anything used without proper care
can impose a risk - even water
As with every single substance on the planet - yes, even water - if it is used improperly, and without care and consideration, it can pose a threat to your optimal health and wellbeing.
Essential oils are no different. They are powerful natural healing tools that can provide powerful support to our body in a multitude of ways - when used properly.
To ensure you and your family are using these beautiful essences in the safest and most effective ways, follow these very simple (and likely intuitive) guidelines:
use the highest quality oils
How can I be certain I'm using essential oils safely?
The first step to ensuring you're using essential oils safely - and effectively - is to make sure you have the highest quality oil.
Poor quality oils have questionable and often unknown ingredients, and there is no regulation in this industry (as with most industries, unfortunately). This means suppliers can make all kinds of claims that are misleading and often false. The statement of 100% pure is truly meaningless at this point and time. The addition of synthetic oils, and carrier oils without disclosure, are probably the two most common forms of adulteration. You can learn more about adulteration of essential oils from the Aromatic Plant Research Center, which estimates that 80% of the essential oils on the market today are adulterated in some way.
As you'll learn in the section about quality and why it matters, many retailers are not even aware of what's in the oils they're selling, simply because the system is largely based on trust and incomplete information. Even if the retailer received a GC/MS from their distributor, it takes a giant database to properly assess the results, along with decades of experience to properly interpret these analyses. Aside from that, a GC/MS isn't adequate, on it's own, to verify the quality of an essential oil. The technology behind synthetic components today is such that a synthetic essential oil appears almost identical to a real essential oil on a GC/MS, even though it lacks the therapeutic qualities and benefits of a real essential oil.
So keep it simple. Look for a company that is totally transparent about their sourcing, testing and quality commitment. In my research, only one company satisfies all of these indicators, rising heads and tails above any other brand.
measure your own level of sensitivity
Before using any essential oil for the first time, its wise to try a small skin patch test.
Because our personal body chemistry is different, we may react differently to things. The only way to know for sure, is to try it in a small amount and assess our response. Most of us will have no reaction whatsoever to essential oils. Some of us may need to dilute certain oils for our skin type, especially if we're prone to sensitive skin. A very small minority (.0072) may have a significant reaction to certain essential oils. It is important to test each oil for ourselves before we begin using it as intended.
It is important to understand that using a carrier oil (like fractionated coconut oil, jojoba oil, sweet almond oil or grape seed oil) is often recommended for topical application on the skin of adults. For children, dilution is always recommended.
For many adults, including myself, 'neat' application (using an essential oil without diluting with a carrier oil) will lead to no ill effects. Some of us may need to dilute certain oils for our skin type. A very small minority (.0072) may have a significant reaction to certain essential oils.
It is always our own responsibility to educate ourselves and ensure we are using essential oils appropriately for each specific oil and our own needs. If we're not sure about something, or do not feel comfortable for any reason, we should avoid doing it. This is common sense?
less oil, more often
This is another simple rule of thumb. When using a high quality, therapeutic grade oil - which we can verify via a multitude of transparent testing methods, proper sourcing and distillation methods, plus quality guarantees to test every batch, not random samples - one or two drops is all we ever need.
Should we need to reapply, or continue using the oil for repeat applications, we use the minimal amount of oil necessary, and then we can repeat the application every 3-5 hours as needed.
Applying many drops of essential oils all at once is very different than applying one drop and waiting several hours in between applications. It takes our body time to process essential oils. Overloading our body - even with something good -doesn't make it work any faster or better.
consult trusted, science based resources
Bloggers, including myself, aren't all knowing sources of information on the worldwide web, and they shouldn't be treated as such. A lot of the information being shared online is downright misleading. Every day, I see regurgitated, misunderstood information being passed off as fact and being recited in different places. It's irresponsible.
I always recommend my clients to do their own research, seek out science-based evidence, and read books by well-known authors who have been experts in their fields for decades. This is where the real wealth of knowledge is. Two of my personal favourites are The Essential Life and The Healing Intelligence of Essential Oils. Dr Robert Pappas and Robert Tisserand are two well-known essential oils experts, whose work I consult often when researching various issues - from ingestion to essential oils and cats.
I believe it's essential to read up on something until we're confident and understand the information fully. Other people's opinions can help us uncover information we wish to investigate further, but our own internal dialogue and compass is what should help us land on a decision. Having said that, I'm also always revising my thoughts and opinions based on new information as it flows in.
if it doesn't 'sit right', or feel right, STOP doing it
We've all been given a very powerful ability known as 'intuition'. Our body and mind are constantly conversing. We need to listen to what our body and mind are saying. It's a crucial skill for a happy, healthy life. If we can't hear what our intuition is telling us, we need to sit quietly and motionless until we can. It's always there. And if we can't hear it, we simply need more practice tuning in.
If anything we're doing in our life - form proactive health care, to relationships, to work - doesn't feel right...STOP DOING IT.
It's really that simple. The more we use our intuition, the stronger it gets.
be confident in all that you do
There's no benefit to living in fear or reacting out of fear. Fear only serves to impair our judgment. Fear actually prevents our brain from processing information the same as when we are calm.
If you've done your homework and are educated about the safe and effective uses of essential oils, you have nothing to fear. If you're feeling afraid about anything you're doing or hearing, take time to connect with yourself, and understand where those feelings are coming from. Often just recognizing it is enough to allow it to pass. Once we're clear minded, we can make rational decisions.
Once we understand the information we're seeking to answer our questions, we feel confident in our ability to make an INFORMED DECISION. This is one of our greatest assets in life, as with oils.
Above all, remember the most important piece of information there is:
Your health is no one's responsibility but your own