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Aromatherapy - How to Use Essential Oils Safety

Posted on 29 January 2016

Essential oils contain very concentrated properties of the herb or plant they are derived from. A very small amount of essential oil often has the qualities of many cups of herbal tea from the same plant. For instance, one drop of peppermint essential oil is equivalent to 28 cups of peppermint tea.  Because of this, it’s important that people know how to use these oils safely

Using essential oils safely on children and infants

In most cases, essential oils should not be used undiluted on the skin, and this is especially true for children and infants. Undiluted use on the skin can cause irritation or an allergic reaction, and in extreme cases a permanent sensitivity can occur. Additionally, essential oils should never be given internally to children or infants.

Peppermint, rosemary, eucalyptus and wintergreen should never be used around young children or infants. These herbs contain menthol and 1,8-cineole. These compounds can slow breathing (or even stop it completely) in young children or those with respiratory problems. 

Since the effect of essential oils is more concentrated on children, always remember to dilute essential oils as much as possible before use, and where possible, avoid direct skin application. A air diffuser works wonderfully!

Photo sensitivity of certain essential oils

Citrus oils contain certain constituents that may make skin more sensitive to UV light. Excessive exposure may cause blistering, discoloration of the skin, or burning more easily from minor sun exposure. Always keep citrus oils away from excessive light, and wait until citrus essential oil is fully absorbed into the skin before heading outside.

Though the risk of photo sensitivity is primarily based on the way the oil was distilled, oils generally considered photosensitive are: orange, lime, lemon, grapefruit, and bergamot.

 Essential oils during pregnancy or nursing

Extreme care should be used when taking or using essential oils while pregnant or nursing.
Though many oils are considered safe during pregnancy, (especially after the first trimester) always use diluted in carrier oil, or aromatically (in an air diffuser).

Aniseed, angelica, basil, black pepper, camphor, cinnamon, clary sage, clove, eucalyptus, fennel, fir, ginger, jasmine, juniper, marjoram, myrrh, nutmeg, oregano, peppermint, rosemary, sage, thyme, and wintergreen ARE NOT CONSIDERED SAFE, and should be avoided at all costs during pregnancy. Please note: this is not a complete list! Check with your doctor before starting any new essential oil therapies or treatments.


Internal use of essential oils

Many essential oils are not safe for internal use, and others should be used with extreme caution. Essential oils should only be taken internally in situations where there are no satisfactory alternatives. Always consult a trained professional before ingesting essential oils.

Essential oils in Plastics

Essential oils should never be stored in plastic containers. Many essential oils can eat through plastics (even when diluted), and can degrade plastics over time. Keep your essential oil and essential oil blends in glass bottles, away from excessive sunlight. Essential oils should be stored in the refrigerator when possible.

Essential Oils for Pets

If you choose to work with essential oils for your pets, it is essential you seek out a professionally trained aromatherapist with additional training in animal aromatherapy. Ensure you communicate with your veterinarian if your pet has any known allergies or serious health issues before using essential oils. Some essential oils are contraindicated for use with certain health care conditions.

Essential oil use for some animals is very limited. Do not use essential oils with the following: Cats/felines, fish and reptiles, birds, pet rodents and small mammals.

Excessive application of an essential oil directly to an animal’s skin can cause serious and harmful reactions. Sensitization, allergies, skin sensitivity, respiratory difficulties, dermal burns, toxic overload and many other side effects can occur. Our animal friends are trusting us to use essential oils safely and carefully, so please research your essential oils thoroughly before applying to your pets!

Toxic Essential Oils:
These essential oils are highly toxic, and are not recommended for personal use in any circumstances:
Ajowan, arnica, bitter almond, boldo, buchu, calamus, cascarilla, chervil, camphor, horseradish, mustard, narcissus, nutmeg, parsley, pennyroyal, rue, santolina, spanish broom, tansy, tonka, turmeric, wormseed, wormwood.

Wintergreen and Birch essential oils
Wintergreen and birch essential oils are the topic of many conflicting arguments. Some claim wintergreen and birch should never be used, and others argue they can be very useful in the right situations, in suitably low doses, with duly cautious frequency of application.
It is recommended you research the potential side effects of using wintergreen and birch essential oils, and make the decision best for you.

Contraindications by Ailment:
This is a partial list of medical conditions that warrant avoiding some essential oils.

Epilepsy / Seizure Disorder
Basil, Fennel, Hyssop, Rosemary, Sage

High Blood Pressure
Pine, Rosemary, Sage, Thyme

Kidney Problems
Juniper, Sandalwood, Coriander

Low Blood Sugar:
Geranium

Pregnancy:
Basil, Cedarwood, Clary, Coriander, Hyssop, Jasmine, Juniper, Marjoram, Oregano, Myrrh, Peppermint, Rockrose, Rosemary, Sage, Wintergreen, Thyme.

Sensitive Skin:
Cinnamon, Clove, Oregano, Wintergreen, Pimento, Thyme

Thin blood (or while using blood thinning medication):
Clove, Cinnamon Leaf, Bay Laurel 

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