The Growing Popularity of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM)
Essential oils are becoming more and more popular in the western world. Many people and even organizations are discovering and utilizing them to influence moods and promote overall health. Schools and businesses are incorporating them into their daily routines to increase focus, creativity and productivity. I think this is great!
Essential Oils are considered a Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM). Other CAM therapies/medicines include massage, reiki, music therapy and emotional support pet visits in clinics. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), people in the United States spend over $30.2 billion annually on complementary health approaches. Wow!
If Complementary and Alternative Medicine is so popular, why don’t we see it offered more often in clinical settings? I am not suggesting that complementary medicine is rare to see in hospitals, in fact, I work in a hospital setting and I know that every Tuesday is Pet Day. I see all kinds of cats and dogs roaming the hospital with their owners…this is awesome. I am also aware of Music Therapy that is happening. These are truly awesome things!
For the purpose of this article, I am going to be discussing aromatherapy and essential oils specifically, and why don’t hospitals and clinics offer this medicine on a regular basis? It is clear more and more people have learned about the benefits of this practice, and have even used it in their homes. So I have studied this topic and have found some answers. 🙂
Patient Satisfaction Surveys
It is my understanding that patient satisfaction surveys play a part in obtaining hospital funding (in many locations), and it is through these surveys that we are seeing the emergence and gradual use of complementary services as supportive therapy for patients. The goal of complementary medicine is to decrease patient anxiety, manage stress and to increase patient satisfaction scores on the satisfaction survey. I’d say it’s a win-win situation.
So, yes, CAM is gradually becoming more accessible to the public in clinical settings, such as hospitals. But why is it taking so long to get established into the mainstream medical system?
Hospital-Based Aromatherapy Programs
While essential oils are “natural” this does not always mean they are safe to use, especially in the presence of a variety of people with a variety of ailments and medical conditions.
Establishing a hospital-based aromatherapy program is very in-depth and complicated. There are policies and procedures that must be followed to keep everyone safe.
The first step in creating a hospital-based aromatherapy program is to generate a formal policy and procedure manual. This will then be submitted for approval by the hospital’s Institutional Review Board. The job of the review board is to ensure that any proposed project follows ethical, moral and regulatory guidelines. As you can imagine, this process takes time and money, something that most hospitals don’t have an abundance of.
Here is a list of issues that are usually addressed when creating a formalized policy:
- Patient education with regard to aromatherapy treatment
- Informed consent
- Staff training and/or certification
- List of oils deemed safe
- Method(s) of application
- Infection control issues
- Safe storage and disposal of essential oils
- Safety data sheets (SDS)
- Physician order vs. nursing intervention
- Record keeping protocols
- Cost considerations
The above list is not comprehensive; there are likely other issues to be addressed as well.
“I have an advertising relationship with the stores/businesses that I link in this post. I will earn a small commission when you shop through my link with no added cost to you.”
It’s a Process with Challenges and Considerations
As mentioned above, it is a long and complicated process to have CAM integrated into the medical system. I think one of the biggest obstacles facing the integration of complementary medicine is money. Who will pay for these services? Will they be covered by insurance? Will it be paid for privately? There are many questions that need to be answered.
Additional training for doctors and healthcare professionals is another issue. Also, who will pay for necessary research? I don’t think modern medical research in America spends enough time studying aromatherapy and essential oils or other complementary therapies yet, so this is a challenge to be addressed.
Another increasingly common challenge at the moment is the unauthorized use of aromatherapy in hospitals. Patients who are used to practicing aromatherapy at home often bring their own oils into the hospital. While in some places this may be allowed, this can cause problems for other patients, staff and visitors. Especially if the hospital does not have formal guidelines or a policies and procedures manual to deal with emergency situations involving essential oils.
I certainly learned a lot this week as I read various articles on this topic. There were many things that I hadn’t even considered before that make the inclusion of complementary medicine into clinical environments a great task. I believe it will take many years to fully incorporate all these awesome alternative medicines into our mainstream medical system. It will be worth the wait though!
The history of essential oils and aromatics is quite interesting. This practice is not new, in fact, it has been around for thousands of years! I am very happy to see the gradual acceptance and acknowledgment of this traditional medicine.
I sure appreciate that you took the time to read through this article. I would love to hear any comments you have on this topic. Please use the comment box below. I love hearing from people and would like to hear what you have to say.
Please click on the Social Media Icons to Share this article and subscribe for email notifications for upcoming articles!
Stay happy and healthy!
Angela (Founder of Your Aromatherapy Store)
Essential oils are very potent. If you are currently taking any prescribed medication speak to your doctor before using essential oils. Some oils are not recommended for children. Some oils are not recommended if you are pregnant or nursing. Essential oils are considered “complementary and alternative medicines” and are not a substitute for professional medical intervention and advice. If you are experiencing severe physical or mental illness contact a medical professional. This information is meant for educational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent any disease.