I have been writing this post in my mind for a long time. Now it is time to gather all the thoughts on the subject and share with you.
My first encounter with Aromatherapy and essential oils was back in 1998 when I started my cosmetology studies. Aromatherapy then played a small part in my mind and I did not think much about it back then. Completed the studies and the need amount of Aromatherapy massages to customers.
The field of Aromatherapy has evolved since 1998. Today, the interest in essential oils and their benefits is growing faster than ever. It is not among the small circle of therapists anymore, but a very popular self-care treatment within the normal population. This, in my perspective, is good news and not so good news.
The good news is that I am very happy to notice a change in the way people want to take care of themselves, turning towards a more natural option, which is absolutely fantastic, but on the contrary, I am worried that they do it without proper knowledge. And this is one of the reasons why I feel it is very important to share some insight on essential oil safety.
Personally, I am worried about the essential oil trend that is going on. Many users without proper knowledge or training sharing their tips and ideas on social media and the Internet.
The typical stories you notice on the internet or facts that you hear from your friends or social media groups online is that essential oils are perfectly safe. They are natural, of course they are safe.
That is the most misunderstood statement. All substances, natural or not, have risks and can be toxic if used unwisely. To be clear, natural does not mean safe!
Today, many yoga instructors have started to use essential oils in their class to give their students a better experience. The idea is great, don´t get me wrong, and this can have great benefits for your practice, but what I am seeing and hearing is alarming. The teachers diffusing different essential oils during the class, sometimes for the whole duration of the class and on top of this, giving each student a drop or two into their palm, undiluted, repeatedly to match the theme of the task at hand.
Think about how much a student is inhaling and how much he/she is absorbing through the skin in such a short time. A chemical cocktail in such a short period of time without the knowledge of every students personal health and medical history. It is very risky!
Here are a few examples on the downside of some common essential oils:
Wintergreen Essentials Oil – 28g of this essential oil taken internally can be lethal.
Peppermint Essential Oil – Peppermint affects the respiratory system and slows down your breathing. Using peppermint oil on infants and children under the age of 3 can have serious consequences and cause breathing complications.
Cinnamon Bark Essential Oil – Very high skin-sensitization, in other words can cause very severe skin reactions.
Clove Bud, Basil and Thyme Essential Oils - All excellent anti-bacterial oils. These have the highest amount of anti-bacterial constituents in them, but they are also very high on the list of causing a severe skin reaction.
Above are just the most common oils mentioned with the highest reactivity. All essential oils and their constituents are more or less toxic, if used incorrectly. Lavender being pretty much the safest essential oil known at the moment.
Essential oils and kids
When my first child was born, I ran into advice on the social media that peppermint oils is a great oil for opening a stuffy nose on small children. The advice was to rub in on the infant’s chest. This is alarming in my opinion and a good example on how much misinformation is out there.
94% of all reported accidents regarding essential oils and children between the ages 0-5 are unintentional. Remember, children and essential oils don’t mix. Use them wisely, always dilute, get your facts right and keep your oils out of reach of children.
Another good point I want to address is, that essential oils oxidize over time. Light, heat and oxygen causes oxidization in essential oils. Preferably keep them in a dry and cool place, the refrigerator being the best option when not having them on-the-go.
Keeps them in the dark and cool, which prolongs the time of good quality. I mention this, because if essential oils are oxidized, the risk to cause a severe reaction rises quite a lot!
Water is an issue as well. If you make your own personal sprays, either for self-care or household products, please remember that water is the most favorite playground for all kind of bad bacteria, viruses, mold and fungi.
If you want your spray to last long (and healthy), it needs to have at least 80% alcohol in it. Preferably pure ethanol. But this is hard for an average person to get, so bear in mind, use either strong alcohol in your sprays or if it is a water blend only, use it within a few weeks!
Generally, these are the basic areas where caution needs to take place when using essential oils and if you belong to the risk groups mentioned below:
Inhalation – Asthma, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and infants
Skin – Irritation, Allergy, Phototoxicity
Systemic (the body) – General toxicity, drug interactions and pregnancy
A great asset to well-being when used correctly
When used correctly, they can help you with a huge variety of day-to-day issues and health related problems. The therapeutic window (meaning the safe area between no reaction to toxic reaction) is quite large, so rarely people get a very severe reaction.
When using essential oils, you have to assess the risk vs. benefit and think is the risk worth taking, if thinking about using higher doses than what is in the guidelines!
We want the maximum benefit with the minimum risk, and this is where safety and knowledge come in.
Essential oils are a great addition to your daily life and your well-being, just use them wisely!
Follow these three (3) main guidelines and you will enjoy the fantastic world of essential oils and their superb benefits:
- Always dilute the essential oil before use
- Diffuse periodically (30min on - 30 min off)
- Never take internally (unless suggested by a licensed, professional aromatherapist)
All Kuura Essentials products are already diluted and in a ready-to-use form. You do not have to think about safety issues when using our products as we have done it for you!
Kuura Essentials main priority is information and safety regarding essential oils and aromatherapy. The Botanical Library is a great database to find the correct and trusted information on every ingredient. New ingredients will be added every time a new product is launched with new ingredients.
Enjoy essential oils and aromatherapy safely!
For more information on safety, click here!