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Mom Charged in Son's Death After Choosing Essential Oils Over Antibiotics

Photograph by Facebook

In the cabinet above my fridge, there is a little basket of essential oils I turn to on rare occasions. I’ll use them for burns or a minor headache. If I’m having trouble sleeping, I might mix a little lavender oil with a little avocado oil and put it on my feet. That is about as far as my essential oil use goes in my home.

I’m all for choosing the natural route whenever possible. I’ll give my kids supplements to boost their immune system and I’ll wait out a fever as long as it remains under the threshold my doctor gave me. I’m not one to run to the doctor, either. I’ll wait out head colds and even stomach bugs if I’m able to keep my kids hydrated. I’m a big believer in the body’s ability to fight off everyday sickness but I’m also a big believer in antibiotics.

When I saw that a 7-year-old boy named Ryan had passed away because his mom had opted for dandelion tea and oregano oil instead of antibiotics, I was heartbroken. Ryan developed a streptococcus infection and later had meningitis and pneumonia. I truly believe that his mother was doing what she thought was best, but it turned out she was wrong.

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Tamara Lovett, Ryan’s 47-year-old mom, is now being accused of criminal negligence. Prosecutors suggest that she failed in her responsibility to meet Ryan’s basic needs, which resulted in his death, according to USA Today. The day before Ryan’s death, a friend had encouraged Tamara to take him to the hospital but Tamara continued to rely on her natural remedies.

This news is completely devastating, but I honestly don’t find it surprising. I wouldn’t be shocked to find that she had been ill-advised by the person or company who sold her the oils because I have witnessed this firsthand. I have watched my friends avoid antibiotics at all costs and there are two cancer survivors in my family who both were advised to skip chemo in favor of oils more than once, a choice that could have cost them their lives.

When I log into Facebook, I typically see someone talking about their oil business within a few minutes. I’m a work-at-home mom myself, so I am happy to see so many of my friends have found a way to make a little extra money while they’re home with their young kids. I don’t have anything against the product, but I do have a problem with individuals who present oils as something they're not: a substitute for life-saving medicine.

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It is crucial as parents that we remember that selling oils, even when it involves attending training conferences, doesn’t make someone a medical professional. I’m sure that oils have a place in the family home, maybe for maintaining wellness or managing bothersome symptoms, but there comes a point when a line needs to be drawn. It is vital that we remember that antibiotics save lives. Sure, they may do a number to your gut and overuse is a bad idea, but they are necessary for the treatment of certain illnesses.

I’m not saying throw out your oils, but I am saying you should take the advice of your favorite oil rep with a grain of salt and be sure to consult with your doctor before you introduce essentials oils into your family life. It just might save a life.

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