In today’s world anyone with an internet connection and a blog can become an expert. This can lead to a lot of misinformation, and Essential Oils are no exception to the rule. When I started using Essential Oils I did hours of research. I looked into individual oils, safety, history, and anything I could get my hands on. I am not an expert. Just a blogger with an internet connection. I have no special degrees and the only title I hold is Mom. This is a compilation of my research concerning the safety of Essential Oils. I personally use Young Living’s Essential oils in my day to day life. There are some safety concerns to consider when using Essential Oils, but I strongly believe that when used properly, they are a safe alternative to conventional over the counter products.
Essential Oils are a naturally occurring oil that is derived from a plant through a distilling process. This process results in a high concentrated oil that holds the properties of the plant it was derived from. They have been used as far back as the time of the ancient Egyptians as a form of medicine. Today they can provide a natural alternative to medication, cleaning supplies and as aromatherapy. It is important to remember that these oils are highly concentrated but as long as you follow safety guidelines they are completely safe.
While Essential Oils have been used as medicine for centuries, the concept is fairly new to modern day America. There are limited studies and resources on not only the health benefits of Essential Oils, but also the potential risks. Other than the generally safe to consume approval from the FDA, all other organizations have abstained from commenting. Poison Control has some documented cases of Essential Oil overdose/ misuse. The most common oil reported was Tea Tree oil. I found one reported death of an adult who consumed 5 Ml of Eucalyptus Oil and a 23 month old child who was in a coma for 48 hours after consuming 1/2 a cup of Tea Tree oil. Both of these cases occurred in the 90’s. Like a medication, Essential Oils should always be kept out of the reach of children. If an over dose should occur you should contact poison control immediately
The biggest conflict I have found on Essential Oil safety is ingesting them. You can find a list of Essential Oils that are considered safe to ingest on the FDA website. There are a few things however to consider when ingesting oils. First and foremost is serving size. Anything in excesses can have drastic health consequences, and the same is abundantly true for Essential Oils. They are highly concentrated, so just one to two drops is the recommended serving. You also have to consider quality. The FDA takes no part in regulating Essential Oils, so you have to be careful on what you buy. In order for an oil to be labeled pure it only needs to contain 5% of the Essential Oil. The rest can be fillers or additives, and they do not have to be listed on the bottle. With that said oils can be safely consumed in capsules with carrier oils, used in food recipes, and added to a beverage. They also make great toothpastes, mouthwashes and might provide relief from tooth pain. I personally consume Essential Oils and have added them to my oil pulling recipes.
All oils can be applied topically, and most of them can be applied “neat” (without a carrier oil). Some people may experience skin irritation, or find the “heat” from an oil uncomfortable. Topical application can lead to rashes but it is very rare. Every person is different and what may not affect one person can harm another. When starting to use a new oil, you should first use a carrier, and apply it to a small area to check for a reaction. Should a reaction occur do not flush with water, because that will make the reaction worse. Instead apply a carrier oil and wipe the oils off. Discontinue the use of any oil that leads to an allergic reaction. Serving size is also important here as well. Remember that one or two drops can go a long way. Bottoms of the feet, back of the neck, wrists and temples are some common places to apply oils.
Some oils are phototoxic meaning that they can have an adverse reaction when exposed to UV light. This can result in burns, blisters, swelling and even changes to the color of your skin. Most citrus oils such as Lemon, Orange and Grapefruit are Phototoxic. If you apply these oils topically, the area you applied the oils should not be exposed to direct sunlight for 12-24 hours. Apply sunscreen when you leave the house and if you do have a reaction, treat like any other burn and contact a doctor. There is no concern about ingesting these oils and sun exposure.
Essential Oils should not be used in the eyes, or ears. If you accidentally get Essential Oils in your eyes do not flush with water! Water will only push the oil in deeper and make the reaction worse. Instead grab a carrier oil such as olive oil or coconut oil. Put drops of the carrier oil in and around your eye, blink and wipe the outside of your eye gently until the pain subsides. Contact your medical professional if you have vision problems or the pain does not subside within 20-30 minutes. Most people are able to manage eye incidents without medical intervention and lasting harm is rare.
Children and oil safety is a topic all of its own. Children are not just small adults. What would be a minor dose to an adult can be fatal to a child. Their bodies cannot process things as efficiently, and they compensate differently than adults. While Essential oils can be very beneficial to children, always use caution and your best judgment. I have written another blog that goes into great detail about children and Essential Oil safety. I strongly recommend not letting your children ingest oils, use proper dilution rates and introduce them to your children slowly.
Making them a part of your daily supplement routine may also have lasting effects. Like medication Essential Oils should be used only as needed. Most people can maintain their health simply by maintaining a healthy diet and exercise. However oils can provide great relief from cold/flu symptoms, used in wart removal , and skin care. For example a drop of Peppermint oil in water may help ease an upset stomach. If you suffer from chronic conditions that need daily management, Essential Oils might provide relief and possibly help you use less traditional medication. There are many testimonials from people who have been able to manage Fibromyalgia, chronic pain, and high blood pressure with Essential Oils. Research has also shown that Essential Oils may be helpful for people who suffer from anxiety disorders.
While you should always use the appropriate safety precautions while using Essential Oils, the fear surrounding them is unjust. Last year approximately 40,000 people died from accidental drug over dose, while the number of deaths attributed to accidental Essential Oil overdose is roughly 200 over the last thirty years. Modern medicine and medications have a place in our society, but so do Essential Oils. There is a lot of misinformation out there surrounding Essential Oils, but they have been used as a form of medicine in many cultures throughout history. I personally have been able to change my life using Essential Oils, and would hate to see anyone turned away by fear. Modern medicine and science is amazing and saves lives every day. It has also created a system of dependency that has created a culture of people who have forgotten how to be healthy. Along with a healthy, diet and exercise you can find health with Essential Oils.