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How to Use Aromatherapy Essential Oils: Basic Facts and Safety

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By Edited Apr 6, 2015 0 0

Essential oils are a common product people use when they resort to alternative medicine or self-medication. However, using essential oils can contradict many medical conditions if people are not familiar with their medical diagnosis. Seeking advice from health professionals is always recommended, even to experienced users, because it is possible to overlook important safety points.

Furthermore, you have to become familiar with the basic facts and safety points in using aromatherapy essential oils. You also need to learn how to use aromatherapy essential oils to get the best benefits in the process. That knowledge will help you if you want to improve your lifestyle without experiencing negative outcomes.

Basic Facts on Essential Oils

Without some basic facts about essential oils, it is not possible to apply them correctly, even if you are familiar with all safety measures. Learning those facts is important to prevent buying the wrong oils and using the wrong essential oils to meet your goal.

Essential Oil Blend(79350)
Credit: Licensed under Creative-Commons by Helena Liu (no real name given) at Flickr

The Difference between Essential Oils and Aromatic Oils

The first thing people need to know is that aromatic oils do not have medical applications, and they can only smell nice. If they are edible, you can use them in many culinary recipes, but they will not do anything for health improvement and personal well-being.

Unlike aromatic oils, you can use aromatherapy essential oils for medical purposes. Some hospitals use them as antiseptics. Hospitals in France have developed aromatherapy to a high degree, and they sometimes carry out entire treatments using only essential oils.

Looking at the price is the best method to distinguish between these two types of oils. Aromatic oils are cheap, and they are all priced the same. Essential oil prices vary among different essential oils. In addition, essential oils have to undergo tests that show their chemical composition and origin.

Different Types of One Essential Oil

Certified essential oils undergo gas-liquid chromatography (GLC), and you should use only certified essential oils. Essential oils from the same plant are often different because there are several cross-breeds or subspecies of one plant. Furthermore, the same plant can develop a different chemical composition in different climates, so the essential oil produced from that plant will create different effects. It is possible to know the chemical composition and the effects of aromatherapy essential oils only after they go through GLC tests. Always buy certified oils because you will know what you are buying.

Essential Oils are Different from Dried Herbs

In the process of essential oil production, the plant undergoes thermal processing. Because of that treatment, the essential oils have different chemical constitutions and properties than plants that are raw or dried. Find a reliable book on the properties of essential oils to prevent confusing their properties with those of herbal remedies.

Safety Measures

If you have a medical condition and/or take medicine, seek advice from doctors or licensed aromatherapists because it is not possible to predict all possible outcomes.

Some common safety points for people with medical conditions include:

  • Avoiding oils that stimulate blood circulation for people with cardiovascular conditions
  • Avoiding diuretic oils for people with kidney-related disorders
  • Avoiding phototoxic oils (citrus oils) 2-3 hours before exposure to the Sun
  • Avoiding all essential oils during pregnancy
  • Avoiding essential oils during breastfeeding
  • Avoiding oxidized oils

As a general rule, essential oils do not expire. However, improper storage by exposing them to sunlight, high temperatures, and forgetting to close the bottle, can cause them to oxidize and become harmful. If you experience skin irritation or similar reactions when using essential oils, stop using them immediately.

Citrus oils are more sensitive than other oils. Other oils can usually stay safe for use up to 10 years, but citrus oils expire after a year or two. Keeping them in the fridge can prolong their life and make their application safer. They are extremely sensitive on sunlight, and they make your skin sensitive to sunlight, so use them after sunset or don't expose yourself to the sun 2-3 hours after you use them.

You can use some oils during pregnancy after the third or sixth month of pregnancy. However, always consult a professional before taking unnecessary risks.

For details about contradictions for other conditions and medications, consult with your physician because several interactions are possible, and it is not possible to predict them all.

Do Not Use Essential Oils Directly on the Skin

One type of lavender oil (Lavandula angustifolia) and tea tree oil (Melaleuca alternifolia) are the only oils you can use directly on the skin. In truth, it is possible to use other essential oils directly on the skin, but you should not engage in those practices without medical professionals or licensed aromatherapists. Using wrong oils and high amounts of undiluted essential oils on the skin has caused skin irritation in best cases and subcutaneous surgical operations in the worst cases. Use only diluted essential oils directly on the skin.

Always avoid using the following oils undiluted:

  • Sage
  • Clove
  • Thyme
  • Cinnamon
  • Oregano

The amount of phenols in those oils makes them the best antiseptics, but prolonged use can cause skin irritation and liver damage. If you use those oils, use them in moderation. Use those oils for three weeks at most and take at least a three-week break before using them again. That will keep your liver healthy.

Essential Oils Are for External Applications Only

In several cases, people resort to drinking aromatherapy essential oils, applying them on wounds directly, and other awkward applications of essential oils. Apply essential oils only on the skin after you dilute them. You can dilute them in honey, vinegar, alcohol, salt, neutral shampoo/cream bases, and carrier oils. Water does not dilute essential oils.

Inhaling Essential Oils

Lamps for essential oils or essential oil diffusers are popular utilities that can alter moods and create pleasant smells in your environment. For example, lemon oil can improve concentration and reduce mistakes while working. Grapefruit oil is euphoric and lifts your mood, so you will want to avoid it if you are already hyperactive.

Avoid oils that contain a lot of phenols (sage, clove, thyme, cinnamon, oregano) because they will irritate your mucus membrane in the nose quickly. Use less than five drops of oil. Using too many drops of any oil frequently irritates the sinuses and the entire respiratory system.

Essential Oil Lamp
Credit: Licensed under Creative-Commons by Eggybird (no real name given) at Flickr

Essential Oils for Babies

Using essential oils for babies is not suggested for beginners. As a general rule, most essential oils become safe after the age of three. However, you must dilute them, and your concentrations must be much lower than those used for adults.

How to Minimize Negative Outcomes

When you disrespect safety measures, you will need medical interventions. However, you can help enhance the results of those interventions in certain scenarios by following these instructions. Remember to seek medical help even after following these instructions.

1. Swallowing Essential Oils

Drink some edible carrier oil if you swallow an essential oil. That will dilute the oil, so it will not accumulate on one point and damage your mucus membrane. Remember that water does not dilute essential oils, so it is not helpful in these scenarios.

2. Essential Oils in the Eyes

Close your eye and allow the tears to flow. Apply a bit of carrier oil on the closed eye. You can wash the eye under the water and roll your eye around to wash it thoroughly. Remember that you must apply a bit of carrier oil before washing the eye with water because water will not help dilute the essential oil. Your eye will continue to sting for some time, but it will get better after that procedure.

3. Essential Oils in the Nose

Some people learn that eucalyptus is beneficial for the respiratory system, so they apply it directly in the nose. Always remember that essential oils are for external applications only, and avoid this scenario at all costs.

Do not inhale vegetable oils to dilute the essential oils because they are viscous, so they could block your breathing pathways and put your life in danger. Vomiting helps in some cases, but it does not guarantee safety. Seek medical attention immediately without attempting to help yourself.

4. Essential Oils in the Mouth without Swallowing

Take a tablespoon of edible carrier oil, keep it in the mouth for about 5 minutes, and spit it out. Repeat the process for your peace of mind. Seek medical help even after washing the mouth for safety.

Finally, remember that essential oils come from plants, so they can cause allergic reactions. Avoid using essential oils from plants you are allergic to.

Using Essential Oils Properly

How to Mix Essential Oils

You must dilute essential oils before using them because the plant material concentration in a few drops is too high. The most common method of dilution is by dropping them in carrier oils, but the ratio principles remain the same, and you can apply them when using other diluting agents equally.

The highest concentration of essential oils allowed for safety is 5 percent. In 100 ml of carrier oil, you should not put more than 5 ml of essential oil. To make your calculations easier, you should know that 1 ml of essential oils has about 20 drops. In other words, 100 drops of essential oils in 100 ml of carrier oil is the highest dosage allowed. That would be 1 drop of essential oil per 1 ml of carrier oil.

However, you should use 5 percent concentrations only for local applications. For example, when your wrist hurts, you can make a 5 percent concentration for that area. When you want to apply oils on your entire body, you should keep the concentration between 1.5 and 2.5 percent. That would be between 30 and 50 drops in 100 ml of carrier oil. If you want to apply essential oils on your face, you should make a 1 percent concentration. The highest recommended concentration for children is 0.75 percent.

When you are preparing a bath, you should use between four and eight drops of essential oil. Before dropping the oil in the bathtub, drop it in two tablespoons of salt.

You can apply essential oils in water without diluting them in anything else only when you are using essential oil lamps or diffusers.

Some people recommend that you should never mix more than five oils together. That is true because they will lose their performance abilities. However, three oils are usually enough in any scenario, so you should always focus on mixing two or three oils if you want to make combinations.

Remember to use aromatherapy essential oils in moderation. When you think of essential oils, remember that less is more. If you are not sure about the dosage, always prefer fewer drops of essential oil in your blend. That will eventually create the desired effect without compromising your health.



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