Since becoming an essential oil user and lover, I have learned quite a bit; how to use them, what to use them for, what a carrier oil is (you guys, I didn't even know what a carrier oil was when I first started learning about oils), mistakes I have made along the way and, ultimately, how dangerous oils can be if not used correctly. I have been super lucky in that myself and my family have not been harmed. Although, I have heard and read stories, which brings me to my reasoning for this weeks blog topic on oil safety. EO's (essential oils) were a game changer for me and can be for you too. I want to educate you so as to not create a fear of them, but rather create awareness of the risks involved if not used correctly. When used properly, the risks involved are very small and the benefits are incredible. My research comes from trusted sources, by the way. I will note where the information came from so you can research further if you wish!
1. What are essential oils?
The National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy says that an essential oil is a product made of natural materials that have been physically isolated through one of three methods; distillation, expression, or maceration (the process of soaking the plant material in warm water to release the enzyme-bound essential oil). There is quite a bit more information that can be looked into with this and the extraction process, but I won't bore you with all of that scientific smart stuff.
2. What factors influence oil safety and effectiveness? (Info gathered from NAHA)
- Oil quality- Adulterated (essential oil that has been diluted with a carrier oil, a synthetic oil, or alcohol) essential oils increase the chance of adverse reaction and decrease the effectiveness. One way we like to test the quality of essential oils is to place a few drops onto a piece of white construction paper. Set it aside for a good 6-8 hours. If there is an oily residue left on the paper, your oil has been adulterated. The less visible residue, the higher quality of oil you have. Renewed Health Oils takes much pride in the fact that our oils have all passed the paper test above and beyond even the leading competitors!
- Dosage/Dilution- An excessive use of essential oils can cause irritation and other undesired effects, over exposure could even cause an allergy to a particular oil. A small amount goes a long way, I promise. I will dig a little more into dilution in a bit.
- Method of application- essential oils can be used in 5 ways, which I will talk about shortly.
- Skin sensitivity- Obviously, every ones skin is different, so it is always a good practice to test out your oil on a small area of skin to make sure it is diluted enough. Do not use photo-sensitizing essential oils before sun exposure. (Angelica root, bergamot, cumin, grapefruit-distilled or expressed, expressed lemon, expressed lime, orange, and rue).
- Age- Young children and elderly tend to have more fragile skin, so in addition to testing an oil first, you should always dilute more than you might for someone with normal skin type.
3. What are the common ways to use oils? (Info gathered from NAHA)
- Aromatically- Using a vaporizing diffuser (because now I will really confuse you by letting you know that there are different types of diffusers in this world), you can fill your home, office, or car with scents to boost your mood, relax your busy mind, disinfect the air, help you focus, etc. The benefits are limited to the aromatic effect, and don't give you the full therapeutic benefits that an atomizing diffuser will give you. Keep reading, I'll explain.
- Atomization/Nebulization- An atomizing or nebulizing diffuser uses a cold air pump to force the essential oil molecules through an atomizer producing a micro fine vapor in the air and keep your environment therapeutically rich. This is the best way to retain the natural properties of the oil and, in turn, give you the most out of your oil. If this is mind boggling to you, I get it. There's so much to know about everything EO's. I am here to help, not confuse, so just shoot me your questions below and we can chat more!
- Topically- Oils are good for what ails you. I have included a cool chart that gives you some ideas of what and where oils can help when applied to specific areas of the body. When in doubt...DILUTE! ....and don't forget to test on a small patch of skin as well! OH, and avoid prolonged exposure to the same oil. To much of a good thing, is never a good thing.
- Internally- Certain oils can be ingested, but a little bit goes a long way. I can't emphasize that enough. Can you believe that it takes 80-100 lemons to produce 1 oz of lemon essential oil??? There is quite a bit that I could get into with this as far as how to capsule use and what not, but I think it would make sense to save that for its own post. Stay tuned for that!
- Direct inhalation- This method is achieved by inhaling your oil directly from the bottle.
4. What oils are safe for young children?
This is a tough question for me because I have read so many articles on oil safety for kids, but I also know that oils have been used on children right from birth in some cultures with great results. I do feel that oils need to be taken very seriously with kids, especially infants, but it all comes down to your own preference as a parent. In my home, we treat essential oils the same way we do medication. Do your research and don't ever use any oil on your child that is undiluted. Here's a list of some oils that are considered safe for young ones, according to Valerie Worwood, author of The Complete Book of Essential Oils & Aromatherapy.
5. What oils are safe for pregnancy/breastfeeding? (Info gathered from NAHA)
Like kids, it is important to do your research when using any essential oil during pregnancy, labor, or breastfeeding. Here are some EO's that are considered safe for pregnant women, according to the NAHA.
According to Robert Tisserand (one of the worlds leading experts in aromatherapy), the following essential oils should not be used during pregnancy: wormwood, rue, oak moss, Lavandula stoechas, camphor, parsley seed, sage, and hyssop.
6. How much carrier oil should I use to dilute my essential oils?
Generally speaking, a 2-3% dilution is a good place to start for older children and adults with normal skin type. By using the chart below, you can see that you might place 2 drops of essential oil in a dish, followed by 1 tsp (or 5ml) of carrier oil. For children and elderly, it is good to start at a 1% dilution.
7. Are essential oils used for vision ailments?
The short answer here is NO. There currently is no evidence that applying dilutions of essential oils to the eyes in beneficial in any condition. If an essential oil splashes in your eye, flush out with a carrier oil. Do NOT use water. EO's are insoluble in water.
Do your research and get to know your oils before you use them. In order to keep you head from spinning, you can pick one oil a week and learn about them one at a time.
Give yourself a crisp high five if you read this post all the way though. Learning about your oils is going to make yours and your family's experience that much better! If you enjoyed this post or found it helpful, let me know!