You can think about using essential oils into your wellness routine to take advantage of plants’ natural healing abilities and possibly improve your health.
These concentrated plant extracts, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine, are created by pressing or boiling different plant components to extract the chemicals that give the plant its distinct aroma. The plant chemicals in essential oils may not only have a pleasant scent, but they may also have health advantages. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, applying peppermint oil to your temples can help relieve tension headaches, while inhaling a relaxing aroma like lavender may reduce stress and encourage sleep.
There are, however, a few tips for using essential oils properly and safely. Take these advice from experts for application, storage, and more.
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Take some professional advices
According to Yufang Lin, MD, an integrative medicine specialist at the Cleveland Clinic in Lakewood, Ohio, one of the major misconceptions about essential oils is that because they are natural, they are safe to use.
As essential oils are concentrated and strong, a small amount is all that is necessary to possibly have a positive impact on your health. However, different people are affected by essential oils in different ways. For example, peppermint oil may relieve headaches in one person while having negative effects in someone with a rapid heartbeat, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.
Furthermore, Dr. Lin advises against using certain essential oils while pregnant because they may cause contractions of the uterus.
For information on which essential oils are safe to use, how to use them (either topically or inhaled), and the recommended dosage, speak with your doctor or a licensed aromatherapist. Pregnant women, first-time users, those thinking about using essential oils on children or pets, and others should pay careful attention to this.
Check that the practitioner has received training from an aromatherapy school that has been approved by the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA), a nonprofit educational organization that has developed industry standards for aromatherapy certification programs, to make sure you’re working with a qualified aromatherapist.
They are not the same
Essential oils aren’t regulated in the United States, per NAHA. That means the quality of the essential oils you can find on the market varies widely.
Lin claims that some essential oils are not created from true plant material but rather from synthetic chemicals. They may contain the plant’s scent, but they lack the plant chemicals that give rise to the desired health impact. Lin claims, “That could smell good, but it won’t function.”
Yet, even if an essential oil is produced from plants, a number of things might affect its quality, such as the use of pesticides, poor packing and handling, and incorrect storage.
Be sure the oils you choose are of good quality by doing your homework. When purchasing an essential oil, make sure the product label includes the following details:
- The Latin name of the plant
- The name of the country where the plants were grown
- A statement about the purity of the oil
- No synthetic ingredients
Also, watch out for the word “fragrance” when shopping for essential oils. “The word ‘fragrance’ can mean many different things, including synthetic ingredients, so ‘fragrance’ isn’t a word you ever want to see on an essential oil bottle,” says certified clinical aromatherapy practitioner Shanti Dechen, the director of Aroma Apothecary Healing Arts Academy in Crestone, Colorado.
Store them in a cool, dry place
Like most food and healthcare products, essential oils have an expiration date. “Most essential oils last only six months to a year,” Lin says.
Citrus essential oils like bergamot, orange, and verbena generally have the shortest shelf life, while florals like chamomile and lavender have the longest, per the Institute for Integrative Healthcare.
Yet, Lin asserts that exposure to heat accelerates the breakdown of essential oils. To extend their shelf life, store them away from direct sunlight in a cool, dry environment.
When not in use, keep the bottles tightly closed as well. According to Dechen, several essential oils, like pine and spruce, can irritate the skin when they are oxidized (combined with oxygen).
Keep them out of reach of children and pets
Like other household cleaning supplies, essential oils should be kept out of children’s reach even though some of them may be good for youngsters. When ingested, many essential oils can have negative consequences, and kids may be more vulnerable than adults to those effects. According to the National Capital Poison Center, children have experienced seizures after ingesting sage oil in amounts more than a very little amount.
Similar to human beings, pets can become ill from ingesting essential oils. The American Organization for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals states that even ingesting oils or getting them on their coat might have negative effects. Pets’ and cats’ signs of essential oil intoxication include:
- Unsteadiness on the feet
- Low body temperature
Keep your loved ones safe by storing essential oils in high, hard-to-reach places that are away from children and pets. Also, ensure that you use oils in a place where your children or pet won’t become exposed to them, such as a private bathroom.
Test before use
Often times, essential oils are put on the skin directly through a massage, bath, or skin care item. According to Elizabeth Ko, MD, an internal medicine doctor and the medical director of the Integrative Medicine Collaborative at UCLA Health in Los Angeles, although they are typically safe when applied to the skin, there is always a risk of irritation, and this risk varies depending on each individual.
According to the Earl E. Bakken Center for Spirituality & Healing at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, skin irritation may be the result of an allergic reaction and is frequently characterized by redness and soreness quickly after applying the oil.
It can be a smart idea to perform a skin patch test with a new essential oil before using it over larger areas of your body, especially if you are prone to allergic reactions, notes the American College of Healthcare Sciences (ACHS) and the Earl E. Bakken Center for Spirituality & Healing.
To achieve this, combine a little amount of carrier oil (more on this later) with an essential oil at double the concentration you intend to use. In other words, if you want to utilize a 3 percent essential oil mixture, combine it at 6 percent instead (three drops in 12 teaspoon of carrier oil). According to the ACHS, apply a tiny amount of the mixture to the inside of your forearm and cover it with sterile gauze for 24 hours (remove the gauze if you suffer burning or discomfort). The Earl E. Bakken Center for Spirituality & Healing advises that you then examine for skin sensitivity.
Dilute them with carrier oil
According to the Cleveland Clinic, most essential oils will irritate skin if applied straight to it without first being diluted.
To avoid adverse responses on the skin, topical essential oils are frequently blended with a carrier oil. Jojoba oil, avocado oil, grapeseed oil, apricot kernel oil, and sweet almond oil are examples of common carrier oils that can be purchased in natural food stores.
When using essential oils for massage, dilute them in a carrier oil at a concentration no greater than 1 percent, as the Earl E. Bakken Center for Spirituality & Healing recommends. That’s 1 drop of pure essential oil for every 1 teaspoon of carrier oil.
Know which essential oil to use
Several home, skin care, and aromatherapy items contain essential oils. They are frequently employed in massage therapy. It’s crucial to examine which essential oils are in the products you use frequently and find out which oils your massage therapist uses because different essential oils have varied effects on different people. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, some persons may experience skin sensitivity when certain essential oils are used topically.
To make sure there are no contraindications for your particular healthcare scenario (for instance, if you’re presently pregnant or taking certain drugs), you should conduct research on any essential oil you intend to use. Always seek advice from a licensed aromatherapist or physician if in doubt.
Keep them out of the Sunlight
Certain essential oils have a reaction when exposed to ultraviolet light because they are photosensitive. According to the ACHS, this reaction might make your skin more vulnerable to redness, burns, irritation, discolouration, and even blistering if you apply these oils to your skin and walk outside in the sun. According to the Earl E. Bakken Center for Spirituality & Healing, citrus oils, particularly those containing bergamot, lemon, lime, orange, and angelica, are particularly photosensitive.
Wait at least 12 hours after applying an essential oil to your skin to avoid getting sunburned and experiencing any negative responses. The ACHS advises covering the region in the interim by donning long sleeves and pants.