Essential oils are powerful in their action and perfectly safe as long as they're used as intended. Here is what you need to know so you can use essential oils safely and effectively for your wellbeing.
Essential Oil Safety Tips
As with any other substance, essential oils come with a few safety precautions.
Overdoing anything can lead to harmful side effects and essential oils are no different. Even drinking too much water can cause adverse health effects.
Here's a story from my own experience:
Early on in my live/dried blood analysis practice, a young lady came to see me who had been admitted several times to the hospital for liver and other organ issues. Her diet was great, she exercised regularly and took overall very good care of herself. She was very tiny, weighing about 100 pounds, yet she regularly drank over 4 L of water per day.
If you've downloaded and read my Healthy Hydration Guide, you'd remember that the general rule for drinking water would have this young lady drinking no more than 2L per day on average. In her case, too much of a life sustaining substance like water was affecting her health.
Here are the main safety cautions to consider when using essential oils. My recommendations assume that you are using pure, therapeutic grade essential oils.
Read more about the importance of purity here.
Safety caution #1: Use 1-2 drops (or less) to start
You can always increase the amount if needed. This goes for aromatic, topical and internal application.
For more on how to use essential oils, read my article here.
Essential oils are very, very concentrated -- think 3 lbs of lavender flowers to make just 1 tbsp of lavender essential oil, or about 50 lemons to make 1 tbsp of lemon essential oil.
Whether you experience an essential oil aromatically, topically or internally, one or just a few drops of the oil is generally enough to create the desired effect.
For flavouring foods, you may even just want to dip a toothpick into the orifice of the bottle to get just a touch of the essential oil flavour, as one drop might already be too potent.
Safety caution #2: Dilute with a carrier oil
If you’re new to essential oils, trying a new oil, are generally more sensitive, or if you are using essential oils on children or the elderly, it’s a good idea to dilute the essential oil with a carrier oil.
This goes especially for hot oils like oregano or clove!
Start with a 1 drop:10 drop ratio of essential oil to carrier oil or even more diluted if working with babies or hot oils. For babies, the recommended dilution is 1 drop of essential oil per 1 tbsp of carrier oil; for children it's 1 drop of essential oil per 1 tsp of carrier oil.
The following oils are classified as “dilute” oils when applied topically:
My favourite carrier oil is fractionated coconut oil because it’s flavourless and very stable. Other options are jojoba or sweet almond oil. When in a pinch, you can also use high quality kitchen oils like olive or avocado oil.
If you have applied an essential oils to your skin and notice an unwanted reaction like redness, burning or swelling, simply use a cloth dipped in carrier oil to wipe away the essential oil. Water will not work because it will repel the essential oil.
Essential oils on their own don’t stain clothing but carrier oils create ‘grease spots’ so beware when putting on your good clothes after applying diluted essential oils.
Safety caution #3: Some essential oils are photosensitive
The citrus oils can cause your skin to become more sensitive to sunlight, increasing your risk of getting a sunburn. This can last up to 12 hours.
If you’re planning to go outside, apply the essential oil to a body part covered with clothing or wait until bedtime to apply the oils.
The following essential oils have been found to cause photosensitivity:
Safety caution #4: Keep essential oils out of eyes and ears
Most essential oils will burn your eyes. If you do accidentally touch your eye after applying essential oil to another area of your body, use a cloth dipped in coconut oil, olive oil or other benign oil to wipe the essential oil out of your eye. Do not use water! Oils and water repel each other so this will drive the essential oil further into your eye. We definitely don’t want that!
You can effectively deal with eye or ear concerns by applying the appropriate essential oil(s) around the outside of the ear or around the bony part making up the eye socket. Don’t get too close. Remember that essential oils are volatile and will quickly go where they need to go.
When I wake up and my ear feels fuzzy or stuffed up, I just apply some tea tree around the outside of the ear and down the side of my neck and the issue is resolved in no time.
Safety caution #5: Keep essential oils contaminant free and properly stored
Allow the essential oil to drip out of the bottle rather than touching the bottle orifice. That keeps any dirt from your fingers or skin from accumulating on the bottle opening.
Essential oils should be stored in amber bottles out of direct sunlight and away from heat. Always replace the cap promptly after use, otherwise you’ll come back to a somewhat empty bottle. Remember that oils are volatile and will evaporate into the air.
Safety caution #6: Take essential oils internally only if the supplier has stated this as safe to do
Generally safe-to-consume essential oils have a supplements fact box on the label or state something like “For dietary use”. If the label says “Not for internal use”, then don’t consume it!
If your essential oil is certified pure and therapeutic grade and you have verified your the suppliers claims by checking out third party testing results, you’ll find that many essential oils coming from edible plants are safe to consume…in much smaller quantities of course!
Safety caution #7: Consult your doctor or medical professional
If you have any concerns about using essential oils or are already under the care of a medical doctor for any health issues, it’s best to check with him or her regarding essential oils use. Remember this article is for information purposes only and not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any diseases or conditions.
Great! Now that you know a little more about how to use essential oils safely, you can experience them confidently for your wellbeing, in your home and wherever else life takes you!
If you have any additional questions about using essential oils, please Contact Me.
All my best,
Live/Dried Blood Analysis - Homeopathy - Essential Oils Specialist
Nutrition & Lifestyle
Helping you live a life you LOVE!