While displaying a selection of Nature’s Gift oils at the recent Alliance of International Aromatherapists (AIA) conference, I felt a touch on my shoulder. The customer’s face was concerned, and her tone was gentle.
“Marge, do you mind if I ask you a personal question?”
I smiled inside because I thought I knew what was coming. “Do you have Parkinson’s disease?” (I was right!) I replied “No, it’s not that”.
Now, this customer was not the first to approach me with the same question. (Some of you have heard of my personal rule of thumb: ask a question three times…then we need to blog about it!)
So here it is…I have benign familial tremor, also called essential tremor.
As we chatted, I passed the customer’s credit card to the ladies who accompany me to conferences. My hand tremors make it hard for me to swipe a card through the Square reader, so I appreciate their help completing transactions. As I passed the customer’s card back to her, she had another question: “Can nothing be done to help you?”
I thought for a moment. Essential tremor tends to run in families (as it does in mine) but the exact cause is unknown. My older brother’s tremor is totally under control with a medication that does nothing for me….some meds have helped slightly, but not much. The worst part for me is what’s called a “core tremor”. It affects my voice severely and makes my head shake as well as my hands. It’s frustrating, since I REALLY love doing Facebook live videos…but the tremor makes my voice almost indecipherable.
Anyway, back to the customer’s question. “Can nothing be done to help?” All of a sudden my reply just popped out: “Sometimes, there’s just NOT an oil for that!” (and we laughed.)
“Sometimes, there’s just NOT an oil for that!”
At the wonderful AIA conference, we learned (among many things) about the supportive role essential oils play in wound care, lymphedema, and cancer treatment. But something many speakers said deeply resonated with me: “Even if you can’t help with physical symptoms, with aromatherapy, you can ALWAYS support the emotional ones.” My teacher from Jane Buckle’s CCAP course has always said something similar: “When in doubt, treat for stress.”
Where aromatherapy SHINES for my essential tremor is the support it gives fighting fatigue, stress, sleeplessness and worry, for these things always make my tremors worse. The AIA conference ran from 8 AM-6 PM daily…then afterwards, there were dinners, meetings, and gala events. Every night I fell into bed exhausted!
Many conference attendees who stopped by our exhibit mentioned they were having trouble sleeping because of not being in their own beds, plus their brains had trouble ‘shutting down’ after a long stimulating day. For those nights when your mind simply won’t hush and let you relax into sleep, I suggest our “Happy Dreams” Blend. The Mediterranean Petitgrain in it seems to calm what my CCAP teacher called “MonkeyMind.” (So many of us identify with that term!)
Mary Monteiro, a Canadian aromatherapist and owner of Breathe Naturals, shared with me a blend she’s used for essential tremor. (I am reminded once more of the generous spirits we meet in this profession I love. Mary did *not* have to reach out and share her blend with me. Bless her generous heart!)
Mary uses a 5% dilution, in 10 mls of Hempseed oil and 20 mls of Jojoba.
Clary Sage 8 drops
Lavender 7 drops
Sweet Marjoram 10 drops
Copaiba Balsam 3 drops
Vetiver 2 drops
She applies this blend topically to the back of her neck and lower head; sometimes she does use an inhaler, but finds the topical application more effective.
Topical use would not work for me; I’m sensitized to components in the top three oils. Not deterred, we set out to make an aromastick/personal inhaler. Cutting the Lavender way back, we also used equal parts of steam distilled Sweet Marjoram and Sweet Marjoram CO2.
The aroma is lovely; I think it helps some. While the blend doesn’t make the tremor go away, it helps moderate it a bit. Pleased with the results, I asked Jim to make up several inhalers for me (for home, car, and office) so I would always have one handy.
So….now you know “what’s wrong with Marge”! Living with this condition is often frustrating. Sometimes I handle it with grace, and other times…well, not so much! Traveling to and from conferences can make my condition flare…not sleeping in my own comfy bed, hours explaining 30 years of passion for essential oils, and my brain being a “thirsty little sponge” soaking up lots of new and exciting research…it can all add up. While there might not be an oil for everything, my beloved essential oils soothe and protect, support and encourage me. Can anyone ask for more than that? I think not.
Follow up: In September of 2020 I followed my neurologist’s recommendation and underwent “Deep Brain Stimulation” surgery. He thought I might find up to an 80 to 90% improvement. The procedure involves having electrodes implanted in my brain to stimulate or control the pathways causing the tremor. 10 months later I would say the results are mixed. My hand tremour has lessened immensely. I can now carry a coffee up from the kitchen to my computer in the family room without spilling, not possible prior to the surgery. The head tremor persists. (I feel like a bobble head, and I hate it.) On the PLUS side,my voice is much stronger. Earlier this year we recorded a LONG video about the history of Nature’s Gift for an international wholesaler who distributes our oils. My beloved daughter in law keeps hinting about a live FB q &A, now that people may be able to actually understand what we are saying. So there has been progress. Not as much as I would have liked, but some. And at this point I am grateful for any!
Thank you so much for sharing this with us. I, too, have ET. I was interested in your results with the deep brain stimulation surgery. I have also been looking into Neuravive, which is laser focused ultrasound treatment. My ET is progessing to increased head tremor and voice tremor. I am thankful it is not parkinsons
which is prevelant in my family history.
The results were not what I had hoped for from the surgery. The effects on my voice are gone, so that was 100% successful. But the head tremor is still there…and over the past year or so the tremor in my hands has become much worse. By the same token, I know people who say the surgery was “life-changing” for them. So don’t just judge by my experience, please!
I have not heard of the ultrasound. Perhaps try that first? It would have to be less invasive than three surgeries…just the anesthesia alone, times 3, can be daunting.
Oh…to add to the story… perhaps six weeks after finishing this… I had an emergency gall bladder removal…which required 2 separate operations, so it was 5 times under anesthesia. Which may account for the EBS surgery being less effective than hoped.