June 30, 2009

All good things come from plants.. right?

I was sitting in my office, with its organic cotton sheets, organic, crystal-clear oil and a drawer full of matrix-shifting essential oils and root extracts when a new client came in. She plopped a bottle of paraffin massage oil on my desk.

"I can’t have any plant oils or products on my skin. Is that going to be a problem?"

Of course, not a problem, I explained, I could use whatever oil she wanted. The prospect of using mineral-based oils was something new to me. If anything, I would hear the occasional horror story about people reacting to heavy massage oils, petroleum-based oils or ones with lots of preservatives, and her request made me curious.

Healthy stuff comes from plants - fabulous foods, great oils, therapeutic smells, anti-inflammatory substances, organic materials, and all kinds of stuff things that make us feel better, cope better and love better.

Well, fudge crumpets. At least I thought so.

The client - a very nice lady with a very tight neck and a classroom full of first-graders - was on a protocol for fibromyalgia that included taking the drug guafinesin. Guafinesin is a mucus-thinning drug that helps break up thick secretions. It is something I have taken occasionally in a cough syrup. I also had a client, years ago, who went on the drug to help with fibro, but it had not helped her much.

Turns out her doctor, a fibromyalgia specialist in Santa Monica had found a link between lack of response to the drug and use of plant products on the skin. To keep the drug active, no arnica, veggie oil, essential oils or anything else on the skin.

I used the paraffin oil, and despite its sort-of weird lube feel and clear thin-ness to my hands, it seemed to work quite well. After she left, I sat at my desk wondering if all these years searching for the best, most fab oil of all time, if I had missed the boat, the dock and the mainland.

I mentioned my new client’s request to my office-mate when she came in later that day. She made a sound that I can spell only as "AAGH!" But plants are so healing, so good for you, so good for everyone, etc. It took a few minutes to sink in; while I watched, her head shook in disbelief.

As a few weeks went by, my client became at ease enough to tell me about her troubles finding massage with paraffin. One therapist had promised to use her paraffin oil and after going to her for a month she found out the therapist just thought she was crazy and was really using her safflower oil. The client had understandably gotten quite indignant, and that is why she came in my door she addressed the question head-on.

I used my standard answer for commenting on what I think of as "great moments in customer service."

"She must have gone to a different school than I did."

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