Essential oils have a wide range of uses for health and beauty. Generally, essential oils have similar applications as their corresponding herbs, although they are different in terms of the chemical constituents. Because they are so concentrated, it’s important to keep essential oil safety in mind. Here are 10 essential oil safety rules to follow so you can enjoy all the wonderful benefits without harmful side effects.
Caution – Pregnant women should do some research before using essential oils. There are some essential oils that are not advisable to be used by pregnant women.
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1. Dilute your essential oils before using them on the skin
Using essential oils “neat” – that is, undiluted – can lead to severe reactions. In most cases, essential oils are diluted into products precisely at 1-3%, although some of them have a strong scent and price tag combination that allows for use at 0.1%.
Essential oils are diluted into a variety of mediums, including oil, wax, and alcohol. One incredibly simple way of diluting your essential oil for use on the skin is by blending a few drops with a carrier oil. Carrier oils include sweet almond oil, avocado oil, and safflower oil.
2. Don’t ingest essential oils in water
While it’s a common piece of advice, consuming essential oils in a glass of water can be very dangerous. It’s easy to accidentally use them “neat” in one of the most sensitive areas of your body.
The essential oils don’t easily mix into water and tend to float on top. This means that the essential oil can easily reach your mouth, esophagus, and stomach undiluted, causing harm to your body.
3. Essential oils are not interchangeable
Just as each medicinal plant has different chemical properties and constituents that offer different benefits, essential oils each have unique benefits and contraindications that you should know about. Learn as much as you can about a new oil before adding it to your routine.
4. Keep essential oils in a safe and secure place
Babies and young children who are known to put everything in their mouths are particularly at risk for poisoning or injury from essential oils. Unlike adults, their immune system is still weak, so overexposure to undiluted essential oils can cause significant injury.
Essential oils should be stored like other powerful medicines: in a secure location where they’re restricted from children and pets. Storing your oils in a cool, dry location will also help them last longer.
5. Always wear protective clothing when handling essential oils
As mentioned earlier, essential oils are very concentrated and should never be used directly on the skin; therefore, it is vital to wear protective gloves when handling them. Undiluted oils could spill onto your skin, causing a reaction. Even minor exposures can add up and lead to issues overall.
If you work with oils often, the exposure over time can also be problematic as you could become sensitized to particular oils.
6. Never purchase low-quality oils
Some companies add chemical fragrance to cooking oil in the name of manufacturing essential oils. These products are very different from actual essential oils and do not have the same benefits. When used in aromatherapy, the oils actually tend to cause more harm since these chemicals are toxic. Such oils should never be used on a diffuser; instead, purchase distilled essential oils as they are much safer to use.
7. Check the contraindications before using essential oil
Some essential oils are not appropriate to use if you’re already taking certain medications. For example, distilled citrus oils like grapefruit essential oil and lemon oil are known to increase photosensitivity, making the skin much more sensitive to sun burns. Care is needed, particularly if you were already taking another medication that also causes photosensitivity.
There are many other common and not so common contraindications, so do your research.
8. Work in a room which is well ventilated
Essential oils can work their way into the body through inhalation – that’s how aromatherapy works, after all! Unfortunately, if care isn’t taken to keep exposure at safe levels, essential oils can also cause sleeping disorders or euphoria. To prevent these conditions from affecting you, make sure the area you are working in is adequately ventilated.
9. When ordering essential oils, use their botanical names
Botanical names give you a lot of information regarding the plant species, cultivar, chemotype, and variety. These details are beneficial, especially when you are trying to determine the essential oils that are safe to use and which ones to avoid.
10. Always get rid of old oils
Like any other product, essential oils have expiry dates too. Some oils are more shelf stable than others. Some of the common indications of an expired essential oil include color changes, reactions, or weird smells. Once you see these signs, discard that oil and purchase a new one.
As mentioned above, the safety rules are meant to guide users of essential oils to be cautious when handling them. Keeping these rules in mind will help you enjoy all the benefits that come with using essential oils either for aromatic, topical, or internal use while treating them with the respect and care that’s appropriate.
Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The contents of this article, made available via The Mind Body Design (Holistic Fit LLC), are for informational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice. The Content presented here is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you think you may be suffering from any medical condition, you should seek immediate medical attention. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information provided by The Mind Body Design (Holistic Fit LLC). Reliance on any information provided by this article is solely at your own risk. And, of course, never use an herb or essential oil without first reading the label, doing your research, or checking with a local expert.