Aromatherapy–the use of pure essential oils as a natural therapy—can be a powerful healer when used properly. It has been proven effective for many conditions, including: PMS, depression, and fatigue. But, before starting aromatherapy, it is important to know some basic guidelines. Some of the main considerations for the safe use of essential oils and aromatherapy include:
1. Oils vary greatly in therapeutic properties. Research oil purity and use only pure essential oils derived from plants, not synthetic, laboratory-made ones.
2. Do not use undiluted oils (with the exception of non-irritating oils like lavender, tea tree as a spot treatment for acne, insect bites, and burns as long a person does not have extremely sensitive skin or allergies to the oils).
3. Seek purity by using only pure essential oils and carrier oils derived from plants—no fragrance oils.
4. Watch for skin sensitivities. If there is any uncertainty conduct a skin patch test of a 2 percent dilution of the oil in the crook of the arm or on the back of the neck at the hairline. That works out to about 10 to 12 drops of essential oil per ounce of carrier oil.
Keep reading to learn the oils that are safe for use during pregnancy…
5. When certain oils are used on the skin, they can cause sensitivity to the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Citrus oils are the most likely to cause photosensitivity. They include: bergamot, lime, bitter orange, lemon, and grapefruit. Wait at least 8 hours before exposing skin to ultraviolet light after using essential oils on the skin.
6. Avoid mucous membrane irritants. Some oils can irritate the lining of the digestive, respiratory, reproductive, and urinary tracts, and skin. Always be sure that the essential oils you’re using are safe for the application you choose. For example: for skin application, inhalation, mouth wash, or other application. Keep all essential oils away from the eyes.
7. Rotate essential oils. Varying the oils used every couple of weeks prevents the formation of allergies or sensitivities from over-exposure.
8. Use caution for different health needs, particularly with those who are elderly, convalescing, or have serious health problems such as asthma, epilepsy, heart disease, or are pregnant. Be cautious about using essential oils during the first trimester of pregnancy, particularly in women who are prone to miscarry.
9. During pregnancy, use only: rose, neroli, lavender, ylang ylang, chamomile, geranium, citrus oils (bergamot, grapefruit, lemon, lime mandarin, orange, petitgrain, tangerine), sandalwood, spearmint, and frankincense. Avoid synthetic product especially during pregnancy and breast-feeding.
Over the coming weeks, I’ll be blogging about aromatherapy, how to make aromatherapy products, oils that are good for different health conditions and more. Stay posted.
Michelle Schoffro Cook, MSc, PhD, RNCP, ROHP