General Essential Oil Safety Guidelines
Please remember that if you follow proper usage of essential oils, adverse side effects are rare. Keep in mind essential oils are potent and only a very small amount is needed for efficacy. You should only be using pure essential oils that are unadulterated and contain no added fillers, synthetic ingredients, or harmful contaminants. You should be buying essential oils from a company that provides quality GC/MS reports for your oils which allows you to see exactly what components make up that batch of oil.
1) Your #1 priority should be making sure your oils are locked up and out of reach of children. Many of the adverse reactions cited with essential oils is due to accidental ingestion of large doses of essential oils.
2) If accidental ingestion of essential oil has occurred, call Poison Control immediately. Drink a carrier oil or whole milk (needs to be high in fat) in order to help dilute. I would advise going to the hospital just to be safe.
3) Do not administer essential oils near the eyes, in the inner ears, or other sensitive areas.
4) When diffusing essential oils, it is best to do so in intermittent periods of 30-60 minutes on, 30-60 minutes off.
5) Store oils in a cool, dark place and minimize the amount of time the caps are off your oils. The more your oils are exposed to oxygen and sunlight, the higher the chance they will oxidize which can cause skin irritation. Citrus oils tend to oxidize faster than others and can be stored in the fridge to extend shelf life.
6) Remember that water and oil don’t mix. Water is not a proper way of diluting an oil. If you are using essential oil in a bath, mix the essential oil with a carrier oil, whole milk, or epsom salt FIRST, and then disperse into the bath.
7) If you are pregnant, have asthma or epilepsy, take certain medications or have an upcoming surgery, be sure to check with your doctor before using essential oils and refer to specific essential oil safety profiles as some oils may be contraindicated.
8) When using topically, follow proper dilution guidelines
A Word About Ingestion
Whether or not ingesting essential oils is safe is a controversial topic in the aromatherapy world. I have read articles from scientists, doctors, and aromatherapists in which some claim you should not ingest at all and others claim there is a time and place for it. Below are best practices when it comes to ingesting essential oils:
When considering ingesting essential oils, I always come back to the old adage that “water and oil don’t mix.” I do not recommend you ingest essential oils either undiluted or in water, as there is a risk of mouth and/or stomach irritation. Consider only ingesting SAFE OILS when the essential oil is encapsulated with a carrier oil in a soft gel, or try dipping a toothpick in your oil, mix with 1 tsp honey, then adding that to your tea instead of dropping the oil in your water neat.
I’ve seen different safe amounts suggested for ingestion. For adults, it seems to be either 1-2 drops per day or 2-4 drops depending on the source. Consider only ingesting small amounts for short periods of time for a specific reason, ie. you are sick and only ingest until you feel better. Most aromatherapy professionals will caution not to ingest unless you are under the care of a licensed practitioner who is trained in administering essential oils orally.
Remember some essential oils are not safe to ingest. Some common examples include: Arborvitae, Birch, Cedarwood, Cypress, Eucalyptus, White Fir, and Wintergreen. They are best used aromatically or topically.
Oral use caution (high risk of mucous membrane irritation): Cinnamon Bark/Leaf, Star Anise, Citronella, Clove, Lemongrass, Lemon Myrtle, May chang, Melissa, Oregano, Peppermint, Spearmint, Thyme ct. thymol
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