Essential Oils Versus Standard Medical Practice

By Jill Birt, RN, RYT, doTERRA advocate – February 28, 2019


Healthcare advances have moved medical professionals toward the realization that there is not a one-size-fits-all practice. Treating the individual matters. Every day new research sources new wisdom on alternative and long-practiced treatment options. Often these ideas either replace or complement current medical practices. It is a privilege to be living in a time when we have an abundance of options available to individualize how we manage our health needs. 

However, the difference between home remedies and doctor-prescribed treatment can make it difficult to find a happy medium. With this abundance of choices, which options should one choose? 

As you might expect, the answer mostly lies within the individual. The differences in individual choice are vast. Our American healthcare system has sought balance between those who utilize emergency rooms in search of treatment for a common cold and those who avoid doctors and hospitals entirely  — even when experiencing serious conditions and discomfort. When a person has an ailment, their choice of treatment is often guided by countless personal factors including individual beliefs, programmed practices, financial opportunity, trusting relationships, past experiences, relationships with healthcare providers, personal knowledge and inquiry and familiarity.

What are essential oils?

Understanding what essential oils are and what they can do is the first step to understanding when and how they should be used in conjunction with or instead of modern Western medication. Essential oils are just recently gaining popularity in the United States, but they have been used to support health and wellbeing in many cultures for over 1,000 years. 

An essential oil is one of the many chemical constituents which make up the protective support system of a plant. The properties of each essential oil are individual to the needs of the plant. These compounds can be found in the leaves, roots, stems, seeds, flowers, bark, resin and rinds of plants and fruits.  An enjoyed benefit of essential oils lies in the carbon-based similarity between humans and plants. This commonality allows essential oils to support the body at a cellular level with little to no side effects when used properly. 

A great way to utilize essential oils is for common ailments that would typically be cared for at home. For example, the antiseptic property of Melaleuca (tea tree oil) makes it a great choice for cuts and wounds. The first and most important step is to use oils from a company with sound and ethical sourcing practices including transparency and measured quality standards. Companies holding reputable standards of practice extract essential oils via steam distillation or a cold-pressed method. When using an essential oil to support a healthcare need, these properties offer a guide to choosing which oil best fits the need. This ensures a clean, high-quality, therapeutic-grade essential oil. Follow the recommended usage guidelines regarding safety, dosage, dilution and methods of usage just as you would a prescribed or over-the-counter medication.

Making the shift 

When does one start implementing essential oils into their lifestyle and choosing them instead of drugs for various ailments? One example would be to use peppermint oil to treat a headache rather than acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Lavender for a bug bite rather than an antihistamine cream. Roman Chamomile for sleep troubles in place of an OTC sedative. Essential oils can also provide great support to individual emotional needs. Citrus oils are energizing and uplifting and can be a nice alternative to caffeine or energy drinks. Vetiver oil supports a feeling of being rooted or grounded and therefore can offer support to those who often have difficulty with concentration or anxious feelings. 

Another way to use essential oils is for preventative support.  Research studies have found essential oils such as frankincense can support cellular health and the immune system. When environmental threats are high, essential oils can be utilized to boost the body’s natural defense systems. It is well-known that stress can be very taxing to the immune system and studies also have shown that using aromatherapy (which contains essential oils) can reduce stress. 

It’s all about the individual

So, how does one go about making the decision to use an essential oil instead of a standard medical treatment for any given condition? Again, we go back to the individual experience.  Depending on the circumstance, those who commonly use essential oils may feel comfortable using them along with close observation and measure of improvement of symptoms, while others may choose to follow a more mainstream practice with standard medical care. 

The choice to use an essential oil often coincides with experience and comfort level. Someone who is interested in more natural remedies but is unfamiliar with essential oils could begin by using an oil in place of a traditional choice of treatment. When choosing to compliment essential oils with standard practice, it is helpful to seek out providers who are knowledgeable in alternative treatment options. Essential oils can be used in conjunction with other care choices, but it is always a good idea to consult with a healthcare provider when doing so. As always, if a health situation is serious or life-threatening, advanced or emergency medical attention should be sought.  


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