When you think of using natural oils such as those found in essential oils, it can feel like a safe choice. Essential oils are plant-based and free from some of the toxins found in synthetic products, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need to take precautions while using them.
Essential oils can be powerful allies in improving your health and wellness. And it’s precisely that power which makes it necessary to use them safely and when precautions are in place. As with any powerful medicinal ingredient, essential oils can cause negative effects.
There are three main ways to use essential oils – through inhalation, topical use, and internal use through ingestion. Some essential oils can be used safely in all three ways. However, there are oils that should not be used for all applications.
Some oils can be used topically as long as they’re diluted with a carrier oil, but used on their own they can cause burns and irritation. This includes cinnamon, clove, and lemongrass oils.
Aromatherapy to help inhale oils is one of the safest ways to use them. At the same time, you can overdo it if you use too much of an oil or diffuse in an area that isn’t well-ventilated. You can also cause negative effects for small children and pets. If you have small children or pets, it’s important to research any oil before diffusing it in a room.
The most cautious area for essential oil use is internal use. Some essential oils are toxic when taken internally. For example, melaleuca oil and eucalyptus can be poisonous when ingested. Before taking any essential oil internally, it’s important to research it and get the advice of a health professional who is trained.
Essential oils can interact negatively with medications and can exacerbate some health conditions. It’s critical that you research any possible interactions and talk with your healthcare provider before you add essential oils to your regimen.
While essential oils are often very healthful and can support health improvements and healing, you should always take precautions.
The Age Factor
Some essential oils that are perfectly safe for adults can cause big problems for children. Before adding essential oils to your child’s body, it’s important to know which ones are safe.
For example, children under age 6 should avoid essential oils that contain menthol, 1,8-cineole, and methyl salicylate constituents. These can be toxic and cause problems such as slow breathing. Even for oils that are safe, kids may also need oils to be diluted more than adults require.
Using oils for elderly people should also be done with caution. People tend to have more health conditions and take more medications as they get older. These can interact negatively with essential oil use. Additionally, the elderly can also have higher sensitivity to oils used on their skin.
Look Out for Photosensitivity
Another common concern is photosensitivity. This means how essential oils react when exposed to the sun or other source of UV light. Using photosensitive or phototoxic oils and following it with exposure to UV light can cause serious burns. Some examples include Bergamot and Grapefruit essential oils.