Experimental Medicine Vs. Western Medicine

“I believe that we are going to see essential oils become perhaps less of alternative [medicine] and more of a partnership [with western medicine]. I think it is going to be more integrative and mainstream in years to come,” said Jessica Hebert, a wellness entrepreneur, and advocate for doTERRA essential oils.

There are a variety of debates regarding which branches of medicine are the best. There are many who dismiss new ideas of experimental medicine because they do not believe it is scientifically based. Western medicine has always been determined to be the way of treatment for many in the professional field. Today, more experimental drugs, therapies, and practices have become common but have not been integrated with western medicine.  If wellness advocates, like Hebert, and doctors worked together to develop a course of treatment for a patient, there would be less symptom managing and more understanding of the underlying problem.

An example of a form of experimental medicine is essential oils. According to Live Science, “The Science of Essential Oils: Does Using Scents Make Sense?”, essential oils are highly concentrated, containing both simple and complex chemicals, and typically used in the effort to improve one’s physical or emotional health. These oils work at a cellular level. Essential oils evaporate into the air almost instantly, and this releases the scent each oil comes with.

According to the Center for Spirituality and Healing at the University of Minnesota “How Do Essential Oils Work?”, when we smell something, such as essential oils, we take the airborne molecules it has into our body, and it goes to the olfactory system, which contains all the physical organs or cells that identify with the sense of smell. When we inhale, “odor molecules travel through the nose and affect the brain through a variety of receptor sites, one of which is the limbic system.” The limbic system is directly in contact with areas of the brain that control “heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, memory, stress levels, and hormone balance. This relationship helps explain why smells often trigger emotions.”

So how does experimental medicine, such as essential oils, compare to western medicine? “The western medicine model is very broken right now,” said Hebert. For too long, western medicine has done mostly symptom managing and has not focused on the healing of the human body. For example, “instead of just taking someone with high blood pressure and putting them on a high blood pressure medicine, we could look at the whole body and say why does this person have high blood pressure? And maybe they change their diet, exercise routine, etc,” said Hebert.

Looking more at medicine in the whole human body, and wanting to help the body repair itself instead of managing and making the person comfortable, is the direction the medical field needs to advance towards. “It’s like taking the batteries out of a smoke detector instead of trying to find the fire,” said Dr. Mark Hyman, referring to symptom managing, in his article “Why Treating your Symptoms is a Recipe for Disaster”. Dr. Hyman went on to say, “doctors are very well-trained to treat symptoms and diseases, but NOT to address the underlying imbalances that perpetuate illness”

Our health is a result of our lifestyle choices, the environment we live in, and the people we surround ourselves with. People are not taught to be accountable for our health, instead, they are taught to manage it. Our society has learned to cope with health issues by taking pills, instead of changing their lifestyle in an attempt to resolve the root cause of the problem. There needs to be deeper research and advocating to help solve what might be going on at the foundational level.

If wellness advocates and doctors combine their work, “the epidemic of major disease…would be slowed down greatly,” said Hebert, “across the board, there would be happier and healthier people.” By using experimental and western medicine in reference to one another, there could be a lessening of side effects from the western side of treatment. People who are fed up with taking multiple pills for each of their health issues can look into natural remedies as a replacement. There are other forms of natural remedy treatments besides herbs and vitamins, such as acupuncture, meditation, and tai chi. An example of a natural remedy is ginger, a natural plant which its root can be eaten and used to relieve nausea, instead of taking a pill for nausea.

Hebert works with people who are taking various pharmaceuticals or going through treatments, such as chemotherapy. The other day, she sat down with a gentleman who had recently finished his chemotherapy treatment. Chemotherapy is a tough and strenuous treatment process on the body, used to treat cancer. Hebert has worked with him to give him the correct essential oils which will make him more comfortable with the side effects the chemotherapy left him with. Instead of using more pharmaceuticals to help manage his symptoms, he can use essential oils, which are gentle on the body. Pharmaceuticals can alter the balance the body needs to maintain health. Using essential oils is a more natural and gentle experience on the body.

A difficulty with bringing natural medicine into the western medicine model is that “we are fighting pharmaceutical companies and that’s the challenge. There is a lot of money to be made on drugs so they are not going to go quietly,” said Hebert. The war between pharmaceutical/medical associations and natural medicine has been ongoing since the 1920’s according to “The Witch Hunt for ‘Alternative’ Medicine Practitioners” from The Truth About Cancer. Specifically, it is the American Medical Association (AMA) against chiropractors. The AMA was found to be guilty in 1987 of different attempts in discrediting chiropractic, naturopathic and osteopathic companies. The AMA continues to find different ways around the court’s accusations, and the war against natural medicine continues.

What needs to happen in order for wellness advocates and doctors to work together, is to have more research done on the natural options. Then, more natural medicine will be able to be brought into our western medicine model.  It is important for people to have the realization that alternative medicine does not have to be alternative.