How Essential Oils & Aromatherapy Helped Me Balance Life With a Chronic Illness

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When I was first diagnosed with MS (Multiple Sclerosis), I didn’t have much hope. To be honest, there’s not much hope in the world of MS. Just like with many other chronic diseases, the future is uncertain. On the typical interferon medications, you could stay the same or get progressively worse,
but no one really knows which of those fates will be yours.

 

I knew early on that I wanted to find alternative treatments for chronic illnesses like mine — even though I decided to take the recommended medication. I talked to my doctor about adding therapies like essential oils and aromatherapy to my treatment regimen and he was completely on board. (It’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor before trying any new treatment.)

 

My first attempt was with aromatherapy, and I must say, I was a bit skeptical. So you should know that the praises I’m about to sing are coming from a former skeptic. But don’t worry. I’m not about to tell you that I cure MS with essential oils. This isn’t a sensationalized story. What I will tell you is that
I saw an obvious improvement in some of my symptoms after adding aromatherapy and essential oils to my routine.

How to Use Essential Oils and Aromatherapy

Before I go further on the ways you can use essential oils and specific essential oils I recommend, I have a few warnings for you. First, you should never ingest essential oils. Because they are so potent, they aren’t meant to be consumed – even if you might read the contrary somewhere on the interwebs. Be safe and don’t consume these oils.

Secondly, some essential oils can be applied to the skin, but you should always use a carrier oil before doing so. It’s important to reduce the potency of the oil before it touches your skin. And even with a carrier oil, you should test a small patch of skin before spreading the mixture on your body. Some oils are more potent than others, and you may have a sensitivity. It’s better to be safe.

Finally, be careful about using essential oils around children. Kids’ systems are more sensitive than our own, and they’re more likely to have a reaction. Peppermint, thyme and ylang-ylang, for example, are three common essential oils that could prompt negative effects in children.

In addition to applying essential oils to the skin with a carrier oil, they can also be diffused into the air with the use of a diffuser.

Some essential oils are best used topically. In fact, the most common use for essential oils is topical. But it’s very important to mix the essential oil with a carrier oil to avoid skin irritation. You may apply the oils to the crown of your head, behind the ears, to your neck and at the temples. You may also use essential oils mixed with a carrier oil for a relaxing massage.

And if you’ve ever been to a spa, you know the beauty of inhaling diffused essential oils. Diffusing essential oils simply gives a stronger olfactory experience, which results in a quick dose of the oil’s natural chemical constituents into the bloodstream. Most practitioners choose the diffusing method when treating emotional and neurological issues, and they’ll use a topical application to treat issues that are more physically rooted.

 

 

Peppermint

Nausea is one of those weird MS symptoms that you never forget about. For me, it comes out of nowhere like a sucker punch, and I feel like I’ve come down with a stomach virus. I don’t get it often (thankfully), but when I do, it can border on debilitating. And since I can’t exactly take off of work every time I get a symptom, I had to find a solution.

As I was researching essential oils, I came across a study that gave me hope. A Journal of Holistic Nutrition study found that peppermint aromatherapy significantly lowered nausea levels of women who just had C-sections.

“Hey, if it works for them,” I thought, “Maybe it could work for me.” So, I created a mixture of peppermint essential oil and jojoba oil and kept it in my desk at work. At the first signs of nausea, I’d dab some on my wrists and inhale. Almost instantly, I noticed my nauseous feelings getting better. I think it also improved my focus at work.

Chamomile Essential Oil

Depression is a common side effect of many chronic illnesses, and mine is no exception. Fortunately, I found relief in a somewhat surprising place.

You may think of sleepy time tea when you hear the word ‘chamomile’ (I certainly did), but it’s good for more than just sleep. A Journal of Advanced Nursing study found that postnatal women who drank chamomile tea saw improvements in sleep and symptoms of depression. But as you might expect, these benefits are not immediate, so you have to keep drinking the tea to get the results.

But that’s chamomile tea. You’re probably wondering what that has to do with essential oils and aromatherapy.

Well, an Evidence-Based Complementary Alternative Medicine study shows similar results. The study found that chamomile aromatherapy shows promise as an independent nursing intervention for reducing anxiety levels and improving sleep in patients with percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI). Chamomile is one of the gentlest essential oils and is often blended with carrier oils and used in massage therapy. Use it topically or throughout the day in a diffuser.

Frankincense Essential oil

Brain fog is one of my least favorite symptoms because I feel like it messes with my identity. I like to think of myself as a relatively smart guy, but my chronic illness takes that away from me at times. Sometimes, I have trouble remembering even the simplest things – and it’s embarrassing.

But when I put some frankincense into a diffuser, I find it easier to concentrate and remember those annoying little things that we all tend to take for granted. A rodent study published in Avicenna Journal of Phytomedicine found that frankincense may have the potential to improve symptoms of dementia, including short-term memory.

At this point, I’ve been using essential oils for about three years. It has worked for me. And if you’re suffering from symptoms of any chronic illness, it may work for you too.

 

 

 

Trevor McDonald is a freelance content writer who has a passion for writing. He’s written a variety of education, travel, health, and lifestyle articles for many different companies. In his free time, you can find him running with his dog, playing his guitar or outside enjoying about any type of fitness activity imaginable.

 

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Disclaimer: The statements made on this page have not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). They are not intended to diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. If a condition persists, please contact your physician or healthcare provider. The information provided is not a substitute for a face-to-face consultation with a healthcare provider, and should not be construed as medical advice.

 

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