Essential oils are highly concentrated and though they can be extremely safe and highly effective to use, they re not without risk. As powerful constituents of plants, they are indeed a chemical (so are you) and they can be harmful if not used carefully. Rather than panic or avoid using these amazing gifts for more natural wellness, take a little time to learn more about safety and proper use. And begin using them in your day to day wellness plans.
Here are few guidelines to consider as you get started:
- Consult with a medical or aromatherapy practitioner as you come up to speed on your oily knowledge.
- Go Low & Slow to Start. Use oils diluted with a carrier oil when applying to the skin
- While allergies to oils are rare, some may experience irritation or sensitivity to using some species of oils even within a high quality brand.
- Essential oils in the citrus family can create photosensitivity to sunlight.
- If you experience any reaction to essential oils, stop their usage and apply a carrier oil to the affected area of irritation or redness. If diffusing essential oils creates any concern while diffusing, simply turn off the diffuser and open the windows for fresh air.
- If you are using essential oils in bath you will need a dispersing agent such as a bath salt. Mix the oil and the salts together first, and then add to the water. Adding oils directly to your bath water directly is not advised.
- Some medical conditions required caution or even complete avoidance of some essential oils. These conditions include pregnancy, asthma, epilepsy, or other medical conditions. Consult with your practitioner or physician before you begin new oils.
- While by definition oils do not expire, and some oils have been found in tombs thousands of years old, they can and do suffer from oxidization. This is especially true for citrus oils, improperly stored oils, or oils that my become contaminated in some way.
- Avoid using essential oils near the genitalia, and if you do, use a fatty carrier oil to soothe, never use water as it will intensify the effects.
- Avoid getting essential oils in your eyes and if you do, use a fatty carrier oil to soothe, never use water as it will intensify the effects.
- Take added precaution with special populations like children, elderly and pets. Keep oils out of reach.
- When diffusing, do not diffuse on a continuous cycle. Use intermittently, rotate your oils, have access to fresh air, moving air, and with pets give them an opportunity to leave the area as they desire. Don’t enclose them in a confined space.
- You will here that there are some oils that should be avoided altogether. These include: wormwood, penn royal, bitter almond, sassafrass. But you’re also going to have oils we use often called into question: wintergreen and camphor for example. And you’ll have many called into question for pets, especially cats and smaller animals. When in doubt, leave it out until you speak to a knowledgeable expert.
- Ingesting oils is a modality of use from French Aromatherapy. Some practitioners will advise you against ingesting oils. Some product brands are not suitable for ingestion. Know your product and purpose and seek guidance from a professional practitioner.
- Essential oils are flammable. Avoid use near open flame and notify any physician or veterinarian of essential oil use before any medical procedures.
Essential Oil Safety by Robert Tisserand and Rodney Young is the leading resource on essential oil safety.