Insightsthe blog of Porter Hills
Using Essential Oils to Manage Symptoms
Watch the WZZM 13 on Your Side Senior Wellness Segment on this topic.
Sara Lowe, Executive Director
In recent years, essential oils have grown in popularity, and their use has also increased in healthcare settings as an alternative method to treat symptoms. They offer a unique approach to alleviating symptoms such as pain, anxiety, and stress, particularly for hospice patients.
What are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are natural, aromatic compounds found in the bark, seeds, stems, roots, and flowers of plants. They are obtained through steaming or pressing the peels, petals, and other parts of a plant. Essential oils range from fruits such as lemon and orange, to flowers like lavender and rose, to warm spices such as frankincense and patchouli.
Essential oils have been used for centuries in many different cultures around the world to benefit the mind, body, and spirit. They saw a resurgence of personal use in the 1970s due to an increased desire to complement modern Western medicine. Sometimes called aromatherapy, the use of essential oils has become a popular option for those seeking treatment in place of or alongside pharmacological options, as they have very few side effects or risks when used appropriately. Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils are recommended, be sure to read the labels.
The Many Benefits of Essential Oils
Essential oils can be used to promote relaxation, reduce pain, and improve feelings of well-being. Studies have shown essential oils to be particularly effective in improving the memory of those with cognitive issues and reducing nausea in cancer patients. Certain oils or a combination of oils are also particularly helpful in addressing the following symptoms:
- Acute pain
- Appetite concerns
- Lack of energy
- Memory loss
Using Essential Oils in a Clinical Setting
Essential oils are slowly becoming more available in various clinical settings, including in hospice care, where patients may have many symptoms that would benefit from this therapy. In the hospice setting, essential oils are often used through inhalation and topically, where there are the most benefits with the fewest side-effects. For example, a hospice social worker may diffuse lavender oil into the air using a diffuser before bedtime to help a patient relax. Or they may apply a small amount of lemon oil to a felt lapel patch and clip it near the neck of a shirt, to improve a patient’s mood. In some instances, oils may be used on a washcloth or in a bath to sooth pain and even reduce unpleasant odors.
Thanks to their many uses, essential oils are sure to remain a great option for those looking for a natural option to complement their existing treatments.