Aromatherapy is the art of application of essential oils to assist with emotional and physical issues. My first concern when I was requested to write this article was safety matters. Everywhere you see “natural” as a synonym of “100% safe”. It is important to understand the difference between marketing and facts. Water is 100% natural and 100% safe (considering there is no chemical spill in your neighborhood). However, if one decides to drink a gallon of water in 30 minutes she/he will most likely die and the end is not going to be either pretty or painless.
Essential oils are chemicals and should be always treated with respect. Some are relatively harmless, some can leave a burning mark on your skin, and some are plain deadly. It is also important to understand the difference between fragrance oils and essential oils.
Fragrance Oil – synthetic product that mimics the smell of essential oil and has nothing to do with essential oil’s healing properties. IMPORTANT: Fragrance oils must never be used in aromatherapy. It can cause the poisoning. Use only reputable sources of essential oils.
Essential Oil – is not actually oil but an essence of plants and flowers. Essential oil is a complex natural combination of hydrocarbons, alcohols, phenols, methyl ethers, aldehydes, ketones, organic acids and esters, oxides, and lactones. One essential oil can contain just a few or hundreds of chemical components.
Unless you are a trained aromatherapist (see the list of approved Aromatherapy schools: http://www.naha.org/education/approved-schools/) you must always follow these simple safety rules:
- Never put any essential oils directly on infant’s skin.
- Never take essential oils internally.
- If anyone in your family is suspected of being vulnerable to epileptic seizures, never use these oils: camphor, fennel, hyssop, rosemary, lavandin, sage, spike lavender, and thuja.
- Essential oils during pregnancy and breast-feeding should be used only under the guidance of an aromatherapist.
- People with high blood pressure must avoid camphor, hyssop, rosemary, and spike lavender.
- Always dilute essential oils in a carrier oil before applying them to the skin (max 15 – 16 drops to 1oz of carrier oil).
- For children (2+ years) essential oils need to be diluted to a maximum of 1%, (5-6 drops of essential oil to 1oz of carrier oil).
- Do not use essential oils on animals.
- Store essential oils in tightly closed bottles away from sunlight and heat.
- Citrus oils, (including bergamot), cumin, angelica root, rue, lemon verbena are photosensitizing. Avoid sunlight for at least 12 hours after application to avoid severe burns from ultraviolet light.
- Do not put essential oils in or around the eyes or near other orifices.
- If you have to wash off the essential oil, use carrier oil, not water (as essential oils are not water soluble).
Always use only quality essential oils. The easiest way to determine the quality is by looking at the Gas Chromatography/ Mass Spectrometry test results – all reputable aromatherapy stores have these documents and will be glad to share them with you. Avoid buying oils that are:
- All the same price
- Stored in clear bottles