Essential Oils in Medical Treatment
At Tupelo Pointe, we use essential oils as part of a comprehensive treatment program. Essential oils and aromatherapy can really augment your road to optimal health. Sign up for a class in one of our monthly series or a consultation with Dr. Wang to see how you can benefit from using aromatherapy in your life.
Tupelo Pointe Healing Arts offers classes on essential oils and aromatherapy. The classes are offered based on topics and use of essential oils. Past classes have included essential oils use for general health, immune system health. Up coming classes include essential oils use for weight loss, detox, recovery, muscle and joint pain.
Classes cost $15 and include samples of introduced essential oils for you to take home and trial as taught in class. Stay tuned and check back regularly for new class posting.
Essential oils are highly distilled volatile organic compounds from plants. These mixtures contain almost 300 naturally occuring simple and complex chemicals that can aid in the treatment of a variety of conditions.
Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils from plants as therapy to improve physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being.
Many people think of aromatherapy as part of a spa or beauty treatment. However, medical aromatherapy is common in Europe, where some physicians may prescribe and use the oils therapeutically as part of complementary medical care. Aromatherapy may be combined with other complementary treatments as well as with standard treatments for symptom management.
To find out more, read more or schedule an appointment with Dr. Wang or take one of our monthly classes.
Essential oils can be directly inhaled from a bottle, cloth or palm of the hand.
Absorption of essential oils by the nose is can be as fast as an intravenous injection. Some essential oils are so volatile that it is best to inhale them directly.
In low concentrations, inhalation of these oils are normally safe for most people. Safety testing of essential oils have shown they have few negative side effects, when used as directed.
The absorption of essential oils through the skin is slower, because some of their chemical compounds need to pass through the fat layers under the skin and may even get stored there.
Tea tree oil is effective in the treatment for acne as part of a comprehensive treatment program. Oral peppermint oil helps with irritable bowel syndrome and constipation. Topically and inhaled peppermint oil can be used for congestion, headaches and muscle pain,
Oral essential oils can be used to treat a variety of medical conditions. Extreme caution needs to be taken with oral use as this can lead to toxicity.
Enteric-coated capsules containing diluted peppermint oil is used to treat IBS, chemo-induced nausea. Tea tree oil can be used to treat chronic cystitis.
Aromatherapy may work by sending chemical messages to the part of the brain that affects moods and emotions. There are different theories about how aromatherapy and essential oils work. A leading theory is that smell receptors in the nose may respond to the smells of essential oils by sending chemical messages along nerve pathways to the brain's limbic system, which affects moods and emotions.
Imaging studies and EEG studies in humans show that smells affect the limbic system and its emotional pathways. Behavior is affected by odors. In a recent study published in Nature, mice behavior is documented to be affected by odor.
Studies show that essential oils have antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal effects
- Many studies of essential oils have found that they have antibacterial effects when applied to the skin.
- Some essential oils have antiviral activity against the herpes simplex virus.
- Others have antifungal activity against certain vaginal and oropharyngeal fungal infections.
One study showed that after essential oils were inhaled, markers of the fragrance compounds were found in the bloodstream, suggesting that aromatherapy affects the body directly like a drug, in addition to indirectly through the central nervous system.
Wormwood can shorten the course of upper respiratory illnesses.
One study showed the effectiveness of tea tree oil and geranium were effective in the treatment of MRSA.
A recent meta-analysis in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine showed that essential oils are safe and effective in the treatment of insomnia.
A 2012 Cochrane review showed with massage with essential oils is effective for the medium and long term alleviation of pain.
Caution about Essential Oils
Aromatherapy is not regulated by state law, and there is no licensing required to practice aromatherapy in the United States. Professionals often combine aromatherapy training with another field in which they are licensed, for example, massage therapy, registered nursing, acupuncture, or naturopathy. Some aromatherapy courses for healthcare providers offer medical credit hours and include conducting research and measuring results.
The National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (www.naha.org) and the Alliance of International Aromatherapists (www.alliance-aromatherapists.org) are two organizations that have national educational standards for aromatherapists. The National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA) plans to have a standard aromatherapy certification in the United States. There are many schools that offer certificate programs approved by NAHA. A list of these schools can be found at http://www.naha.org/schools_level_one_two.htm. National exams in aromatherapy are held twice a year.
Essential oils should be used with caution or under the advisement of a medical professional or certified aromatherapist.
In a 2012 systematic review published in the International Journal of Risk & Safety in Medicine, adverse effects were reported to range from mild to severe, including one fatality. The most common adverse effect was dermatitis. Lavender, peppermint, tea tree oil and ylang-ylang were the most common essential oils responsible for adverse effects.
Some oils mimic the female hormone estrogen. This may have unwanted effects on males. Lavender oil and tea tree oil may cause enlarged breast tissue in prepubertal boys. Read the study here.
Some oils may cause skin irritation or allergic reactions, so people should test sensitivity to an oil on a small patch of skin before they begin to use an oil more broadly.
Citrus oils when applied to the skin can increase sun sensitivity so sunblock should be used or direct sun exposure should be avoided.
Essential oils may not be safe for pregnant women.
Some essential oil blends have high potency and it is important that these blends are used carefully. Only a few drops of a diluted form of essential oils should be applied to the skin. Unless they are diluted, essential oils can irritate the skin.