Essential Oils Can’t Treat Lyme Disease

Why garlic isn’t better than antibiotics

Gideon M-K; Health Nerd


Pictured: Less effective than antibiotics

Essential oils* are a perennial favourite as an alternative to conventional medicine. Maybe it’s because they smell nice — I personally love lavender — or maybe it’s because we love the idea that you can replace expensive drugs with a few drops of oil and some positive thinking.

Either way, essential oils have been promoted as a treatment for everything from anxiety to cancer, and most things in between.

Pictured: Literally magic

In the latest of these claims, media everywhere is reporting that essential oils are even more powerful than previously claimed. Not only can they cure cancer**, they can get rid of Lyme disease. They’re even more effective than antibiotics!

Sounds like a win for alternative medicine.

Except, of course, they can’t. There’s still no evidence that essential oils are an effective treatment for Lyme disease, or really any other health issue.

Scientific Silliness

The most recent study that’s making headlines was what’s known as a preclinical piece of research. What this means is that scientists were testing out the basic science behind some treatments, before they take it to actual living things, just to see if the ideas hold up.

What they did is fairly simple: they took a bunch of petri dishes containing the bacteria that causes Lyme disease, added some essential oils in solution, and checked back a few days later to see what happened. The effective treatments were the ones that “sterilized” the dishes, or in other words killed off all of the bacteria.

Pictured: Preclinical research

Yes, you read that right. The study that caused some media publications to label essential oils more effective than antibiotics in the treatment of Lyme disease was essentially squirting some liquid onto cells in a dish.