Making Sense of Essential Oils Safety Guidelines
Making Sense of Essential Oils Safety Guidelines
When I first started using essential oils I was totally confused by the vague and often conflicting essential oils safety guidelines. All the dilution charts and safety warnings were overwhelming to say the least. Naturally, because of this my oils stayed mostly in the cabinet collecting dust. I just couldn’t make sense of how to use them. That is, until I found Young Living. Now that I understand what essential oils are and how Young Living’s oils are produced, I can rest easy, following a few, common-sense guidelines ~ and most importantly, enjoy my oils!
The following safety guidelines apply to Young Living essential oils ONLY!
I would use ever so much more caution when using store-bought essential oils… Actually, given what I now know, I wouldn’t choose to use store-bought oils at all. (Read here to find out why.)
When you first begin using high quality, therapeutic grade essential oils it is possible that you will experience a few reactions. This is especially true if you have not yet fully adopted a natural, chemical-free lifestyle. Essential oils are powerful detoxers! They go into your body and destroy any toxins they come into contact with. This of course, is a really good thing! However, it doesn’t always feel like a good thing. Toxins that have been pulled out of your cells must then be removed from your body. If too many toxins are pulled out at once, this will overwhelm your body’s detox capacity, creating a traffic jam of sorts and causing you to feel pretty crummy in the mean time. Be patient! Over time, your body’s toxic load will decrease and your overall wellness will increase dramatically!
It’s best to begin by using very small amounts of essential oils and build your way up. If you happen to have a reaction (most likely a rash or a headache) take a step back. Make sure you are drinking LOTS of WATER! Take a nightly Epsom salt bath. Wait a day or two before you use that specific oil again. Next time, try a smaller amount in the diffuser or mix it with more carrier oil.
If you feel stuck, consider your daily intake of toxins. Remember, the oils will be constantly working to remove any toxins you are allowing on or in your body. Also, remember that specific oils are better received by some bodies than others. We are all different. Try a different oil and see if you like it better. There are so many oils with overlapping properties. It is likely that more than one oil is capable of meeting your needs.
Also, if your body is under a lot of stress (even physical stressors like food sensitivities, lack of sleep, or illness) it is more likely that you will have a reaction to something new. Even if that something is good! It’s one more thing for your body to process. So if necessary, GO REALLY SLOW. It’s not a race. Baby steps!
Use Common Sense!
You CANNOT be allergic to an essential oil. It isn’t scientifically possible. You CAN however, have a reaction to an essential oil. This can happen for any number of different reasons. Most likely, you used a hot oil without enough carrier oil. Some oils are considered hotter than others.. this doesn’t mean that they will actually burn you. It means that these oils may produce an uncomfortable warming sensation on sensitive skin. It’s best to begin by diluting most oils. Then, if all is well you can try a bit of the oil neat (undiluted) in a less-sensitive area, like the bottoms of your feet. If even this does not cause discomfort, feel free to use the oil however you choose. The following oils are considered “hot”: Cassia, Cinnamon Bark, Clove, Hyssop, Lemongrass, Ocotea, Oregano, Thyme, and any blends that contain them, including Thieves. Also, be aware that the cooling minty oils (Peppermint, Wintergreen, etc..) can also sometimes feel uncomfortable on sensitive skin.
Some people find that they are not bothered by even some of the hotter oils directly on their skin. Others seem to react to even the most gentle of oils. Every body is different. Use common sense.
Never put any essential oils into your eyes or ears! If you happen to get some in your eye, don’t rinse with water! Essential oils are fat soluble, not water soluble. Water will do nothing to help you. Just grab a bit of carrier oil or milk and gently apply it to your eye. It should take care of the problem in seconds.
It’s natural to assume that diluting an essential oil with a carrier oil is akin to watering it down/weakening its effectiveness. This is not true. Diluting does not change the frequency or therapeutic benefit of the essential oil. Using more than 2-3 drops of an essential oil is excessive. Diluting helps to spread those few drops over a larger portion of skin.
Keep in mind though, that unlike essential oils, carrier oils CAN become rancid. Make sure to keep your carrier oils as fresh as possible. When mixing with carrier oils, make small batches at a time. This way if the carrier goes bad, you haven’t wasted much essential oil. At home, I often just take a dab of carrier and mix in a drop or two of essential oil in the palm of my hand, but roller bottles are handy for when you’re out and about.
Also unlike essential oils, it IS possible to be allergic to a carrier oil. Make sure you are using an oil that is not problematic for you skin. Everybody’s different. If you are allergic to almonds for example, almond oil may not be a good choice for you.
It’s usually best to dilute essential oils when using them on very small children. Mostly because you are not inside their body. You can’t feel what they feel and have less knowledge of how the oil is effecting them. Use extra caution… again, not because Young Living oils are unsafe, but because they can be uncomfortable.
Some of the most common carrier oils are: sweet almond oil, coconut oil, olive oil, grapeseed oil, avocado oil, jojoba oil… There are MANY more! Young Living sells a carrier oil called “V6” that is a blend of several oils.
Ingesting Essential Oils
Young Living now makes it easy to know which of their essential oils are intended for ingestion by offering their vitality line. These oils are not in any way different than their non-vitality counterparts. Young Living Peppermint oil and Young Living Peppermint Vitality are the same oil. The only difference is the label. It is simply a safety measure to make sure there is no confusion about which oils are intended for internal use and which are not.
This decision about whether or not to ingest essential oils is completely up to you. If you feel uncomfortable ingesting oils, then don’t! If you feel more comfortable reserving internal use for medicinal purposes only, do that. All Young Living Essential Oils are completely pure and therapeutic. I personally enjoy using them internally and find them to be especially effective that way. You may feel differently and that is okay! Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water!! And remember, essential oils are potent! Certainly, don’t go drinking entire bottles of essential oils! Don’t leave them uncapped where small children might get a hold of them. Have I mentioned that you should use common sense?!
The intense controversy over whether or not to ingest essential oils stems from the fact that there are two entirely different schools of thought on this topic. One (British) was originally based on essential oils that were produced and intended for cosmetics and perfume industries. All of the research done to support this school of thought was preformed on low-grade oils. The founder of the British model was developing a cosmetics industry and NEVER INTENDED for her oils to be used for healing purposes. The other school of thought (French) is entirely based on the medicinal use of pure, therapeutic grade essential oils for health and wellness. The founder of this method was a doctor who saw the healing power of essential oils used to treat soldiers during WWII. The reason there is so much confusion on this topic is because we are comparing apples to oranges. Yes it could be dangerous to ingest low-grade oils! Yes it could be beneficial to ingest therapeutic grade oils. (Again, read here why I only use Young Living oils for my family.) And ultimately, make the decision you feel most comfortable with. Young Living essential oils are profoundly beneficial however they are applied.
If you do choose to ingest oils, perhaps adding a drop of Lemon Vitality to your ice water, or Thieves to your morning coffee… use glass, stainless steel or ceramic cups only! NEVER put essential oils in a plastic bottle or Styrofoam cup! Remember how I said that essential oils destroy toxins!? Well the oils will immediately go to work breaking down that plastic and it will undoubtedly be leaked into your drink. Yuck! But you know, you shouldn’t really be using those awful plastics anyway.
A Few More Cautions
If you are using prescription medications, it is best to let your doctor know that you are using essential oils. There can be contraindications, especially for patients with seizures and/or blood pressure issues. A good reference guide should also include this information for each individual oil.
All citrus essential oils can cause photosensitivity. This means that if you apply a citrus oil to your skin in an area where you are likely to get exposure to sunlight, your skin will be more sensitive to the light in that area and could discolor, become irritated, or even blister. This is not unlike how my childhood friend soaked his hair in lemon juice and sat out in the sun to turn it orange for “Crazy Hair Day” and simply takes a few weeks to go away, but there have been severe reactions. Better safe than sorry. So if you would like to use a citrus oil during the summer, it would be best to either use it at night (at least 12 hours before sun exposure) or to put it on the bottoms of your feet (one of the best places to absorb essential oils anyway). The oils that may cause photosensitivity are Lemon, Lime, Orange, Tangerine, Mandarin, Grapefruit, Jade Lemon, Dill, Bergamot, Angelica, and any blends containing them. Always check the individual oil bottle and a good reference guide for more information.
And if you should decide to take a bath using essential oils, remember that essential oils are not water soluble. If you add them to the water they will rest on top and could possibly irritate your skin. Instead, simply stir a few drops of essential oil into a jar of Epsom salts a few minutes before your bath. That way the oil will disperse properly.
A simple google search will reveal an incredible amount of controversy and hysteria regarding the safety of essential oils. But let me give you just a couple statistics to put your mind at ease.
# of deaths EVER caused by the proper use of pure essential oils = ZERO.
# of deaths PER YEAR caused by the proper use of prescription medications = 100,000!!
So please friends… go slow, use common sense, and ENJOY your essential oils!
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