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Ending Essential Oil Culture
I am in the sixth grade, and I am excited for my friend Samuels birthday party! But after one trip to the doctor, my life changed in an instant. Cancer, they said. Mature teratoma in the right ovary and right fallopian tube. And a few weeks later I was cancer free, with a long scar now traveling from my belly button down. But I would be okay now, right? No. That is not how cancer operates. The tumor itself had weighed seven pounds in total, and with its removal, it took a toll on my lungs, muscles, and made me skinny as a rail. And, as any terrified and concerned parents would do, my Mom and Dad put everything they had into turning my sick husk of a body into what it had once been. It started innocently enough, with medicine from doctors and scar cream, but it wasn’t enough. I still looked sick and I was still as weak as before. It wasn’t working fast enough. So my parents took the plunge.
Thousands of parents each year travel into the realm of complementary medicine every year in the hopes to heal their children. But this culture of essential oils and avoidance of science is a scam. I should know. I was a alternative medicine advocate and patient for nearly three years. That isn’t to say that I know all the answers to how this movement came to be. But I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly. And man, the ugly is ugly. To see how this “revolutionary” and “healthy” movement is actually a danger to society as we know it, we must look at a few things. First, we must look at the good parts of this movement. Next, we must see my family go deeper into the culture, through strange screenings, homeopathy, and the use of essential oils. And lastly, we must look at the most infamous and controversial part of this movement; anti-vaxxing. So buckle up y'all. It’s gonna be a wild ride.
First, about the chiropractor. my parents took me to the family chiropractor(a valued family friend friend and amazing doctor) who started to heal my back and give me physical therapy exercises to complete. This is mainly because I now had scoliosis and being pregnant with a tumor baby for that long takes a toll on the old backbone. I actually have nothing bad to say about the chiropractic industry. According to the official Mayo Clinic website in their article on chiropractic adjustment, the treatment works! And, if anyone has minor or major back pain, they should consider a trip to the chiropractor. To be honest, If we had only stopped there, everything would be great. But of course, we didn’t.
From the chiropractor, I was given certain diets not allowing me to eat things such as wheat, pasteurized milk, sugar, corn syrup; and of course I couldn’t eat foods that already triggered my allergies; gluten and shrimp. It was crazy, I admit it. But I started to feel better, bit by bit. However, diets are not always for the best, especially when they promise things such as “instant results” or the ease of eating fat-free foods. And, especially for the vulnerable immune system of the average teenager, dieting can be extremely harmful to the body. According to TeensHealth in their article, The Deal With Diets by Mary L. Gavin “Any diet on which you don't eat enough calories and important nutrients can be harmful.” This may be shocking to some, but not to me. Being paleo, vegetarian, or having any other diet can be helpful or harmful to your bodies delicate ecosystem and there are certain things all should avoid when dieting, be it to improve appearance, health, or fitness. First, always eat enough calories. Do not skip meals or limit your food intake severely. In fact, the site Livestrong in their article What is the Required Caloric Amount for a 15-Year-Old Female by Andrea Cespedes recommends that the average 15-year-old female(me) consumes about 2000 calories a day, higher or lower depending on how much the person in question exercises. Avoid diets that don’t allow eating carbs or certain food groups. Every human needs all of the food groups in their diet to have the proper minerals inside their body to keep them feeling good.
After the results I had received with the combination of chiropractic help and dieting, my Mom decided to try acupuncture for her insomnia. Acupuncture has been a little on the fringe but is starting to be more and more accepted by the medical community and ordinary people alike. In fact, according to WebMD in their article Why does Acupuncture Work? By Sid Lipsey, almost 3.5 million people said they had acupuncture performed on them in the last year, which is a significant number. Like many complementary medicine treatments, acupuncture is supposed to work by triggering your bodies natural systems. The trained acupuncture specialist will take tiny needles and insert them into different meridian points on your body to attempt to relieve many things. Acupuncture has been used to lessen cancer patients nausea and has also been used to help women get pregnant by helping to get more blood flow to the uterus. However, experts also warn of using acupuncture as a cure-all, and recommend it is used in combination with other forms of healing/medicine.
Our chiropractor also recommended EDS screening for my Mom and me, so I could get supplements to help heal me. According to CSI in an article addressing the fakery of electrodermal screening by Stephen Barrett, “Electrodermal screening devices are said to measure and react to skin resistance to the passage of low-level electrical current.” That sounds a little complicated, so I’ll show where EDS screening originated. According to Science-Based Medicine in its first article in a two-part series written by Harriet Hall about EDS screening, the technique originated in 1958, and the first machine was created by Reinhold Voll, an acupuncturist and doctor. He believed that “ ...he had discovered that skin conductance was greater at traditional acupuncture points, and he thought he could show that these measurements correlated to diseases in the associated organs.” Not much has changed until today. But there are discrepancies with how the device works that shouldn’t be ignored. The device works as follows. The device is a galvanometer, so it utilizes electrical currents to gather information. All the patient has to do is hold a metal bar in one of their hands, while the operator uses a probe to touch meridian points that are “connected” to different organs. The device treats the patient like a part of the circuit and uses their measured galvanic skin response. Each meridian point produces a reading that will show whether the correct organ is in a healthy range. If it isn’t, the practitioner will measure what things are affecting the health of the organ, and after that, they will measure how well the person's body reacts to homeopathic substances that may help. This sounds all good(if tedious) until the following things are realized.
According to a study put on PubMed, organized by Beyer K. and Teuber SS, “In most patients, controlled oral food challenges remain the gold standard in the diagnostic workup of suspected food allergy. The skin prick test and measurement of specific IgE antibodies to food extracts, individual allergens or allergenic peptides are helpful in the diagnostic approach. Food-specific IgG continues to be an unproven or experimental test. The other alternative and complementary techniques have no proven benefit and may endanger patients via misdiagnosis.” And in another study published by the British Medical Journal in 2003 led by Dr. George Lewith from the University of Southampton, they found that “...examiners could not correctly identify the participants with predetermined allergies. Furthermore, no single operator was more reliable at detecting allergies than another, and no participants were consistently given a correct diagnosis by the three examiners.”
After we went to EDS, my Moms friends who were also very involved with the natural community recommended that we use essential oils. My Mom agreed because she felt they had healing properties and they smelled very calming. With that, my Mom bought essential oil kits and with a diffuser created a humid jungle for my lungs to heal and creating a calming atmosphere. Now, essential oils are nice for lots of things. They can reduce nausea, anxiety, headaches, and more! But consumers do have to be cautious. According to the Atlantic Institute for Aromatherapy “In 2017 alone, 55 people, including five children and two pregnant women, reported serious reactions.” The organization goes on to state that they estimate that less than 5-10% of adverse reactions are reported. Adverse reactions can include rashes, anaphylactic shock, even internal chemical burns! These are shocking to most people, because of the marketing popular essential oil companies use. Most of these companies want people to believe that the products are harmless. One of the largest essential oil companies, doTERRA, proclaims in their google link: “Essential Oils Pure and Natural”. Such marketing misleads consumers into using essential oils with reckless abandon. One woman, Stacey Haluka, quoted in an article from WebMD Essential Oils Promise Health but Beware the Risk by Lisa Marshall, reports that after using essential oils liberally, followed by a trek to the emergency room, she developed a sensitivity to oils like the ones she used. Even four years later, these oils still make her break out in hives. The site Medical News Today in their article Aroma Therapy: What You Need to Know by Christian Nordqvist says that “Ingesting, or swallowing, essential oils is not recommended. Taken by mouth, the oils can damage the liver or kidneys.” Are we really supposed to believe that these oils, that have the ability to cause severe allergic reactions and can damage organs should be given out freely with loose regulation? Are we supposed to treat these oils as cute little remedies? No. They are like any other chemical and must be thoroughly researched, and cautiously used.
We also took homeopathic remedies recommended by our EDS practitioner. Homeopathy was invented in the 1700s by a German physician Samuel Christian Hahnemann who believed that the body could heal itself. Homeopaths follow the principles Hahnemann laid down. The first law of Homeopathy is“similia similibus curentur” or “Let likes be cured by likes” Basically, Hahnemann had an experiment where he took a small amount of cinchona bark, containing quinine, a drug used to treat malaria, and he developed the symptoms of malaria using the bark. That is how he came up with his first law and the ones to follow. However, there are many significant problems with homeopathy that discredit the long gone Hahnemann’s claims. In homeopathy, it is thought that a person can increase the potency of homeopathic substances by diluting them several times over until there is not a single molecule of the original substance in the remaining “remedy”. According to an article from WebMD, titled What is Homeopathy?
By David Kiefer “The FDA oversees homeopathic remedies. But it doesn’t check to see if they’re safe or effective. In general, most are so watered down that they don’t cause any side effects.” The article also warns of using homeopathic treatments involving heavy metals. And, in another article reviewing Homeopathy from Science-Based Medicine by Brennen Mckenzie, he mentions the dated ideas behind the process, explaining Hahnemann’s theory of disease, known as the Miasm Theory. “According to this theory there are three miasms which are responsible for all human disease, and homeopathic remedies are directed towards treating these offending miasms.” This is wild! The truth is, these remedies don’t work, and those who are selling these remedies are essentially lying. Taking advantage of others sickness and desperation for help, by selling literal water and sugar pills, and calling them medicine.
Furthermore, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health on Homeopathy “Homeopathic products are regulated as drugs under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FDCA). However, under the current Agency policy, the FDA does not evaluate them for safety or effectiveness.” However, The Homeopathy Center contradicts this in their article, What is Homeopathy? They say that “It is extremely safe to use, even with very small children and pets, has none of the side effects of many traditional medications, is very affordable, is made from natural substances, and is FDA regulated.” This is misleading, just like the vast majority of marketing for natural remedies. The truth is, these remedies are hardly monitored and are in theory and practice, unproven.
However, even as I healed, my immune system was still weakened, so I was consistently sick and so our practitioner told us that we should hold off on some vaccines I had received regularly since birth because I had a vulnerable immune system. My Mom’s naturopath friends coerced her into believing that vaccines caused autism. After a long time, my parents decided that I needed my vaccinations, and today I am only missing two vaccines(not counting the flu vaccine). However, plenty of children still roam free from most vaccination and medicine. According to a study titled Increasing exposure to antibody-stimulating proteins and polysaccharides in vaccines is not associated with risk of autism, led by DeStefano F, Price CS, Weintraub ES. the study said in the author's' conclusion that “...parents’ concern that “too many vaccines too soon” could lead to autism is not supported. There was no indication that children with autism were more likely to have been exposed to more antigens through vaccines either in a single doctor’s visit, in the first 3 months of life, the first 7 months of life, or the first 2 years of life than were children without any diagnosis of ASD, AD or ASD with regression.” In fact, the whole idea that vaccines can cause autism was manufactured falsely in the first place. The first autism scare linking vaccines was made by Dr. Andrew Wakefield. However, he had other motivations for his ‘study’. In the article History of Anti-vaccination Movements published in June 2018, the article said that “ He had been paid by a law board to find out if there was evidence to support a litigation case by parents who believed that the vaccine had harmed their children.” And furthermore, In January 2011, the BMJ published a series of reports by journalist Brian Deer outlining evidence that Wakefield had committed scientific fraud by falsifying data. All of these things are plain evidence that autism is not caused by vaccines, and that the correlation between the two is simply coincidence.
Not only that, not using vaccines has caused much unrest and pain. According to The Insider in their, article Anti-vaxxing is one of the biggest health threats to the planet, The World Health Organization says by Caroline Praderio, the list “includes vaccine hesitancy, a term defined as "reluctance or refusal to vaccinate despite the availability of vaccines." This hesitancy threatens global progress made against vaccine-preventable diseases, according to the agency.” The list itself says that “Vaccination is one of the most cost-effective ways of avoiding disease — it currently prevents 2 to 3 million deaths a year, and a further 1.5 million could be avoided if global coverage of vaccinations improved” This is horrible, and is easily preventable. Please, parents, vaccinate your children.
So all in all, be it through looking at chiropractics, diets, acupuncture, EDS screening, homeopathy, or looking at the lies of the anti-vax movement, we can see that ‘alternative’ medicine should be eradicated, and further embraced as medicine that is complementary to standard medical procedures. I hope in the future to see the marriage of western and eastern medicine and hope that the natural community begins to accept the strengths of science in improving their techniques for helping create a comprehensive health plan for everyone. And please don’t villainize the movement. Just like my parents, most are just trying to do their best for themselves and their children's health. Let’s enter this new age of information with open minds and arms to both sides of medicine, and try to keep feeling our best! And, as for me? Today I am a healthy and happy teenage cancer survivor, groaning through math and trying to find myself, just as any other kid might.