Dr. Melissa Shelton knew from a young age that she wanted to be a veterinarian. At 3 years old, she reported she was going to be a doctor. A well-intending by-stander said "oh, maybe you'll be a nurse...." as it was less common for women to become doctors at that time. If you know Melissa, you'll know she's a tad on the stubborn side. So, in response to this statement, she clearly said, "NO! I will be a doctor... a doctor for ANIMALS!"
Quite possibly that stubborn streak has resulted in Melissa's drive and curiosity in regards to essential oils. Being told something "can't" be done, with no clear reason why...has never sat well with her. Essential oils continue to be a bit of a black sheep in the holistic medical world. So many reports exist of the dangers of their use with animals, especially with cats and birds. However, Dr. Shelton has clearly witnessed clinical benefits to the use of essential oils.
I knew about essential oils for many years really. However, sometimes life does not present the right circumstances to initiate the desire to fully use something you know is a good thing. Many of us may recognize that regular exercise is a really good thing for our health, but dedicating the time and commitment to doing it - well, that can take some years before we get wise enough to truly enact it as a regular habit. I turned 40 before realizing that I really did need to work out on a regular basis. Once I committed to that, it took a few months before it became a habit for me. And now, I can't imagine not keeping fit and healthy, and recognize the time (and even financial commitment) required to do so.
So, it took a little "kick in the butt" for me to recognize that essential oils were pretty darn amazing, and I really needed to use them more often. My kick in the butt happened to be my human children. Naturally, I will do anything for my children. When my children were born, it became clear that I would have to keep diets in tip top shape, avoid artificial food dyes, chemicals, artificial sweeteners, and basically most things that are added to processed foods, over-the-counter medications (kid cough syrup), and even chewing gum. We would see clear responses to these "unhealthy chemicals" in the forms of skin eruptions and behavioral concerns. Some might call it ADD or ADHD, or even Autism - but to me - it was a clear response to the items that were going into my kids' mouths. Even the overload of white sugars in Jelly - would affect my kids.
In 2008, I saw an advertisement for a community education class featuring some natural remedies for coughs, colds, flus, etc... I love learning, so paid my $10 for the hour long class - which turned out to be on essential oils....and the rest, as they say, is history. When I walked into the classroom, it smelled fabulous. A diffuser was running, and the essential oils in the air did not smell "perfumey" nor did they give me a headache or sore throat. At first, I only thought of using the essential oils as a replacement for the toxic air fresheners used in many homes. We had started to document clear problems in animals coming from homes using plug-in air fresheners, spray air fresheners, odor eliminating sprays, perfumes, fabric softeners, and toxic cleaners. Seizures, kidney value elevations, liver value elevations, feather picking, skin problems, and even ear infections resolved as the use of these products was eliminated. By seeing this, we had stopped using any sort of odor control in our veterinary clinic as well - however, this can result in one stinky clinic! Our vet clinic is located within our home, so odor control can be a bit more on your mind when you are hospitalizing a Parvo puppy with insanely stinky diarrhea!
I had to make sure that the essential oils would also be safe for use in animal homes. Especially if my intent was to replace these toxic products with a healthier alternative. There was not a lot of great information out there. Most of what you read on the internet, and even in the veterinary community is a huge warning about using essential oils around animals. Danger, danger, danger...was the theme. Especially where cats and birds were concerned. However, I am not one to just "believe blindly" - as the very odor-eliminating sprays that I KNEW were causing some of my patients problems, were "guaranteed" by the vet community to be safe and non-toxic as well. So, a guarantee that essential oils were toxic, without much scientific data behind it, did not satisfy my cause and effect brain.
Meanwhile, in our human life, I started using essential oils first for everything from a scraped knee, upset stomach, or headache before reaching for any sort of "traditional" treatment. I was seeing pretty great results, and wanted to learn more. As I went to every class that I could find on the use of essential oils, it was inevitable that people would find out that I was a veterinarian. And, as typical when someone finds out you are a vet...they MUST share an animal story with you! Since we were at essential oil classes, naturally the story of the animal would usually include essential oils! I became a little bit intrigued. How were hundreds of these people that I had met, using essential oils on their animals (some quite aggressively), and not killing them? Especially if the internet reports were true?
This is really what set me down my road of exploration. I could not understand why there could be so much bad press out there on essential oil use and animals, however there were still some people who clearly had some pretty amazing results. I started to diffuse for my own animals in our home. I drew blood and urine samples prior to introducing essential oils into our home, and continued to monitor them afterward. I watched their behaviors, respiratory rates, and even responses when they had a health concern. Everything that I could document, indicated that the essential oils were helpful, not harmful.
To be continued...