Today, more and more people are taking their health and wellness into their own hands and essential oils are playing a major role. They feel empowered with all the accessible information and the ability to make educated decisions for a balanced, wholesome lifestyle. While this shift towards a more conscious consumer is great, the task to stay informed with an influx of information can be overwhelming and not all information is created equal. While it’s great to read up on and implement the newest and latest trends in health, fitness, and nutrition, there are also greater risks for getting misinformation and taking some of this advice out of context.

Since essential oils’ recent growth in popularity over the last 5 years, information in regard to using them in our daily lives has surfaced from experts, hobbyists, and bloggers alike. Their current accessibility for millions of people is both positive and negative. Being a Clinically Certified Aromatherapist and practicing this modality professionally for over 30 years, I learned early on that essential oils don’t just smell nice and have many active properties, but are truly liquid chemicals that can be extremely beneficial, but also harmful if not used correctly. I have seen many essential oil enthusiasts make recommendations for using essential oils with little more than a couple of hours of an introductory class, or perusing a popular book on the subject. I urge anyone interested in using essential oils to do their homework and find trusted sources to guide you through your exploration of using this proven source of healing.

While there are safe for health and wellness, there are a few major things to consider:

1) Make certain your essential oils are 100% pure with no synthetic fragrance or adulterations added.

  • Source from a supplier that offers batch specific GC/MS (Gas Chromatography/ Mass Spectrometry)       testing to validate compliance and purity.
  • Use USDA Certified Organic essential oils when possible

– This certification requires extra testing to validate the purity of oils and the facility they are packaged in.

– Some essential oils are “wild-crafted ” and thus cannot be certified organic, but GC/MS testing will confirm quality.

2) Dilute essential oils safely for topical application.

  • Due to the potency of steam distilled oils (it takes 250 pounds of lavender flowers to make one pound of lavender essential oil), it is imperative to dilute oils for safe topical application to the skin.

-Dilute with a fatty/oil based carrier (lotions, massage oil, or cream) for proper dilution. Water will NOT dilute essential oils and you end up having pure oil floating on the surface of water, since oil and water don’t mix.

  • Dilute according to the individual’s state of health, age, and size.

– The percentage of dilution for applying essential oils should take into consideration several factors:
– The form factor in which it is being applied: oil, lotion, mist or salve
– The purpose of the blend
– The condition one is treating, whether acute or chronic

3) Know about each oils’ safety concerns.

  • Some essential oils are photo toxic when applied to the skin and then exposed to sunlight.
  • Some EO’s are irritating to the mucosa lining of the nose and will burn if inhaled directly
  • .Oils rich in aldehydes (Lemongrass, Melissa) are extremely irritating
  • Certain essential oils high in eugenol and other components are damaging to the liver when breaking down.
  • Oregano, clove, and cinnamon are high in eugenol and should be used with caution, at the correct dilution with liver nourishing oils in the blend
  • Oils high in carvacrol, while extremely beneficial as an anti-turmerol and antimicrobial, can also inhibit platelet aggregation and thus should be avoided in high doses.
  • There are many oils that are contraindicated with certain medicines and medical conditions.

4) Know the current health of the user.

  • Essential oils should be properly diluted for the size, age, physical constitution, and metabolism.

1) It is not recommended to use essential oils internally.

  • Way too many essential oil companies are recommending essential oils for internal use. While food grade essential oils can be used for flavoring and cooking, pure therapeutic essential oils are more concentrated and unadulterated, so are too potent for such use.
  • Essential Oils are volatile and work best as they rise up to meet the olfactory sense. Using essential oils internally puts them through the digestive tract and thus changes their chemistry before they have the chance to act on the specific organs one was intending.
  • It usually takes a fraction of a drop for proper internal use, so one should be able to safely calculate the percentages needed to create a gel cap.
  • Most clinically certified Aromatherapists use internal administration for very specific issues and concerns. Some professionals may find this mode of administration more effective in specific cases, but it is rarely used as a typical course of action.

2) Don’t use essential oils directly on the skin without first diluting them in a carrier.

  • Due to the concentration of oils, as mentioned above, one would not want to apply them directly on the skin (neat).
  • This can cause sensitization over time.
  • It is wasteful since it is more than the body should absorb and utilize in the proper amount of time.
  • It can cause immediate skin irritation and, in more extreme cases, burn and scar the skin.