Essential Oils for Lymphedema — Lymphatic System
By Caryn Gehlmann
I have been so honored to get to know many knowledgeable and compassionate healthcare workers over the years. Juli Bossert is a licensed massage therapist and a certified lymphedema therapist. She not only brings professional experience to her job she is also a cancer warrior like myself. This helps her to have enhanced sensitivity in her work with oncology patients. What’s particularly fascinating to me is Juli’s exploration of essential oils for lymphedema. Among other benefits, using essential oils for the lymphatic system will help you stick to a pleasant, daily self-care routine, especially when you’re tired following a cancer surgery, which can include lymph node removal. Enjoy our interview below.
Tell us a little bit about your background and your work, particularly with the lymphatic system.
I’ve always been passionate about helping people, whether it’s been in my past careers or my current career in massage therapy. After completing my BS degree in Psychology and my MS degree in HR, I worked in corporate supervisor roles for years. In 2012, I was working as a Human Resources Manager, as well as attending massage school part-time, when I was diagnosed with Hodkin’s Lymphoma. I had to leave massage school so I could continue to work my full-time career throughout my cancer treatment and focus on getting well. During that time, I learned a lot about cancer and the lymphatic system. An interesting point though is there is still so much we don’t know about the lymphatic system.
I decided to go back to massage therapy school in 2016. It was there that I learned about Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD) to help other cancer survivors like myself or others who needed assistance in lymphedema, injuries, other diseases, swelling, post-surgery, plastic surgery recovery, etc. I went on to attend the Academy of Lymphatic Studies (ACOLS) and received my certification in Complete Decongestive Therapy, which consists of a thorough study of the lymphatic system. This training is attended by RNs, PTs, OTs, MDs, DCs, LMTs, etc..
I suffer from mild lymphedema in my neck from Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. I also have chronic swelling and pain from an auto accident in one wrist. I can do lymph work on myself and reduce the swelling in my neck as well as my wrist. The swelling is reduced as well as some of the pain in my wrist as lymphatic drainage is also very pain relieving.
I enjoy working with clients who need MLD, but one of the most rewarding parts of that relationship is helping people learn how to help themselves. It’s important that people learn how to help themselves and not feel they have to rely on someone else to always help them with their treatments.
How do you use essential oils for support of the lymphatic system — lymphedema in your practice?
I use essential oils sparingly in my massage practice as I tend to work with oncology clients as well as other clients. A side effect of chemotherapy can be an enhanced or sensitivity to smells. I use essential oils but I don’t diffuse them. I only use the oils in my massage cream and on a cotton pad by the face cradle. This allows me to use different aromatherapies my clients like without overwhelming the next person coming into the room. I am one of those people with sensitivities to smells from having chemotherapy so it also helps me not to develop a headache while working. There is an essential oil blend from e3, Lymphatic Support, that I do recommend for my clients with lymphatic issues or clients wanting to support their lymph system for other reasons. I’ve had great reviews from my clients who use it.
I’m not an expert on aromatherapy. I leave that to Caryn and the wonderful people at e3. Most of the time I ask them for what I’m looking for and they guide me. If a client asks, I still ask someone who knows a lot more than I do and then recommend what I was advised on. I do caution my oncology and lymphedema clients to start out with a small amount and add to it in case the smell is too strong for them. Some essential oils can be dangerous to animals as well. I have a cat, so I always caution people who may diffuse to remember their animals.
Any recommendations on how essential oils can support us?
Essential oils are amazing in the healing and transforming capabilities they have. Using the correct aromatherapy can lift a mood, help relax muscles, ease a sunburn, the list just keeps going. I love pairing them with massage therapy as I work with many clients with injuries from motor vehicle accidents to sports, etc. as well as if someone is having a hard day. They assist in relaxing the body, allowing it to rest and heal as well as brighten someone’s mood and outlook. I think that’s really amazing.
How do you personally use essential oils? Do you have a favorite blend or application you can share?
I personally use e3’s Migraine Blend Roll-on and carry it with me. I like several others as well, Stress Relief, Purify and some of the more straight forward essential oils such as Peppermint, Orange, Lavender, and Eucalyptus. Since I’m sensitive to strong smells, I don’t use them as much as in the past, but can use them sparingly.
How did you connect with Caryn and Essential 3?
I rented a space out of another massage therapy office for about a year and a half. They use e3 oils and I was able to try them and learn about the business on the website. I love how it’s a local business and I love to be able to support them. I wanted to see the e3 store and set up my account. I met Caryn and we had a wonderful visit. I knew I found the right place for sure. She is very informative and caring.
e3 offers great quality and support. They have a wonderful group working together here in Southern Oregon. Working with e3 gives me the confidence that I’m offering the best product to my clients at an affordable price point. It’s great knowing that if I have any questions or concerns about aromatherapy I can call, ask, and get a response right away. I love that e3 is a local company offering a wonderful service and product to our area. The classes they offer are wonderful as well. This is a really unique opportunity not only to the presenter but to the clientele and community. I want to thank e3 for the opportunity to share my passion with information about MLD, the lymphatic system, lymphedema and self-care.
We really appreciate Juli taking the time to explain her work and the use of essential oils for lymphedema and proactively supporting your lymphatic system. We wholeheartedly agree with her approach to aromatherapy, especially with those who because of health concerns are sensitive to strong smells. Each person is different and requires a customized approach to their health and wellness. We invite wellness practitioners to explore their options on our website and reach out to e3’s trained clinical aromatherapists with any questions.