Ancient medicine is making a comeback.

Ancient medicine is making a comeback.
The same organic products used thousands of years ago are now bottled and marketed to a growing population of essential oil users.
But do they work?
Sharon Sloup says yes — she’s a Young Living Essential Oils distributor in McPherson and has been using essential oils for over 20 years.
“For me, it’s about taking charge of my health. If I have something at home to help, like peppermint to reduce fever, then I can manage some of those issues myself,” Sloup said. “My husband has horrible allergies, and he didn’t like taking over-the-counter allergy medications because he felt so sluggish. I gave him an essential oil focused on allergy symptoms, and it allows him to fully function without those side effects.”
Aromatherapy, a form of herbal medicine, employs the use of essential oils, which are gathered from plants with a chemical extraction process. Essential oils can be evaporated into the air, applied directly to the skin or ingested, usually by adding certain spices to foods.
Sloup explained that using oils for a certain ailment can alleviate symptoms quickly, sometimes faster than regular medications, but users should still use plenty of common sense.
“I don’t have aspirin in my cabinet and haven’t for years, but there can be times that I do need to take one,” Sloup said. “It’s about learning, but being responsible too because I’m going to go to a doctor when it’s logical to do so. Instead, I want to keep myself as healthy as I can and prevent some of those visits.”
Sloup recommends researching essential oil companies to make sure their claims ring true. However, the Federal Drug Administration can’t approve the use of essential oils because of the difficult testing required for approval.
These tests need to be performed blind, meaning that both participants and researchers shouldn’t know who receives a real treatment and who receives placebo. The issue is that essential oils must be smelled, which affects the participants’ expectations for a successful effect. Smells also stimulate memories, so researchers testing rose oil might spark happy memories of a beautiful flower alongside sad memories of being pricked by a thorn, which gives mixed results.
Even without FDA approval, essential oils are listed as potential remedies for a number of situations. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention list a number of oils that can have positive effects on infections, pain, tumors, nausea and many other health concerns.
Still, Sloup recommends researching the purity of products, as well as uses, because some mistakes could be disastrous.
“Some products are diluted or not labeled quite right. For example, lavendula, or lavender, treats burns, but some companies are really selling lavandin, which smells like lavender but makes burns worse. You need to be careful and know what you’re buying,” Sloup said. “Purity is also important to look at because to qualify as a therapeutic grade, an oil only needs to be 10 percent pure. So you need to ask those questions and know how companies make their products.”
In the end, Sloup recommends a heavy dose of common sense with essential oil usage.
“These products have stood the test of time, but there’s definitely time and place for professionals. If you try an oil and you continue to have those symptoms, then you should go in and see a medical professional to see if there’s something more serious going on,” Sloup said. “Keep in mind, I’ve never returned a product because it didn’t do what I felt it should.”