Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Essential Oils 101: Safety and Precautions

Essential oils are a wonderful tool for supporting your body naturally. Even though they are natural, there are still precautions to take to ensure that you're using this tool safely and effectively. As I've stated before, there are many opinions about how to use essential oils and lots of contradicting information. I encourage everyone to learn as much as they can about the oils and decide what feels right for you. Don't just take the word of someone who is selling the oil. 

This is what I've learned over the years and what I feel like is right for me. 

1. Before applying oils for the first time, try a drop to see if your skin is sensitive to it. Some people may not tolerate oils "neat" and require the oil to be diluted with a carrier oil. Some oils may cause an allergic reaction even if it is diluted. Every body is unique and what works for one person may not work for another. Applying oils to the feet is not only effective for distributing the oils throughout the body, but there's less chance of the skin on the feet being sensitive to the oils.

2. If you experience discomfort from using an essential oil, apply a carrier oil over the sensitive area. Do not rinse it with water--the water will enhance the action of the oil and can make the reaction stronger. The carrier oil will dilute the essential oil and lessen the discomfort. 

3. Always dilute essential oils with a carrier oil when applying to children or babies. Their skin is more sensitive and they are more likely to experience discomfort from undiluted oils. 

4. Never take oils internally. This is where you'll find a lot of contradicting information. I've noticed that only multi-level marketing companies promote the ingestion of essential oils. Everyone else in the aromatherapy industry (people who have studied the oils for themselves for years) believe that oils should only be ingested under close supervision of a trained professional, or not at all. There are some oils widely known as being toxic (causing injury and death) that should NEVER be taken internally, including eucalyptus and wintergreen. Yet multi-level marketing companies encourage the ingestion of eucalyptus oil by itself or in a blend. If you do choose to ingest essential oils, do you due diligence and educate yourself extensively on the subject--don't just take the advice of the person selling the oil. And always check the label before you ingest an oil to see if it contains a toxic oil.

5. Keep out of reach of children. There's something about those little bottles that is so appealing to kids! My daughter got into my oils once when I was busy in another room and got peppermint on her hands. Then she rubbed her eyes. And then she screamed. She still hates peppermint oil to this day. Oils should be kept away from little hands that could get the oil into their eyes, onto their sensitive skin, or into their bellies. 

6. Use oils with caution for pregnancy. Generally, blends are safer to use when pregnant than single oils. There are many single oils that should not be used during pregnancy, but are safe to use in a blend. Research what oils you can and can't use during pregnancy, and always proceed with caution. Some oils that are generally safe to use during pregnancy may cause a reaction for you.  

7. Do not blend oils unless it is a trusted recipe. This is something that I don't think a lot of people understand: when you blend oils together, it changes the way they act. To blend oils requires extensive knowledge and experience. There are a lot of roller bottle recipes on the internet that combine single oils together. I personally don't trust those recipes. I prefer to use the blends created by the professionals. 

8. Do not allow essential oils to be heated. High temperatures destroy the essential oil. If your oils are accidentally left in a car or in the sun, allow the oils to cool to room temperature before opening the lid. Cold temperatures generally do not damage the therapeutic properties of the oils. If the oils have been exposed to cold, allow them to return to room temperature. Do not apply any heat to warm them (you can hold them in your hand to warm them).