Essential Oils Are Not Like Medicine

It’s not that simple.

You all hate it when I say that about essential oils, but it’s true. While essential oils have a therapeutic effect on the body, they are not medicine and they don’t behave like medicine. They do not have one simple action. They have many, and they are complicated.

Valerie Ann Worwood talks a lot about this. We can take the main constituents of essential oils and create them in a lab, mix them together and technically have an essential oil, but it will not behave the same way as an essential oil.

We can take linalool, linalyl acetate, lavendulyl acetate and throw it together and call it lavender, but that will not heal the skin. It will not heal burns or wounds. It will not have antibacterial properties or down regulate the nervous system.

Why? First, because there are more than just a few constituents in an essential oil. And most importantly, because there’s something more complex and more intelligent found in the plant.

Scientists cannot recreate it.

Essential Oils & Medicine

What does that have to do with medicine? Well, people ask all the time: I have this problem, what should I NOT use? Or what should I avoid? Great question since you’re probably concerned about drug interactions.

And the answer is: it’s not that simple. Drugs are typically single component compounds. Because they are single compounds, they are easy to trace as they move through the metabolic system. But essential oils are complex compounds with multiple components. When they hit the bloodstream, they break out and disperse through the body as individual components.

Those individual components do a multitude of things, but they also work together in a synergistic way. This is why you can’t pin down an essential oil to say it does one thing, the way a medicine does. It doesn’t work in a straight line.

It’s also why it’s incredibly difficult to say what drug interactions it might have. The huge variety of mechanisms means it could interact in a variety of ways: it could affect gut flora or motility, or compete for binding sites, or induce or inhibit enzymes, or none of those things at all. Information is pretty scarce on what essential oils do, and the complexity of their nature makes it difficult to discern. We know that may occur here, but it doesn’t mean it will.

I know you hate it, but it’s not that simple. A + B does not equal C in aromatherapy.

We must adopt a more rounded view. Physicians and health care professionals and educators must adopt a more rounded view. It is why we need to stop creating fear around essential oils and aromatherapy.

Because a thing may occur doesn’t mean it will occur. It doesn’t mean it will act that way in your body. It doesn’t mean it will do it every time. Why? Because it’s not that simple.

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