Essential oils are the latest rage. People swear by them to fix everything from abdominal pain to zits. They are great! Many have anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal properties. And when used correctly, they are usually safer than many over the counter medications and just as, if not more effective.
They key words are: “when used correctly.” Unfortunately, what we’re seeing today is that people are purchasing them without really understanding how to use them. So, they use them wrong and then try to figure out why they’re getting sick or suddenly showing signs of asthma or eczema. Let’s take a look at some safety rules for the use of essential oils:
1. Know your source
Because essential oils are in high demand, there will be companies that really don’t care to provide quality sourced oils, but will take your money anyway. They want to sell you something in order to make money. Before doing any type of EO purchase, research the company and read the reviews. Be aware of scams.
And don’t be swayed by the price tag. Expensive doesn’t mean higher quality. There are some decently-priced EOs that have a higher quality than the more expensive brands.
2. Do not ingest EOs
Although there are some food-grade essential oils, the basic rule is that essential oils should never be taken internally. And for the record – “therapeutic-grade” – does not mean you can ingest it either. There is no legal definition for the term therapeutic-grade – it’s simply a marketing term.
Even if something is considered food-grade, please understand that most ancient cultures did not ingest essential oils. These cultures may have ingested the plant that the oils came from, but EOs are so super powerful and super concentrated that it is unknown how our bodies would react. Since many EOs are anti-bacterial, you could be killing off the healthy bacteria in your gut, which is bad for you.
We do know that the ingestion of some EOs can terminate pregnancies early, burn the esophagus or cause food poisoning. It’s best not to take your chances. Keep EOs on the outside.
3. Dilute, dilute, dilute
Essential oils are the goodness of plants in a super-concentrated form. They are super strong and super powerful. Don’t ever use an EO straight on your skin. Always dilute in a carrier oil. Carrier oils include sweet almond oil, liquid shea butter or cocoa butter, olive oil, or grapeseed oil. One or two drops of EOs in a few tablespoons of oil is a good mix.
4. Never use on pets
Let me clarify this one: You can use some EOs on your pets, but do your research first! And when doing research, find someone who actually has a veterinary background to help you understand which types of oils you can use for which ailment. There are oils that can be used on dogs but not cats and vice versa.
Many EOs are actually toxic to pets and could burn their skin, damage their kidneys or harm their livers. In addition, pets are extremely sensitive to smell, so even using a little bit could cause quite a lot of discomfort or damage. If you try something on your pet and he doesn’t seem to like it, please quit.
5. Never use on children
I saw a story about a woman rubbing lavender essential oils onto the bottoms of her baby’s feet to help her get rid of her cold. She wondered why her baby cried every time she did this. I cringed when I read it! A baby’s skin is so sensitive that using undiluted EOs is always, always, always a bad idea. In fact, there have been stories that overuse of EOs can cause seizures in the very young.
Babies can usually handle some heavily diluted EOs in mild aromatherapy form, but beyond that – simply keep the baby and the oil apart.