One of the questions I get asked most is, “Are essential oils safe to use?”
The answer is…YES! However, they are very powerful and should be treated with respect. So yes, essential oils are safe to use, and in fact, for centuries people have used them to help keep their families healthy. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of using your oils, and for you to use them safely and effectively.
HOW MUCH SHOULD I USE?
Using the correct amount of oil is key. Just a few drops goes a very long way. To use essential oils safely, follow these simple guidelines.
For all skin types, but especially sensitive skin like with children, dilute essential oils using a carrier oil. I like to use fractionated coconut oil (FCO). You can also use oils like jojoba, almond and even virgin olive oil. A typical dilution ratio is roughly one drop of essential oil to five drops of carrier oil. You always want to dilute an oil when using it for the first time so you know how your skin will react, also when applying it to sensitive skin, and especially when using essential oils with children. Some oils have a particularly strong chemistry, and are often referred to as “hot” oils. These include but are not limited to oils like oregano, cassia, cinnamon and others. For these oils, you will want a dilution ratio of approximately one drop of essential oil to ten drops of carrier oil. These are guidelines…be sure to test on a small patch of skin to see if you see any sensitivity before proceeding to larger areas.
NEVER DILUTE WITH WATER!!!!
Sometimes if an oil is too warm you might try to dilute it by washing it off. To use an essential oil safely, NEVER TRY TO WASH AN OIL OFF! Water only intensifies an oil, effectively driving it deeper into the skin. If you experience any discomfort, the best solution is to apply more carrier oil like the FCO. This will help dilute the oil and make it more comfortable.
This does not apply to internal use. It can be great to take an oil with water…in fact I enjoy a couple drops of lemon in my stainless steel water bottle almost every day. Just don’t put it in a plastic water bottle as citrus oils can break down plastic, putting it in your water. Yuck. So use stainless steel, glass or ceramic water bottles.
WHEN IN DOUBT…READ THE LABEL…
Duh. This is always a great idea. A high quality, certified pure therapeutic grade essential oil (CPTG…look for it on the bottle) will have a label letting you know if there are any concerns and if it is safe to take internally. This will be a valuable guide to safely using your essential oils.
That’s not all the resources you have though…I am always here to help you make sure you know how best to use the oils for your specific needs. And if I don’t know the answer, I have resources to find it and can ask those who do. Basically…you have your own essential oils expert in the house…me!
Ever see The Emperor’s New Groove? Well…take his advice on this. When you want to be out in the sun…no citrus oils! Don’t touch them, or more importantly…don’t put them on your skin before going outside in the sun. Citrus oils are photosensitive and can react in sunlight…leaving you with some funky brown streaks on your skin that can take months to go away. Avoid these oils and any blends that contain them…again, check the label. If you do use a citrus oil, just make sure to wait at least 12 hours before going out in the sun. And NEVER, EVER use oils right before going to a tanning bed! It’s an OIL! So it can cause a BURN! So seriously…no touchy!
Another “no touchy” rule….AVOID SENSITIVE AREAS. Never put essential oils up the nose, in the eyes, on broken skin, in the inner ear canal, or in other highly sensitive areas of the body…if you know what I mean. Peppermint in the shower can be rejuvenating or refreshing…unless you get it a bit too low…I think you catch my drift…
DON’T BE SO SENSITIVE….
Yeah well, sometimes you can’t help but be sensitive…to oils I mean. If you find this is the case, try diluting more. Also pay attention to your body. If you experience discomfort with an oil, its possible, though rare, that you might be allergic to that oil. Simply stop using it and try a different one that helps accomplish what you are looking for. Don’t ever keep using something that isn’t working for you. (Can’t believe I had to say that, can you?) Here are some symptoms that might indicate you could be allergic to an oil:
- Skin irritation (such as itching, rash, or hives)
- Stomach upset
- Pain, swelling, or tenderness in the skin
- Difficulty breathing
If you experience ANY of these symptoms, stop using immediately, and if its a severe reaction seek medical help immediately. It may be possible to use the oil in other ways. For example, if an oil bothers you topically, you might be able to benefit from it aromatically. Just take note and use appropriate precautions. Most people use essential oils without any difficulty…but I want you to be safe, so these are just some things that sometimes occur.
CAN YOU USE ESSENTIAL OILS SAFELY INTERNALLY?
This is a controversial question. The answer depends on the school of thought you adhere to. The general thought is that the British model never uses them internally (not quite true) and that the French always use them internally (also not quite true). It has been my personal experience that if you use a CPTG essential oil, in moderation (not more than 12 drops a day internally) then yes, you can use essential oils safely and effectively.
However, if you are on prescription medications of any kind, look to see if there are any contraindications that you may need to be aware of. And of course, if you have ANY of the symptoms mentioned in the paragraph above, then stop use immediately. Listen to your body. If you are unsure, you should also check with your doctor on what kinds of things you need to avoid.
CAN ESSENTIAL OILS BE TOXIC?
Essential oils are safe to use, though like any powerful compound, it’s important to use the appropriate dosage. How you apply the essential oil is also critical. Though rare, there have been some extreme cases, where dosage recommendations were greatly exceeded with the oils and these circumstances led to toxicity. Toxicity is when a substance reaches a point that it becomes harmful or damaging to the body. Literally any substance can become toxic if used in the wrong dose. Even natural, often considered harmless substances like water, minerals, or vitamins, can become toxic when used in excess. That’s why I’m giving you these guidelines. You literally only use a few drops of essential oils each time.
KEEP ‘EM SAFE!
For greater efficacy of your oils, keep them in a cool dark place. I keep mine in a kitchen drawer. You might also keep them in a cupboard or even an essential oil box. Just avoid direct sunlight and extreme temperatures. This will assure that your oils stay ready to serve you down to the last drop!
FEEL THE POWER!
Now that you know how to use your essential oils safely, there is no reason to wait. Feel free to check out some of my other blogs. You might really enjoy the one entitled “How could an essential oil help me…I don’t think that stuff really works!” You’ll find some great downloads within many of my posts. I hope you enjoy them.
If you feel you would like to start using the oils, I have a few of my favorite starter kits listed on the Ready to Get Your Own Essential Oils post. Click on it to see the Special Offer I have just for you!
Now that you know there is nothing to fear, let’s dive into the world of essential oils. I love using them myself, on my family and now on my grandchildren. They are a tool I don’t know how I would ever live without. This is an exciting journey…READY?
PS…Check out my Facebook page…Essentially Pure Oils…lots of tips, DIY’s, information and more. You’ll love it!