As an avid essential oil educator and soon to be Aromatherapist I know it is important for you to have some basic knowledge on essential oil safety.
One of the first things I like to teach in my essential oil classes is the importance of purchasing a pure essential oil and that they are not all created equally. When choosing where to get your essential oils from make sure you are choosing a company that produces a high quality essential oil. How do you know if their essential oils are high quality? Look for the following things in a company.
Sourcing :When it comes to sourcing the essential oils, the soil and origin of growing matters. The use of toxic chemicals can alter the chemistry. Depending on where the oil is sourced will cause a variation in the natural chemistry of oils. It is like quality wine, different locations and different growing conditions provide he highest quality essential oils.
Quality: To be truly therapeutic and superior grade, an essential oil needs to be tested and proven as pure through Gas Chromatography and Mass Spectrometry testing otherwise known as GC/MS testing. Find a company that also does third-party GC/MS testing to prove their in-house results. Picking a company who has transparency of their testing is important to assure you there is no adulteration of your product. There are companies out there that are independent of any essential oil company, they test all kinds of essential oils. These companies are good at calling out the essential oil companies that adulterate their oils. It is very eye opening to see what is added to essential oils and some companies do this will surprise you. I follow Dr Pappas at www.essentialoils.org or on Facebook at Essential Oil University where you can actually view the testing results of many companies.
There is a growing number of products falsely claiming to be an essential oil or to contain essential oils. Too often these products use fragrant synthetic chemical substitutes to dilute or replace more expensive essential oil extracts. These claims can deceive many consumers who believe they are using natural products. Just because the bottle says 100% pure does not mean that there is nothing synthetic in the bottle. You will need to do some homework with the company and see how they prove to you its pure.
How do I use my essential oils and use them safely?
There are some safety considerations you must know about before using your essential oils. There are a growing number of people purchasing and using essential oils without any direction and harming themselves. You should buy a reliable book as a reference for yourself. I like this book because of its simplicity and feel it is a great start for people who are new to essential oils.
There are 3 ways to use your essential oils and here are the ways to use them:
Aromatic: Aromatic use involves inhaling either a fine mist of oil, or a vapor of the volatile aromatic compounds that have evaporated from the oil. Diffusion is the easiest and simplest way of putting a fine mist of the whole oil into the air for inhalation. This is a very effective way of giving benefit to all who are in the room inhaling the oils. Depending on type of diffuser will yield different size rooms and diffuse for a varied amount of times.
Direct inhalation is the simplest way to inhale the aroma of an essential oil in order to affect moods and emotions. Simply hold an opened essential oil bottle close to your nose and inhale. Another technique would be to put 1-2 drops of oil in to your hands, cup and inhale.
Diffusion via a cloth, tissue, pillow case or even essential oil jewelry is another way to experience the benefits of an essential oil. Simply placing 1-3 drops of the oil where you want it and inhale.
Hot water vapor is another option for diffusion of the oils. I like this when I have congestion. Put 1-3 drops of an essential oil into warm water, and inhale. Be careful of hot steam with added essential oils. Inhale from a far. Also the heat could reduce the benefits of the essential oils.
Topical: Topical application is a popular way to use essential oils. Most importantly when you apply the oil it should be diluted. Essential oils are highly concentrated. Dilution of essential oils is important to avoid skin irritation, sensitization and phototoxicity. They should also be diluted to avoid systemic toxicities. Using a carrier oil will help to spread a small amount of essential oil to the area that is in need with a larger amount of carrier oil. Please reference this guide for dilution ratio’s based on age and needs.
What is a carrier oil? A carrier oil is a pure vegetable oil that helps to “carry” the essential oil onto the skin. There are many types of carrier oils. In a roller bottle I recommend diluting with fractionated coconut oil as a carrier. There are other types of carrier oils such as Olive oil, Avocado oil, Grapeseed oil, Argon oil, Jojoba oil, Rose hip seed oil, etc.
I like to apply the essential oils to the area of concern. So if I am using an essential oil for a headache, I would apply to my head where it is hurting. If I am using it for muscle aches I would apply to the muscle that is aching. If it is for emotion I like to apply to my wrists, neck and/or over my heart where I am feeling the emotion. I apply essential oils to the back of the neck, base of the skull for focus and attention. When my children are feeling sick I apply oils up and down each side of their spine and neck.
Often times the oils will need to be re-applied several times a day to get the benefits you are looking for.
Bottoms of the feet. So there are lots of theories on this topic. I laugh because my husband always swore by putting Vick’s on his feet for a cough. I always would chuckle when he did this and think that it was all in his head. Many cultures do believe in this theory. In the aromatherapy world there are mixed opinions on this. Some people believe that the oils are absorbed very quickly into the blood stream when used on the bottoms of the feet due to large pores on the feet. Others believe that oils don’t penetrate through the bottoms of the feet due to the hydrophilic nature of essential oils and feet having large pores that sweat. This would thus cause the oils to not penetrate through. I do apply oils to the bottom of my feet and my families at night before bed. This method seems to work so we are sticking with it.
Be aware that some essential oils are phototoxic. This means that they should not be applied to the skin 6 hours before going into the sun. These oils are citrus oils such as lemon, wild orange, bergamont, grapefruit and lime.
Some essential oils are considered warm oils. These oils can cause more skin irritation than the others. They are essential oils such as oregano, black pepper, cassia, cinnamon, clove and thyme. Use extra dilution of these oils before putting on your skin to avoid skin sensitivities.
If you are feeling that your skin is irritated by the essential oil, do not wash it with water as this will intensify the essential oil. Simply add more carrier oil to dilute and wipe away.
Internal: Internal uses of essential oils is a subject with great debate. I agree that you should be 100% certain that the essential oils that you are consuming are safe to do so. you should be consulting a professional for directions for consumption. Over consumption of some essential oils can be harmful to the gut flora and cause toxicity. Be cautious and use a guide to help direct you if you chose to consume the essential oil. Never consume an essential oil that you are not certain it is pure.
I choose to use doTERRA essential oils. There are many great brands out there. I picked the company I feel is most trusted and delivers the most pure and potent therapeutic grade essential oils. To learn more and how to order them click here.