This Case Study is published in “Aromatics In Action” the professional journal of the Alliance of International Aromatherapists; Issue 2: Winter 2018
This One is Close to My Heart
One of the most rewarding things about my schooling so far has been conducting case studies. I enjoy helping people find relief from their symptoms so their bodies can focus on repairing and healing itself. When conducting a case study, it is standard to not share personal information about the client. However, I received permission from this client to share his identity. The only reason I asked is because this guy is my dad. Being able to help my dad with something he’s been struggling with for over 40 years was uber-rewarding!
My dad, Charlie, is a Seventy-two-year-old male seeking relief from chronic extremity pruritus (itching). He has been a Type-1 diabetic for 60 years. His lower legs have persistently been itching and scaling for about 40 of those years. According to the American Diabetes Association, localized itching is often caused by poor circulation (2017). Throughout the years, he has used a variety of over-the-counter lotions and creams to try to soothe the itching but has had limited temporary relief and no reprieve from the scaling.
Side note: I had NO IDEA that this was something he struggled with. I always saw him applying lotion, but I did NOT realize that he was itching all the time!
This is my dad’s first exposure to the therapeutic applications of aromatherapy. In addition to diabetes, he has had a host of other issues crop up over the years. In 2004, he had quadruple by-pass surgery, and in 2015 he underwent the Whipple procedure where they removed the majority of his pancreas, gall bladder, duodenum, and some of his upper intestine due to a pancreatic tumor. As a result of the Whipple, he has digestive issues (don’t ask…it’s not pretty).
He takes a variety of medications including prescriptions for cholesterol, high blood pressure, something to prevent subsequent heart attacks, something to thin the blood, and insulin administered by a pump to control his diabetes. According to drugs.com, there are many side effects and interactions for each of his medications including, but not limited to itching, skin rash, belching, diarrhea, A1C increase, (the picture of his average blood sugar control over a two to three-month period), trouble sleeping, short-term memory loss, dry mouth, and indigestion (A1c and eag, 2017)
He states that his diet is diabetically appropriate, his skin is dry (DUH!), does not have any medication, food, plant, or wheat allergies, and leads a low-stress life of retirement. He drinks at least 100 ounces of water each day, does struggle with very loose bowels since his surgery, but otherwise has no problems with elimination.
Here’s where things get fun! I made a custom ointment for my dad at a 1% dilution, due to his diabetes, medications, and advanced age, to relieve itching and promote healing of his skin.
- Cajuput (Melaleuca leucadendron var. cajuputi)
- Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile)
- Tea tree Australia (Melaleuca alternifolia)
- Bergamot (Citrus aurantium var. bergamia) (avoid sun for 12 hours after application)
- Organic beeswax
- Calendula (Calendula officinalis) infused sweet almond oil
After a skin patch test had been conducted to ensure there was no sensitivity to the constituents, I instructed my dad to apply the ointment to his legs twice a day. He was educated to store the blend out of direct sunlight in a cool place and to keep out of reach of children and animals (Petersen, 2016). He was informed that if he notices the itching and dryness returning or any redness, itching, swelling, or other allergic reaction, to cease using the blend and to seek medical attention.
I encouraged him to continue following his diabetic diet and investigate dry brushing before showering to increase blood flow and allow his skin to heal better. I told him I would follow-up in a week’s time to see if the ointment was providing the relief for which he was hoping.
I texted my dad and he informed me that…
for the first time in years he has stopped itching completely!
Did you catch that???? Complete cessation of itching!
Before using the ointment, he would find dead skin all over his house; since commencing use of the balm, he no longer finds that to be the case.
He says his skin feels smooth, not scaly, and he has noted that there are no longer any scabs on his legs. He likes the smell of the balm and has begun using it on his arms as well. In general, he basically feels better than he has in decades.
I cannot begin to tell you how much I enjoy seeing people’s bodies begin to function the way that God intended. Using essential oils, giving them just a little boost, allowing their bodies the opportunity to heal themselves is ridiculously rewarding. Witnessing an ailment that my dad has suffered with for over 40 years come to a halt….insane!
He was so surprised that his pruritus was healing. He was so surprised that he could go a day without itching. He was so surprised at the ability of essential oils to do what they can do!
Every custom essential oil blend that I create is made with the individual in mind. I take into consideration all of their health concerns, medications, daily routines, etc.
DO NOT use a custom blend that has been designed for someone else.
Because essential oils have a variety of constituents, you may unwittingly cause harm to yourself.
ALWAYS consult a Registered Aromatherapist if you have any questions.
A1C and eAG. (2017). Retrieved from http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/treatment-and-care/blood-glucose-control/a1c/
Battaglia, S. (2004). The complete guide to aromatherapy (2nd ed.). Brisbane, Qld: The International Centre of Holistic Aromatherapy
Petersen, D. (2016). Aroma 101: Introduction to aromatherapy. Portland, OR: The American College of healthcare Sciences.
Petersen, D. (2016). Aromatherapy materia medica: essential oil monographs: Part 1. Portland, OR: The American College of Healthcare Sciences.
Skin complications. (2017). Retrieved from http://www.diabetes.org/living-with- diabetes/complications/skin-complications.html?referrer=https://www.google.com/
Tisserand, R., & Young, R. (2002). Essential oil safety: A guide for healthcare professionals (2nd ed.). London, UK: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier.