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SALT LAKE CITY — While medical standards in the United States have long been based around the philosophies of Western medicine, many people are relying more on Eastern medical practices. This is due to both the cost of Western medicine and personal beliefs.
Western medicine includes all medical treatments related to hospitals, doctors, medication, surgery, etc. Essential oils fit into the category of Eastern medicine, which also includes treatments such as aroma therapy, hypnosis, acupuncture, etc.
If you are going to use essential oils, there are some things you need to be aware of. First, you should read about and study the oils to learn what they are and when they should be used. You also need to know how they will affect your own body: Everyone has a different chemical makeup, so what works for one will not necessarily work for another.
The pros of essential oil use:
- Essential oils have been found to be effective in treating ailments such as mild anxiety and work well as early intervention for the common cold.
- The oils are very helpful in treating minor medical conditions (such as acne) by helping a patient to avoid more invasive care.
- Essential oils vary in cost, but are usually fairly inexpensive.
- When using essential oils, remember that less is more: to get the desired effect of the oil, you will only need to use it in very small amounts.
The cons of essential oil use:
- Essential oils can cause allergies and skin irritations. It’s also important to note that they should never be used directly from the container onto your skin; they need to be diluted.
- If you are pregnant, you should not use essential oils unless recommended and monitored by your medical provider.
- Some oils can interfere with other medications you are taking, so consult your doctor before using any essential oils.
- Children should never be allowed near essential oils. They are very toxic and poisonous to children, and there usually is no antidote.
- If you use essential oils too frequently, they can become toxic to your body chemistry.
- Essential oils are extremely flammable.
- Essential oils should only be used by someone who is trained, not someone who read about the oil and decided it will work for them.
In general, most nurses feel that a holistic approach to health care is the best: not too much Western medicine and not too much Eastern medicine. One is not more effective than the other, and you’ll find often find the best approach to wellness when the two work together.
Suzanne Carlile, "Nurse Suzy," has been a nurse since 1982. Her main focus is critical care and nursing education. She holds a master's degree in nursing, is a Certified Emergency Nurse, and a member of NNSDO Intermountain West Chapter.