Aromatherapy: How to Use Essential Oils Safely
Essential oil safety might not excite you. In fact, you might even see it as overkill. There was one point in time I would have agreed with you.
But I studied this topic at length and as a Certified Aromatherapist and Holistic Health Practitioner, I think it's an important to review. Ultimately, like so many other things that have “rules” it is for our own good. So let's dive in.
When the topic of how to use essential oils safely comes up, it may seem a little scary. “What do you mean I could have an adverse reaction?” Keep in mind that you can take an over-the-counter pill, a prescription or eat a bag of Doritos and have a reaction. You pick up a new brand of laundry detergent or body wash and you can have a reaction to it. There are always going to be risks.
I love essential oils. I have used them since college, but I didn’t start using them on regular basis until 2014. When I started to do more research, I went all in and became a certified aromatherapist.
This post is to share some of the most common safety issues when it comes to using essential oils.
Since essential oils are highly concentrated a little goes a long way. If used incorrectly they can be toxic and cause reactions in or on the body.
It’s always important to handle essential oils with the utmost care and respect so that they can be beneficial on one’s journey.
The following are the most common safety tips for using essential oils.
1. If you are pregnant, nursing, taking medications, have any illness or medical conditions, please consult a doctor or health professional before use. (Example: Grapefruit is a common food that interacts with medication; therefore, you would not want to use grapefruit essential oil topically.)
2. Keep out of reach of children.
3. Essential oils are typically for external use only. Use common sense and don’t put them in highly sensitive areas or crevices (i.e. your butt, lady bits or man parts)
4. Many experts recommend you do a patch test when you want to use an essential oil topically. Put a small, diluted amount on the inside of your wrists. If a reaction is to occur, it will do so within 24-36 hours (if not sooner).
5. Store your essential oils in in a cool, dark place.
6. Avoid contact of essential oils around the mouth area.
7. Do not rub essential oils on or place them in or near your eyes.
8. Some essential oils can cause irritation if they are applied undiluted, so it is recommended to dilute all oils when using them on the skin. Dilution requirements depend on many factors such as age, health conditions, medications, the type of essential oils, etc. Note, dilution requirements also change depending on if they are infant, child or elderly.
9. If you cannot eat the food equivalent of an essential oil, it is best to avoid all together. Example: If you are allergic to cinnamon or oranges, don't use the essential oil equivalent especially topically.
10. When using essential oil recipes, follow the recipes exactly and do not increase the amount of essential oils as they were usually formulated that way for specific reasons and to minimize reactions.
11. Some oils can cause skin irritations such as spice essential oils. If slight redness or itchiness occur put some cream or base oil, such as almond oil, on the affected area and apply a cold wet cloth until the redness or itchiness disappears.
12. Never pour essential oils directly into the ear or ear canal.
13. If you accidentally splash essential oil in your eyes, use a small amount of base oil to dilute the essential oil and absorb this with a soft cloth before rinsing with cold water. If there is a serious incident, always seek medical attention.
14. The standard shelf life for essential oils is about 1-2 years once opened. Write down the date you opened it on the bottle. If there is no room get a small label or masking tape and write the date down.
15. Citrus oils such as bergamot, orange, etc. are photo-toxic. This means that they can cause skin discoloration in bright sunlight, even when diluted. It is therefore best to avoid these oils on exposed skin if the weather is sunny. Instead, use them at night if you plan on using them topically or diffuse them.
16. Saving the best for last. There is huge debate over whether you should or should not ingest essential oils. My opinion about this has been back and forth. Ultimately, based on my research and aromatherapy certification studies, there has not been enough research done on the topic of ingesting oils (even when you dilute them). I personally feel that your skin (the body's largest organ) can absorb what your body needs to be effective without ingesting. Essential oils are highly concentrated nature, so if you want lemon in your food use a real lemon. Do your research, talk to medically trained professional, determine any risks, and then do what you feel is best. Your health is up to only one person, you. You are the owner of your body and you make the final decisions.
17. And as the standard goes…when it comes to essential oils and their health benefits the statements contained have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The information contained in this post is intended for education, entertainment and information purposes only. This information is not intended to be used to diagnose, prescribe or replace proper medical care. Essential oils described on this website and with associated products is not intended to treat, cure, diagnose, mitigate or prevent any disease.
There are many more caveats; however, these are the biggest ones. If you have any questions, additional safety tips or want more information please reach out directly or comment below.
Be smart, use common sense and do what’s best for you!
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