Not to be dramatic but essential oils have great power. They can help you as their healing properties are nothing short of incredible. They can also harm you if used incorrectly so it’s important to use caution and become informed so you can use them safely.
Here are some essential oil facts that may help you understand their potency and strength:
- It takes 150 pounds of lavender flowers to make just one pound of lavender essential oil.
- It takes 256 pounds of peppermint leaves to make one pound of peppermint essential oil.
- It takes thousands of pounds of roses to make 1 pound of rose essential oil.
To put this in more practical terms, just one drop of peppermint oil is equal to 28 cups of peppermint tea.
The combination of growing interest in natural healing therapies, including essential oils, combined with the growing use of the Internet, has generated misleading information. Of course, this is problematic for virtually all things we can try to learn about online.
This article will attempt to clear up eight of the most common myths about essential oils. The goal is to be clear about what is safe and not safe when it comes to the therapeutic use of essential oils.
Myth #1: You can safely ingest any and all essential oils
The internal use of many essential oils is not safe unless under medical supervision. A small amount of essential oil is the equivalent to about 10 – 50 cups of herbal tea. There is an absolute lack of guidelines and safety precautions when it comes to ingesting essential oils.
Don’t make the mistake of assuming that just because an essential oil has the same name as a familiar herb that it is safe to ingest. The reality of this statement is that some of the most dangerous essential oils bear the name of common herbs.
Herbs and their essential oil counterparts are not anywhere near the same. While you can liberally apply basil to your pasta, you have to be careful with the amount of basil essential oil you ingest.
Be very careful to jump to the conclusion that just because an oil has a familiar name of a herb you love that it is ever safe to ingest it.
Essential oils are clearly as potent as pharmaceutical drugs, and since you probably would not go ingesting a whole bunch of pills without some caution, you should most definitely, give the same respect to essential oils.
Again, when it come to ingesting oils, be sure that you are working with a certified and reliable practitioner that can supervise your use.
The Alliance of International Aromatherapists gives this statement on the internal use of essential oils:
“AIA does not endorse internal therapeutic use (oral, vaginal or rectal) of essential oils unless recommended by a healthcare practitioner trained at an appropriate clinical level. An appropriate level of training must include chemistry, anatomy, diagnostics, physiology, formulation guidelines and safety issues regarding each specific internal route (oral, vaginal or rectal).”
Myth #2: All essential oils in their diluted form are safe for children
The truth is that many oils are very dangerous to use on children five and under. Here is an excellent article on understanding how essential oils impact children. Be sure to consult a professional before using essential oils on children.
Myth #3: If you use essential oil on your skin and it causes a reaction then it’s just a symptom of detoxification
The plain and simple truth of this one is that if you put any substance on your skin and it causes a rash or burns, it should not have been put on your skin in the first place. This is an adverse reaction, not a harmless detox reaction.
Clearly a burn, rash, or any other type of abnormal issues with your skin indicate an irritation. Also, a detox reaction occurs when something is taken away, not added.
So, if you find yourself with a rash or a burn after using an essential oil on your skin, it is your body saying to stop! This is one of the reasons why a patch test is recommended on a small area before using any substance on a larger area.
Also, it always recommended that you dilute an essential oil with a carrier oil before using on your skin (see below for more information on how to do a patch test).
Myth #4: Essential oils carefully stored in glass vials will last forever
This is just another very ridiculous claim. Oils may seem to last for a long time, but in reality, they will eventually go bad because of oxidation. Citrus oils that contain a high level of limonene – a substance that oxidizes pretty fast, destroying the fresh citrus odor.
Also, wax will form in the citrus oil over time. It is best to use the oil within one year if you can. Blue oils also such as German chamomile, blue tansy, and yarrow breakdown over time.
To slow the breakdown, be sure to put blue oils in the refrigerator and keep only a small amount of airspace in the container.
Myth #5: You can apply essential oils to your skin and immediately go out in the sun
Citrus oils will always make your skin sensitive to the sun because they contain particular constituents that increase the damage caused by UV light. This increased sensitivity can cause blistering, burning and discoloration.
Oils that increase the risk of UV damage include lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit and bergamot.
Myth #6: If you don’t like the way an oil smells it means your body needs it
The human body has been designed to protect us from things that may harm us such as bad smelling food that may be rotten. This built-in protective mechanism (to smell odors) is critical to our survival.
The opposite is also true that we can be conditioned to like things that are not good for us such as the pleasurable and alluring smell of hot donuts or french fries. The food manufacturers have a great knack for manipulating natural flavor enhancers to make “bad” food seem good.
When it comes to essential oils, you may not like the aroma initially because it is new to you and you have no previous experience with it. Give yourself time to become acquainted with oils that may seem offensive at first.
However, always listen to your body if it is telling you to stay clear of something.
Myth #7: It’s safe to put any and all essential oils directly in a bath
If you want to use essential oil in a bath, be sure first to emulsify it. The best substance to use is sesame oil or milk. If you don’t emulsify the oil, it won’t disperse but will float on the top of the water and enter the skin directly.
When the oil combines with the heat and water in this way, it can cause dermal toxicity.
Myth #8: Pure essential oil doesn’t freeze because it doesn’t contain water
Like just about every other liquid, essential oils will freeze if the temperature is cold enough – water has nothing to do with keeping this from happening. In fact, many oils will freeze in your household freezer and some even in your refrigerator. Some oils are even solid at room temperature.