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Using Essential Oils Safely

February 28, 2018

Using Essential Oils Safely

USING ESSENTIAL OILS SAFELY

 

Essential oils can often be more powerful than expected.  As any Aromatherapist will tell you, the safe and appropriate use of essential oils can bring incredible benefits to your overall wellness and everyday life.  However, the lack of education on safety and proper use can lead to possible issues. 

 

Are Essential Oils Safe?

Most essential oils are safe and free of adverse side effects when used properly.  However, as with any substance you are introducing to your body, it is important to use them intelligently.  We here at ErthScentials recommend that you please, please -never eat or drink essential oils!  This can be very harmful to your body and organs.  Now in addition to that, there are many other factors that you should pay attention to when using essential oils.

  • PURITY: Very important!  I tell people all the time “Know your supplier!”  Sometimes essential oils are altered by adding synthetic chemicals or other similar smelling essential oils or they are sometimes diluted with vegetable oil.  Such a shame, I know!
  • DOSAGE: Dose is a very important factor when using essential oils safely.  Some essential oils used in the wrong doses or too high a concentration have been found very damaging for your health and body.  Some essentials oils have risks to be very damaging to the skin, liver, and other organs if used improperly.  Always remember:  Essential Oils should be used for purpose and NOT to be used for long periods of time or for fragrance purposes.
  • APPLICATION METHOD: An essential oil that is safe when applied in one method may not be safe when used in another way.  Some oils are considered safe if inhaled, and yet may be irritating if applied to the skin in certain concentrations.  If applying oils to the skin and skin type products.  Always be sure to DILUTE!  Also be sure to check the proper dilution rate for the oils & purpose that you are using looking to use.
  • POSSIBLE DRUG INTERACTIONS AND PRECAUTIONS: Each oil that ErthScentials offers it is our goal to not only offer the therapeutic benefits of each oil - but also list any precautions that may come along with using that oil as well.  There are many factors that should be looked at before using a new essential oil.  Is there any pregnancy precautions?  Is this essential oil safe to use around pets and children?  Is there any adverse side effects to current medication I may be on?

 

I’m new to Essential Oils.  How do I use them?

Always be sure to know the company you are buying from.  Only buy from a trusted company who not only offers the oils, but offer the safety precautions along with the oil if any.  Here at ErthScentials we like to make our friends / family (that’s what you are to us) as knowledgeable as possible. 

 

Can Essential Oils be toxic?

Toxicity rarely occurs with appropriate use of essential oils and is primarily attributed to misuse and accidental ingestions, especially in young children.  Here at ErthScentials we never recommend you eat or drink any essential oils, EVER.

 

Could I have an allergic reaction to essential oils?

A small proportion of people may experience skin irritation, allergic reactions, or cross-sensitivity to certain essential oils.  Cross-sensitivity is the potential for an allergic reaction to similar substances (for example: if you are allergic to ragweed, you might also be allergic to Chamomile Essential Oil).

 

What is phototoxicity?  Which Essential Oils are phototoxic?

Phototoxicity can occur after you apply an essential oil topically (on your skin) and then go out into the sun.  This happens most often with certain citrus oils.  For example: if you spray yourself with a solution of orange essential oil and then lie out in the sun or in a tanning bed, you will most likely get a sunburn or even potentially deeper burns.  Now with some oils it also depends on method of distillation which makes if the oil is phototoxic or not (so be aware to check for that as well).

 

OILS THAT ARE PHOTOTOXIC

  • Angelica Root(Angelica archangelica)
 
  • Bergamot (Citrus bergamia, Citrus aurantium)
 
  • Grapefruit(Citrus x paradisi)
 
  • Lemon – cold pressed(Citrus x limon, Citrus limonum)
 
  • Lime – cold pressed(Citrus x aurantifolia, Citrus x latifolia)
 
  • Mandarin Leaf(Citrus reticulata, Citrus nobilis)
 
  • Orange, Bitter(Citrus x aurantium)
 
  • Rue (Ruta graveolens, Ruta montana)

 

Is it safe to use Essential Oils if I am pregnant / nursing?

As with any medical condition, we strongly recommend that prior to using an essential oil, be sure to research or ask about any possible precautions.  There are many essential oils that should strictly be avoided while pregnant and or nursing, as there is some that is considered OK to use but should be used with caution.  A reason for this is because essential oils can cross the placental barrier and there is little clinical research surrounding this area.  Very gentle essential oils, such as Lavender (Lavandula Angustifolia) are sometimes known to be used by midwives during and after labor and delivery with favorable effects.  So with this, there are oils that can be beneficial during pregnancy / nursing, but please be sure to know the safety and use responsibly.

 

Popular Essential Oils to be AVOIDED when pregnant / nursing
ANISEED
BASIL
BIRCH
CASSIA
CINNAMON BARK
HYSSOP
LAVANDIN
ROSEMARY
SAGE
TANSY
THYME
TARRAGON
WINTERGREEN
 
 
Popular Essentials to use with caution during pregnancy / nursing
ANGELICA
CEDARWOOD
CHAMOMILE
CITRONELLA
CLARY SAGE
CLOVE
CUMIN
CYPRESS
FENNEL
LAURAL
MARJORAM
MYRRH
NUTMEG
ROSE
VETIVER

 

Now with all of those essential oils listed above. Please note:  there is still a lot of oils that ARE SAFE to use during pregnancy and while nursing!  Some listed but not limited to:  Peppermint, Lavender, Lemon, Bergamot, Frankincense, Geranium, Grapefruit, Sandalwood, Wild Orange, and one of my favorites Ylang Ylang.

NOTE:  Peppermint essential oil should be limited towards the end of a pregnancy and while breastfeeding as it is known to reduce milk production.

 

Are Essential Oils safe for my kids and my elderly parents?

I like to add in “elderly” on this category, because we at ErthScentials believe the same precautions used for young children should also be considered when using essential oils with the elderly.  In general, you should adjust dosages downward for children and elderly.  Extra caution should be used with babies and small children (or avoid using all together). 

*** It is suggested that no essential oils should be used on or around babies before the age of 6 months due to their thinner skin and immature immune systems. 

*** Ages 6-months to 2 years of age.  You may diffuse “child safe” oils (list is below) for a specific purpose and only for short periods of time.  For acute cases (something very specific like a bee sting or bug bite) you may use essential oils topically, but this should be only used on case by case situations and should not be considered a regular routine. 

*** After the age of 2 years old, you may start to use essential oils topically with a very low dilution, but please keep in mind that a child’s immune system takes years to fully develop, making them less able to deal with the adverse effects which may arise when concentrated products are used improperly on or around them.  We would highly recommend herbs and Hydrosols as a better and safer alternative to use on young children.   

 

Essential Oils that are safe to use when with Children & Elderly
BERGAMOT
BLACK PEPPER
BLUE TANSY
CEDARWOOD
CLARY SAGE
COPAIBA
CORIANDER
CYRPESS
FRANKINCENSE
GERMAN CHAMOMILE
GERANIUM
GINGER
GRAPEFRUIT
JUNIPER BERRY
HELICHRYSUM
LAVENDER
LEMON
MANDARIN
MARJORAM (SWEET)
NEROLI
PALMAROSA
PATCHOULI
PETITGRAIN
ROMAN CHAMOMILE
SANDALWOOD
SIBERIAN FIR NEEDLE
SPEARMINT
SWEET ORANGE
TANGERINE
TEA TREE
VETIVER
 
Common Essential Oils to avoid using with Children & Elderly
ANISEED – avoid all methods on children under 5
ANISE (STAR) – avoid all methods on children under 5
BASIL (LEMON) – avoid topical use on children under 2
BENZOIN – avoid topical use on children under 2
BIRCH (SWEET) – avoid all methods on children under 10
BLACK SEED – avoid topical use on children under 2
CAJUPUT – avoid all methods on children under 6
CARDAMON – avoid all methods on children under 6
CASSIA – avoid topical use on children under 2
CLOVE BUD, CLOVE LEAF, CLOVE STEM – avoid topical use on children under 2
CORNMINT – avoid all methods on children under 6
EUCALYPTUS – avoid all methods on children under 10
FENNEL (BITTER), FENNEL (SWEET) – avoid all methods on children under 5
GARLIC – avoid topical on children under 2
HO LEAF / RAVINTSARA – avoid all methods on children under 6
HYSSOP – avoid all methods on children under 2
LAUREL LEAF / BAY LAUREL – avoid all methods on children under 6
LEMON LEAF / LEMON PETITGRAIN – avoid topical use on children under 2
MARJORAM – avoid all methods on children under 6
NIAOULI – avoid all methods on children under 6
OAKMOSS – avoid topical use on children under 2
OPOPANAX – avoid topical use on children under 2
OREGANO – avoid topical use on children under 2
PEPPERMINT – avoid all methods on children under 6
ROSEMARY – avoid all methods on children under 10
SAGE – avoid using all methods on children under 6
TEA TREE (LEMON) – avoid topical use on children under 2
VERBANA (LEMON) – avoid topical use on children under 2
WINTERGREEN – avoid all methods on children under 10
YLANG YLANG – avoid topical use on children under 2
 

 

 

Are Essential Oils safe for pets?

Each animal is different and may have different responses to different essential oils.  However, there are some essential oils that you should be careful with and some you should not use around pets at all.  Cats are particularly sensitive to essential oils containing polyphenolic compounds (list of unsafe oils for cats listed below).  Why are some essential oils toxic for pets? - Because some pets have a very acute sense of smell.  Also pets have delicate and thin skin making for a quicker absorption of concentrated substances into their bloodstream. 

Common Essential Oils that can be toxic for cats   
BERGAMOT
BIRCH
CAMPHOR
CINNAMON (CASSIA)
CLEMENTINE
CLOVE
EUCALYPTUS
FIR
GRAPEFRUIT
JUNIPER
FRANKINCENSE
LAVENDER (SPIKE)
LAVANDIN
LEMON
LIME
MANDARIN
MELALEUCA (TEA TREE OIL)
ORANGE
OREGANO
PEPPERMINT
PINE
ROSEMARY
SAGE
SPEARMINT
SPRUCE
TANGERINE
THYME
WINTERGREEN
 
 
Common Essential Oils that can be toxic for dogs  
ANISE
BIRCH
CAMPHOR
CLOVE
GARLIC
HYSSOP
JUNIPER
OREGANO
TANSY
TEA TREE **
THYME
WINTERGREEN

 

** NOTE:  Tea Tree is safe to use when educated and used in small dilution as with using any essential oils on animals.

 

OTHER SMALL FURRY FRIENDS NOTE:  No essential oils should be used around any other small animals, such as bird, fish, rabbits, hamsters or any other small animals that live in a cage or tank. 

 

Can I use Essential Oils on my skin?

Yes!  And lots have great benefits for the skin.  However, certain oils may cause irritation if used in too high of a concentration.  If you happen to be a highly sensitive person (HSP), try a skin patch test to determine any potential irritation before you begin using a new essential oil.  Always be sure to check the proper dilution rate suggested for the specific essential oil you are looking to use as well.

 

 

I love diffusing, is it safe?

With the popularity of essential oils increasing at a high rate each year.  There are many of us that just don’t know the safety basics of pure essential oils.   Essential Oils are highly concentrated plant substances, and you should treat them with caution and care.  Essential Oils should be diffused for therapeutic purposes and not for fragrance purposes.  When diffusing please take note of 5 important tips we have for you:

  • Diffuse in a well-ventilated area
  • Diffuse for no more than 30 minute intervals
  • Make sure pets (especially cats) have the option to leave the room if they don’t like the aromas
  • Be sure to check any safety precautions on the oils you plan to diffuse
  • Diffuse essential oils around children, if necessary, not routinely

 

 

General Safety Guidelines for using Essential Oils Safely:
  • Keep out of reach of children and pets
  • Keep all oil bottles tightly closed, cool, and away from direct sunlight
  • Do not place Essential Oils directly in the eyes, ears, nose or mouth
  • Always look at the oil safety info
  • When applying to skin, always do a patch test
  • Follow proper recommendations for diluting based on the purpose / method of use
  • Know your supplier!

 

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

 

As you can see, there are safety concerns associated with improper use of essential oils.  It is extremely important to use only pure, unadulterated essential oils, not fragrances or flavorings.  Many allergies and other negative experiences are reactions to synthetic chemicals found in modified essential oils.  A pure oil is the first step towards a positive result when using essential oils for wellness.  Knowing ErthScentials offers only organic oils assures you the peace of mind you are getting top quality oils that come directly from organic farms / distilleries.

 

Enjoying aromatherapy safely should not be based in fear but in education.  Essential oils can enhance and enrich your wellness practice.  But, like all things in life, the more you are educated about what you are using, the better your outcome will be.

 

This article is for informational purposes only.  It is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent disease.  This article has not been reviewed by the FDA.  Always consult with your primary care physician or naturopathic doctor before making any significant changes to your health and wellness routine.