Welcome to Week Two of A Mom’s Guide To Getting Started with Essential Oils. As I’m mentioned before, my goal is to give you an easy-to-follow guide to getting started with essential oils in your own family, so that hopefully you will find essential oils a safe and effective way to improve the health and wellness of your family. Last week, we learned about how to get started with essential oils. If you are new to using essential oils and missed that, please read that part of the series first before you continue. Today, we will discuss how to use essential oils safely.
How to Use Essential Oils Safely
There are a LOT of issues to consider when it comes to the safe use of essential oils. I’m not going to cover everything here but the main thing you need to keep in mind is this:
You need to do your own research.
In this series, I attempt to give you the very basics based upon my own personal use and research, but as you begin learning more about using essential oils, you’ll quickly find that opinions and levels of comfort in certain areas vary greatly.
Last week I gave you a list of great oils to try out for your family. I am 100% comfortable recommending them, however, there’s one idea that I really want to impress upon you:
YOU are responsible to make sure you know enough about an essential oil before you use it on yourself or your family members.
And please let me caution you that there are a lot of self-proclaimed “experts” out there, and some of them are giving some really bad and — dare I say it — dangerous advice. This is why it is imperative that you do the research yourself instead of taking what anyone (including me!) says at face value.
Make notes about an oil as you research whether to use it. Here are some things to jot down:
- Age restrictions (not every oil is safe for young children or the elderly)
- Use by pregnant or nursing moms
- Contraindications with certain medical conditions or medications
- Potential risk of photosensitivity (greater risk of sunburn)
- Is it a “hot” oil? (May cause problems for skin sensitivities and children)
- Whether to use topically, by diffusing, or both
This research and note-taking may be the one thing that helps ensure the safest and most effective use for your family. You can also get a few great books to keep on hand, and I’ll provide you with my recommendations for those later on in the series. For now, begin with The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy by Valerie Ann Worwood.
In the meantime, make a practice of jotting these things down. You’ll end up with handy reference that fits your family’s needs and preferences.
Why You Need to Use Caution
Essential oils are incredibly concentrated and very easy to absorb by the body. Generally speaking, anything “concentrated” needs to be diluted. Think about that can of orange juice concentrate in the freezer. You don’t just open it and start drinking; you add water first. It’s like that with essential oils, too. Only you won’t generally be adding water, except to most diffusers. You’ll be adding another oil, known as a carrier oil.
As you are researching, you will find a lot of opinions out there about essential oils safety. You will have to do your research and come to your own conclusions about what you’re comfortable with.
There are several ways to use essential oils. In the next few weeks, I’ll be looking at this topic more closely, but here are the basics:
Essential oils can be applied to your skin where they are then absorbed into the bloodstream. It is argued that applying oils in certain areas (soles of feet, temples, wrists, underarms, etc.) is most effective because they are pulse points or are more permeable than other locations. I’m not 100% convinced of that. I believe it’s likely that essential oils are best used wherever the symptom you are treating is. So for example, I only apply essential oils to my feet if I’m treating a foot problem. If I have a cough, putting them on my feet does little to help. But applying to my chest where I can breathe in the aroma is quite helpful.
Properly diluting essential oils provides a measure of safety. Topical irritation, sensitivity, photosensitivity, and sensitization are the main concerns when essential oils are not properly diluted.
The more conservative uses of essential oils are very effective and powerful, so I have yet to feel the need for any other approach. Rarely does an adult need a dilution of greater than 5%. Practically speaking, the really great news is that diluting your essential oils will also save you a lot of money. If you can use less essential oil and achieve the same results, and be safer in your use, why not dilute?
Diffusing Essential Oils
Diffusing essential oils is a quick and easy way to administer the therapeutic effects of the oils to your family. Of course, you’ll need to be aware of whether an oil can be safely diffused for everyone who will be inhaling it (no Eucalyptus globulus for young children, for example), but many times diffusing an oil is the quickest, easiest, and safest way to deliver oils to everyone in the household.
A Word on Ingesting Essential Oils
You will discover as you begin your own research that one of the most controversial topics in essential oil use is whether or not it is safe to ingest them. I rarely use essential oils “neat” (without diluting them in a carrier oil), so you might guess that I never ingest them. I have found that appropriate topical use and diffusing essential oils has met my health and wellness needs, so I have not had a reason to consider ingestion of essential oils. I’m not 100% opposed to the idea, however if you do choose to ingest essential oils, please only do so under the advice of a certified clinical aromatherapist or other healthcare professional trained in the medicinal use of essential oils, no matter what you read on the internet or are told by an essential oils distributor.
Again, oils are very powerful AND deserve our respect. Not to mention that I want to make them last as long as possible to stretch my dollar. Therefore, I believe that a good approach is to always dilute, starting with the lowest percentage of essential oils in your recipe or dilution and slowly adjusting the levels up from there until you see the results you want. Whether or not you choose other approaches should be dependent upon your own research, experience, and comfort level.
If you will be using essential oils with your children, read this article on Using Essential Oils Safely with Children. Then start a simple journal as you explore essential oils. Begin by taking notes on the first few oils you’d like to try, using the guidelines above, or feel free to enter your email below to receive my Essential Oils Starter Pack. It contains a helpful worksheet.
Next Up: Inhaling Essential Oils (publishing March 25)
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Never use essential oils undiluted or in the eyes or mucous membranes. Do not ingest essential oils unless working with a qualified practitioner. Keep essential oils away from children. If applying an essential oil to your skin always perform a small patch test to an insensitive part of the body (after you have properly diluted the oil in an appropriate carrier oil).
For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.