Drug Addictions and Essential Oils

When I was recently asked whether I had any suggestions for using essential oils with drug addictions, I went looking to see if I could find any real research on this. I paged through the many books and aromatherapy publications I have on my selves. I did internet searches on essential oils and drug addiction on Google Scholar and PubMed. None of this brought up a whole lot. An internet search on Google brought up some blog articles but nothing that I would consider real research. I also found some proprietary blends being marketed by MLM essential oil companies as being appropriate for addiction. My concern around this is that this does not take the whole individual into consideration and not all addictions are the same.

Each individual is unique, each situation is different with many different factors to take into consideration. In my opinion, one single blend is not going to be able to address this for everyone, if one wants to achieve good results it is most helpful to consider the individual and their unique circumstances. Here are just a few things I think one should consider when formulating a this blend.

From a physical point of view: What drug or type of drugs is the person addicted to? Is it a stimulant or a suppressant? Do they need to be relaxed or stimulated? Are they in withdrawal? What side effects are there?

From an emotional point of view: Why did they get addicted in the first place? Are or have the underlying issues been addressed? Have new issues come up that need to be addressed?

Moving Forward: Changing addictive behaviour is very difficult. Commitment on the part of the person addicted is certainly a good starting point, but changing behaviour is never easy. MedPage Today has an interesting article on how Neuroscience can explain why changing addictive behaviour is so difficult. Is there a willingness on their part to actually move forward? If there is great, but if there isn’t no one can make them.

If they are ready you can then consider: What method of application are they most likely to comply with? What are their aroma preferences? It is a whole lot easier to get people to sniff or use something if they enjoy the aroma.

In their book Essential Aromatherapy: A Pocket Guide to Essential Oils and Aromatherapy, Susan E. Worwood, Valerie Ann Worwood say that “During drug addiction all essential oil dosages should be half the maximum dosage.”

While in her book The Fragrant Mind, Valerie Ann Worwood says: During the withdrawal process essential oils can help in two ways – by contributing to a sense of well-being, and by treating the physical problems that go along with it. The essential oils of vetiver, helichrysum, spikenard, valerian, ormenis flower, nutmeg, juniper, bergamot, basil, clary sage, geranium, hyacinth, narcissus, tuberrose can be used to supplement and support any other treatment. Use the oils in warm baths, inhaled as a vapour and diffused in the room.  Remember that essential oils do not dissolve in water so add an equal number of drops of emulsifier to your essential oil blend, or if you don’t have an emulsifier add an equal number of drops of liquid soap to disperse the essential oil droplets through the water.

Dr Bruce Berkowsky in his Spiritual PhytoEssencing Repertory of Essential Oilslists under the rubric:
Drugs, abuse of: ammi visnage, camphor, celery seed, clary sage, coffee, cypress, hemp, lemon, patchouli, seaweed, thuja, yarrow.

I would add here that before using any essential oil you should make sure that it is actually appropriate for the person and their particular addiction and circumstances. While it may be more time consuming and require more thought, creating a blend for the individual will bring about better results than just using a one blend fits all type of approach. Certainly looking at the oils contained in other blends, or listed above by Valerie Ann Worwood and Dr. Bruce Berkowsky is a good starting point but before using any oil in a blend consider it carefully. What are its properties, its contra-indications, its actions? Does it fit into the individual and the situation you are blending for? You will find that not all of the oils will so consider the choices carefully and take the whole individual into consideration as you come up with your blend. Actually I think that this is something you should do for any blend one creates, blending for an accomplished aromatherapist is both a science and an art and this is one of the things I value so highly about what I do.

I did find this one research study on using Cumin that was interesting.  Although an animal study it was dealing with drug addiction.
Effects of the fruit essential oil of Cuminum cyminum Linn. (Apiaceae) on acquisition and expression of morphine tolerance and dependence in mice.Abbas Haghparast,Jamal Shams,Ali Khatibi,Amir-Mohammad Alizadeh,Mohammad Kamalinejad, Neuroscience Letters, Elsevier,1 August 2008 Copyright © 2008, Elsevier.
The problem of morphine tolerance and dependence is a universal phenomenon threatening social health everywhere the world. The major objective of this paper was to investigate the effects of fruit essential oil (FEO) of Cuminum cyminum on acquisition and expression of morphine tolerance and dependence in mice. Animals were rendered dependent on morphine using the well-established method in which was morphine (50, 50, 75 mg/kg; s.c.) injected three times daily for 3 days. In experimental groups, administration of FEO (0.001, 0.01, 0.1, 0.5, 1 and 2%; 5 ml/kg; i.p.) or Tween-80 (5 ml/kg; i.p.) was performed 60 min prior to each morphine injection (for acquisition) or the last injection of morphine on test day (for expression). Morphine tolerance was measured by tail-flick before and after administration of a single dose of morphine (50 mg/kg; s.c.) in test day (4th day). Morphine dependence was also evaluated by counting the number of jumps after injection of naloxone (5 mg/kg; i.p.) on the test day. The results showed that Cumin FEO, only at the dose of 2%, significantly attenuated the development of morphine tolerance (P < 0.01) and dependence (P < 0.05) while it could be significantly effective on expression of morphine tolerance (1 and 2%) and dependence (0.5, 1 and 2%) in a dose-dependent manner. Solely Cumin FEO injection (0.001–2%) did not show any analgesic effect. In conclusion, the essential oil of Cuminum cyminum seems to ameliorate the morphine tolerance and dependence in mice.

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