Essential oils make great natural home remedies, but just because they are natural does not mean they are always safe. Essential oils are very concentrated and powerful and should be used with caution. Here are 5 safety tips for using essential oils at home.
1. Do not take essential oils internally. Even a tiny amount can damage the linings of your stomach. Some aromatherapy books talk about taking essential oils by mouth, but in these cases, the oils are usually prescribed by a doctor and are taken in a safe form, such as in capsules. Some cooking recipes suggest using essential oils as flavoring. My own aromatherapy tutors always discouraged the use of essential oils internally, even in cooking and even in small amounts, and when using such potent oils, it is better to be safe than sorry.When handling essential oils, make sure you don’t get any oil into your eyes either.
2. If you are suffering from any medical condition (epilepsy, high or low blood pressure, asthma for instance) always check for any contra-indications before using essential oils. In many cases it is safe to try aromatherapy and use some oils, as long as you avoid certain essential oils.
3. If you are pregnant, there are a few oils that can be used, but once again it is better to be safe than sorry and to use only oils that are considered safe in pregnancy. The safest oils are generally said to be Mandarin and Neroli, and incidentally both are good for preventing stretch marks –as long as they are blended into a base oil such as sweet almond or wheatgerm (a very good oil for stretch mark prevention). Use a low dilution: 1 drop to 5 ml of base oil during pregnancy. After the first trimester, you might be able to use a few more oils (in the same low dilution), such as Lavender and Rose. Even though Lavender is one of the safest oils in aromatherapy, you should avoid it during the first trimester if you have a history of miscarriage as it can help to bring on a delayed period.
4. Don’t use essential oils on the skin undiluted. The oils are very strong and even a couple of drops can irritate the skin. Essential oils should always be blended with a base oil such as sweet almond and a general dilution is 3 drops of essential oil(s) to 5 ml of base oil. The exceptions here are Lavender and Tea Tree; you can try a drop of Lavender on a mosquito bite to ease the stinging, or Tea Tree on a spot if you’re suffering from acne. If your skin is very sensitive, always dilute the oils.
5. Don’t use essential oils on babies or small children unless you really know what you’re doing. There are a couple of oils that can be used (well diluted) on small children, I’ll write more about aromatherapy and children in the next article.
Photo: Mandarin Essential Oil by Itineranttrader