Why Use Drugs In An Ambulance When Aromatherapy Will Do The Job?

By Josh Bloom — May 17, 2018
Just when you think you've seen it all ... For reasons that remain unclear, an ambulance service in Wisconsin has decided to try aromatherapy (a bunch of nonsense) in ambulances. During calls! It's supposed to cut down on drug use in the ambulance. Which is one of the things ambulances are for, right? 

It will surely fail, but let's try to find some logic in these three thoughts.

  1. Americans have "discovered" that if they can just avoid chemicals, that they won't get cancer and other icky diseases. The organic food industry has not-so-gently encouraged this enlightenment.
  • Americans cannot avoid chemicals. It is impossible.


  1. Only a small percentage of even long-term pain patients who take opiates for pain become addicted.
  • Therefore we should avoid giving out these medicines, even in the short term.
  • There can be no shorter term than a trip in an ambulance.


  1. Patients experience "pain, nausea or anxiety" during their ambulance ride.


  • Let's just use a bunch of nice smelling chemicals in the ambulance instead of drugs for pain, nausea or anxiety.

Yep, that'll work out just splendidly.

No, I'm not kidding, the use of aroma-non-therapy in ambulances is real. It is being used in Wisconsin. More on that later. 

Aromatherapy, which is one of the back-to-nature movement's darlings at the moment, is no more than another form of quackery that just happens to smell nice.  It has been claimed to have been used to prevent and treat all kinds of unrelated diseases, improve appearance and mood, and treat anxiety and insomnia.

Among others. What is sold as aromatherapy is nothing but a mixture of essential oils. Not essential as in important, just fragrant, like essence. (See Essential Oils - Not What The Name Implies) And essential oils smell nice for a reason - they are mixtures of hundreds of chemicals which are extracted from plants which happen have a nice aroma. People may hate chemicals, but they sure like these chemicals. To the tune of $27.5 billion worldwide in 2017. 

Especially galling is that Tri-State Ambulance in La Crosse, Wisconsin has started using aroma-non-therapy to ease patient discomfort on the way to the hospital. Because we all know how common it is for people to become addicted to drugs during five-minute ambulance rides. 

Behold this genius, courtesy of Dr. Chris Eberlein, medical director for Tri-State Ambulance (emphasis mine):

"We started reviewing 'Why are they giving narcotics?' and really it came down to the fact that they didn't have many other things they could do in the ambulance ride."

Chris Eberlein, M.D., medical director of Tri-State Ambulance, May 8, 2018

Oh really? The only two choices in an ambulance are fentanyl or a spritz in the face with Febreze? It would seem as though that, just a little imagination, there might be a few other to kill time on the way to the hospital. For example:







OK, we have now established that there are, indeed, alternatives to fentanyl and Febreze to comfort those patients taking the fast ride to the slow ER. What could they possibly be, and why shouldn't we use them?

"Narcotics, or opioids, have been shown to lead to addiction and other drug use... [I] wanted to find a way to treat patients without the medications.

Chris Eberlein, M.D

It is here that the madness becomes evident. When exactly did it become wrong to use medications in an ambulance??? What is the rationale behind this screwy mindset? Let's start with opiates.

A shot of morphine will not only work but will addict approximately zero percent of the people who get one on the way to the hospital. There are very effective drugs for anxiety (See: Versed: The Second Coolest Drug out There) and nausea (see New Superb Weapon Against Chemo's Side Effects). Is there any reason why these shouldn't be used in an ambulance? 

It's not as bad as you might think. People with a kidney stone are going to be offered real drugs, not cedarwood. 

"We’re not going to not treat your pain. If you need a narcotic, you’re going to get it...What we‘re looking at is for the patients that ... they've got minor pain along with other complaints, that we can supplement their treatment with this."

No! The real harm here comes in the form of three messages, all wrong.

  1. Opiates are so addictive that they should be avoided at all costs, even in an ambulance.

It's almost as if there is now an unspoken contest to see who can come up with the dumbest macho idea just to show that they are taking this "epidemic" seriously. No sir, no opiates on my watch! Attorney General Sessions has certainly done his part. (See: 'Let Them Eat Aspirin' - Jeff Sessions' Painfully Ignorant Remarks). The "avoid at all cost" mentality that our healthcare policymakers, elected officials, and law enforcement lemmings have kept rushing toward is based on a false premise - that appropriate use of opiate pain medications will result in addiction, maybe even after a week. There is ample evidence to show this is dead wrong. So, why should ambulance companies even be thinking this way? In doing so they are actually helping spread a lie.

  1. Natural chemicals are good and synthetic ones are bad.

This is complete nonsense. Always has been.  A 1990 paper by Dr. Bruce Ames and colleagues concluded that 99.99% of the pesticides that Americans consume are made by the plant, not added to it, and that there is no difference in the carcinogenicity of synthetic and natural pesticides. Why encourage scientific ignorance by using feel-good sounding concepts that, if they work at all, do so as a placebo? Especially in an ambulance.

  1. If evidence-based medicine falls short why not try "alternative medicine?" 

Here's the real harm. This feel-good but fatally flawed philosophy, which is growing like an algae bloom, is taking us back centuries, both scientifically and medically. Unfortunately, it's based on a collection of myths, which carry more or less the same message: - if "western" medicine doesn't have an answer then there must be something out there that can, especially if you look back far enough into the past when people were somehow wiser than today. But it's nonsense. Just because certain "medical" procedures were practiced thousands of years ago does not make them superior to modern treatment, or even safe or effective at all. And there are consequences.

For example, instead of getting their kids vaccinated (uh, oh - chemicals) against measles parents are increasingly opting for fresh air and food, possibly with a useless dietary supplement to "support the immune system" thrown in. Aside from the supplement, there's nothing wrong with that, but none of it will prevent measles, which is showing up in hot spots across the US despite the fact that it was declared "eradicated" in 2000. In the year 2014, a record 667 cases of the infection were reported to the CDC. Every case was preventable. Too bad about those damn chemicals in the vaccine that make it work better and keep bacteria from growing in the bottle. 

The silliness of a smelly ambulance may not do much harm, but the message it sends surely does. There is far too much junk passing for science and medicine already and we do not need any "help" from legitimate medical sources. Internet hucksters like Joe Mercola and Mike Adams, and TV clowns like Dr. Oz, the "Food Babe," and Dr. Axe (1) already have done more than enough to ensure that Americans are perpetually confused about medicine and science as well to the point where they will cheerfully buy the garbage that is being hawked.

C'mon guys. Enough already. An aromatherapy ambulance ride?? Let's call 911 on that one.


(1) From Dr. Axe's website:

"So, are you ready to harness the power of the world’s most proven therapeutic compounds? Are you ready to learn which oils to use in your essential oil diffuser or in other ways? Explore the many essential oils benefits and uses, and open your mind to a whole new way of preventing and reversing health conditions that you’ve been battling for years." 

Dr. Axe is one seriously flipped out cowboy.



Josh Bloom

Director of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Science

Dr. Josh Bloom, the Director of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Science, comes from the world of drug discovery, where he did research for more than 20 years. He holds a Ph.D. in chemistry.

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