A great deal of confusion exists regarding safe practices when essential oils are used for personal wellness. Unfortunately, this confusion is likely made worse via multiple social media and marketing sources that produce conflicting information. For example, one of the most popular retailors of essential oils (which shall remain nameless), includes on their website a chart outlining which essential oils are supposedly safe for ingestion. Similarly, in response to the vape craze, some people are seeking to vape their favorite essential oils. And even amongst the most conservative users, questions persist regarding the proper dilution of essential oils when applied to one’s skin. We are here to help you sort out basic safety issues when it comes to using essential oils.
With few exceptions, essentials need to be diluted prior to application to your skin. Why? Essential oils are potent. Take a look at the photos below:
This is the result of my clumsiness. I knocked over a canister of Litsea Cubeba (used in our energizing ML Mambo blends) and I did not realize the canister lid was not screwed on tightly. Overnight the oil seeped from the lid, down the canister and onto the painted surface of my window sill. As you can see, the oil was effective as a paint thinner! It ate right through the paint to the surface of the cement sill. Do you see the smaller and lighter secondary marks? These are the results of a brief placement of the canister – a sitting time of less than one minute – while I was trying to figure out how I made such a mess and before I started cleaning. Just imagine what this oil would do if applied directly to your skin.
For the average healthy adult, a 2% dilution is generally appropriate for daily use. This means adding essential oils to one of a number of carrier oils such as grapeseed or almond oil. A 2% dilution is two drops of essential oil per teaspoon of carrier oil (12 drops per ounce of carrier oil). Stronger dilutions can be used on a temporary basis to treat specific maladies such as a sore muscle. Make sure to research the oils you want to use for the proper dilution and the recommended number of days of usage.
For a healthy child between the ages of six and 12 years, the amount of essential oil should be cut to one drop per teaspoon of carrier oil to create a 1% dilution, which is generally considered safe. Note “generally”. If you are new to using essential oils on your skin, perform a patch test or initially place the oils on the bottom of your feet, the palms or your hands or other areas where your skin is thick. Try more sensitive areas such as temples, neck or arms only after you are sure that your skin can tolerate the dilution.
Additionally, some oils can cause phototoxic reactions, also known as increased sensitivity to the sun, and more specifically, raise the likelihood of sun burns. This is most commonly associated with citrus oils. We suggest that you place such oils onto portions of your skin that are not regularly exposed to the sun during summer months or if you live in a sunny location. Make sure to take proper precautions to protect your skin.
For pregnant women, infants or individuals with skin conditions such as eczema, it is especially important that you exercise caution. We recommend that you seek guidance from a certified aromatherapist or your physician prior to applying essential oils directly to your skin.
This topic is simple. Despite information produced by some of the big essential oil retailers, it is not a good idea to ingest essentials oils unless instructed to do so by a certified aromatherapist. Despite what the big guys are telling you, this NOT primarily a brand issue. Refer again to the photo of my oil ravaged window sill and then substitute that with an image of your esophagus. Essential oils have the potential to damage your esophagus, stomach and place an undue strain on other internal organs. Mixing the oils with water does not eliminate this risk since, like other oils, essentials are not water soluble. For these reasons, throw away any charts you may have that list essential oils that are supposedly safe for ingestion. Instead, seek guidance from a certified aromatherapist or certified clinical aromatherapist if you want to explore ingesting essentials oils. A money saving tip: most aromatherapists will tell you that 99% of the time, you do not need to ingest essential oils to gain the desired benefits.
This topic is also fairly simple. If you are hoping to gain the holistic benefits of essential oils, you want to use pure oils in an unadulterated form. In fact, the glory of using essential oils is that you are gaining the benefits of using a pure, wellness promoting product in its natural form. Vaping involves the application of heat to produce a vapor. Heat adulterates the oils and thus detracts from their holistic benefit. However, additional concerns exist when it comes to safety. In their undiluted form, some essential oils are flammable and may combust if exposed to a high temperature heating element in a vape pen. An additional risk is also present in the form of mouth and throat irritation from chronic, heavy inhalation.
Don’t completely lose heart if you were looking forward to vaping your essential oils. Essential oils are known as volatile oils. For our purposes, it is important to note that volatile oils naturally evaporate readily without the addition of heat or any other substance. As they evaporate, they produce the aromas we desire. That’s right, because essential oils naturally evaporate in a vigorous manner, you can gain the benefits of the oils without a vape pen. You can buy blank (empty) aromatherapy inhalers at various retail outlets. The inhalers contain a filament that holds your oils. Just add your oils and hold the inhaler under your nose and sniff when desired. Of course, LE Essentials makes it even easier for you. Our sleek Take Control Now and Exhale On the Go Pocket inhalers come prefilled with our proprietary essential oil synergies to assist you with feeling emotionally empowered or to ease nervous tension. Additionally, ML Smile is available in an atomizer that allows you to spray, sniff and go with a lovely uplifting of your mood.
The Bottom Line
The proper use of essential oils is important for safety reasons and in order to gain maximum holistic benefits. If using essential oils on your skin, the proper dilution and placement of oils onto your body with will assist you in avoiding skin irritation and phototoxic reactions. Do not ingest essential oils unless you are doing so in consultation with a certified aromatherapist. Simple inhalation of essential oils is effective without heat or other adulterating substances. Inhale the oils either directly from your skin, via a commercially available inhaler or LE Essentials premixed and prefilled pocket inhalers and atomizers for nervous tension, empowerment or an a lovely lift of your mood. Follow these guidelines, enjoy and let us know what you think!
About LeShelle Woodard, PhD
Dr. Woodard is the owner and founder of Life Enhancement Psychotherapy, which won Best Mental Health Practitioner Office during 2017. Dr. Woodard and her team specialize in expanding traditional mental health practices to include integrative and complimentary techniques and practices. LE Essentials is a custom line of essential oil synergies created by Dr. Woodard and her team to empower individuals to take a more active role in maintaining behavioral health. When combined with the specified breathing and other techniques, LE Essentials can assist with uplifting mood, alleviating nervous tension, regain a sense of empowerment and apromoting serene rest.
Information provided is for informational purposes and is no way intended to substitute for the advice of certified aromatherapist or a medical doctor. Essential oils have not been approved by the FDA for the treatment of any mental or physical illness. The discussion here is based on traditional uses of essential oils and the knowledge gained by Dr. Woodard and her team as they created LE Essentials.
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Jacobson, Lea. Using essential oils safely: Why casual ingesting of essential oils is not safe, no matter what the brand! Retrieved from http://www.usingeossafely.com/ingesting-essential-oils/.
Using essential oils safely. Tisserand Institute: How to use essential oils safely. Retrieved from http://tisserandinstitute.org/safety/safety-guidelines/.
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