The basics of essential oils
What are essential oils used for?
Over hundreds of years, essential oils have been shown to treat a broad range of medical conditions including anxiety/stress, sleep, migraines, nausea, sinus congestion, even help with boosting immune system response.
One study found that those who breathed a mixture of ginger, spearmint, peppermint, and cardamom had significantly reduced nausea after surgery. Other research shows that lavender oil can lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol, resulting in reduced stress. It has been shown that inhaling lemongrass aroma before a stressful event can prevent anxiety.
Are essential oils safe?
The use of essential oils in the US continues to grow. Many consumers are not aware of the safe use of essential oils and the risk that can be associated with the high potency plant extracts. The safety concern is that many multi-level marketing companies overstate the healing potential of essential oils and downplay their risks. This means that caution should be used when experimenting with formulation of essential oils.
It is very easy and a common occurrence for the lay public to purchase an “essential oil kit” and think that they will be able to use these oils safely - without proper education and training.
Are they safe for my baby
Whether an essential oil is safe for you depends on a number of factors including age, existing conditions, medication and supplement use. For example, studies show that the oils of peppermint, Eucalyptus globulus, rosemary and any other camphorus oils should not be used around or near a baby. These oils have been known to cause a natural reactive response that close the throat and air passages. Oils safe for babies (externally, age 1-12 months) include lavender, roman chamomile, mandarin, Eucalyptus citriodora, neroli, geranium and rose otto.
Be aware, even these oils are considered safe for babies, observe the baby carefully in case rashes or irritation develops and then discontinue use. It is extremely important that you wash your hands thoroughly after handling essential oils before handling, feeding, or nursing your baby.
Should I use less on my children?
Just like anything else designed for adults, children ages 5-12 years require a size adjustment. A safe rule is to use one-half the amount of essential oils used in any formulation for adults. Again, watch for any rash or skin irritation and for diffusion in a close area, it is preferable to use the reduced amounts. For the elderly, it will depend on the overall health condition of the individual. Normally, start with half the amount of a suggested formulation and if no adverse reactions develop, the oils can be increased as necessary up to the full formulation amounts.
What if essential oil gets in my eye?
If essential oils get in the eyes, do not try to flush it out with water – it will make it worse. Use an oil such as coconut oil, olive oil or other common oils you may have immediately available. Flush the affected eye with the oil thoroughly. The essential oil will quickly be eliminated because the essential oil attached to the fat in the flushing oil.
Consult a certified aromatherapist
The use of essential oils and aromatherapy is a learned skill. Certified aromatherapists have spent hundreds of hours learning how to safely use essential oils in various formulations and health applications to avoid adverse or harmful reactions. One cannot assume that because they bought a company’s essential oil products and attended a short seminar, that they are qualified to mix and administer essential oils.
When buying essential oils, ask the person selling the oils if they are a certified aromatherapist. If the answer is no, take caution as you could receive inaccurate advice on how to use the oils, resulting in adverse or even serious health complications. Beware of the neighbor who has recently “joined an essential oil marketing group” and is offering to sell you oils or formulations they may have created with minimal knowledge and training.
For any other questions about essential oils, Ask Penelope
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Penelope is a Certified Aromatherapist, Licensed Massage Therapist and Licensed Esthetician with over 30 years of experience using natural healing to help people with their fight against pain.