Using Essential Oils - Safely
We love our essential oils. They smell amazing, have incredible medicinal properties and are a wonderful tool for wellbeing. But they have to be used safely and knowledgeably.
We don’t want to be alarmist, but for a while we have been really concerned about some of the ways they are being used.
Essential oils are powerful, super concentrated compounds of a plant (or part of a plant, like flower or leaf) that are many, many, many times stronger than any other plant medicine. In fact, they are up to 70 times the strength of the plant they're derived from. Different plants and their parts can give different types of oils due to the differing chemical makeup.
Here at EkoHub we follow best practice guidelines set by qualified aromatherapists who train for 3 years (or more) to fully understand the benefits and risks of oils.
The following information is based on how we use oils:
The great thing about essential oils is the benefits from them are gained by absorbing the oils through the skin or inhaling them, so there is no need to ingest them.
Essential oils should never be used undiluted on the skin – they must be used with a carrier oil. Some essential oils have stronger qualities than others and affect us in different ways, and some can be milder than others. Undiluted essential oils can cause skin irritations or burns, or trigger asthma or allergic reactions and cause damage to your kidneys, liver and other organs.
Oils such as hemp, jojoba, almond, coconut or even vegetable oils are good carrier oils.
Do not ingest or swallow essential oils. The oils are hydrophobic – they don’t mix with water (no matter how much you shake or blend them), so there is no protection for your mouth, throat and stomach and they can cause damage including burns and damage to your kidney and liver.
"Our bodies weren’t meant to interact with them directly, so you need to respect and honor the fact that they’re super-concentrated, as potent as medicine, and should be treated as such." Eric Zielinski, chiropractor, aromatherapist and author of Healing Power of Essential Oils.
In fact, in most countries it is illegal for aromatherapists to use or prescribe using essential oils internally for the treatment of health conditions. However, certain companies seem to have been able to bypass this with marketing and promotional material which sadly (and very dangerously) does not follow recommended industry best practice. Those who sell products for these companies don't need to be qualified.
More is not better. Many people use far too many drops of essential oil in their diffuser or burner and again, can risk causing reactions, allergies or worse. It’s also a waste of a precious and expensive resource.
Most diffusers only need 2-4 drops of essential oil per 100ml of water. If you are using a carrier oil, guidelines are generally 8-14 drops in 30ml oil (that’s 6 tablespoons).
If you have pets or children in the house, make sure you have adequate ventilation while using a diffuser and make sure you dilute them adequately. Some reports show dogs, cats and fish getting incredibly sick or sadly even dying due to using oils that aren’t safe for them and without adequate ventilation.
Essential oils are powerful plant medicine. As such, some oils are not safe if you are pregnant or to use with small children. Some can react or interfere with medications or supplements, or exacerbate other health conditions. Some can cause photosensitivity so you are more prone to getting burnt by the sun. If you have a health condition, are pregnant or have a child under 2, please seek advice from a trained aromatherapist first.
Adverse reactions can include skin rashes or irritation, watering eyes, asthma or allergies, headaches, migraines, nausea, stomach problems, kidney problems, gallbladder problems, liver damage, and even neurological issues including seizures.
Certain oils are toxic. All essential oils should be kept out of the reach of children. Children and pets should never ingest essential oils. Some oils are highly toxic to animals (especially cats as they don’t have the right liver enzymes to break them down properly) – we will post more on safety with animals another time.
Now please don’t get us wrong, we love essential oils and think they are a wonderful wellness tool which have powerful healing properties when they are used correctly and safely. We hope this information will help you to use your oils happily and safely without risk of issue or injury to you or your loved ones.