Making Room for Essential Oils
What an exciting time to be involved with essential oils and modern medicine! The culture of medicine is changing. Traditionally, this has been a paternalistic culture, where a patient goes to the doctor and is told what to do. This model is episodic and reactive. It has been called “the hero approach, where the physician is the only source of knowledge, education, and decision making and everyone else is there to support the physician.” (“Building a Team Based Medical Practice,” Medical Economics, Sept. 10, 2013). The culture is now moving toward a patient-centered, team approach focused on the health of the patient.
The team may consist of a counselor, an acupuncturist, a chiropractor, a physician, a health coach, a Wellness Advocate, etc., all surrounding the patient. This structure places the patient as the leader of a team of people interested in maintaining and treating his or her health. The responsibility now rests on the patient—its rightful place. For decades, physicians shouldered the lion’s share of responsibility for their patients’ health with limited success. But patients and doctors are discovering a better way.
Options to Choose
So why is this exciting? As patients and consumers of health care, we can decide for ourselves what advice we will take and from whom. We can decide what prescriptions we will fill from our doctor’s office and what alternatives we would like to explore. As we take advice from each member of our team, we can assimilate that information and decide what we will and will not do. This does not mean that we become like irresponsible children and begin to think that some members of our team have no value. Rather, it means that we weigh advice and research options, leading us to make insightful decisions regarding our own health.
Essential oils are an obvious part of those choices. My own experience with essential oils started as many of yours did. My wife and I enjoy watching movies with our five children. One night she had her head on my chest and could hear my heart beating in an irregular rhythm. This greatly concerned her. I promised that I would have one of my colleagues thoroughly look into this symptom and make sure that this was not going to be a problem for me. After going through several episodes of testing, I was diagnosed with a common irregularity which, thankfully, would not shorten my life. My wife had been doing her own research and suggested one night that I apply Ylang Ylang oil to my chest and feet before we watched a movie together. I was amazed at how quickly I felt my heart assume a normal rhythm and maintain that for 6–8 hours. I knew then that these oils had the power to alter the physiology of the body. There are times when seeing a physician is the appropriate choice, but often we can maintain our health with educated application, inhalation, or consumption of these amazing gifts of the Earth. Education about our bodies and essential oils can help us determine which choice is right in which circumstance. I also firmly believe that we all have the gift of intuition when it comes to our body.
Role of Essential Oils
As a family medicine physician, I am grateful to have more to offer my patients than just pharmaceuticals. I have found essential oils to be effective for their health and wellness. Education in essential oils has led me to recommend them to patients with increasing frequency. As I study doTERRA essential oils and blends and avail myself of the ever increasing volume of literature about them, I am continually amazed at the properties possessed by these plants. The depth and breadth of the chemistry within a single oil is mind-blowing! We have just uncovered the tip of the iceberg in understanding what these oils have the ability to give us.
I am often asked by my colleagues in medicine why I feel comfortable recommending therapies that come from plants. As I have begun looking into natural health, I have found many plant derived medicines that are commonly used. Most physicians prescribe medications such as Colchicine for gout, Digoxin for congestive heart failure, and Scopolamine patches for sea or motion sickness. All of these are plant-derived compounds. The list of prescription medications that come from plants is long and varied. Therefore, most practitioners of traditional western medicine are already prescribing plant derived medications on a daily basis. The gap is not as wide as we may have imagined and, as physicians, we need to take that small step of utilizing all the resources available to us, including essential oils. I am confident in the standards that doTERRA has established and am anxious to learn more about the research and application of essential oils.
Dr. Brannick Riggs has been practicing medicine for 13 years. In 2001, he graduated from the University of Arizona College of Medicine in Tucson while receiving some of his training in complementary and alternative medicine. He specializes in family medicine and is a member of the American Academy of Family Physicians. He currently practices in Utah and enjoys using the oils in his home and integrating them into his practice to bless the lives of his patients. Dr. Riggs is partnering with doTERRA in an effort to provide volunteer service with essential oils and hospice.