How to Use Essential Oils

Essential oils are very concentrated and potent. Even small amounts can cause harm if used improperly. Here are some tips on how to use essential oils.

Do not apply undiluted essential oils directly to your skin. Irritation and sensitization may result.

Essential oils are absorbed through the skin. Using too much can result in an overdose.

Be sure to store essential oils out of the reach of children.

Do not get essential oils in your eyes, nose, or ears. Wash your hands thoroughly after using essential oils. If working with pure essential oils, you may want to get disposable latex gloves (or latex-free alternatives) from the drug store.

Do not take essential oils internally. Even small amounts can be toxic and potentially fatal if ingested.

Before going out in the sun or to a tanning booth, avoid essential oils that increase your sensitivity to the sun, such as citrus oils (e.g. bergamot oil, grapefruit oil).

Do a patch test if you have allergies or think you might be sensitive to an essential oil. Test aromatherapy products (such as lotions or creams) by applying a small dab to your arm. For pure essential oils, add one drop in 2.5 mL (or 1/2 teaspoon) of vegetable oil and apply it to your arm. If the area turns red, or if there is burning or itchiness, wash the area and do not use that product.

Overuse of essential oils can trigger a headache or dizziness. Don't exceed recommended amounts.

Although recommended amounts may vary, a typical concentration for occasional use is 1% for the body and .5% for the face (or other delicate skin). For regular or daily use, 0.5% or less is often suggested.

Generally, the larger the area (e.g. a body massage) or the more frequent the use, the less concentrated the product should be.

If you're working with essential oils (e.g. making your own lotions, candles, or bath salts) make sure you're working in a well-ventilated area or take breaks to go outside.

If you have a medical condition, consult a qualified practitioner before using essential oils. Certain essential oils should not be used by people with certain conditions.

People with liver or kidney disease should only use essential oils under the guidance of a qualified practitioner. Once absorbed in the bloodstream, essential oils are eventually cleared from your body by the liver and kidneys--using essential oils excessively may injure these organs.

Consult a qualified practitioner if you are using any medication, because essential oils may interact with certain medications. For example, essential oils such as chamomile, lavender, and melissa (lemon balm) may heighten the effect of sleeping pills or sedatives.

Also keep in mind that the safe limit for pregnant women, nursing mothers, children, and those with medical conditions or who are taking medications has not been established.

If you're considering the use of essential oils, make sure to consult your physician first. Self-treating a condition and avoiding or delaying standard care may have serious consequences.

Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. It is not meant to cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstances or adverse effects. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.

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