How to Stay Safe, And Why it’s Important

Essential oils come in a variety of beautiful fragrances

Not everyone wants to go down the line of medical treatment when they have a minor ailment or issue which they want to treat.

In some cases, the natural route can be just as effective and something to think about, for sure. 

In this case, essential oils might be a route you want to explore

Essential oils are extremely popular these days and the fact that they’re completely natural is a major attraction for many. 

Despite the popularity of these oils, you do need to bear many health and safety issues in mind, to ensure that you’re using them safely and effectively.

Of course, using oils in the safest way also means that you’re using them in the most effective way too. 

In this guide, we’re going to explore the main safety aspects of essential oils.

The reason why we need to focus on this so much is that essential oils aren’t regulated in the same way as regular medications are.

That means you can purchase oils from one particular vendor and notice completely different standards of quality, compared to somewhere else. 

What Are Essential Oils, And Where do They Come From?

Collage of herbs and essential oils

Essential oils are natural oils derived from trees, plants, and flowers.

These oils are extracted using rather in-depth methods, to ensure that the oil remains untouched and as natural as possible. 

This part of the natural plant, tree or flower is considered to be the heartbeat, the most natural and healing part which may be able to help treat a variety of different health and wellbeing concerns. 

Often used as part of aromatherapy, essential oils have long been a subject of confusion and contention, however, many healthcare professionals are now starting to open up to the idea of using essential oils as a natural alternative, or to go alongside other medical treatments for certain illnesses.

For instance, studies have shown certain essential oils to be useful in treating nausea during chemotherapy treatment.

A few common essential oils you might have heard of include:

  • Lavender oil
  • Peppermint oil
  • Eucalyptus oil
  • Tea tree oil
  • Lemongrass oil
  • Orange Oil
  • Calendula oil
  • Rosemary oil
  • Rose oil
  • Chamomile oil
  • Frankincense oil

The list goes on, but these are some of the most common you will no doubt have heard of, and which you can find quite easily in most healthcare stores and even in some supermarkets, especially in the case of lavender oil. 

Most essential oils are used via inhalation (with a diffuser) or topically (applied to the skin), however you should never ingest an essential oil.

Even when used via topical application you should also use a carrier oil to dilute the strength of the oil down.

Just because these oils are natural, that doesn’t mean they’re not strong or even damaging to the health.

For instance, a strong essential oil when applied to the skin may burn the skin tissues, and therefore needs to be diluted with a carrier oil such as coconut oil or olive oil, in order to reduce the potency, but also maintain the benefits.

Of course, you’re also getting the benefits of the carrier oil in this case too, so it’s win-win all around!

Safety Points to Bear in Mind

aromatherapy benefits
There is definitely credible science behind certain benefits for certain essential oils

When using essential oils for the first time you should certainly check with your doctor to ensure that you have no contraindications for use.

Most people are able to use essential oils with no issues, however, if you are pregnant, it is best to avoid essential oil use if you have any complications or any worries. 

However, speak to your midwife if this is something you would like to explore as there are some oils which can be used in certain circumstances, in certain ways.

This includes use through a diffuser and also via massage. However, you should never use essential oils of any kind during the first three months of pregnancy. 

Studies have shown that certain essential oils may be useful in helping to reduce the worry and anxiety connected with childbirth, helping to relax the mother in the run-up to labour.

However, you should always talk to your doctor or midwife before attempting to use any type of essential oil during pregnancy.

Some which you should certainly avoid during pregnancy and breastfeeding at all costs are:

  • Parsley seed oil
  • Camphor oil 
  • Hyssop oil
  • Pennyroyal oil
  • Tarragon oil
  • Wormwood oil
  • Wintergreen oil 

We have already touched upon diluting an essential oil prior to use and that also counts if you are using the oil within a diffuser.

In this case you would breathe in the aroma of the oil via the diffuser and reap the benefits. However, the main points to bear in mind here are:

  • Dilute your oil according to instructions 
  • Use in a well ventilated area

Each oil will have different guidelines in terms of whether it needs to be diluted or not and how much you should dilute it.

For that reason, doing your research beforehand will ensure that you don’t run into any problems. 

Again, we should mention that you should never ingest essential oils via the mouth or any other bodily cavity.

This can cause extreme discomfort and can be very dangerous to health.

Remember, essential oils might be natural but they’re also extremely potent and in some cases can burn the inner tissues. 

Essential Oils And Skin Safety

aromatherapy massage
Chinese Asian woman in wellness beauty spa having aroma therapy massage with essential oil

Another popular way to use essential oils is via topical application, i.e. onto the skin.

In this case dilution is very important as if you use an oil neat onto your skin, you could end up with a nasty rash or very irritated skin at least.

You also need to be aware that some essential oils can prove toxic directly absorbed through the skin and oils such as orange, lemon and lime oil can actually cause a nasty bout of photo-toxicity if you apply them and then expose the area to the sun. 

Despite the warnings, topical use is one of the most common ways, alongside inhalation.

For instance, studies have shown that essential oils may help to relieve insomnia symptoms and can be delivered either topically or via inhalation methods.

This is just one way which essential oils may be able to help with regular issues which may otherwise plague your life.

Before using essential oils on your skin you first need to do a patch test.

The best way to do this is:

  • Wash your forearm and make sure you use products which are unscented. Dry the area thoroughly 
  • Dilute the essential oil and then apply a small amount of the mixture to the forearm, rubbing in gently and covering with a piece of gauze
  • Wait for a full 24 hours before removing the gauze and check to see if there has been any rash or other irritation 

Of course, if you notice irritation before the 24 hours is up, remove the gauze early and thoroughly wash the area.

If you see any signs of irritation, that means you are either allergic or sensitive to that particular oil and you shouldn’t use it. 

Ensuring that you dilute your essential oil with a gentle carrier oil is a must do when using topically.

Essential Oils And Eye Safety

It is important to ensure that you do not get essential oils, either neat or diluted, into your eyes.

This means not using the oil directly onto the eye or anywhere near it.

Even if diluted, the oil will sting and cause irritation. 

If you do happen to get a small amount of oil into your eye make sure you wash it out immediately using warm water.

Avoid any soaps or other additions and make sure the water is just warm.

If you notice any adverse reaction after washing the eye, immediately seek out medical attention as the eye may need to be cleaned in a deeper way. 

Using Essential Oils For Medical Issues

Essential oils have been the centre of a huge amount of research over the last few years, and many studies have shown positive results.

For instance, peppermint oil has been shown to be quite useful in aiding with digestion problems, whilst lavender oil has been linked with stress relief and better sleep. 

There are countless different essential oils and all have their own claims when it comes to the medical issues they may help with.

However, you should always check with your doctor before choosing to use any oils for a specific condition, especially if you are taking regular medications alongside.

In this case, your doctor will talk to you about the specific oils you might be able to use, if indeed you are suitable to use oils in the first place.

Always heed their advice above all else.

To give you an idea of some of the medical issues which essential oils are thought to help with, see the list below. 

  • To give a boost of energy try peppermint oil
  • Peppermint oil is also thought to be useful for helping with digestion issues
  • Lavender is thought to help relieve stress, boost mood and also help with sleep issues
  • Sandalwood is another oil which may help relieve anxiety and calm down nervousness, whilst also helping with concentration
  • Bergamot oil is another for helping with stress but can also aid with certain skin conditions, such as eczema 
  • Chamomile oil is a good option for calming the nerves and helping with relaxation whilst rose oil is another good oil for anxiety reduction 
  • Lemon oil can be used to reduce headaches, as can lavender oil
  • Lemon oil is also used for digestion issues and helping to relieve low mood
  • Tea tree oil has antimicrobial properties, which makes it a good oil for reducing infection 
  • Ylang ylang oil is reputed to help reduce nausea and headaches
  • Jasmine oil may reduce mild depression symptoms and boost libido 

These are just a few uses of essential oils, but it’s worth remembering that one size doesn’t fit all and you need to find the best choice for you, according to the medical condition you have, your own sensitivities and allergies, your age, and any medications you are taking.

Always listen to medical advice above all else. 

Points to Bear in Mind When Purchasing Essential Oils

If you have read all of the above information, including all the safety advice we have given, and you want to try essential oils for yourself, it’s important to make sure that you purchase them from a reputable seller.

If you can, opt for organic oils as these are as close to natural as it is possible to be, but always look for reviews before making a purchase, especially online.

Remember, essential oils are not regulated by any board or trading standards company so anyone can put together a concoction and call it an essential oil.

By looking at reviews you can be sure that the product you’re purchasing is not only good value for money but that it is also safe to use. 

You should also do your research into the medical condition you’re trying to help and the specific oils which work alongside it.

It’s no good buying one random pot of essential oil and expecting it to work for whatever problem you have.

Different oils treat different issues, so always do your research ahead of time and make sure that you’re not wasting your money on a product which is not suited to your specific ailment. 

Aside from anything else, always remember that sometimes you really do get what you pay for.

Sure, it’s good to save money here and there but when it comes to anything you’re going to use on your body in order to treat a medical problem, you need to be sure that you’re purchasing a safe and effective product, and not a cheaper version which is going to leave you with more trouble than you had in the first place. 

Then, when you use a high quality product and heed all necessary safety advice, you can be sure that you’re giving yourself the best possible chance of actually finding a successful route for treatment. 

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