DISCLAIMER: I am not a medical professional of any kind. I cannot prescribe, diagnose, or treat diseases. All the information contained in this article is from my own research and experiences.
Earlier we talked about how to choose a good brand of essential oils. Now, let’s talk about essential oil use and safety. Knowing how to safely use essential oils is extremely important. First, what is an essential oil?
MedicineNet defines essential oils as: “An oil derived from a natural substance, usually either for its healing properties or as a perfume. Some pharmaceuticals, and many over-the-counter or ‘holistic’ remedies, are based on or contain essential oils. For example, products containing camphor or eucalyptus essential oils can help relieve congestive coughs, and many essential oils are used in the practice of aromatherapy.”
The U.S. National Library of Medicine states that an essential oil is: “The scented liquid taken from certain plants using steam or pressure. Essential oils contain the natural chemicals that give the plant its “essence” (specific odor and flavor). Essential oils are used in perfumes, food flavorings, medicine, and aromatherapy.”
Notice both definitions indicate that essential oils are used in medicine. You wouldn’t take a cough syrup or prescription without knowing the proper dosage, and the same should apply to essential oils. When starting out with essential oils it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all the information available. I’m going to break it down for you as simply as I can.
There are three ways to use essential oils: aromatically, topically, and internally.
Aromatic use is probably the most common and is usually done by placing the essential oil in a diffuser which then expels the scent into the air. You can also place a drop of essential oil in your palms or on a cloth and then inhale the scent. In general, this is considered to be the safest way to use essential oils. Some things to consider before aromatic use are pet safety (remember, some types of pets are more sensitive to some essential oils than others), child safety (extremely young children should not be exposed to some essential oils), and the desired result of use. Sometimes I diffuse because I want the house to smell good, other times I use it to boost my mood on gloomy rainy days.
Topical use is placing the essential oils on the skin and it includes massage therapy. When using essential oils in this way, it is very important that you follow label directions for dilution requirement. Some oils are considered “hot,” and can be irritating or even harmful if applied without being diluted first. It’s easy to dilute an essential oil. If the label indicates to dilute one drop of essential oil with one drop of carrier oil, simply put one drop of your choice of carrier oil in the palm of your hand, add the drop of essential oil and apply as needed. What are carrier oils? It is any vegetable oil derived from the fatty portion of a plant, such as olive oil, grapeseed oil, coconut oil, jojoba oil, sunflower seed oil, and many more. Most likely you have a carrier oil in your kitchen. Something else to remember when using essential oils topically is that some are considered photosensitive and should not be applied prior to going out in the sun or tanning. Mild to serious burns might result.
Internal use is controversial because of the use of synthetic ingredients in some brands of essential oils. As we talked about before, many people think all essential oils are the same but they are not. The result is the improper use of essential oils. Only oils specifically labeled for internal use should be taken internally. Always follow the label’s directions. When using a dietary essential oil, you can drop it in your water (but not if the container or straw is plastic), put it in a vegetable capsule and take it, or use it in cooking to flavor your food. I just made my children blueberry lemon pancakes this morning using Young Living’s Lemon Vitality Essential Oil. If you are not sure if the essential oil can be taken internally, don’t use it that way. The label will clearly state if it is for topical and aromatic use only, or internal.
As always, do your research, ask someone knowledgeable, and follow the label directions. Consult your medical professional before using, especially if you have underlying health issues. Some essential oils can react with prescription medications.