There are records from the Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, and the Europeans of the Middle Ages, all the way through to today in America, India, and Australia, that give testimony to the use and efficacy of essential oils in healing practices. Though spanning eras and vast geography, clinical aromatherapy continues to stay out of the mainstream and in obscurity. Now is the time that this needs to change.
The World Health Organization stated in the Forward of its 2014 Antimicrobial Resistance Report, ”A post-antibiotic era—in which common infections and minor injuries can kill—far from being an apocalyptic fantasy is instead a very real possibility for the 21st century.” The Director of the World Health Organization, Dr. Margaret Chan, started sounding the alarm in 2004 when she stated, “ Resistance could bring the end of modern medicine. ” Even back then she explained that our continued overuse of antibiotics, indeed, interferes with the healing for which they were created. This means that because of overuse, antibiotics are becoming ineffective as bacteria strains are growing resistant to them. I experienced this resistance firsthand when I contracted Lymes Disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever—the prescribed antibiotics had no effect whatsoever. The doctor reported that I had a bacteria strain that was resistant to the antibiotic. I was given no alternative treatment and was told to go home and to treat the symptoms.
Overuse of antibiotics not only occurs because of inappropriate medical practices, but also surfaces amongst meat-eaters as a result of consuming cows, pigs, chickens, and other livestock that have been routinely treated with antibiotics. This unhealthy practice is widespread because the antibiotics enable animals to grow larger and fatter more quickly. Unfortunately, the administration of low doses of antibiotics in animals throughout their life means burgers, steaks, pork chops and broiled chicken come to your dinner table with another dose of antibiotics if the animal has had antibiotics within a certain time frame of slaughter.
The World Health Organization’s plea for the reduction of antibiotic use sounds like a common sense plan, but I also propose the use of aromatherapy’s essential oils as a viable alternative to antibiotics that could effectively reduce the need for antibiotics.
Medicinal essential oils are meticulously steam -distilled volatile oil essences of leaves, flowers, roots, and bark of plants, bushes, and trees. They are powerful, highly concentrated healing agents that have antibacterial, antiviral, and antiseptic properties. It is well known that many of our modern drugs are plant derivatives, such as digitalis from foxglove for heart conditions or derivative of snakeroot for hypertension or derivative of rhododendron for fatigue. Plants are basic to healing. Regarding aromatherapy, which includes application of oils via skin similar to “pain patches,” and ingestion only in certain supervised circumstances, European researchers, particularly from the UK and France, led the way to explore the properties of essential oils for decades.
Now, researchers worldwide, including in the United States, have joined in examining their use. Fifteen years ago, I didn’t know any orthodox medical personnel who used essential oils or alternative measures in their practice. In fact, alternative or natural approaches were regarded as nonsense. Today, I personally know doctors, physical therapists, and nurses, who use essential oil compounds and those who take a wait-and-see stance. Knowledge regarding essential oils is readily available. There are now rigorous aromatherapy programs of study available in the United States where before they were only offered in Europe.
It is usually assumed that aromatherapy is only used for brightening up or calming one’s mood. That’s only scratching the surface as the medical profession looks for alternatives to psychotropic drugs that produce drastic side effects. Many people do not know that essential oils are antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, and antiseptic, some more so than others, and some more specifically effective to certain pathogens than others. Essential oils can aid in the treatment of inflammation and pain of arthritis and fibromyalgia, MS. IBS, intestinal parasites, asthma, pneumonia, cancer, gum abscesses, hot flashes, eczema, dermatitis, lymph congestion, swelling, and dreaded MRSA, to name only a few.
And, oh yes, essential oils treat Lymes disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. I used essential oils as one of the measures to heal myself from Lymes and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever when antibiotics were ineffective due to bacterial resistance to the antibiotics. I also used essential oils to accelerate healing and bring relief from pneumonia 2 winters ago. A friend of mine who is a nurse used essential oils to heal chronic, severe, cellulitis where antibiotics had failed. Another friend who is a family psychotherapist used essential oils to relieve bronchitis. Although these are only four stories, there are thousands of stories like these. In addition to lifestyle changes to focus on boosting immune system effectiveness, surely aromatherapy’s essential oils warrant serious consideration as an alternative to antibiotics.
Do essential oils produce side effects? It is uncommon if allergy to specific plant matter is checked and if used as directed.
Are they cost effective? Yes.
Are some of them toxic? Yes some are, but they are not easily found on the open market.
Is knowledge regarding essential oils readily available? Rigorous professional grade study programs offering certification approved by professional aromatherapy organizations are available.
Can other holistic approaches be used with aromatherapy? Yes.
Can aromatherapy be used alongside allopathic measures? In many cases, yes.
Is consideration of using aromatherapy thinking outside the box? Yes, all the more reason at this time of urgency to consider them.
www.who.int, World Health Organization, 2014 Antimicrobial Resistance Report
Price, S. and L. Price. Aromatherapy for Health Professionals, 2nd Edition, Churchill Livingstone, London, 2003.
Tisserand, R, and T. Balacs. Essential Oil Safety, Churchill Livingstone, London, 2004.
Tisserand, R. The Art of Aromatherapy, Healing Arts Press, Rochester, Vermont, 1977