How to talk to your Doc about Essential Oils
Sometimes you’ll see it: the disclaimer on a label or the bottom of an information page to talk to your physician if you are pregnant, nursing, or under a doctor’s care. This isn’t a new phenomenon, many supplements in the market come with this advice. This does bring up an important question though, how do you bring up using essential oils or supplements from doTERRA with your healthcare provider? The answer is more intuitive than you think.
In order to get a physician’s point of view, we asked Dr. Brannick Riggs, Vice President of Healthcare Initiatives and Chief Medical Director of the soon-to-be doTERRA clinic. Dr. Riggs himself has had plenty of experience using essential oils, both at home and in recommending them to his patients.
Q: How do I approach the topic of using essential oils or doTERRA supplements with my doctor?
A: The first thing in approaching your doctor about essential oils is to speak their language. Really, that’s true when you speak to anyone about oils, you’ve got to meet them where they are and speak to them and their experience. So, with physicians, we speak the language of science. When a patient comes in and says that they just feel it would be good to try something, the physician is going to see it as an idea that doesn’t hold a lot of water. What’s important to a physician is that there is evidence to support why you want to use essential oils or other alternative methods. So, when I get asked this question by Wellness Advocates, I usually recommend that they pull articles from PubMed, the nih.gov site, and present their doctor with information. Say, “Here’s an article about this and I would like to try it.” That tends to peak our interest a little bit.
Q: When is it necessary to talk with my healthcare provider?
A: Every time, especially if you have a health concern. Q: Why would a physician say no?
A: The challenge is, most doctors, including me, don’t know everything about every supplement. I’ll have patients that will bring to me a supplement that they’re taking and say, “Dr. Riggs is this OK? It says I’m supposed to talk to my doctor about it.” And I’ll have no idea because I’ve never seen it before. Sometimes I’ll have the time to look it up, and determine that I don’t have a concern with the ingredients for that specific patient’s health. But a lot of the time physicians don’t have the time to look that up. Which means that their first answer is going to be not to take it. They don’t have the time to determine whether it’s safe or not. So they’re going to say because I don’t know, don’t take it. Not the right answer, but a common answer. That’s where speaking their language and bringing them the information can go a long way.
Q: Any other advice on this topic?
A: The biggest thing to remember is to be patient with your doctor. Come to the conversation from the angle that physicians really do care about people. And because of that, they have invested a huge amount of time and a huge amount of money to get that training. Some physicians are going to feel threatened by the fact that you’re offering something different. So be patient. It takes us some time. And it takes us multiple exposures of something to really begin to see maybe there is something in this. You might be one patient that’s telling your doctor that you really want to use oils for whatever reason. But, you may be one of 50. And after that 51 one, the doctor may see that maybe there is something to this and want to look into essential oils more.
Know that they’re trying their best. They’re overwhelmed by their own research and how quickly the guidelines change. Just within my career, the guidelines for hypertension have changed for the fifth time, and I have not been a physician for that long. You’re opening their eyes to something that’s brand new as far as they’re concerned. It’s just going to take some time to understand there is some value in what you bring to the table.
About Dr. Riggs: Dr. Riggs served on doTERRA's medical advisory board for five years, making major contributions to doTERRA's research and education initiatives. Prior to joining doTERRA, Dr. Riggs taught as an associate professor at the University of Utah College of Medicine, practiced as a physician and partner at Revere Health, and served as Revere Health's Medical Director of the Northern Utah Region. He graduated from the University of Arizona College of Medicine, where he received training in integrative medicine.
He specializes in family medicine and is a member of the American Academy of Family Physicians. He enjoys using the oils in his home and integrating them into his practice to benefit the lives of his patients. He is passionate about teaching healthcare professionals how to better care for their patients—not to simply treat disease, but to improve the overall health and well-being of their patients.