RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) -
Essential oils are all the rage these days.
More people are ditching their prescription drugs and using natural cures to treat everything from the common cold to cancer that you buy and mix right off the shelf.
But are they a health fix or fraud? And what are the risks?
Terri and Bill Philpot turn to essential oils for just about every ailment. "We've made sleep cream, we've made allergy cream, we've made pain cream, antibiotic cream and it works."
The oils are offering Bill relief from his insomnia and pain from a motorcycle accident more than a decade ago. "He had a broken femur, his knee was torn up, his ankle was ripped out of socket," explains Terri. "I was little bit skeptical just because his levels of pain have been so high for so long. I really didn't know if it would help."
"I don't think there's anything I've tried that hasn't really helped me tremendously," says Bill, and he is not alone.
Compounding pharmacy technician Kristi Russell is getting one question after another about essential oils. She says you need to do your homework before using them because just like prescription and over-the-counter drugs, these oils can cause side effects.
"Orange, lemon, grapefruit, bergamot, which many may not know is a citrus oil, all have photosensitivity. It will make you more likely to burn just like taking an antibiotic and sitting in the sun can make you more likely to burn," Russell lists some of the risks. "Just because they're natural doesn't mean they can't hurt you."
Russell is trained to mix up lotions that can work wonders for patients, but she doesn't believe these remedies should replace all traditional meds. "Instead of having an either/or mentality, we need to do complimentary and integrated medicine."
Russell says using essential oils safely gets especially tricky when you start mixing them to treat a symptom of this, a symptom of that. She warns against ingesting them too. Even though they're a natural part of many foods we're already eating, taking too high of a dose could cause problems.
The Food and Drug Administration treats most essential oils as a cosmetic product, but more and more people like Terri swear by their medical benefits. She does, however, know their limitations. "If I break my arm take me to the hospital, don't put oil on me, it can help with the recovery, but I'm not anti-medicine or anti doctor by any means."
Still, she says these essential oils that have been used since Ancient China can be part of a more natural lifestyle. "It's something that's always been there, but I think we've been retrained to look towards pharmaceuticals or a pill or a quick fix."
Copyright 2014 by Young Broadcasting of Richmond What's your opinion on essential oils? Do they actually work? Chat with Amy on her Facebook page or tweet her your opinion!