Essential oils are very strong and potent substances. They are a beautiful gift from nature but we shouldn't forget that they are an extremely concentrated extract. Essential oils don't exist in nature in this form and there is a lot of plantmaterial needed to get just a small amount of oil. Essential oils are, even though valuable, not without risk. Because of this it is important to know how to use your essential oils safely and this way get the most out of your precious oils.
There are essential oils that consist of no less than 350 different substances!
Essential oils are really complex substances and each one of them consists of a variety of active substances. There are essential oils that consist of no less than 350 different substances! And these are the active substances that are in your oil. They are giving you oil it's effects but they for sure can interact with for example medication.
A specific property you may want to consider is the phototoxic property of furocoumarines are a component in citrusoils. When you use an oil with this component externally, apply it to skin, then under influence of sunlight it can actually make your skin burn much faster. And just washing it off doens't cut it since the oil is absorbed into the skin, so you can't just wash it off. So be careful with citrusoils in summer.
And just washing it off doens't cut it since the oil is absorbed into the skin, so you can't just wash it off.
PLEASE NOTE: every essential oil has active substances, it doesn't matter how pure your oil is or which brand. Without the active substances your oil wouldn't do anything.
Are you interested in the active substances in your oils and would you like to know more about them? You may like to check out Dropsmith.
Your body is working hard to get rid of all foreign substances (and yes, that does also include essential oils). It's mostly up to your liver. When you are using too much essential oils or when you use them too long it can get too much for your body to dispose off and accumulate. Eventually it can lead to serious toxic reactions and for example contact dermatitis. And that is something you won't be able to get rid of for the rest of your life. And since most essential oils share active substances with other essential oils chances are you won't be able to use those anymore either. Fun right?
One of the best ways to prevent any problems, besides not using essential oils at all, is to simply dilute the essentials oils in a carrieroil. Pretty much any fatty plantoil can be used a carrieroil. I prefere to use an organic oil because, besides the fact that pesticides are harmful to the environment, a lot of pesticedes are fat-soluble what can mean that small amounts of it will end up in your oil. No Thanks...
Pretty much any fatty plantoil can be used a carrieroil.
Then shelf life also comes into play here. While some will tell you otherwise, essential oils do have a shelf life. Your oil can oxidise, have a reaction with oxigen and mostly the volatile substances can vaporize which will leave the heavier substances. The scent and color of your oil can change but for sure the effect of your oil too. The concentration or the active substances will change what can lead to getting skin irritation or other reactions. Citrusoils for example have a maximum shelf life of 1,5 years, if you keep them in the refrigerator. These oils are obtained by pressing which unlike steamdestillation is not a sterile process and that simply increases the risk of spoiling.
These days there is an Adverse Reaction Database where reports of things that can happen when an oil is not used in a safe way are collected. I would suggest you take a look at it, then you will see how serious these things can be.
Your oil can oxidise, have a reaction with oxigen and mostly the volatile substances can vaporize which will leave the heavier substances.
Let's start with one of the most important tips: only use essential oils when there is an actual need to do so. While essential oils are a huge trend, they are NOT a lifestyle product. There is a reason working with essential oils is called aromaTHERAPY.
Like I mentioned above, essential oils are diluted in a fatty plan toil. I prefere an organic oil but ofcourse that is entirely up to you. Simply olive oil from your kitchen will do the trick so there is no need to get all fancy here but there are a ton of options out there. Besided, a carrieroil can have an effect of it's own. I tend to buy my carrieroils mainly from floriahana, natural heroes and aroma zone.
When you use an essential oil on your entire body or a big part of it your dosage should be 1%-3%. That is the case with a massageoil, in the bath or a bodycream. Keep in mind that the 1% already is a therapeutic dosage.
When you use an essential oil on your face you use a dosage of 0,2%-1%. The skin on your face is much more sensitive and because the skin is also thinner, you absorb more of the essential oil.
For a specific problem you can go with 3%-10% for a therapeutic use but only on a smaller surface an certainly not for a long period of time. For any acute things like pain or wounds you can use a dosage of 5%-15% . But here too, not for long and only on a small surface. Furthermore, you never use essential oil in the wound, only around it.
How do you know how many drops to put in your carrieroil? You could go and calculate it, however you would need to know how many drops go in one milliliter. Often it will be about 30 drops, however it can differ from oil to oil (and per dropper. In the EU there are guidelines for this). An easier way to go about it would be through a cheat sheet. And nice as I am, I made one just for you, that you can download for free.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN OILS
Something else to consider is the fact that not all oils are alike and because of that you shouldn't dose every oil in the same way. The safety guidelines differ from oil to oil. For example the wintergreen essential oil (Gaultheria procumbens) can not be used in a higher dosage then 1%. Most good books on aromatherapy will note this for every essential oil. An amazing book is the second edition of Essential Oil Safety by Robert Tisserand and Rodney Young. In here you will find a lot on what essential oils can do for you aswell as how to use them safely.
For example the wintergreen essential oil (Gaultheria procumbens) can not be used in a higher dosage then 1%.
When you are pregnant you need to consider your unborn child aswell when using essential oils. By the way, that is also the case when you are trying to get pregnant. A guideline would be 50%-75% of the normal dosage.
When you are pregnant you can not use all essential oils. And when you are breastfeeding you can only use the essential oils your baby can use. It could be that small amounts of the essential oil or active substances get into the breastmilk.
CHILDREN & BABIES
For babies up to 3 months you use a maximum dosage of 1/4% essential oil diluted in a carrieroil. Even better, just use a carrieroil, something like apricot or peach. Another good option are hydrosols. But again, not every oil is safe for young children, this is the case until they are at least 10 to 12 years old.
For babies that are 13 weeks up to a year the maximum dosage is 1%. However it's preferred to use a dosage closer to 0,5%-0,75%.
For children between 1 to 2 years the dosage stays the same as with children younger than 1 year. So a maximum of 1% but 0,5%-0,75% is preferred. However there are a few more oils you can now use.
Only when the child is 6 years old you can start to use a higher dosage. For children between the age of 6 and 12 you can use a dosage of 2%-3%. Using a lower dose is still preferred, then too it will be therapeutic.
When we age our skin starts to change too and will absorb more of the essential oils, in part because the skin becomes thinner. So simply put, you want to lower the dose. For elderly people you use 50%-75% of the normal dosage.
There is a threesome of essential oils that can be used undiluted on the skin. They are lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) however only when it is a fresh oil and the lesser known helichrysum (Helichrysum italicum). When you use an essential oil pure on the skin you only do so in acute situations and for only a short amount of time. The surface where you apply the essential oil should not be bigger that the size of the palm of the person that the oil will be applied to. You also never use any essential oils pure on children younger than 4 years.
In this blogpost I can only share so much so I do encourage you to read more about this if essential oils interest you.
Robert Tisserand's website has a ton of information too. You might want to take a look at the Safety pages.
That was it for today. If there is anything else you would like to know about using essential oils, do let me know. For now, goodluck with the next steps on your bridge and I wish you all the happiness and an amazing rest of your day.