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Essential oils: heal or hype?

28 February 2015

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- -

Essential oils may come inside tiny bottles but their healing properties are enormously powerful, according to their countless users.

"Rub it right where it hurts," said Hailey Fender.

 

Fender rubs them on her skin, swallows some diluted in water and diffuses others in the air.

She turned to oils about five years after she was thrown from a car in a horrible accident.

 

"I had a broken neck, both my lungs were collapsed, my back, my whole leg [suffered] compound fractures, lungs collapsed. I was fighting for my life when I woke up," Hailey Fender, Uses Essential Oils

 

Underneath all the scars crisscrossing her body are plates and screws from her ankles all the way up to her neck.

 

Hailey uses frankincense for pain, peppermint for nausea, and joy for anxiety. "I feel immensely better since I've been using oils," Fender explained.

 

More and more people like Hailey are turning to essential oils hoping to find relief for just about any ailment: ADHD, arthritis, migraines, and even varicose veins.

While they're all the rage, there's nothing new age about essential oils.

 

They're derived from plants, trees, leaves, and resins; their medicinal use dates back thousands of years. "What was one of the gifts that was brought to the Christ child: frankincense, myrrh," said Ren Wilson.

 

Certified holistic health coach Ren Wilson cautions, though, not all oils are created equal.

 

"Who's marketing you…a pretty looking product and who really has an understanding of the growth of that plant, the soil that it's growing in, the way it's harvested, the way it's distilled, the way it's treated in the manufacturing process," Wilson explained.

 

A good place to start is to make sure the oils are all natural; synthetic ones, Wilson warned, could actually be dangerous.

Many oils need a carrier oil to dilute them so they're safe for your skin and not all oils can be ingested, which is why Ren said it's important to your homework.

 

Advocates are sold on the benefits but do they really work?

While conventional medicine is tested, studied and its efficacy usually proven, Dr. Lance Luria said that doesn't mean there isn't a place for alternative methods, including essential oils.

 

"It's not a stretch to say, well, maybe these plants have value. And if their potential for harm is minimal and there's enough anecdotal or some studies that indicate a potential benefit, why wouldn't you try it," said Dr. Lance Luria, a Mercy physician who is board certified in both internal and integrative medicine,

 

The decision to try it is one Hailey will never look back on. "This is my way to go," she said.

 

Though she admits, she will always be on some prescribed medications because the wreck she was in left her with serious life-long injuries.

 

Still, she believes she reaps enough benefits from her essential oils to continue using them every day. "I would have to say it's a real affect because I've seen the changes in me."

 

The cost of essential oils ranges anywhere from a few dollars to more than $150 a bottle, but most are in the $20 to $30 range; much of the price depends on the brand and the type of oil.

 

Before starting essential oils, be sure to check with your doctor.  

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