Essential oils: Medicine or myth?

Essential oils: Medicine or myth?

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Rachel Hatfield uses essential oils every day - for cleaning, sleep, anxiety, immunity support.

“When I first heard about essential oils I was skeptical about them,” she admits. “They’re just some silly fad. Then I started using them and I thought, ‘These actually work.’”

No one in her family gets a flu shot, and she says they don’t get sick because of the natural ingredients in an oregano and orange oil blend that she applies to the spine. So why does she trust these?

“They’re natural, they’re from the earth,” Hatfield says. “God made them.”

Some doctors, Dr. Gailen Marshall is the Chair of Allergy and Immunology at University of Mississippi Medical Center, warn being “natural” doesn’t always equal healing.

''The essential oils business is growing by leaps and bounds," Dr. Marshall says. “It’s predicated on the idea that it’s more natural and therefore more preferable. But that’s not necessarily correct. Water is a very natural substance. You have to have water and drink it correctly and regularly or you’ll die. If you put your face down in enough water and breathe it in, you’ll die as well.”

Is there any clinical evidence that one essential oil can ease a migraine or stress?

“There are studies where people do sleep better when they get certain essential oils,” Dr. Marshall. “People are less likely to have certain maladies. Maybe even their asthma gets better. Is that a direct effect of the oil on the patho-physiology of the asthma or is it because that oil helps that person feel better, more optimistic?”

Dr. Marshall says he practices with an open mind and if a patient brings him an essential oil he’ll test it on their skin. If there are no problems, he won’t stop them from trying it. but he doesn’t suggest oils as a treatment. He does suggest you ask an expert.

“A licensed aromatherapist,” Dr. Marshall suggests. “These individuals have been trained and demonstrated a certain level of expertise. And the good news is they really have no built in prejudice. They’re not a manufacturer’s representative who will automatically push a product line because that person is being paid to sell that product.”

Hatfield is an essential oils representative. She does support traditional medicine, but has found a way to enhance it through essential oils.

“It’s hard to believe something until you try it,” Hatfield says.

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