA Public Relations Director Kevin Wilson said these products include doTERRA’s On Guard Sanitizing Mists (hand sanitizer), foaming hand washes and cleaning products, as well as nutritional supplements, including essential oils, that support the immune system.

“We are seeing an increased interest from people around the world in what doTERRA can offer them and their families, particularly as they are looking for ways to keep their hands and living areas clean, strengthen their immune systems, manage stress and remain calm during uncertain times,” Wilson said. 

People are looking for ways to stay healthy, reduce stress and remain positive in challenging times, according to Wilson. 

“When you combine nutrition, exercise and rest with pure and proven products that can uplift and strengthen, then people are more prepared to cope with whatever comes their way,” Wilson said.

Anna Mellor has worked with doTERRA for a little over three years. She spent two of those years in Brazil helping to launch products in South America.

Mellor’s team averages sales between $25,000 to $30,000 per month. This number doubled in March during the onset of COVID-19, reaching over $50,000.

In addition to the benefits Wilson listed, Mellor said essential oils can also be used as “a natural cleaner for around the house to kill bacteria and germs.”

Young Living is another major essential oils company that has experienced an increase in sales for certain products. Public Relations Manager Sarah Kline said the company has seen an increase in demand for products like Thieves Hand Sanitizer, which she said effectively eliminates 99.99% of common illness-causing germs. 

“Our Thieves Hand Sanitizer is helping individuals and their families stay safe and healthy during these uncertain times,” Kline said.

Young Living is also working to make weekly donations of its hand sanitizer to local frontline workers, including fire departments, police departments, school districts, healthcare workers and other frontline members of the community. 

“Essential oils are part of the daily routines for many of our customers,” Kline said. “Especially now, when our normal routines have been flipped upside down, our customers value that their daily essential oil routines give them and their families a sense of normal life.”

A clinical perspective on essential oils

Dr. Chris Norris, a chartered physiotherapist and neurologist, agrees essential oils can be helpful during this gloomy and uncertain time. However, he feels it’s important for people to know there is no current evidence that any essential oil can kill a COVID-19 virus.

“Undoubtedly, there are a wide range of essential oils that have been scientifically and clinically proven to have antiviral properties and have a measurable impact on a wide range of infectious pathogens,” Norris said. “However, none of the essential oils offers the same level of defense for every flu and other health issue causing pathogens.”

When it comes to mental health, Norris notes the benefit of essential oils in helping those dealing with increased fear, anxiety and depression.

“Aromatherapy, or use of essential oils to promote health and well-being, has been effective in reducing stress and promoting positive emotional well-being,” Norris said. “The scent molecules in essential oils, when inhaled, travel from the olfactory nerves directly to the brain and impact the amygdala, the emotional center of the brain.”

Norris said although essential oils are helpful, the best way to safeguard against COVID-19 is to maintain social distancing and diligently adhere to proper hygiene by hand washing.

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