how to use essential oils safely
Traditionally, certain essential oil application methods have been preferred or used exclusively. However, as the research surrounding essential oils continues to develop, a greater understanding ofapplication methods is now understood. All application methods are safe when used appropriately, including aromatic, topical, and internal methods. One or multiple application methods can be used for a wide range of emotional and physical wellness applications. They can be used a single oil at a time or in complex blends in one of three methods:
1. Topical use of essential oils
Topical application is a very effective method for applying essential oils. Because essential oils have low molecular weights and are lipid soluble, they easily penetrate the skin. Once absorbed, they stay in the applied area for a localized benefit.
Although essential oils are readily absorbed, there are many ways to increase absorption. Using a light massage will increase the blood flow to the area of application, in turn improving distribution throughout the body. Use of a carrier oil can also increase absorption, especially in skin that is dry or flaky as it helps moisturize the skin and slow evaporation of the oil.
To decrease the likelihood of developing a skin sensitivity, especially on young or sensitive skin, it is advisable to use a carrier oil (such as Fractionated Coconut Oil) to dilute more potent oils and when trying an oil for the first time. The recommend dilution ratio is typically one drop of essential oil to three drops of carrier oil.
It’s always advisable to use several small doses throughout the day rather than a single large dose. Start with the lowest possible dose (1–2 drops). A topical dose can be repeated every 4–6 hours as needed. Because every individual is unique, the dose will vary for everyone based on size, age, and overall health status. Dilution in no way diminishes the efficacy of essential oils and offers many benefits that can enhance your application experience. Conduct a simple sensitivity test when trying a new oil by applying a small amount of essential oil to an inconspicuous area. Check the spot each hour for several hours to ensure no sensitivity has occurred.
figure 1. topical use of essential oils
figure 2. application and safety
Classifications of Essential Oils for Topical Use
Neat: Oils categorized as “neat” can be applied topically without dilution because of their exceptionally mild chemistry. Frankincense, Lavender, Melaleuca, Melissa, and Sandalwood are good examples of “neat” essential oils.
Dilute: Oils in this category have potent chemistry and should be diluted with a carrier oil before topical application in every case. “Dilute” oils in- clude Cassia, Cinnamon, Clove, Oregano, and Thyme.
Sensitive: “Sensitive” oils are those that should be diluted before use on young or sensitive skin. Bergamot, Black Pepper, Eucalyptus, Ginger, and Peppermint are examples of “sensitive” oils.
Sensitive Areas to be Avoided:
• Some facial areas, such as the skin around the eyes
• Eyes and inner ears
• Broken, damaged, or otherwise injured skin
Although unusual, occasionally it is possible to have a sensitivity response to an essential oil. This occurs when there is heightened reactivity of an essential oil that may result in an unwanted response in the body or on the skin. Awareness of your body and how it reacts to different essential oils, amounts applied, and location applications can help minimize risk and ensure safe usage. If there is a reaction – apply carrier oil NOT water. Carrier oil will dilute whereas water will “push” the oil in.
Essential Safety Tips:
Photosensitive - Citrus oils contain a unique category of photosensitive compounds called furocoumarins, so it is important to avoid exposure to sunlight, sunlamps, or other sources of UV light for up to 12 hours after topical application of these oils.
Beneficial Areas You Can Apply Essential Oils
Face: Use essential oil as part of your regular skin care regimen to beautify the skin and promote a clear, healthy looking complexion.
Neck/Forehead/Temples: These areas are good to target feelings of tension.
Abdomen: Application of essential oils, especially over major digestive organs.
Arms/Legs/Back: Massage onto the arms, wrists, legs, feet, or back after physical activity.
Roof of the Mouth (Soft Palette)/Base of the Skull: Applying oils to these areas is an excellent way to help transform your mood and balance your emotions.
Chest: Rubbing oils onto the chest promotes feelings of clear breathing.
Bottoms of Feet: The feet have large pores that rapidly absorb essential oils, making this an ideal application site for generalized effect. Apply and massage in 2–4 drops of essential oil. You can apply the more herbal/medicinal smelling essential oils here.
Other Effective Methods of Topical Application:
• Add a few drops of oil to a warm bath
• Make a hot or cold compress by soaking a towel or cloth in water, adding essential oils, and then applying to the desired area- Add oil to a lotion or moisturizer and then apply to the skin
• Mix with water and use as a mouth and throat rinse
2. Aromatic use of essential oils
The sense of smell is a tool that can elicit powerful physiologic, mental, and emotional responses. Essential oils are quickly absorbed by the smell receptors, which have a direct link to the limbic system by way of the olfactory nerve. The limbic system is part of the brain that supports a variety of functions including smell, emotions, behavior, and memory. For this reason, essential oils have an especially powerful effect via aromatic application.
Some essential oils induce uplifting or invigorating effects, while others are more calming. Diffusion is one of the simplest methods for using essential oils aromatically. Diffusers that use cold air or water are ideal. However, using essential oils aromatically does not require any special diffusing devices.
You can achieve the same health benefits by simply placing a few drops of essential oil in the palm of your hand that is then cupped around the nose as you breathe deeply.
figure 3. aromatic usages
1. Diffuse a few drops in the morning, throughout the day, or right before going to bed. Peppermint in the morning to get wide awake and lavender in the evening to aid in relaxation prior to bedtime.
2. Place a drop in your palm, rub the palms together, and inhale. Need a 3pm sugar free boost – take a few deep inhalations of Citrus Bliss.
3. Drip 2–3 drops onto the floor of the hot shower, away from the water path, and breathe in. The Breathe blend works really well.
4. Add to household surface cleaners, or to a load of laundry. I use Lemon and or Melaleuca.
5. Add a couple of drops to pillows and bed linens. Lavender or Serenity are amazing in helping the body to relax.
3. INTERNAL USAGE
Certain essential oils have a rich culinary history and can be used as dietary supplements supporting a variety of healthy conditions. When you sprinkle cinnamon on your oatmeal, sip a mug of peppermint tea, or add fresh basil leaves to your spaghetti, you are consuming some volatile aromatic essential oil compounds.
Essential oil contributes many health benefits as well as flavoring and aroma properties to foods. When in their concentrated form, essential oils can be used as dietary supplements for more targeted and potent health benefits. Internal use is a very safe and effective method of application because of the sophisticated physiologic processes of our bodies.
When ingested, essential oils directly enter the blood stream via the gastrointestinal tract, where they are transported throughout the rest of the body. Essential oils are lipid soluble so they are readily transported to all organs of the body, including the brain. Then, like all things we consume, essential oils are metabolized by the liver and other organs and are then excreted.
The composition of essential oils is highly complex. Each constituent possesses a unique set of biochemical properties that react with cells and organs in different ways. Although these mechanisms of action are not completely understood, the positive end results have been demonstrated. However, the body is only equipped to handle appropriate doses of essential oils.
Proper dosing according to labeling recommendations and other professional guidelines should be strictly followed to avoid toxicity.
Effective Methods of Internal Application
• Use oils in recipes for cooking or baking to replace fresh or dried herbs and spices
• Remember that essential oils are much more potent than dried or fresh herbs and spices, so start with a very small amount
• For more potent oils, it may be better to administer them by toothpicks (dip the end of a clean toothpick into the oil and then add to the food) rather than drops
• Add essential oils to water, smoothies, milk, tea, or other drinks
• Take essential oils internally in a veggie capsule or add to a small amount of applesauce or yogurt
For further details
figure 4. internal use ideas
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