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Five things you should know about using essential oils to promote healing or relief

Nurses Nakkia Cowan and Carla McKim employ essential oils in the University of Minnesota Health Women’s Health Specialists Clinic to help address depression, menopausal symptoms, anxiety and other health issues.
Essential oils are available in the University of Minnesota Health Women’s Health Specialists Clinic for patients to use as a helpful supplement to our other, modern care techniques.
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Can essential oils help with the healing process?

Yes, according to Nakkia Cowan and Carla McKim, nurses at the University of Minnesota Health Women’s Health Specialists Clinic on the West Bank of the University of Minnesota Medical Center campus in Minneapolis.

Cowan and McKim are trained on the safe use of the oils, which are concentrated extracts taken from the seeds, roots and leaves of plants through steam distillation or mechanical expression. They have an extensive knowledge on basic dilutions and formulas for specific symptom relief, proper methods of use and how health-related research varies from each oil.

They employ essential oils in a clinical setting to help patients address depression, menopausal symptoms, anxiety, stress and other health issues. Best of all, Cowan and McKim are also certified to teach patients the proper use and benefits of essential oils as an integrative supplement to other, modern medical care techniques.

We asked Cowan and McKim to share five things you should know about essential oils use.

Learn more about our Women’s Health Specialists Clinic services.

There are many benefits.
Essential oils stimulate the sense of smell, just like many odors trigger automatic responses. Areas of the brain that receive signals in the olfactory nerves are involved in emotion, memory, immune function and hormone functions. This aids in people’s physical, emotional and spiritual well being.

Essential oils provide symptom relief.
Essential oils can be beneficial for the mind, memory, mood, immunity, general physiology and respiration. They can aid in pain relief and can help reduce stress. They can also promote anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial effects, Cowan and McKim said.

Not all essential oils are the same.
There are 17,500 different species that produce essential oils, which are found in all parts of various plants. Each individual essential oil has a different benefit, though some essential oils share the same symptom relief, Cowan and McKim said. It’s important to do your research and follow instructions on the proper use and administration of each oil.

Handle with care.
You should never ingest essential oils. You should follow dosage and application methods as instructed. With children, adjust the dosage by weight and always dilute the oils. Use extra caution if you’re pregnant. Patch testing is one way of checking for sensitization or irritation through controlled exposure to an essential oil.

Two methods for patch testing are:

  • Application of a single drop
  • Doubling of the concentration

A positive result to patch testing is characterized by skin irritation, swelling, itching and—in rare cases—blistering.

The Women’s Health Specialists Clinic blends these integrative practices into modern medical care.


Essential oils are available in the Women’s Health Specialists Clinic for patients to use as a helpful supplement to our other modern care techniques. The oils can provide relief for some of the most common symptoms and ailments our patients may experience.

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