Caravan Sonnet: the essential oils debate

2/19/15

the essential oils debate

One of the most frequently asked questions that I have received since going public with my various health issues is whether or not I use essential oils. To be frank I avoided the question for a while because my "beginning" journey with essential oils was very rough. I also avoided the topic because I want to be sensitive to everyone's journey in their fight for their health. To give a little background (and perhaps to encourage those who have experienced similar "well-meaning advice") I wanted to share a little bit about my story and give my perspective on the essential oils debate. 

Four years ago (almost to the date) I was driving home from where I was teaching in Georgia to my parents home for a long weekend, talking to one of my best friends when I experienced (on a busy highway) what I thought was a stroke. It was incredibly scary, extremely frightening, and I literally thought I was dying. To be honest, this was one more strange and scary symptom in a list of symptoms that I had begun to experience three years prior to that. (At the time we had no idea that I was fighting Advanced Late Stage Lyme Disease or what my oncologist now believes were the beginning stages of Cancer.) For the next twelve months I lived with worsening and intensifying strange and scary symptoms before being diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia. I started to receive treatment for both of those things in the winter of 2012, but my health, continued to worsen. 

In the summer of 2012 I had two friends who came to visit me in upstate NY. Both of these ladies had been walking the journey of my health with me for a couple of years at that point and one of them mentioned to me that I should start using oils. She was very enthusiastic with her knowledge and had many stories of those healed by oils and truly believed that there was an oil for every single ailment that I was experiencing (and anyone experienced). I have to admit that I was skeptical. By that point in my journey I had started to have allergic reactions to a variety of different things (including new homeopathic treatments I was trying) and I was very nervous to try anything new. (We had no idea that Lyme had caused me to have Mast Cell Disease at this point in the journey, but my sixth sense of knowing that something was very wrong was well-founded.) This lady shared that she really believed that I needed to "release fear and have faith" and use the oils. She had even brought a couple of them with her for me to use. I was grateful for her consideration and thoughtfulness but was still very skeptical. She again encouraged me to "have faith" and so I tried the oils later that evening. I had a reaction (I developed a rash) but decided to not share this because I didn't want to offend this friend. Honestly, I hoped the subject might be dropped so it wouldn't affect our friendship. 

As the months passed and my health worsened and I started going to the hospital for one issue after another my friend continued to encourage me through text messages and Facebook messages to "have faith" and try more oils. Some of the oils that she suggested were a "blend" that included lemon, which I am allergic to. When I shared this, I was once again encouraged to "have faith" and that it would help me. Once, after I had an anaphylactic reaction to rice and had texted my friends asking for prayer because I couldn't stop throwing up in the ER and they couldn't get an IV inserted into a vein, she texted back asking if I "really wanted and believed that I could be healed" and later texted saying, "you should be using oils to be healed". 

To be honest, for a long time, I felt that oils were the cause for the disintegration in our friendship. I now realize that is not the case, there were other issues, BUT for a long time I was annoyed and disgusted with oils. And sadly, I hear that this story that I have shared has happened to a lot of other people in a variety of ways. Sometimes, in the midst of the discussion about oils, those who decide not to try and use them (for many legitimate reasons) are "judged" due to this decision. I literally could share hundreds of stories of emails that I have received on this issue. 

I also could share hundreds of emails that I have received that have stated that if I would just use "this mixture of oils" I would be healed from Lyme Disease and my other health issues. It seems like in recent months there has been an explosion of oil posts, essential oil facebook groups, essential oil meetings, etc. Honestly, everywhere you look someone is talking about oils. 

SO... where do I come down on the debate of essential oils? My personal opinion is that for many people who are "typically" healthy oils can be a safe and natural alternative to taking a bunch of over the counter medicines. Instead of popping a pill, essential oils can provide natural relief that is much better for your body than taking another over the counter medication, but I still encourage everyone to consult with a qualified medical practitioner.

However, on the flip side, I strongly encourage those who are struggling with a chronic illness/serious illness to consult with a physician, a qualified ND, or health practitioner who is familiar with your disease and essential oils. Oils, like herbs or any vitamin or natural supplement, are potent and you want to consult with someone who understands your illness and the oils. Unfortunately (and I think a VERY scary issue) many oil ambassadors (like my well meaning friend I mentioned at the beginning) are not qualified health practitioners and may not understand the complexity of what you are dealing with when handing out oil advice. I can't even begin to count the amount of times I have cringed when reading advice that people are giving when they have absolutely no idea the medical nature of some illness and how oils may affect an individual person. It is very ironic to me because these same people will claim that oils "are very strong, very potent" but don't seem to want to acknowledge the affect that it could have on a seriously ill person. 

Do I think that essential oils can help with certain symptoms and issues? Absolutely. Last year, right after I had fired my original Lyme doctor and before we had found my amazing medical team that I am currently with I was having horrible digestive issues. The year before that my entire digestive system had crashed and it looked like I was headed back down that same route. I asked my best friend (who used oils but had always been incredibly respectful of my health issues and hesitancy) for her advice and to see if there was anything that she would suggest. My best friend did a ton of research for me to come up with some suggestions that I discussed her findings with a couple of medical practitioners that were apart of my team. I started at a VERY low dosage, was diagnosed with Mast Cell Disease (and am receiving treatment) and over the ensuing months (and to this day) I have built up to where I use some of these oils every single day and now I have added a couple of new ones into my daily routine. I have personally found that these oils have made a huge difference in helping my symptoms of Lyme Disease. My routine has not been for the faint of heart because it took over two years to get a "normal persons dosage" on these oils. There are still two oils that I am working up to the correct amount of drops! These oils have helped me avoid taking some over the counter medications, which allows my body to have less toxins going in to it. For this I am so incredibly grateful. I can personally testify that I don't have to use as much pain medication, over the counter medications, etc. As you saw in my daily routine I use oils throughout the day. I have carefully spent time with my medical team devising a schedule where oils will be the most effective for me with my health struggles. 

BUT... and this is a question that I get all of the time by those who know that I use oils... Do I think that oils alone can cure diseases? No. Please listen before I get a ton of emails angry with my response. If you have been around here for any length of time you know that I love the Lord with all of my heart. I truly believe that HE is the great healer and complete healing comes from Him. I also believe that the Lord uses doctors, medical professionals, and many other qualified practitioners here on earth to help us beat horrible diseases like Cancer and Lyme Disease. Believe me, I wouldn't be spending the $1200 a month on vitamins and herbs if I didn't think that they were helping me win this battle. And I certainly wouldn't be asking my best friend to continue to send me oils if I didn't think that they had a purpose. They do... but in all of the research that I have done on Lyme Disease, I can't find one "long-term" success story (by long-term I mean past five years with no relapse). I have found a LOT of short term success stories but no long-term ones. (For clarification I am only discussing stories of those who ONLY used oils and nothing else!)There have been great success stories with oils helping every day ailments so that people can live a more full life. All of this is wonderful, but I cringe when I hear an oil ambassador stating that "oils will heal you of __________" when they have no expertise in the matter and can't back this claim up with long term data. So, to me, oils alone are not the answer. I do believe that oils have helped with other ailments, but I still caution those to do lots of research on this issue. MANY MANY MANY times as you read oil success stories they are accompanied with a complete life style change (i.e. detoxing, food/diet changes, etc.) and oils are one of many helpful things. 

If y'all have been sick or had a friend or loved one with a serious illness then you know that there are often times "hot debates" about how best to treat the illness. Usually it comes down to a three separate groups: (1)- completely all natural, (2) completely all medication/scientific decisions, or (3) an integrative/combined approach. The third group is where I fall in. As you look and read through my blog and read my daily routine you see that I am doing a completely integrative approach and using ALL different things to heal my body and beat this disease. I respect everyone no matter what "group" they fall into on their personal health journey to get well and beat a disease. It is a battle like no other and if you haven't lived it then it is a completely different world. It takes strength you never knew you had and a determination that has to be rock solid. If you know me than you know I often say, "I pray all the time for healing and I fight like crazy to live out those prayers". For me, fighting like crazy is using all available resources and one of those are the oils. For me, the oils allow me to focus NOT on symptoms, but to focus on beating these diseases. If you are a Lymie and are interested in hearing about oils specifically related to Lyme Disease I am going to share my thoughts about that next week!

So there is my humble opinion, about the essential oils debate. *smiles* What about you? What do you think of essential oils? I would love to hear your thoughts on this debate!

{Disclaimer: The information included in "Thursday Health Thoughts" and on this site is for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her health care provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan. Reading the information on this website does not create a physician-patient relationship.}

15 comments:

  1. Beautifully written and will continue to pray for you as your journey continues. We just started oils and are waiting for our kit to arrive :)

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    1. Thank you so much for your kind and encouraging words and for your prayers as I continue this healing journey!! I am so humbled that you stopped by and so grateful for your sweet comment! I am excited for you as you start with oils! I hope and pray that you find them helpful like I have!
      Blessings,
      Rebecca
      p.s. I would have loved to email you back directly but unfortunately you are a "no reply blogger". I look forward to hopefully connecting with you more in the future!

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  2. These are great thoughts and I am so glad that you shared your story with them. Personally, I use some peppermint oil that I bought on Amazon because I get tics for two weeks if I have one dose of a decongestant. But, like you, I feel that the marketing system that is currently in place for selling the oils is harmful because the people doing the suggesting are not trained to deal with the complexities of chronic illness. Like, they can recommend things for dealing with cold symptoms, but they can't cure anything.
    I would go one step further and say that I think that the multi-level marketing that the major companies use encourages predatory selling practices. If they were just available for sale, that would be one thing, but the incentives that they use to get salespeople to push the oils turns well meaning people into predators of the chronically ill. Most people who have been sick for a long time have tried a lot of health fads and already have depleted financial resources. It breaks my heart when I read that someone with a terrible disease is spending their small disability income on essential oils. They aren't covered by insurance and so many other things that are a higher priority aren't, either.
    Dave Ramsey had a wonderful post about essential oils where he talked about making sure you budgeted for them--I had to think he was implying that you should not waste your money, because the post was gone when I went to look for it the next day. I would hate because he got backlash from people who sell it. Because, I also can't even count how many people try to sell them to me. It's a big joke in our house. We quite frequently make fun them. Have you seen "spoonie bingo"? I would add a spot for someone trying to sell you essential oils and asking if you've tried yoga!
    I think you did a good thing by working with your doctors! I was concerned when I looked some of them up and saw that they could make medications not work, increase blood pressure, etc. And people like me, but with actually less experience being sick, are pushing them on people who are already paying tons of money for the other parts of being sick.
    They have a time and a place because I certainly know all too well the horrible side effects of going off of medications, trying new ones out, etc., but they really ought to come at the suggestion of a doctor or with a doctor's help. (I'm all for bringing treatment ideas to doctors!)

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    1. Sarah, Thank you so much for your thoughtful and sweet comment. Thank you so much for the encouragement as I shared my personal story on this topic! I LOVE how you stated, "I feel that the marketing system that is currently in place for selling the oils is harmful because the people doing the suggesting are not trained to deal with the complexities of chronic illness." SO beautifully stated lady! I LOVE this.

      I ALSO agree with you about the fact that a lot of the major companies encourage predatory selling practices. Lots of times many of the ambassadors do "attack" chronically ill people in the hopes of a sale/ or even in the best of intentions. Unfortunately, this is something that is harmful and so sad. My heart also breaks at the fact that MOST of the chronically ill people that I know have spent so much money to get well and sometimes shell out even more money (that they don't have) in hopes that this will work. Sometimes these things do help those that are chronically ill but I truly believe it takes a team of people willing to do research (which most of us that are chronically ill are to tired to do!) and compassion and understanding as people work with doctors.

      I am going to be sharing in a future post about one of the best ways that I have been "approached" and share some tips with those that truly want to help those that are chronically ill but are not sure how to go about it. This happened to me a couple of months ago and I was BLOWN away by the ladies compassion, understanding, and time that she had spent to approach me about her product. It was BEAUTIFULLY done! I can't wait to share!!

      Love everything that you shared here! Thank you so much for taking the time to write such a sweet and thoughtful approach!!
      Sending love and hugs across the internet,
      Rebecca :)

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    2. All of this. Exactly. These companies train often well meaning sales people to attack, shame, blame, and bully the chronically ill who are often desperate for a solution, all under the claim that they are trying to help. It is very frustrating, especially with essential oils, because they absolutely have their place and i would love to find a distributor that refuses these practices. I won't give predatory companies my money anymore. Thank you for sharing.

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  3. At the end of the day, whether you/people use oils are not, God is the ultimate healer. We LOVE our oils and I love educating people on them, because they are all natural, etc and we are using them for fertility, but at the end of the day it's going to be God that brings our baby, not the oils!

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    1. Hi friend! I definitely agree with you about God being the ultimate healer which is definitely why I made that point in the post! I definitely believe that God is behind ALL of our healing not anyone thing/product. I am so glad that you have found help and are educating people about what you learned about essential oils. I know for me, like I mentioned, oils have definitely been a helpful answer to prayer for treating my symptoms as I fight Lyme and other health issues. So glad that the oils are helping you and I am so thankful for the help that it has brought me with treating symptoms as I fight these diseases!!

      I hope that you are having a wonderful day!
      Blessings,
      Rebecca :)

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  4. Thank you for sharing your story. I am new to this whole “essential oils” craze and it was very helpful to read your post about how it helped/didn’t help you with your health. I hope you love your new team and have found a treatment that alleviates those symptoms! I am fortunate to have found your blog on The Peony Project and look forward to following your journey :)

    Kelly
    www.theprimarilyinspired.com

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    1. Kelly, Thank you so much for stopping by and for your incredibly sweet comment. Thank you so much for stopping by and taking the time to comment! I am so excited to connect with you more!! I just discovered your blog through comment and am excited to now follow along! :)
      Blessings,
      Rebecca :)
      p.s. I would have loved to email you back directly but unfortunately you are a "no reply blogger". I look forward to hopefully connecting with you more in the future!

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  5. Great post! I've been thinking a lot about essential oils as well. I am so thankful for modern medicine, but I also like the idea of doing something natural. I'm working on finding a family doctor who is open to alternative medicines like essentail oils and chiropractic care.

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    1. Aww thank you so much Bailey for stopping by and for your comment! I agree with you completely- I am so thankful for the age that we live in and for modern medicine (although I hope and pray that the treatment of Lyme Disease changes and is more modernized in years to come!!) but love natural products. For years I have had a Naturopath doctor (an ND) and also have a wonderful OD. I will be praying that you find a doctor who you feel is a wonderful fit for you!! :) I know that there are several great websites for finding doctors like this if you can't find any referrals for your area I am happy to pass them on to you! :)

      I hope that you have a wonderful evening! Thank you so much for stopping by and for your sweet comment!
      Blessings,
      Rebecca :)

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  6. I am a complete newbie to oils, but have decided to use them in my daily routine to help with symptoms from a rare neurological disorder that I have. I'll be having brain surgery in 6 weeks and will also integrate oils in my recovery phase. If nothing else, I hope they can help with the anxiety and stress that dealing with all this medical stuff produces hahha! :)

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    1. Becky, Thank you so much for stopping by! I am SO very sorry to hear of your health struggles and also that you are facing surgery in just a few short weeks. My prayers are with you during this incredibly difficult time. I am so sorry. I love that you have chosen to use oils to help with the anxiety and stress of dealing with all of the medical stuff! Dealing with medical issues can definitely produce a lot of stress doesn't it? I hope that you find help and relief with oils during this time. My prayers are with you - please keep me updated on how things are going.

      Blessings,
      Rebecca :)
      p.s. I would have loved to email you back directly but unfortunately you are a "no reply blogger". I look forward to hopefully connecting with you more in the future!

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  7. I have just started using essential oils with my family. I was greatly impressed with how well some of them worked, but for my husbands case it ended up that they were simply masking the symptoms and not actually treating the cause. If he uses them the symptoms dissapear, but when he stops the symptoms are back. I do think essential oils do a lot of good, but like you said they are not the answer for every single disease/sickness in the world.

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    1. Rebekah,

      Thank you so much for taking the time to stop by the blog and leave your comment!! I appreciate you sharing your story. From the post, you obviously know that I am totally with everything that you said *smiles* but I think it is so important to share these stories so that others do know how oils are so helpful to so many people and yet at the same time can sometimes only help with symptoms. Thank you so much again for taking the time to leave a comment and share your story!!

      Blessings,
      Rebecca :)
      p.s. I would have loved to email you back directly but unfortunately you are a "no reply blogger". I look forward to hopefully connecting with you more in the future!

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