When you read about the medicinal qualities of essential oils, you often see the claim, “There’s an oil for that!” This is actually true, as the variety of essential oils can treat a wide scope of physical or emotional ailments, as well as provide soothing effects. Practitioners of aromatherapy are enthusiastic about the health benefits that are seen day in and day out with the use of essential oils. So when it comes to treating the symptoms associated with alcohol detox, why shouldn’t there be an oil for that?
Alcohol detox involves the process whereby the body systematically evacuates the toxins from bodily tissues that are associated with alcohol. As the detox process proceeds, various unpleasant withdrawal symptoms will ensue. The use of essential oils for alcohol detox can provide relief from these symptoms and help the body restore itself faster.
What are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are basically oils that have been extracted from trees, flowers, plants, seeds, bushes, roots, and shrubs, distilled to provide therapeutic grade oils used for healing various health maladies. The oils contain natural properties that can, when absorbed into the skin, digestive tract, or nasal passages, balance body systems and result in improving the specific health condition being targeted.
The highly concentrated version of the plant oil can be utilized to transport nutrients that are absorbed by the body and deliver the desired effect, whether it be soothing, stimulating, cleansing, healing, or calming depending on the oil used. The essential oils will have the scent of the plant from which it was extracted and distilled via various methods.
What is Aromatherapy?
Aromatherapy is the term that describes the use of essential oils as a form of alternative or complimentary medicine for inducing wellbeing and healing. By selecting the particular essential oil, or a combination of oils, this ancient practice is then applied to provide healing properties for a wide range of medical purposes. Aromatherapy can be administered through steam, delivering its effects through olfactory (nasal) or topically as the vapor is absorbed. This method is often used in the bath or during therapeutic massage. Essential oils can be applied directly onto the skin, often diluted with carrier oils, by being dabbed at specific points, including the feet, brow, scalp, pulse points, abdomen, or chest, depending on the ailment.
What Happens During Alcohol Detox?
Alcohol abuse can take an excessive toll on the body, negatively impacting various organs and disrupting the normal filtration process of the liver. Excessive alcohol consumption, over time, can increase the risk of heart disease, certain cancers, impede reproductive health, and cause permanent brain damage. Because the effects of alcohol abuse or addiction are cumulative, highly unpleasant withdrawal symptoms will result when attempting to detox from it.
Detox is the process of the body ridding itself of chemical toxins. During the process, which usually takes about 5-7 days, symptoms will range in severity from mild withdrawal symptoms to severe, even life-threatening symptoms, depending on various factors. These factors might include:
- The amount of alcohol consumption
- The length of history of excessive alcohol consumption
- Whether the individual has any presenting medical conditions
- The age of the individual
- Whether there is history of acute withdrawal syndrome
- If there is a co-existing mental health disorder
Withdrawal symptoms commence about six hours after the last alcoholic beverage. As the body expels the toxins and attempts to adjust to the absence of alcohol the individual will begin to experience unpleasant symptoms, which will peak on days 2-3 before beginning to subside. Common alcohol detox symptoms include:
- Hand tremors
- Mental confusion
- Nausea and vomiting
- Increased heart rate
- Loss of appetite
For individuals who have a lengthy history of excessive alcohol consumption, withdrawal symptoms can become severe. These symptoms might include extreme body tremors, hallucinations, anxiety, intense mental confusion and disorientation. The most severe alcohol detox situation may involve the individual developing the delirium tremens, potentially having fatal consequences. For this reason, people with a long history of alcoholism should always obtain a medically supervised detox and withdrawal.
How Do Essential Oils Help During Alcohol Detox?
During alcohol detox, trained detox professionals will use medications to ease the severity of the withdrawal symptoms. As an adjunct holistic measure, essential oils can compliment the medical interventions and further reduce the discomfort of detox. Supplementing traditional methods with aromatherapy can benefit the individual in several ways. These might include improved sleep quality, easing mood swings, and relieving physical discomforts like headache, muscle and joint pain, and psychological distress.
Essential Oils as an Adjunct Therapy in Detox
While the body is cycling through the alcohol detox process it is undergoing intense disruption, causing physical and psychological discomfort. Essential oils can be utilized for alcohol detox specifically to reduce the pain and discomfort of these withdrawal symptoms. Some specific essential oils that can aid in detox include:
- Lemon oil. Extracted from the rind of the lemon, the lemon oil has powerful healing properties through its limonene, helping the body to release toxins and cleanse the liver and kidneys. Lemon oil can also help alleviate symptoms of depression and support the immune system.
- Ginger oil. With high levels of gingerol, ginger oil can aid in alcohol detox by supporting the healing process of the liver.
- Roman chamomile oil. Going through detox is very stress inducing, so Roman chamomile oil can relieve symptoms of anxiety and induce calm with its mildly sedative properties. It is also helpful to boosting low mood.
- Lavender oil. Lavender oil can assist in promoting relaxation and reducing anxiety, as well as assisting in improving sleep quality.
- Fennel oil. Fennel oil can assist the body in flushing out toxins, promoting cleansing of tissues and organs.
- Black pepper oil. Black pepper oil can boost oxygenation in the body and improve mood by boosting serotonin and dopamine levels in the brain. It has also been shown to reduce alcohol cravings.
Phoenix Rising Behavioral Utilizes Essential Oils for Alcohol Detox
Phoenix Rising Behavioral Healthcare is an outpatient rehabilitation program for individuals struggling with alcohol or drug addiction. Combining the Alcoholics Anonymous 12-step recovery program with essential oil therapy can compliment the overall treatment program and ease unpleasant detox symptoms. Founder Ben Kaneaiakala III and co-authors’ recently published book, Stepping Forward, Using Essential Oils to Support a 12-Step Program, outlines how essential oils can reduce discomfort and enhance healing during detox and recover. For more information about the program, please contact Phoenix Rising today at (877) 299-5694.