I love essential oils. They are a great tool to keep in your medicine cabinet. They are good for just about everything. Indigestion, depression, infections….if you have it there’s probably an oil for it. With that said, oils aren’t a toy. Did you know that if used improperly, especially around children or pets, they can cause things like seizures, liver failure, anaphylaxis and photo sensitivity?
WHAT’S DIFFERENT ABOUT ESSENTIAL OILS?
Essential oils are not the same thing as the olive oil sitting in your pantry. Most essential oils are extracted from plants (bark, leaves, roots, etc.) through the process of distilling or expression. This results in a very concentrated oil. About 70 times more concentrated than the whole plant. Your cooking oil has been made by pressing the fatty portions and has not gone through any evaporation. Without getting too scientific, the molecular structure of essential oil varies greatly from your cooking oils. Their structure makes them a volatile substance, in fact they were first referred to as “volatile oils”.
WHY WOULD THEY BE DANGEROUS?
It’s natural so how can it be dangerous? Just because something is natural, doesn’t make it safe. People with certain medical conditions or taking medications should avoid certain herbs and plants all together. But the biggest reason they are dangerous is because of…..
With proper and careful use, oils aren’t dangerous. But when used improperly and without knowledge they can have serious side effects. The reason being what’s mentioned above, they are extremely concentrated and volatile substances. For example, rose oil…just one drop is made from about 50 roses!
COMMON SAFETY MISTAKES:
- Improper dilution. ALL essential oils should be mixed with a carrier oil when applied topically. This means that you figure out your dilution (dependent on age, ailment, oil) and you mix it with a fatty oil like olive oil, coconut, jojoba etc. Essential oils are very concentrated and using a carrier oil will prevent burns and skin irritations. It is important to research your proper dilution ratio.
- Oil and water do not mix. We learned this lesson in grade school. Undoubtedly you did a science project on it at some point in time. So I am sure you can gather, mixing your essential oils with water does not work. They will not bind.This mistake is often done with a bath. Many people love peppermint in their bath. They draw the bath, put a few drops of peppermint EO in and 10 minutes later their skin is burning and they can’t get out fast enough. What happened was, the peppermint oil did not mix with the water and it essentially sat on top of the water, in direct contact with the skin. To avoid this mistake, the EO should be mixed with some bubble bath soap or another fatty carrier oil.
- Age considerations. People seem to forget that age matters with EO’s. The younger you are the more sensitive you are to the effects of the oils. Risks of improper use among children include: Slowed respiration, liver failure, seizures, brain swelling, mucous membrane swelling, skin irritation. General guidelines are:
- Essential oils should not be used around a baby before 6 months old. This means topically or through diffusing.
- No essential oils should be used topically until after 2 years of age. With a low dilution of 1% and avoiding certain oils.
- After age 6 you can use all oils but still with a low dilution.
Oils to be especially mindful with are: Source: Essential Oil Safety
Anise/Aniseed Pimpinella anisum – avoid using (all routes) with children under 5
Anise (Star) Illicium verum – avoid using (all routes) with children under 5
Basil (lemon) Ocimum x citriodorum – avoid topical use on children under 2
Benzoin Styrax benzoin, Styrax paralleloneurus and Styrax tonkinensis – avoid topical use on children under 2
Birch (sweet) Betula lenta – avoid using (all routes) with children
Black Seed Nigella sativa – avoid topical use on children under 2
Cajuput Melaleuca cajuputi, Melaleuca leucadendron – avoid using with children under 6
Cardamon Elettaria cardamomum – avoid using (all routes) with children under 6
Cassia Cinnamomum cassia, Cinnamomum aromaticum – avoid topical use on children under 2
Chaste Tree Vitex agnus castus – avoid using (all routes) with prepubertal children
Clove Bud, Clove Leaf, Clove Stem Syzygium aromaticum, Eugenia caryophyllata, Eugenia aromatica – avoid topical use on children under 2
Cornmint Mentha arvensis, Mentha canadensis – avoid using (all routes) with children under 6
Eucalyptus Eucalyptus camaldulensis, Eucalyptus globulus, Eucalyptus maidenii, Eucalyptus plenissima, Eucalyptus kochii, Eucalyptus polybractea, Eucalyptus radiata, Eucalyptus Autraliana,Eucalyptus phellandra, Eucalyptus smithii – avoid using (all routes) with children under 10
Fennel (bitter), Fennel (sweet) Foeniculum vulgare – avoid using (all routes) with children under 5
Galangal (lesser) Alpinia officinarum, Languas officinarum – avoid using (all routes) with children under 6
Garlic Allium sativum – avoid topical use on children under 2
Ginger Lily Hedychium coronarium – avoid topical use on children under 2
Ho Leaf/Ravintsara Cinnamomum camphora (cineole chemotype) – avoid using with children under 6
Hyssop Hyssopus officinalis (pinocamphone chemptype) – avoid using (all routes) with children under 2
Laurel Leaf/Bay Laurel Laurus nobilis – avoid topical use on children under 2; avoid all routes for children under age 6
Lemon Leaf/Lemon Petitgrain Citrus x limon, Citrus limonum – avoid topical use on children under 2
Lemongrass Cymbopogon flexuosus, Andropogon flexuosus, Cymbopogon citratus, Andropogon citratus – avoid topical use on children under 2
Marjoram (Spanish) Thymus mastichina – avoid using (all routes) with children under 6
Massoia Cryptocarya massoy, Cryptocaria massoia, Massoia aromatica – avoid using (all routes) with children under 2
May Chang Litsea cubeba, Litsea citrata, Laura cubeba – avoid topical use with children under 2
Melissa/Lemon Balm Melissa officinalis – avoid topical use with children under 2
Myrtle (red) Myrtus communis – avoid using (all routes) with children under 6
Myrtle (aniseed) Backhousia anisata – avoid using (all routes) with children under 5
Myrtle (honey) Melaleuca teretifolia – avoid topical use on children under 2
Myrtle (lemon)/Sweet Verbena Backhousia citriodora – avoid topical use on children under 2
Niaouli (cineole chemotype) Melaleuca quinquinervia – avoid using (all routes) on children under 6
Oakmoss Evernia prunastri – avoid topical use on children under 2
Opopanax Commiphora guidottii – avoid topical use on children under 2
Oregano Origanum onites, Origanum smyrnaeum, Origanum vulgare, Origanum compactum, Origanum hirtum, Thymbra capitata, Thymus capitatus, Coridothymus capitatus, Satureeja capitata – avoid topical use on children under 2
Peppermint Mentha x Piperita – avoid using (all routes) with children under 6
Peru Balsam Myroxylon balsamum, Myroxylon pereiraw, Myroxylon peruiferum, Myrospermum pereirae, Toluifera pereirae – avoid topical use on children under 2
Rambiazana Helichrysum gymnocephalum – avoid using (all routes) with children under 6
Rosemary (1,8-cineole chemotype) Rosmarinus officinalis – avoid using (all routes) with children under 10
Saffron Crocus sativus – avoid topical use on children under 2
Sage (Greek), Salvia fruiticosa, Salvia triloba Sage (White) – avoid using (all routes) with children under 6
Sage (White) Salvia apiana – avoid using (all routes) with children under 6
Sage (Wild Mountain) Hemizygia petiolata – avoid topical use on children under 2
Sanna Hedychium spicatum – avoid using (all routes) with children under 6
Saro Cinnamosma fragrans – avoid using (all routes) with children under 6
Savory Satureia hortensis, Satureia montana – avoid topical use on children under 2
Styrax Liquidambar orientalis, Liquidambar styraciflua – avoid topical use on children under 2
Tea Leaf/Black Tea Camellia sinensis, Thea sinensis – avoid topical use on children under 2
Tea Tree (lemon-scented) Leptospermum petersonii, Leptospermum citratum, Leptospermum liversidgei – avoid topical use on children under 2
Treemoss Pseudevernia furfuracea – avoid topical use on children under 2
Tuberose Polianthes tuberosa – avoid topical use on children under 2
Turpentine Pinus ayacahuite, Pinus caribaea, Pinus contorta, Pinus elliottii, Pinus halepensis, Pinus insularis, Pinus kesiya, Pinus merkusii, Pinus palustris, Pinus pinaster, Pinus radiata, Pinus roxburghii, Pinus tabulaeformis, Pinus teocote, Pinus yunnanensis – avoid topical use on children under 2
Verbena (Lemon) Aloysia triphylla, Aloysia citriodora, Lippa citriodora, Lippa triphylla – avoid topical use on children under 2
Wintergreen Gaultheria fragrantissima, Gaultheria procumbens – avoid (all routes) on children due to methyl salicylate content under age 10
Ylang-Ylang Cananga odorata – avoid topical use on children under 2
- Ingesting oils. NEVER ingest essential oils. JUST DON’T DO IT. Would you eat 50 roses? No, so don’t ingest essential oils. It’s pretty simple. The ONLY, and I mean only, time that it is okay is if you are under the care of a licensed clinical aromatherapist. A clinical aromatherapist is not the same thing as your neighbor who sells Young Living. Risks of ingestion include: Throat/mouth irritation, internal burns, stomach irritation, liver failure, ulcers, vomiting, nausea and diarrhea.
- Photo-sensitivity This is a toxic response when a photoactive essential oil comes into contact with UV rays. Resulting in a burn of your skin.
The following oils are phototoxic and should not be used topically when planning to be in direct sun:
- Angelica Root Essential Oil
- Bergamot (Cold Pressed)
- Bitter Orange (Cold Pressed)
- Fig Leaf Absolute
- Grapefruit (Cold Pressed)
- Lemon (Cold Pressed)
- Lime (Cold Pressed)
- Mandarin Leaf
- TagetesThe following should be used with caution:
- Clementine (Cold Pressed)
- Combava Fruit
- Angelica Root Absolute
- Angelica Root CO2
- Celery Leaf
- Celery Seed Absolute
- Cumin Seed Absolute
- Cumin Seed CO2
- Lovage Leaf
- Improper use around pets. EO’s can be a useful remedy for our pets too! However, just like with children, essential oils can be dangerous for our pets if used incorrectly. Cats are especially sensitive to oils as they lack the liver enzymes to properly metabolize essential oils. Making them much more susceptible to adverse effects. It is important to take time researching pet safe oils and appropriate usage. This goes for diffusing as well.
*These are only the TOXIC oils. Caution needs to be used with all essential oils*
- Using bad oils. You should only use pure oils from a trusted company. Stores have been infiltrated with cheap “knock offs”. If you aren’t using a pure EO from a reputable source…well you could be using anything.
WHY I WON’T SUPPORT MLM’s THAT SELL ESSENTIAL OILS
Essential oils have been around for a long time. They have been used for wellness for at least 5,000 years. But thanks to the human need to monetize, monopolize, and extort, essential oils have gained popularity through MLM’s (multi-level marketing A.K.A. pyramid schemes). We know who they are. So why don’t I want to support them?
In it for the money.
They are in it for the money. The more people they get selling oils, the more money they make. So everyone and their mom starts selling. And if you want to buy from them, well sign up to sell, you will get a better discount! When people begin selling oils it seems to also make them an expert. There are no safety standards in place. Anyone can recommend anything. I consistently hear representatives telling moms things like to put peppermint oil on their infant’s tummy, diffuse on guard during cold season or ingest them daily (even the kids!!).
Now don’t get me wrong. There are a couple MLM’s I like. I think they do have good products and I know people have been successful selling through them. But a spade is a spade and these companies are in it for the money.
They promote routine ingestion.
What happened was all the big shots at one of the oil MLM’s said, “We will never sell enough of these bottles! They are too concentrated and people don’t use enough. What should we do???” And someone responded “Well Joe, let’s just suggest people ingest them regularly and they will need to buy bottles more often!” And just like that, routine ingestion became normalized. With no regard to safety.
Let me tell you a story….I have a friend that got confused between oil of oregano and the essential oil. She found a paper that an oil selling representative had given her with recommendations for children. This paper said to put a few drops of oregano essential oil in liquid, gargle and swallow. She did this and she ended up with burns in the back of her throat and her esophagus. She could hardly talk, eat, or even breath without pain. And of course there was no liability for this representative handing out this advice. And this was advice for CHILDREN!
They make people think oils are not affordable.
When you purchase oils from an MLM you are paying the brand name price tag. Now don’t get me wrong, as mentioned earlier, oils need to be pure and purchased from a reputable company. But that doesn’t mean it has to be a MLM. There are other options and you don’t need to be a millionaire to afford a little oil collection. Plant therapy is an amazing brand and the one I use personally. They are a reputable small, family owned business who do not promote unsafe practices and they even have a whole team of licensed aromatherapists on staff to answer customer questions. They have a kid safe line too which I love!
Maybe you want to start using essential oils. Maybe you read this and realized you have been using the oils you have in an unsafe manner. It’s okay! Know better do, do better (officially my new motto). There are many good resources out there to help you feel confident with essential oils.
Essential Oil Safety: A Guide for Healthcare Professionals:
Statement Regarding Ingestion from the Alliance of International Aromatherapists
**DISCLAIMER: This information is for educational purposes only. It is not meant to diagnosis or treat, as I am not a doctor. Please consult with your physician before starting any new vitamins, diets, or remedies. And always do your own research on natural remedies to ensure that you think they are safe.**