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Risks and Uses of Essential Oils

  1. Risks and Uses of Essential Oils
  2. Essential oils are all the rage lately, and with good reason. They are, in a sense, a pharmaceutical grade natural remedy with incredible power. But with great power comes great responsibility, and there are many essential oil resources online giving worrisome blanket advice about their use.
  3. Because of the strength of essential oils, I want to make sure that my family always uses them safely. Here are some important things to know about essential oils…
  4. Essential Oils are Highly Concentrated
  5. • 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 26-28 cups of peppermint tea. • This isn’t to say essential oils should not be used, but they should be used carefully, with proper education and in safe amounts.
  6. Essential Oils on the Skin
  7. • I use essential oils in many of my beauty recipes like lotion bars and herbal face oil but in diluted amounts. • As a general rule, essential oils should be diluted in a carrier oil like coconut oil or almond oil in a 3-5% solution. On a practical level this is 3-5 drops of essential oils per teaspoon of carrier oil (and much less if using on a baby or child).
  8. • Undiluted use on the skin can cause irritation or an allergic reaction in some people. • I personally test any essential oil, diluted, on my arm before using on a larger part of my body.
  9. Photosensitivity of Certain Oils
  10. • Citrus oils have certain constituents that can make the skin more sensitive to UV light. • This can lead to blistering, discoloration of the skin or burning more easily from minor sun exposure. • Oils generally considered photosensitive are: orange, lime, lemon, grapefruit, and bergamot.
  11. Internal Use of Essential Oils
  12. • Since essential oils are the equivalent of 20x the recommended dose of an herbal tincture of the same herb, they should only be taken internally in situations where they are absolutely needed and with extreme care. • Essential oils are extremely potent plant compounds that can have a very dramatic effect on the body.
  13. • The very real antibacterial properties of essential oils may kill many types of bacteria in the gut (including beneficial and necessary bacteria). • Some studies conducted about the antibacterial properties of essential oils suggest that they may be an effective alternative to antibiotics.
  14. • Antibiotics, while life-saving in some situations, should not be used regularly or without the oversight of a medical professional. • If essential oils can act in the same way as antibiotics, we should exercise the same caution in using them internally. 
  15. during Pregnancy and Nursing
  16. • There is evidence that essential oils can cross the placenta and get to the baby. The effects of essential oils can be compounded in utero and extreme care should be taken with essential oil use during pregnancy. • Many oils are considered safe during pregnancy, especially after the first trimester, but check with a professional and use caution with any herbs used during pregnancy.
  17. Oils Considered NOT Safe During Pregnancy Aniseed, Angelica, Basil, Black Pepper, Camphor, Cinnamon, Chamomile, Clary Sage, Clove, Fennel, Fir, Ginger, Horseradish, Jasmine, Juniper, Marjoram, Mustard, Mugwart, Myrrh, Nutmeg, Oregano, Peppermint, Rosemary, Sage, Thyme, Wintergreen.
  18. Use on Babies and Children
  19. • In general, oils like lavender, chamomile, orange, lemon and frankincense are considered safe for diluted use on children. • In my opinion, essential oils should never be given internally to children or used undiluted on the skin. • Since the effects of essential oils are more concentrated on children, it is prudent to exercise extra caution when using essential oils on them.
  20. Essential Oils in Plastic
  21. • Essential oils should never be stored in plastic containers, especially in concentrated forms. • I make homemade cleaners with essential oils in glass bottles for this reason.
  22. Safe Ways to Use Essential Oils
  23. • At the end of the day, essential oils can be a great and safe natural remedy, if used safely. • The main ways I use essential oils are: Aromatically (in a diffuser) and Topically (diluted in homemade recipes).
  24. To learn more about safely using essential oils, Click Here!
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