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Essential Oil Safety: The Basics!!

Updated: Jan 8



When working with essential oils it is especially important to use them with safety in mind.

Many people consider oils 100% safe to apply whichever way they want because they are natural and from plants. They cannot be harmful, right?

It is true that they are safer than chemicals, but it is important to educate yourself about the risks and concerns and use them with care and caution. These tiny drops are powerful and complex!


“The essential oil in a bottle is 50-100 times more concentrated than in the plant, and safety issues apply to essential oils that may not apply to the whole plant or herbal extract.” [1]


There is a lot to know about essential oil safety, but I will communicate some basic guidelines when using them.


INTERNAL USE


There are many practitioners and teachers that use essential oils internally or through digestion. My belief is that using oils this way takes a great deal of knowledge and education in anatomy, physiology, chemistry & pharmacokinetics.

Ingesting oils can cause burns, allergic reactions, and damage to major organs. Having a background and education on how the oil effects the body, how the body metabolizes the oil and eliminates it, and what organs might be affected is imperative before suggesting consuming an essential oil.

Sound complicated? It is! And should be used strictly advised under a professional’s care.


PHOTOTOXIC/PHOTOSENSITIZATION


Phototoxicity happens when the skin has a reaction in the presence of UV rays or sun exposure. This can occur when certain essential oils, mainly in the citrus family, are applied to skin before or while being exposed to the sun. Some examples are orange, lime, grapefruit & tangerine. Angelica root and St. John’s Wort are also on the photosensitive list.

These oils become toxic when exposed to UV light and can cause sun damage which ranges from a blotchy red rash, dark pigmentation or spots or burns. Avoid UV rays for 12 hours after applying to exposed skin.


OXIDATION


When an essential oil is exposed to oxygen it starts to destroy the natural constituents. This process is called oxidation. It can cause the oils to become very irritating to the skin and cause sensitization. Heat and light can also destroy oils. Always store your oils in a glass or metal bottle, with the cap on tight, in a cool dark place.



DILUTION


Essential oils need to be diluted in a carrier oil when being used topically. You can use one of your favourites! Mine are sweet almond, jojoba or my own handcrafted calendula infused sunflower oil. Some oils are applied “neat”, and that means straight from the bottle, and onto the skin. I personally do not recommend it because over time your skin can become overly sensitive to that oil with long term use and it may cause irritation. You would not want to become sensitive to one of your favourites, would you?


Remember I mentioned powerful? I was not kidding. How much depends on certain considerations such as age, health, the purpose of using the oil and if you are taking medications or vitamins/supplements. Less is always more when it comes to diluting or using oils. IMPORTANT SAFETY PRECAUTIONS: Keep oils away from mucous membranes- eyes, ears, nose (inside) & genitalia. If irritation occurs apply a carrier oil to the area. This will dilute the oil more and help soothe any irritation. Water and oil do not mix! Do not use water to wash the essential oil off, it will just drive it deeper into the skin. If essential oil gets into the eye drop some carrier oil into the eye to flush the essential oil out. If an oil is accidentally ingested by a child, call your local Poison Control immediately. A small dosage of essential oil can be very toxic, and can seriously harm a child or cause death. Keep all essential oils stored away from children. Essential Oils are flammable. Keep them away from open flames or fire hazards.




Here are the basics! I hope you continue to incorporate oils into your daily routine with care and safety in mind! Download this free printable Essential Oil Dilution Charts! Click here to download! [1] https://tisserandinstitute.org/safety-guidelines/

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