Guest Post: Essential oil safety tips

The Lush's Blush blogI have an increasing interest in essential oils, so I am thrilled to have a guest post this week from Lady Danni Morinich of Glencoe. Be sure to check out her website which features her handmade soaps, an Essential Oil School and more! You can also find her live on Periscope @LadyDanni1.

Lady Danni Morinich is Proprietress of Landed Gentress Essential Oil Soaps and uses essential oils in her bath and body creations. She is a member of the American Herbalist Guild and has just completed her first Aromatherapy Course with Laura Moorhead, CA, LMT.


Top ten tips for using essential oils safely

With the ever increasing costs of health care and insurance copays, and people shunning chemicals and additives for a more natural lifestyle, it shouldn’t be a surprise that the use of essential oils is becoming more popular. From using oils to improve health, create chemical free cleaners for the home or natural beauty products, more medicine shelves worldwide are beginning to house at least one or two essential oils. 

When I was studying for my first level aromatherapy certification, I found loads of articles recommending which oils to use for what, but there wasn’t as much safety information for novice users. So I wanted to fill that gap with some best practice information for those who have wanted to use essential oils but haven’t taken the plunge, as well as a reminder to those who run to quell the first symptoms of a cold or flu with a bottle of Thieves Oil, a few tips to keep you your family stay safe.

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1. Never take essential oils internally. There are those that will tell you, if an oil is pure enough, you can take it internally. While that may be the case on some oils, I’d advise against taking the advice of a MLM sales person as opposed to an aromatherapy practitioner or integrative medicine specialist. While there are some oils that have been used in culinary field for ages like lemon or oregano. If you feel you must take them internally, don’t use an essential oil, source an oil from a gourmet shop as ones approved for human consumption are FDA approved safe.

2. Currently, there is no governing body in the world that certifies the purity or quality of essential oils. While some companies may take it upon themselves to test for purity and provide a quality product, there is no grading system. If you see the term Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade®, you’ll notice that phrase is always followed by a registered trademark symbol and that’s because it’s a marketing term used by doTerra. Any other company can use those terms, but not in that exact order. The terminology means nothing, so choose the best quality oil you can afford rather than a name that claims to be superior in a grading system that simply does not exist. If you want to make sure an oil is of a good quality, check to see if the company tests their oil for purity using gas chromatography or mass spectroscopy.

3. Essential Oils should be avoided during the first three months of pregnancy. Although fragrances can be off putting during the first few months of pregnancy and that’s nature’s version of self regulation, it is best that essential oils be avoided during the most formative time of the pregnancy. There are a number essential oils that should be avoided during the entirety of pregnancy, but things like lavender, rose, geranium and chamomile can be used in moderation after the first trimester.

4. Essential Oils should be diluted. There are a few oils that are safe to use straight and they are generally considered to be lavender, tea tree and helichrysum because of their healing and antiseptic properties, however to avoid skin sensitization all other oils should be mixed with a carrier oil.

5. Essential oils should not be used on infants. Essential oils can be used on children but it is usually recommended not to use them on children under the age of two. All oils that are used on children should be mixed to a dilution of 1% meaning 1 drop of oil in one teaspoon of essential oil. It is also recommended that you do a patch test on the leg and waiting 24 hours, assuring the child has no reactions. You should never use any essential oils near the face and mucous membranes.

6. Never use essential oils in the ears. If you are experiencing problems with inflammation or congestion in the ears, use a few drops of oil on the side of the neck behind the ear, but never in the ear canal where inflammation or damage might occur.

7. Never burn essential oils. When oils are heated their chemical composition change. For the safest use of essential oils, either use them in a cold mist diffuser or a plug in ball where the oil is placed on a cotton pad which is gently warmed by the ball, diffusing the oils safely though the home or office.

8. Not all oils can be used by all people. If you have an underlying condition like hemophilia, high blood pressure, epilepsy or are about to undergo surgery, then certain oils should be avoided. Oils that are stimulating and work on the circulatory system like rosemary, peppermint, hyssop, thyme, eucalyptus and sage should be avoided by those with high blood pressure. Those with epilepsy should avoid oils that may have an effect on the neurological system like rosemary, fennel, sage, eucalyptus, hyssop, camphor and spike lavender (not to be confused with lavender or lavendin). If you have hemophilia, are about to undergo surgery or are on prescribed blood thinners, then you should avoid the following: birch, garlic, oregano, tarragon and wintergreen.

9. Essential oils that work on people may be detrimental to animals. Although essential oils can improve your surroundings, they may not work for your pets, and should be avoided unless you have a great deal of education on the interaction and contraindications as size, weight and breed all influence how and if oils should be used. For example, cats lack the liver enzyme glucuronyl tranferase, so substances that are otherwise harmless can build up and cause toxicity in the liver. With birds, even essential oils diffused in the air should be avoided as it can interfere with their bronchial and metabolic systems. Essential oils should never be introduced into the aquatic systems of fish as the oils will not mix with water but may cling to the skin of a fish and cause major problems. Oils should also not be used in tanks with reptiles as in an enclosed space can prove toxic. I don’t suggest the novice employ the use of essential oils without instruction from a vet experienced in homeopathic or naturopathic treatments. The only exception I make is recommending the use of a 1% diffusion of lavender to calm dogs or cats, (1 drop lavender in 1 teaspoon of a carrier oil like grapeseed.) While that can generally be diffused safely, please make sure you provide either outside access for your pet or the ability to escape to a room that is not scented should they find the fragrance disagreeable.

10. Store safely to ensure freshness. Surprisingly the biggest problems with essential oils is people don’t store them correctly and using oils that have degraded can cause skin irritations. Citrus oils are fragile and should be used within about 6 months but most other oils will remain viable for about 18 months (oils like frankinscense, sandalwood and patchouli significantly longer.) Make sure all essential oils are in an amber or cobalt bottles. Store them in a cool dark place, not in an environment that experiences changes in temperatures and humidity, like a kitchen or bathroom medicine cabinet. To keep oils at their freshest, avoid purchasing large quantities as unless you are a practitioner, you’ll probably use only a small number of oils and purchasing those oils in 10 ml bottles will ensure your oils don’t languish in a box or case somewhere but are used regularly and at their freshest, to heal, calm and bestow emotional and spiritual balance to your environment and your life.

Lady Danni Morinich is Proprietress of Landed Gentress Essential Oil Soaps and uses essential oils in her bath and body creations. She is a member of the American Herbalist Guild and has just completed her first Aromatherapy Course with Laura Moorhead, CA, LMT. Learn more at www.landedgentress.com. 

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