The Benefits of Essential Oils - Spar Soap | Natural Soap for Combat Athletes

The Benefits of Essential Oils

For thousands of years, essential oils were known only by local healers with unique knowledge. In the 20th century, they made their way into health food stores. There, health nuts or quirky hipsters might buy them to use in pungent remedies or homemade lotion. But the benefits of essential oils were still unknown to most.

In the last few decades, essential oils have exploded onto the world market. Now, they’ve made their way from the shadows into even the most mainstream places: hospitals, children’s classrooms, spas, national grocery chains, and perhaps even the diffuser in your living room.

People claim that essential oils can do everything from reduce stress to cure common ailments. Although they’ve been used for thousands of years all around the world, scientists have only recently started to study them. What have they uncovered? Are essential oils worth the hype?

What Are Essential Oils?

Essential oils are concentrated plant extracts. They capture the “essence” of the plant – its distinct scent and flavor.

Essential oils are made by pressing or steaming parts of a plant (like the fruit, leaves, flower, or bark) to extract its fragrant elements. Once extracted, these elements are often combined with a “carrier oil” to become the product we see on the shelf. Synthetic essential oils that are made through chemical processes are not considered “true” essential oils.

Because it requires so much of the plants to create essential oils, they can be pricey. For example, it takes 250 pounds of lavender flower to make 1 pound of essential oil! 

What Are the Benefits of Essential Oils?

People have used plants as medicine since the dawn of humanity. Archaeologists have discovered that the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Chinese, and Persians used essential oils for healing, cosmetics, and pleasant aromas.

Modern science has begun to investigate the effects of essential oils. They are a bit difficult to study since there are no universal standards for them. Studies of essential oils on humans (as opposed to stem cells or animals) are somewhat rare, and more research is needed. But the benefits of some essential oils have been established. Read on to find out what they are! 

tea tree

Tea Tree Essential Oil

On the swampy southeast coast of Australia, the tea tree grows. Indigenous people there have long used oil from the leaves of the tea tree as a germ killer and herbal medicine. Today, we get tea tree oil from steaming the leaves of the Australian tea tree.

Studies on stem cells show that tea tree oil inhibits and kills fungi – yes, even those pesky fungi that cause ringworm1. (We’re not sure why yet, but tea tree oil doesn’t seem to clear up ringworm infections as effectively as over-the-counter creams2. So don’t rely on it alone to treat active infections.) But it may be an effective tool in preventing ringworm infections from taking hold in the first place. 

Tea tree oil also has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Because of this, it may: 

  • improve acne3
  • treat dandruff5 (which is likely related to a fungus) when used in shampoo 
  • treat eczema6, possibly better than conventional eczema creams
  • when combined with lavender oil, treat lice eggs4

Note: Never swallow tea tree oil! It can cause serious symptoms when taken internally. So stick to the outside of your body only! 


Lavender Essential Oil

Ah, lavender. The darling of essential oils. The sweet-smelling bringer of relaxation and bliss. 

For thousands of years, purple bursts of lavender have dotted the shrubby, mountainous landscape of the Mediterranean. If you walked into an ancient Roman bathhouse, the aroma of lavender would likely greet your nostrils. King Louis XIV famously loved bathing in lavender-scented water – if only we could send a Platinum Bar back in time to him!

So what are the benefits of this beloved essential oil?

Aromatherapy with lavender can reduce symptoms of anxiety in the short term7,10. One study found that it was as effective at reducing anxiety as a commonly prescribed (but habit-forming) benzodiazepine8. It may also improve sleep quality9

Lavender has shown antiviral activity against herpes simplex virus type 111, a skin infection common in both the general population and in contact sports athletes. It also has antibacterial properties. The essential oil of a particular type of lavender, L. angustifolia, is effective against antibiotic-resistant strains like Staphylococcus aureus (the culprit behind MRSA) and E. coli J53 R111.

Since fungal infections are such a nuisance in the sports we love, we’re interested in lavender essential oil’s antifungal properties. Lavender essential oil is a potent antifungal that may combat skin infections such as ringworm and candida12

Because of its ability to fight viruses and bacteria and possibly to stimulate the immune system, lavender is also used to treat infections in the mouth, throat, and lungs12


Lemongrass Essential Oil

If you’ve had Thai food before, you’ve probably heard of lemongrass. It’s a tall grass that grows in most tropical and subtropical regions. It is named for its sweet, lemony scent.

Lemongrass is more than just a fragrant addition to a delicious meal. It is used to treat digestive problems like nausea and ulcers14. It may help relieve stress and anxiety, as well as lower blood pressure15

Researchers in Australia believe that lemongrass has similar abilities as aspirin and can relieve headaches and migraines16. A compound in lemongrass releases serotonin, which regulates mood, appetite, and cognitive function.

Great news for us athletes – lemongrass essential oil is also antibacterial and antifungal13. It is effective against some drug-resistant bacteria that cause skin infections, pneumonia, blood infections, and intestinal infections17.


Peppermint Essential Oil

Peppermint oil is not just the star ingredient in everyone’s favorite Girl Scouts cookie (Thin Mints, of course). It’s been used medicinally since at least the times of ancient Greece, Rome, and Egypt for digestive issues and other conditions.

Peppermint oil is a safe and effective short-term treatment for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)18. It can relieve tension headaches19 and symptoms of non-ulcer dyspepsia20 (science-speak for upset stomach). It’s also a natural source of menthol, which is the main ingredient in cough drops and products like Vicks Vaporub that relieve congestion.

Peppermint oil packs a punch. It has antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal properties. At least in vitro (using stem cells), it inhibits dreaded mat-borne microbes like MRSA, HSV-1, and the fungi that cause ringworm, among many others21. The antimicrobial benefits of this essential oil make it an excellent ingredient in medicines, soap, and skincare products.


Rosemary Essential Oil

Rosemary is another aromatic herb with Mediterranean roots. It’s used as a food preservative and as a delicious spice. And it has antibacterial, antifungal, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties22 (are you noticing a theme, here?).

Simply breathing in rosemary oil (through a diffuser) may lower anxiety24 and improve memory and concentration23

Applying rosemary oil to the skin may:

  • promote hair growth25
  • relieve pain26
  • repel bugs27
  • increase circulation28


Clove Essential Oil

Clove oil is an antimicrobial titan of the essential oils world. Clove oil can kill staph bacteria. It can even penetrate a biofilm – a group of bacteria living together under the protection of a slimy shield29. Many antibiotics have trouble getting past the biofilm, but clove oil can do it.

Clove oil can stop the growth of many environmental fungi30. One of its major components, eugenol, can stop the growth of the yeast Candida albicans31. This yeast causes athlete’s foot and yeast infections. And clove oil can stop the growth of bacteria that cause pneumonia and influenza32

When applied to the skin, clove oil can help stop chronic itching33.


Cassia Essential Oil

Cassia is cinnamon’s strong, spicy cousin. Cassia oil has been around forever – it’s even one of the few essential oils mentioned in the Old Testament of the Bible. When applied to the skin, cassia oil has a warming effect.

Cassia oil prevents the growth of bacteria, yeast, and fungi. This includes E.coli, Staphylococcus aureus, and some of the dermatophytes that cause ringworm34.

Cassia oil may also fight against viral infections and protect from colds and influenza35.

Aside from its possible antimicrobial abilities, cassia oil may also:

  • soothe menstrual symptoms36
  • relieve arthritis37
  • manage depression38

How to Get the Benefits of Essential Oils

Essential oils have been used medicinally for thousands of years. Some studies show that certain essential oils can fight off the bacteria, fungi, and viruses that cause sickness and infections. More research on humans is needed to figure out exactly how and how much essential oils can help us. But the initial research is promising, and we’ve chosen the essential oils in Spar Soap based on the best available evidence. 

Note: Please talk to your doctor before using essential oils. While there are suggested health benefits in the research, essential oils are not monitored by the FDA for purity or quality.



  1. In vitro activity of Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil against dermatophytes and other filamentous fungi
  2. Tea tree oil in the treatment of tinea pedis
  3. Complementary therapies for acne vulgaris 
  4. Tea tree oil
  5. Treatment of dandruff with 5% tea tree oil shampoo  
  6. Tea tree oil attenuates experimental contact dermatitis 
  7. A Systematic Review on the Anxiolytic Effects of Aromatherapy in People with Anxiety Symptoms
  8. A multi-center, double-blind, randomised study of the Lavender oil preparation Silexan in comparison to Lorazepam for generalized anxiety disorder
  9. Lavender and sleep: A systematic review of the evidence
  10. Influence of lavender oil inhalation on vital signs and anxiety: A randomized clinical trial
  11. Essential Oils as Antimicrobial Agents—Myth or Real Alternative?
  12. Antifungal Properties of Essential Oils and Their Compounds for Application in Skin Fungal Infections: Conventional and Nonconventional Approaches
  13. Antimicrobial activity of lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus) oil against microbes of environmental, clinical and food origin 
  14. Why Using Lemongrass Essential Oil Benefits You
  15. Physiological and Psychological Effects of Lemongrass and Sweet Almond Massage Oil
  16. Isolation of Bioactive Compounds That Relate to the Anti-Platelet Activity of Cymbopogon ambiguus
  17. Antibacterial activity of lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus) oil against some selected pathogenic bacterias
  18. Peppermint Oil for the Treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis
  19. Peppermint oil in the acute treatment of tension-type headache
  20. Peppermint Oil
  21. Peppermint a medicinal herb and treasure of health: A review
  22. Rosemary species: a review of phytochemicals, bioactivities and industrial applications
  23. Plasma 1,8-cineole correlates with cognitive performance following exposure to rosemary essential oil aroma
  24. The effects of lavender and rosemary essential oils on test-taking anxiety among graduate nursing students
  25. Promotion of hair growth by Rosmarinus officinalis leaf extract
  26. Effects of aromatherapy acupressure on hemiplegic shoulder pain and motor power in stroke patients: a pilot study
  27. Mosquito repellent activity of essential oils of aromatic plants growing in Argentina
  28. Cardiovascular effects of 1,8-cineole, a terpenoid oxide present in many plant essential oils, in normotensive rats
  29. Antimicrobial Effect of Clove and Lemongrass Oils against Planktonic Cells and Biofilms of Staphylococcus aureus
  30. Antifungal activity of essential oils against fungi isolated from air
  31. Study of anticandidal activity of carvacrol and eugenol in vitro and in vivo
  32. Antibacterial activity evaluation of selected essential oils in liquid and vapor phase on respiratory tract pathogens
  33. Effectiveness of topical clove oil on symptomatic treatment of chronic pruritus
  34. Antimicrobial activities of cinnamon oil and cinnamaldehyde from the Chinese medicinal herb Cinnamomum cassia Blume
  35. Cinnamon Species
  36. The essential oil from the twigs of Cinnamomum cassia Presl inhibits oxytocin-induced uterine contraction in vitro and in vivo
  37. Antiinflammatory effects of essential oil from the leaves of Cinnamomum cassia and cinnamaldehyde on lipopolysaccharide-stimulated J774A.1 cells
  38. Pharmacological Screening of Cassia grandis Leaves for Antidepressant Activity.