|ESSENTIAL PROCESS, INC.
Noreen Ziegler, DVM, CNC
AROMATHERAPY IN VETERINARY MEDICINE
INTRODUCTION AND PRACTICAL APPLICATION OF
AROMATHERAPY IN VETERINARY MEDICINE
Stephen R. Blake, DVM
The history of Aromatherapy has been documented on both, Egyptian hieroglyphics and
Chinese manuscripts, dating back before 2780 BC. Their uses medicinally are recorded
by many cultures around the world and in the past two decades have been studied in
great depth as to how the chemical components of the oils, specially influence the human
body. Dr. Radwan Farag, Ph.D., the head of the Biochemistry Department of Cairo
University, has documented the oxygenating molecular activity, antioxidant and
antimicrobial activity of essential oils.
The phrase Aromatherapy came from a French cosmetic chemist, Rene`-Maurice
Gattefosse`, Ph.D., in 1920. He was working in his laboratory and received 3rd degree
burns on his hand and forearm. He looked for something to stop the pain and emerged
his arm in a container he thought was full of cold water. Within a few minutes, all of the
pain stopped. His colleague then informed him that the container was full of pure
lavender oil. With the continued application of lavender oil, the burn healed perfectly with
no scaring. Since he was a chemist, he analyzed the essential oil lavender and found it to
contain chemical properties, which had healing properties. The oils contain trace
elements, hormones, enzymes, vitamins, and minerals and have antifungal, antibacterial,
anti-infectious, antiseptic and immune stimulating properties.
What are essential oils? The semi-oily resins of flowers, trees, shrubs, herbs, bushes,
roots, seeds, leaves, stems and flowering petals are the essential oils used in
Aromatherapy. There are from 200 to 800 different chemical constituents with single oil.
Because of this fact, no two oils are alike in the way they affect the body or the way the
body responds to them. The common constituents are Aldehydes (anti-infection, sedative
and calming to the nervous system), Eugenol (antiseptic and stimulating), Ketones
(liquefy mucous and excellent for burns by stimulating cell regrowth, asthma, colds),
Phenols (antiseptic and bacterial and viricidal), Sesquiterpenes (anti-inflammatory, liver
and gland support, and cross the blood brain barrier) and Terpene Alcohols
(antibacterial, diuretics and decongestants). These are but a few of the many natural
occurring chemicals present in each of the essential oils and for that reason their
applications are unlimited. The basic properties of all essential oils are that they are
antioxidants (help increase oxygen to the cells), they are detoxifying (natural chelator)
and they are antimicrobial.
How are they extracted? The two most important aspects to selecting essential oils are
the source, which should be organic if at all possible, and extraction by low-pressure
steam distillation. Make sure of the source of your oils before using them. Due to the
abilities of the oils to penetrate the skin, you want to make sure that are not adulterated
(expanded with synthetic chemicals or contain petrochemicals, which may be harmful to
the patient). At this time there are over 200 different types of essential oils being distilled
and aromatic molecules being recorded and studied. The low pressure (zero pressure is
ideal) is essential because heat destroys the bioactivity of the oils. It may smell like
Lavender, but have no bioactivity and give no results as a therapeutic modality.
The oils can be utilized topically, orally or by inhalation. The oils have the ability to
penetrate the skin and enter the blood stream in minutes after application. In Europe,
thousand of medical doctors prescribe the oils for oral consumption for many disease
processes. The FDA here has not approved this method in the United States. Inhalation
therapy will give results within 1 to 3 seconds. This is due to the fact that the olfactory
membrane contains 800 million nerve endings, which form a pathway to the olfactory
bulb. From there are passes between the pituitary and pineal glands, and then on to the
amygdale, which is the memory center for fear and trauma. Since this area of the brain
has 100,000 times more information than sight, touch and taste combined, it is no wonder
it has such a profound effect on the emotions of the body.
How do you use the oils? Over the past five years, I have found that in the canine, you
can apply them directly on the pads of the feet and massage them one to two times per
day, inside the ears and down the spine. I usually use the oils in an expanded form.
Expanding the oils dilutes them and is more economical when using oils over a long
period of time. You mix 30 drops of the selected oil in one ounce of cold pressed Almond
oil. I normally place one drop of the oil on each pad. My thoughts are that the ting points
are at ends of the extremities and by massaging into the pads, I am getting these plus the
reflexology points all in one. The oils are absorbed through the skin and into the blood
within minutes. They also get the aroma effect because they are breathing the oils as the
oils evaporate. The feline prefers not to have the oils applied on their skin directly, so I
use a diffuser or put it on their bedding or place mat where they eat. Horses do well with
applications to the ears and spine. Birds, I mist their cages with the oils mixed in water
and sprits their cage with oils. I mix one drop per ounce of water and mist twice per day.
The main oils I have used over the past five years are Lavender (burns, wounds and
calming), Frankincense (antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, antitumoral, prevents scaring
and is antidepressant), Myrrh (anti-infectious, supportive of immune system,
hyperthyroidism, eczema, respiratory disease), Purification (blend of oils good for
detoxing patient and environment), Valor (blend of oils referred to as the chiropractor in a
bottle, helps the body, mind and spirit stay in alignment), Lemongrass (repair of ligaments
and joints), Helichrysum (reduces pain, regenerates tissue especially nerve), and many
The following oils should not be applied directly on the skin unless they are expanded:
Cinnamon Bark, Clove, Lemongrass, Oregano and Thyme. All of these oils are best used
mixed with almond oil and you should start with a weak dilution, to make sure it is not
irritating to the patient’s skin.
In my general practice, I diffuse Frankincense in my exam room and give the patient a
light massage with the oil on my hands. Cats, dogs and horses are very conformable with
this application. You only place a few drops in your hands, rub them together and then
lightly massage the animal for a few seconds. This procedure calms both, the caregiver
and the patient. It is also antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal. This reduces the chance
of my next patient being exposed to any contagious etiologies. I use this same oil directly
on the gums of dogs and some cats that have severe gum disease. The effect is
dramatic and most dogs are very conformable with doing this. Cats on the other hand,
are not as convinced.
When I have a possible cruciate or joint injury, I have the owner massage a dilution of 1-
drop Lemongrass to one tsp of almond oil twice per day into the area. You use a very
small amount of the oil. Lavender is an excellent oil to use on burns, eczema, insect bites,
wounds or areas where there is excess itching. You can use it straight or expanded
depending on the animal’s response to the oil.
I have used a blend of Spruce, Frankincense, Rosewood and Blue Tansy (Valor) as the
chiropractor in a bottle for my musculoskeletal cases. I have the caregiver apply one drop
of the blend to each of the pads of all four feet and massage it into the feet. I have them
do this on couch or table and then immediately after the massage is done, put them on
the floor. They will shake off and in doing so self-adjust themselves. If they do not shake
from head to tail, I have them repeat the procedure until they do. The oils help to align
the body and mind. I also feel that the massage and the oils are stimulating all of the
acupuncture meridians, which are being absorbed into the ting points. This combination
of massage, essential oils, self-adjusting and ting point stimulation, results in fewer
acupuncture or chiropractic treatments because of the proactive part the caregiver plays
in maintaining the healing process. I have them do this one to four times per day
depending on the response of the patient to each treatment. Once they are stable, I
reduce the frequency of treatments to match the progress of the case.
Frankincense has been very effective in my hands on lipomas, cysts, warts and tumors of
all kinds. I have the client dilute the oil as described above in paragraph five and
massage into the growth one to two times per day depending on the needs of the animal.
Over time, this will help the body break the tumor down and prevent the animal from
having unnecessary surgery. The acceptance with this procedure is extremely high in
cats, dogs and horses.
1. Essential Science Publishing. Essential Oils Desk Reference: Utah: Essential Science
2. Ryman, Daniele. Aromatherapy, The Complete Guide to Plant and Flower Essences for
Health and Beauty. New York: Bantam Books, 1993
3. Restick, M.D., Richard. The Brain. New York: Random House, 1991
4. Chopra, M.D., Deepak. Quantum Healing. New York: Bantam Books, 1989
5. Belvi, Viktor. Aromatherapy. New York: Avon Books, 1993
6. Becker, M.D., Robert. The Body Electric. New York: Wm.Morrow, 1985