As the popularity of essential oils continues to grow, so do the health concerns. Many people start to question whether the use of highly concentrated plant extracts is safe for everyday use. Keep in mind, as you venture into the world of essential oils, that it is never a good idea to use something without further looking into any side effects and/or potential risks, and speaking with your physician or someone who is trained on the subject. As with most products, there can be potential risks when using essential oils in wellness products, beauty products, and cleaning routines.
Overall the use of essential oils is safe. But whether a specific oil is safe for you depends on a number of personal factors, such as your age, if you have any underlying health conditions, and if you use any medications and supplements. It is also important to consider a variety of factors about the essential oils themselves, such as the chemical composition and purity of the oils you buy, the method of use, the duration of use and the dosage.
If you take the time to learn how to safely use essential oils topically, internally, and for aromatherapy, you will not have any problems. We have compiled some information as to which oils to try and which to avoid, as well as what to do if you experience side effects.
When using essential oils topically keep in mind that if they are administered improperly, side effects such as rashes may occur so always be one step ahead and perform a patch test.
A patch test will allow you to see how your skin reacts to a particular oil before you decide to wear it. To perform a patch test follow these steps:
- Wash your forearm.
- Pat the area dry.
- Rub a few drops of diluted essential oil into a small patch. Cover but do not saturate.
- Wait 24 hours.
- If the skin patch is red, itchy, blistering, or swollen, you’ve had an adverse reaction to the oil and should discontinue use.
If you experience discomfort before the 24-hour period ends, immediately wash the area with soap and warm water. Seek medical attention if necessary.
Ensure you do research on the essential oils you wish to use as well. Some essential oils can even be harmful if absorbed directly through the skin, or others, like orange, lime, and lemon, can cause phototoxicity if applied before exposure to the sun.
Dilution is there for a multitude of reasons, not only does it make your essential oils last longer, but many oils actually require dilution to prevent adverse reactions since they are so potent. As a general rule, you should keep concentration levels of essential oils below 5%.
You can easily dilute your essential oils by blending a few drops with a carrier oil. Carrier oils are typically vegetable-based, such as sunflower, canola, or coconut. They carry the essential oil safely onto your skin and help you spread it over a large surface area. Diluting at 1 percent is equivalent to adding 6 drops of essential oil to 1 ounce of carrier oil.
Essential oils that must be diluted include bay, cinnamon bark or leaf, clove bud, citronella, cumin, lemongrass, lemon verbena, oregano, and thyme.
Some of the essential oils can be used with or without dilution include chamomile, cypress, eucalyptus, lavender, tea tree, rose, and sandalwood.
INGESTION SAFETY GUIDELINES
Essential oils aren’t regulated, so you shouldn’t use essential oils internally unless you’ve undergone advanced training or are acting under the guidance of a trained professional. Also, ensure to consult your physician to ensure that you are healthy enough to ingest essential oils. Make sure any essential oils taken internally are of food-grade quality.
Some of the essential oils that can be used internally are cacao, chamomile, carrot, ginger, grapefruit, orange, and vanilla.
No matter what the popular trend may be, keep in mind that these essential oils should never be ingested as they have a higher health risk. Including camphor, eucalyptus, nutmeg, sage, and wintergreen.
If you’ve accidentally ingested an oil, immediately contact your physician or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.
In the event that you can not do either, follow the following steps:
- Drink as much full-fat or 2 percent milk as you can.
- Avoid vomiting.
- Keep the essential oil bottle handy to show your doctor.
Aromatherapy is one of the most well-researched ways to use essential oils. It is said that inhaling certain essential oils for certain people, like sweet orange or lavender, can help ease stress and promote relaxation. The two main ways to reap the benefits of aromatherapy are through inhalation or diffusion. Diffusion is the most popular method used today when it comes to aromatherapy. Keep in mind when you are diffusing that you want to ensure you are in a well-ventilated area, and use an intermittent pattern such as 1 hour on 1 hour off, to avoid the scent being too strong.
Some of the essential oils that can be diffused without any potential risks are, cedarwood, fir, grapefruit, lavender, lemon, spearmint, tangerine.
Essential oils that should be diffused with consultation and caution are bay, cinnamon, clove, lemongrass, peppermint, and thyme.
OTHER FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS AND CONCERNS
Can Essential Oils Have Any Clinical Interactions?
Yes. Never combine medications and oils without first talking to a physician. Some essential oils when used internally, can cause contraindications with other medications or supplements.
Can I Use My Essential Oils On My Children and Pets?
Always do your research whether a specific essential oil is safe for children and pets, and make sure that you are following a dilution chart. When using essential oil with pets, it is also important to note that not all pets are equal, what is safe for a cat, may not be safe for a dog. In order to ensure maximum amount of safety, place all essential oils in a cupboard out of reach.
Why Should I Keep Your Oils Away From Open Flames?
Some essential oils can be highly flammable. You should not have them near candles, gas stoves, lit cigarettes, or open fireplaces.
What Should I Do If A Side Effect Occurs?
Practicing caution and following safety guidelines will help ensure your experience using essential oils is a positive one. However, since adverse reactions can still occur depending on the severity of the side effect seek immediate medical attention.
In most cases, minor side effects can be taken care of at home, keep in mind the following procedures in case any of these occur.
- Wash the area gently with soap and warm water.
- Pat Dry.
- Watch to see if the rash spreads over the next couple hours.
- If the rash spreads, seek immediate medical attention.
Essential Oils Come In Contact With Your Eyes
- You will want to soak a cotton swab in a food-grade fatty and wipe the swab over your closed eyelid.
- Immediately after this flush the area with cool, clean water.
- If you are finding that there is still some essential oil present, repeat the first two steps.