- A. M. Hennessy
Essential Oil: Safety & Practices
Essential oils are concentrated compounds extracted from leaves, flowers, bark, stems, roots, resin, seeds, and citrus fruits. They are powerful substances and it is universally believed that less is more when using these oils.
Where To apply Your Essential Oils
Common areas of essential oil application are the bottom of feet, abdomen, spine, neck, and forehead. Of course, almost anywhere on the body can be beneficial. However, do not apply oils near the eyes, ear canals, or any other mucous membranes. When applying oils, avoid these and other sensitive areas. If you do get oil in the eyes, use a carrier oil like coconut oil and place one drop in the eye and blink until you feel relief.
Perform a patch test prior to your first use. Apply 1–2 drops of essential oil to a patch of skin. Observe the area for 1–2 hours for any reaction. If you experience a burning sensation, discomfort, irritation, or develop a rash, apply a carrier oil to the affected area as often as needed until you feel relief. Remember, don’t use water to wash the oils off the skin, as oil and water don’t mix. Use a carrier oil to remove from the skin and flush from the eyes. If discomfort is longer than 5 minutes, seek medical attention.
‘Warm’ oils can cause a hot or warming sensation when applied to the skin. Examples are; birch cassia eucalyptus ginger lemongrass wintergreen Cinnamon, Clove, Oregano, and Thyme. For some people, Peppermint’s cooling sensation can be too intense and is lumped into the warm oil category. Only use these oils with a carrier oil and 1-2 drops at a time.
Some essential oils, especially citrus oils, contain natural molecules that react with sunlight and can cause a reaction. Photosensitive oils are: Bergamot, Grapefruit, Lemon, Lime, Orange, Cumin, and tangerine. Other oils may also have photosensitive properties, so always read the label on your oils.
When applying on exposed skin, it is best practice to wait 8-12 hours before going out into the sun. As a precaution, do a patch test on the skin that will not be exposed to the sun to deduce your personal sensitivity.
Children & Oils
There are many essential oils that are appropriate for use on children but should be well diluted with a carrier oil when applied. However, when storing oils, keep out of reach of children. Dosages are also much lower for children than adults.
Dosages & Dilution
Essential oils are potent and powerful and only a small amount of oil is needed to achieve the desired effect. Be aware of daily dosage recommendations to prevent your body from being overwhelmed with incorrect amounts of oil.
When applying essential oils topically it is important to remember that most oils need to be diluted with a carrier oil. Essential oils are concentrated and powerful, ensure you read your oil's label. Utilizing a carrier oil does not decrease the benefits of the oil, it actually promotes absorption.
When Using Oils With Prescription Medications
If you are using a prescription medication, it is recommended that before using an essential oil, you seek the advice of a health care advisor experienced with essential oils. Also, consult with your prescribing physician and pharmacist about possible interactions between any medication and essential oils.
How To Use Oils When Pregnant
It is recommended to avoid essential oils entirely during the first trimester. Here is a list of oils to avoid throughout pregnancy. It is strongly recommended that, if pregnant, consult with a medical professional prior to using any essential oils.
As mentioned before, essential oil should never be left in the reach of children and lids need to properly sealed. Light and heat can change the oil's chemical structure, so ensure they are kept out of direct sunlight and away from any heat source. Storing oil in a cool and dry space also ensures the preservation of the oil’s properties.
As always, read the labels of all your essential, use your best judgment, and consult a health practitioner if you have any concerns or questions.
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