Although researchers are discovering the health benefits and powerful influences achieved through aromatherapy, people need to be cautious. Essential oils have chemical properties, and they can affect the mind. Also, because many oils are highly concentrated, if applied topically, they can enter the bloodstream. This means people with chronic health problems, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or epilepsy need to be particularly careful when using essential oils. Additionally, pregnant women and cancer patients also need to be cautious, and because many essential oils are related to herbs, people who are allergic, intolerant, or sensitive to salicylates, may need to use caution.
To make sure you get the most out of essential oils and aromatherapy, it is important you understand how to use them safely. So, here are five key things you need to know:
- Do a 24-hour patch test. This is the most important step when using an essential oil. People think essential oils are safe, and generally they are safe; however, as mentioned above, certain individuals can react negatively to them, so the best way to ensure safety when using a new oil is to apply a small DILUTED sample to the inside of your elbow and wait 24 hours to see if there is a reaction. Don’t forget to do this patch test every time you try a new oil.
- Never apply ANY undiluted essential oil to the skin. In this case less is more, and applying an undiluted essential oil to the skin can cause harm, particularly if someone is sensitive or allergic to it. So NEVER EVER apply ANY oils undiluted.
- Never ingest an essential oil. For the most part, essential oils are not made to be ingested, and can be dangerous. If you do ingest one, check with an aromatherapy professional or your health care professional beforehand to make sure it is safe.
- Not all essential oils are safe for aromatherapy. Certain oils should be used only by aromatherapy professionals. These oils include bitter almond, camphor, horseradish, onion, pennyroyal, rue, sassafras, winter green, and wormwood, and there may be more, so check with an aromatherapy professional.
- Store essential oils in a safe place. Children love the smells of essential oils, but unsupervised children with essential oils can be disasterous. Essential oils in the wrong hands are dangerous. Treat them as if they were medications, and store them safely away. Additionally, essential oils are flammable, so never place or store them near your stove, oven, or any other source of heat.
To ensure you use an appropriate aromatherapy professional look for one certified by one of these institutions: