Essential Oils and their Safe Use
Essential oils are highly concentrated oils extracted from plants through steam distillation or through cold pressing. They are volatile in nature and some of them are photosensitive. These oils are beneficial in many ways but there are precautions that need to be taken when using them.
First of all, the age and the state of health of the user must be kept in mind. Children, the elderly, and expectant mothers and nursing mothers are not meant to use most essential oils, and those that they can use should be in a highly diluted form – not more than 0.5% in a recommended carrier oil or liquid.
Essential oils should not be used at all in the case of infants and young children.
Secondly there should be no ingestion of essential oils as they can lead to poisoning. They are not meant to be taken orally or even applied internally – mouth, eyes, ears or anywhere else. These oils are for topical uses only.
“Taking essential oils internally is recommended only under medical advice/supervision or on the recommendation of qualified therapists.”
Inhalation is by far the safest method to get essential oils into our body. However, care must be taken to ensure that they are diluted in the proper ratio before inhalation and that there is a constant flow of air in the area. There are detailed dilution guidelines for inhalation available online. When diffusing these oils make sure that the area is well ventilated. Do not diffuse for long periods of time. Make it short and take adequate breaks between diffusion cycles.
Massage with essential oils is highly beneficial. The dilution ratio of essential oil to the carrier oil is important though. Never use any essential oil in its concentrated original form on your skin. It has to be diluted in a carrier oil. Always. A couple of drops of essential oil in about 100 ml of carrier oil is safe and good to use. However, there are a few oils that can be safely used without dilution like Lavender and Patchouli for example. But even there, it is good to dilute the oils before use.
When we use photosensitive essential oils on the skin and expose it to sunlight, it can get damaged- pigmentation, redness or itchiness. Find out if the essential oils used in any skincare product is photosensitive. Most citrus oils when they are expressed, and not steam-distilled, are photosensitive. When using a photosensitive essential oil topically, avoidance of sunlight is recommended for up to 12 hours after use. Bergamot, Orange, Lime, Lemon, Grapefruit and other citrus oils, and Cumin oil can be photosensitive or phototoxic.
Essential oils are dangerous in the wrong hands. Keep them away from children and pets. Store them in a cool dry place, away from sunlight or any strong light.
It is very important to take precautions when using essential oils. They have great benefits but they can also be harmful when used incorrectly. Use them wisely and they will help us lead healthier and more joyful lives.
Author’s Bio: Vidya Nayak is a professional aromatherapist and a tarot card reader who lives in Bengaluru, India. She also has a brand of vegan natural handmade soaps - Etaani, a part of the natural living initiative promoted by her.