Essential Oils & Surgery

Posted by Lauren Bridges on

I’m done with surgery and home, so I want to take a moment to talk about this.

So many people think you cannot use essential oils around surgery. And guess what? That’s not true. Yes, there are certain essential oils that should be avoided during or close to this time (esp. those with blood thinning properties), but there are plenty that can be used.

One of the the most encouraging things I saw yesterday in pre-op was an established aromatherapy program in the surgery center I was at. It wasn’t perfect, but where it wasn’t perfect the risk was low due to them sticking with inhalation. And the oils being used by them were not ones that would carry any notable risk around surgery.

So many people see and say things on social media , such as “no oils 1-2 weeks before surgery” or “No oils for at least a week after surgery.”

No. Been there done that personally now as well as for others, and this myth needs to die as hard as the infection in my leg because aromatherapy can be an effective player in your surgical experience. Everything must be evaluated on a case by case basis, but we must stop eliminating as an option across the board.

A few ways aromatherapy is helpful around surgery:
  1. Reducing anxiety
  2. Managing PTSD
  3. Managing post surgical pain
  4. Helping to mitigate effects of anesthesia
One example of post surgical use: I had a friend who had major abdominal surgery on the tail end of a cold. After surgery, if was very difficult to clear her lungs of the junk that had accumulated because her core was now compromised. Her cough was weaker due to what she had gone through and the discomfort it brought. We used a carefully selected, personalized blend via inhalation methods to help loosen stuff up so when she coughed it was more productive. It worked, and she was more comfortable and able to handle things better after the implementation of aromatherapeutic treatment. And this was while she was still in the hospital (hospital was supportive of aromatherapy being brought in).

And we can use dose forms—easily—that prevent exposure to others. Most hospitals aren’t keen on diffusers, and that’s a good thing in this case. But this does not at all limit our capabilities in treatment.

I’ve seen some amazing stuff with essential oils around surgery. You need to know what you’re doing, so it is best for you to work with an aromatherapist who is comfortable with the situation and can communicate with your medical team over benefits and concerns that pertain to your case.

But, like with many things, we must stop with the “no never” in this area. There are so many benefits to be had, and we need to start being more vocal against this “no never” garbage because it is literally preventing people from seeking helpful, non-invasive complementary treatments when they need them most.

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