Using Essential Oils Safely at Home
This article will focus on what are the most important rules for using essential oils safely for aromatherapy, massage, and baths.
Using a Diffuser
The most common way for essential oils to be used in aromatherapy is with a diffuser. Diffusers are widely available commercially and involve putting drops of an essential oil into a water reservoir. The water is then turned into a mist which is ejected into the air.
Diffusers are a good way to get into essential oils because they allow you to easily control the concentration of the essential oils.
The method of direct inhalation can be achieved through a variety of ways, the most obvious being to simply inhale nasally the vapors from the bottle directly. You can also soak a cotton ball and place it near your bed, or in your purse. This can be particularly helpful to pregnant women or any other person experiencing nausea when they inhale a cotton ball soaked with peppermint oil or other anti-emetic essential oil. (Source)
Another method is steam inhalation, which involves placing a few drops of oil in a bowl of steaming water, placing a towel over your head and breathing in the vapors that way.
To relax your mind and body at bedtime, you can place a few drops onto your blanket, and linens. (Source)
Diffusing through the air with natural evaporation is a method by which you simply place 10 – 15 drops of the chosen oil in a bowl of hot water. The water has been salted with either Epsom salts or sea salt, which help with the diffusion process throughout the night.
Other ways of achieving this method are by the commercially made and produced terracotta bowls. They are designed specifically for diffusing essential oils. By soaking a cotton ball in the oil of your choice and placing it by your bed overnight. This is probably better for the very pungent or overpowering oils. It is not quite as effective as the other natural diffusion methods listed above.
Essential oils are also infused into candles which gradually release the oils into the air as the candle burns. Essential oils candles don’t allow you to control the concentration of the oils like misters do. They don’t require you to have essential oils on hand, but do involve and open flame.That can be a problem around children and pets. Some companies do make essential oil wax melts, however, which may be better for houses with small bodies.
How To Use Essential Oils
Essential oils are often used for massage by mixing them with carrier oils, such as Jojoba, olive or almond oils that are safe for topical use. The dilution of essential oils is very important because undiluted essential oils can irritate the skin. Essential oils can also be used topically by putting a few drops in a tub of bath water.
Some essential oils are also marketed for ingestion. The two main ways to take essential oils orally are diluted in a glass of water or in a capsule, usually blended with other oils. Not all essential oils are safe to be ingested, and dilution is even more important when ingesting essential oils.
Some studies have also shown that some chemicals found in essential oils can collect disproportionately in some organs, especially organs of filtration like the kidneys, so talk to your doctor before looking into ingesting essential oils in this way, especially if you have had medical problems with your kidneys or liver.(Source)
Essential oil capsules aren’t widely available. It doesn’t help that the Food and Drug Administration recently issued letters of warning to several makers of essential oils for ingestion because of possible toxicity cases.(Source)
Still, essential oil ingestion can be done safely with the right research and the right product. Most people who take essential oils as capsules make their capsules out of essential oils and empty gel capsules that can be bought fairly easily. An upside of this process is that if you take any other oils for your health, filling your capsules can be a good way to take in more of your daily oils at once.
If you’re just getting started with essential oils, it might be best to stay with essential oil products like candles, wax melts, and bath products rather than using essential oils directly. You should also take care to notice how you feel as you start using essential oils for aromatherapy if you have asthma or other breathing complications.(Source)
According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, some people find that concentrated essential oils can trigger their symptoms. Many misters will allow you to control how diluted you make the oils. Diluting them more than recommended may help you to get the benefits of essential oils without the side effects.(Source)
If you have pets
If you have pets, you should watch for their reactions as well. We don’t know yet how all of the different kinds of essential oils impact different kinds of animals but what might be a low concentration for your great big human lungs might impact your dog, cat, or bird a bit differently.
Further, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals recommends keeping your concentrated essential oils in a place where your animals can’t get to them. Just like concentrated essential oils can irritate our skin, it can impact animal paws as well – and what might be out of reach of your child might not be out of reach for your cat.(Source)
If you want to use essential oils for massage or other topical uses, be sure to get essential oils meant for that use and follow directions on the label. Some essential oils are strong enough to irritate the skin if not properly diluted.
During pregnancy or while breastfeeding
Some people are concerned about using essential oils safely of during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. Most essential oils – when used correctly — seem to be safe for infants and developing fetuses. In fact, studies have been conducted on using essential oils to ease post-partum depression, and some sources recommend using essential oils in massage to ease discomfort during pregnancy. NAHA recommends avoiding essential oils made from wormwood, rue, oakmoss, lavender, camphor, parsley seed, sage, and hyssop.
If you have any other questions about essential oils, carry on doing your research, but also bring up your interest in essential oils with your primary care provider. (Source)
Talking to your doctor
While not all doctors are going to be as energized about essential oils as you might be, they will be able to direct you towards more resources and probably some good essential oils suppliers. They can also help to make sure that you are taking your essential oils in the safest and most beneficial way possible.
Talking to your primary care provider is also important because in the studies cited above the essential oils were found to reduce symptoms but not to address the underlying cause of the anxiety or depression. Essential oils can help people without clinical anxiety or depression to feel less anxious or depressed. They can help people with clinical anxiety or depression in combination with other treatments, but essential oils will not cure your anxiety or depression on their own.
Finally, a reminder that essential oils are only extracted from the plants, not something magical. While essential oils concentrate the healing properties of the plants, they are not always the only way to get those properties. Explore the use of the essential oils but when you come across a familiar plant consider incorporating more of it into your diet as well.
Essential oils are also not magical in that smelling lemon probably won’t be enough to cure your depression or anxiety. By all means, explore using the essential oils below but be aware of their limitations as you do so.
Most People Love Essential Oils
Far from being the new fad that it is easy to mistake them for, essential oils have been around for thousands of years and most people using them properly never have a bad experience with them.
The greatest threat of essential oils and their greatest promise both come from variety. With so many plants, different oils from different parts of plants, and different extraction methods, it can be a lot of information to keep straight. There is also so much promise – especially with new essential oils being tested and discovered all the time.
- dilute your essential oils properly
- gradually get into the practice to know how different oils will affect you
shouldn’t turn you off from the idea of getting into essential oils.
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