Aromatherapy Safety

Essential oils are highly concentrated and very potent substances that can be harmful if not handled properly. Therefore, some precautions should be taken in order to avoid damaging effects and enjoy aromatherapy benefits. Read the following safety tips to get informed about the secure use of the essential oils. However, this page cannot include all the circumstances that you may face. If you have any doubts about the safe use of essential oils, please consult a qualified aromatherapist.

Aromatherapy Safety

Never apply essential oils undiluted to skin. You should first add the essential oils to a base oil (sweet almond oil, hazelnut oil, olive oil, avocado oil, jojoba oil, etc) and then you can safely apply the blend to your body. Only a few gentle essential oils (lavender, chamomile) can be used directly on the skin (in very small quantities) in cases of insect bites or burns.
Use small quantities of oils. Remember that only a few drops are needed for any aromatherapy blend. Usually the body products (for adults) are consisted of only 2% of essential oils and 98% of base oils. Keep in mind that by using only a few drops of essential oils, you not only save money, but you use essential oils wisely and safely.
Beware of potential allergic reactions. Before using for the first time any essential oil it is advisable to check for possible allergic reactions. Keep in mind that an essential oil which is described as safe, may cause allergic reaction to some individuals and therefore you should always test it before use. Dilute only 1 drop of the essential oil with carrier oil and apply the mix on your skin. Wait at least 24 hours to verify whether it is irritating for you or not.
Do not use essential oils close to the eyes area. Remember that you should never use essential oils near your eyes. Always close your eyes when you inhale an essential oil and consider that washing carefully your hands after using any essential oil is the best way to avoid eyes irritation or damages.
Essential oils during pregnancy and lactation. Although there are controversial opinions about this issue, we advise you to consult your GP before using any essential oils during pregnancy and lactation. Most doctors and physicians suggest avoiding the following essential oils: rosemary, hyssop, sage, jasmin, peppermint, juniper and myrrh oil.
Aromatherapy and children. Children may use essential oils only under the careful supervision of an experienced adult. Consequently, it is wise to keep the aromatherapy kit out of children’s reach. Moreover, special caution should be taken when using aromatherapy products for babies and children. There are several oils that are not appropriate for children, while the suitable essential oils should be diluted twice or more.
Aromatherapy and medical conditions. Special care should be taken in cases of health problems such as asthma, epilepsy and high blood pressure. Asthmatics and people suffering from respiratory disorders must avoid inhalations. The contraindicated essential oils for epilepsy are hyssop, rosemary, sage, fennel and eucalyptus oils while for high blood pressure, sage, rosemary, eucalyptus, thyme and rose.
Essential oils may cause skin sensitivity to sunlight. The essential oils from the Citrus Family (lemon, lime, bitter orange, grapefruit, bergamot etc) increase the sensitivity of skin to sunlight. Hence, you should always wait for at least 5 hours after using them and before exposing your skin to ultraviolet sun rays, otherwise you will redden and burn your skin.
External and internal use of essential oils. Do not ingest essential oils. Use them only externally. Many essential oils are toxic and thus internal use can be extremely dangerous. Oral consumption can take place only under the guidance of a qualified and specially trained aroma therapist.
Dangerous essential oils. There are several hazardous essential oils which only experienced qualified aromatherapy practitioners may use them. Bitter almond, pennyroyal, camphor, sassafras, wormwood and wintergreen oil are only a few of the oils that are inappropriate for aromatherapy. As a result, always check for the latin botanical name of the oil before purchasing it, in order to certify that you will not buy any dangerous essential oil available at the market.
Essential oils are flammable. Almost all essential oils are flammable. Thus, you should be very careful when handling them. Do not put the bottles of essential oils near fire or naked flame and never burn pure essential oils (without water) in an aromatherapy vaporizer.
Essential oils storage. Essential oils should be stored in a cool dark place or in the fridge. Try to keep temperature fluctuations as less as possible in order to preserve their therapeutic attributes. Essential oils are usually sold in small dark yellow, violet or blue glass bottles. The dark glass protects the essential oils from ultraviolet rays which may deteriorate their potency. Remember to close tightly the bottles’ lids because essential oils are volatile substances. Properly stored oils have 6 months minimum lifetime and 2-5 years maximum.
Emergency actions. If you spill by mistake an essential oil into your skin or eyes, wash without delay the affected area with much vegetable oil or milk (which works better than water) and request your doctor’s immediate medical care. If you accidentally consume any essential oil, drink a lot of milk and go right away to the nearest poison control center for suitable medical care.
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