A traditional mesothelioma treatment plan often includes a collection of medication for the disease itself as well as drugs for pain, nausea, insomnia, and depression. The patient and caregiver must maintain a strict regimen managing medication schedules, tracking side effects and allergic reactions, and watching for complications of drug interactions and accidental overdoses. Faced with this overwhelming task, many patients seek out holistic care and alternative therapies to reduce the number of medications and to ease their discomfort. Now, there is a growing interest among patients toward the use of essential oils to complement their mesothelioma care.
Although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved oils as a cure, prevention or treatment for any conditions, supporters firmly believe that oils are effective at soothing a variety of physical and emotional issues. Mesothelioma patients and their caregivers are turning to aromatherapy and essential oils to replace the barrage of traditional medicines to help improve the quality of life.
What are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are natural aromatic compounds extracted from seeds, bark, stems, roots, flowers, and other parts of plants. Carefully controlling the extraction method, coupled with the meticulous selection of the proper plant species and plant parts, several companies tout a pure grade of essential oils that are believed to offer relief from pain, gastrointestinal discomfort, insomnia and even depression.
A major benefit is that essential oils are simple to use. Patients can benefit by diffusing them, rubbing the oils directly on the skin, using the reflex points from reflexology and applying oils to the feet, inhaling them directly, or adding them to a warm bath. Aromatherapy with essential oils has a relatively low toxicity profile when inhaled or applied topically, according to the National Cancer Institute.
Use of Essential Oils By Mesothelioma Patients
Essential oils primarily appeal to our sense of smell. Our sense of smell is the only sense that has a direct connection to the brain. According to Amber Luong, MD, PhD, assistant professor at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, odors enter the nose, travel through the nasal cavity activating nerve receptors and travel straight to the brain. Our sense of smell is a tool that can elicit powerful physiological, mental, and emotional responses. One of the best ways to benefit from this is by adding essential oils to a diffuser.
Nausea and gastrointestinal discomfort is a common complaint of prescription medications. Since many essential oils are diffused or applied topically, they bypass the digestive system allowing patients with a sensitive stomach to take advantage of the healing properties of essential oil therapy without complicating any gastrointestinal issues.
Following are some of the most popular oils for cancer patients:
- Brain health for easing brain ‘fog’: Frankincense, Vetiver
- Energy: Peppermint, citrus oils such as Orange and Lemon, Cedarwood
- Nausea: Peppermint, Ginger, Patchouli
- Sleep: Lavender, Cedarwood, Frankincense, Roman Chamomile
- Pain relief: Frankincense, Helichrysum, Lavender, Lemongrass, Peppermint, Wintergreen
- Peace and relaxation: Bergamot, Frankincense, Lavender, Vetiver
- Immune support: Oregano
Many oils have multiple benefits. Whereas a doctor will prescribe a pain reliever, an anti-depressant, a stomach reliever, and even a sleep aid, oil users claim that Frankincense can address all of these issues.
Be Cautious With Essential Oils and Any Holistic Therapy
There is little scientific evidence that plant-based oils prevent, cure, or have any medical benefits whatsoever, as is the case with many holistic therapies. However, with the tight connection between the mind and body, when it comes to feeling better using oils to improve a patient‘s mood may lead to a general sense of improved physical health as well.
Regardless of the scientific findings, some mesothelioma patients will continue to turn to alternative therapies in the hope of improving their quality of life while battling the disease.
Jan Egerton, a UK mesothelioma warrior who fought mesothelioma for more than a decade and lost her battle to the cancer in 2014, was a strong proponent of alternative therapies that help relieve symptoms and improve the quality of life for mesothelioma patients.
NOTE: This article is provided for information only and is not meant as an endorsement of the use of essential oils. Talk with your oncologist or other medical professional before adding any essential oils to your mesothelioma treatment regimen.