Alternative Medicine & Mental Illnesses

By Nicole Beaver

If you’re like me, you have probably looked for a line of work that meets your hours as a full-time (or part-time) university student. We have the career fair, career services, and many resources all tailored to help you during and after your tenure here at Concordia. However, not all jobs are created with the typical business model in mind. In this article, I will be discussing alternative medicine, highlighting its uses as well as its potential concerns.

Young Living Essential Oils, one company that promotes itself as recruiting people that wish to stay at home while also making money, faced a class-action lawsuit last year. Young Living’s products offer numerous essential oils for various semi-medicinal purposes. According to a previous report, some consultants of Young Living “promote many of [their] Young Living Essential Oil Products for conditions such as, but not limited to, viral infections (including ebola), Parkinson’s disease, autism, diabetes, hypertension, cancer, insomnia, heart disease, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), dementia, and multiple sclerosis.” The FDA’s report also lists that the Young Living website has pushed numerous oils such as Ylang Ylang, Peppermint, and Thieves as having miracle-like properties to aid healing.

You may be asking yourself what the issue is with this. If it helps, if it is natural, then why is it a problem that some consultants market essential oils as a replacement to medicinal aid? If you look at the list, you will find that certain neurological disorders (autism, PTSD) are listed. Autism, as stated in my previous articles, cannot be cured as it is wired into the brain from birth. Not only do essential oils pose a danger of being promoted as a “cure” for these disorders, but it highlights the risks of alternative medicine being misrepresented when it comes to mental illnesses and neurological issues.

The dictionary defines alternative medicine as “a range of medical therapies that are not regarded as orthodox by the medical profession, such as herbalism, homeopathy, and acupuncture.” In this day and age, vaccines, antibiotics, and cultivated drugs are wonders of science that were not accessible one hundred years ago. People hear of the chemicals and side effects and are leery. For this reason, patients may desire to try alternative methods of healing before subjecting themselves to chemical treatment. For example, when I tried to cope with my sciatica using opiods and disliked the side effects and risk of addiction, I opted to see a chiropractor. Of course, let it be said there is nothing wrong with wanting to take an alternative route in medicine when it comes to certain conditions. Simply do effective research and do not merely jump into something without comprehending the risks and effects. The bottom line is that alternative medication cannot be a complete replacement for treatments that require specific medications or therapy, like mental illnesses.

Mayo Clinic further outlines concerns about alternative medicine in an article: “while unconventional approaches such as acupuncture, music therapy, and animal-assisted therapy have been found to be effective, others haven’t been studied well enough to determine whether they’re safe and effective.” This includes essential oil therapy. Young Living’s FDA report, as mentioned above, lists how some of Young Living’s independent consultants inappropriately marketed the company’s oils as such. But what about consumers? Some consumers have felt pressured to purchase essential oils as a treatment for depression or anxiety. On Reddit, there are community forums dedicated to sharing their experiences with “pushy” multi-level marketers and their associated consultants. On YouTube there are numerous videos created dedicated to discussing why schemes are predatory. A general consensus from people appears to state that marketing a “cure all” for illnesses is not only offensive to the public, but also considered dangerous if used incorrectly or substituted for medication without explicit approval from a medical professional. Alternative medicine has its uses, but claiming that alternatives, such as essential oils, can “cure” mental illness, is factually not true. It is important to do your own research before making a conclusive decision on how to treat your disorder.

Leave a Reply