7 Things I Wish I Would Have Known When I Started Using Essential Oils
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When I first started using essential oils I knew nothing other than the bits and pieces of things I read about on social media. I bought them on a wing and a prayer at a time in my life when my girls weren't sleeping well and I would have sold a body part to get some sleep. I began simply by diffusing the oils in my girls room with my fingers crossed that we finally found the magic trick to making them sleep (after two years of no sleep). The oils certainly were not magic, but did seem to help us turn the corner. Fast forward a few months later and I still had all my new oils and I was determined to learn and use them for other ways than what I originally bought them for. It was like a challenge to me, and I love a good challenge. Plus I was not going to let that money go to waste! I started researching, reading, listening to anything that provided more information on these oils. As I started learning I also started thinking "Wow, what if I had not learned this.", "I can't believe I made that mistake,why did no one tell me this?", "What else do I not know?" So because of this I decided to create this post where everyone ,expert or novice to essential oils, can learn some important information regarding the use of essential oils. I hope you enjoy!
1. Do Not Believe Everything You See and Read On The Internet
Okay, I will confess first- Google is my go to for all my daily questions. It would have been really nice if someone had deleted Google from the internet for the nine and a half months I was pregnant. Now your turn- confess that you Google everything too, I know there is a 99% chance that you do LOL! So here's the thing that I will remind you because I am sure you have heard it before, do not believe everything you read on the internet. Anyone can post something online these days (I mean seriously, a dentist talking about essential oils, cleaning products and blogging, I am a prime example!).
If you go in search of an answer to a question you can likely find the answer you want to hear, no matter if it is a valid answer or not. This applies to any topic, including the researching of essential oils use. So as not to make enemies, I will not call out specific practices or articles but let me just say just because someone writes a blog post about how they did a certain something with essential oils and it was so great and worked so well does not mean that this is something you should do as well. Even if they look smart and nice in their photo. What you read very well may be true and a great idea but you should always do your own research before trying out anything new, bottom line. This is especially true when children are involved, I have seen some crazy and not safe suggestions out there regarding use of essential oils for babies and children. Just promise me to do your own research, okay?
2. All Oils Should Be Kept Out Of Reach Of Children
If you remember nothing else from this post, please remember this. Yes, essential oils can be considerably more natural and safe than conventional medicines, however they can still be dangerous in high quantities and should ALWAYS be kept out of the reach of children. It even states this in the Young Living reference guide "KEEP OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN". This is even more important if you use them regularly on your children and they grow to really enjoy their use. I have seen so many photos lately of kids holding bottles of essential oils or photos clearly showing easy access to these oils. This is not safe in my opinion. Yes, these bottles may be difficult to open, and yes there is a drop reducing orifice on most bottles, but why take the chance? Overdose and fatal accidents involving children and essential oils has happened, yes it is rare, but is that something you want to risk? My thoughts are that these essential oil bottles should be kept up high out of reach or in locked cabinets. Yes, this adds a factor of inconvenience every time you need to grab a bottle but what area of life is convenient with children?
3. You Should Always Dilute Your Essential Oils Prior To Using
Others see this differently but, in my opinion, due to the strength of the oils you should never use without diluting the oils first. Using undiluted oils increases your risk for unwanted side effects such as skin sensitization, headache, other bodily reactions and potential long term effects yet to be studied. I always consult my Essential Oil Safety book for the maximum recommended dosage for application and be sure to dilute my oils and blends below that percentage. The Young Living website, as well as other resources, also provide dilution recommendations for each type of oil. There are some oils that state they can be applied without dilution however I typically still dilute all my oils.
Let me paint a picture for you here regarding the potency of these oils. Essential oils are so fragrant because the method of distilling requires a large quantity of the source ingredients be compressed to produce one single bottle of oil. For instance, a 15mL bottle of lemon oil requires approximately 75 lemons to make and a 15 mL bottle of peppermint oil requires approximately one pound of peppermint plant to make. Now, in a standard 15 mL bottle there are approximately 250 drops of oil. So if you do the math (don't worry I will get my calculator out here) undiluted lemon oil is like using the juice out of 1/3 of a lemon PER DROP. This is just an example to show how concentrated these oils are. So my advice, DILUTE!
4. All Essential Oils Are Not Created Equal
I know you made have heard this before if you have read much in the world of essential oils but here it goes again. When making essential oils some companies have higher standards for production than others. As I stated before, I bought on these oils on a whim. When I really got into using them I considered switching brands to save money. After trying out another brand and doing a lot of research I chose to stay with Young Living. Now don't get me wrong, there ARE other companies out there that make pure essential oils, however there is no other company that provides as much transparency nor something as consistent as the seed to seal promise does. In my opinion, Young Living has the best therapeutic essential oils on the market.
Now enough of how great Young Living is, my point here is that there are several companies with much lower standards that use many synthetic ingredients (aka fillers), synthetic fragrances, and lower quality distillation processes to reduce the manufacturing costs and in turn the cost to the consumer. In my opinion, oils of this nature do no more than your typical perfume or body spray and likely offer none of the therapeutic benefits that so many pure oils do. They also likely introduce unnecessary and unintended chemicals to your body. So again, this is one of those topics that I will say, do your own research and use what you feel is best for you!
5. You Should Use Certain Oils With Caution
Essential Oils can be used for so many things- from freshening your home, to replacing cleaning and beauty products, to relieving certain symptoms. However, there are some oils that should be used with caution. Some are not safe for children, some are not safe for those that are pregnant or breastfeeding, and some will increase your risk of sun sensitivity (otherwise known as photosensitization). I have included a chart here that I hope will help you keep an eye out for certain oils. I will put a disclaimer here that I am very conservative so I maybe have included some oils that others wouldn't. I will also say that this is not necessarily an exhaustive list. There are other oils that should be used with caution as well, these are just the the more commonly used and talked about oils. Now this chart will describe it as "Oils to Avoid" but you can also view this as oils to use with caution. Again, do your own research and consult your doctor to determine if using it is safe in the manner you wish to.
6. Essential Oils Will Not Have The Same Effect On Everyone
Have you ever told someone how delicious a certain food is and they say "Really? That's disgusting!" Well the same goes for essential oil effectiveness. What one person feels calms and soothes may give another a headache. What one person feels moisturizes their skin may cause another to break out with a rash or acne. Catch my drift? Essential oils work differently on everyone because everyone's body and chemical makeup is unique. Just as each person can have differing side effects to conventional medications, so can people have this with essential oils. The best advice I have here is just because a certain oil doesn't work for something you intended, don't give up on oils altogether, try a different oil and your body may respond more favorably to this.
7. Store Your Oils In Dark Bottles Out Of Direct Sunlight
I was originally storing my essential oils and homemade beauty products near my bathroom mirror and vanity so I would have easy access during my morning and evening routines. I did not think about the fact that there was a skylight directly over this area in my bathroom until I walked in one day and felt the warmth of the bottles. I quickly learned that all essential oils and homemade products should be stored out of direct sunlight and in dark glass bottles. Glass is preferable over plastic as plastic can not only leach chemicals into your oils but can also break down over time (especially in the presence of citrus oils), putting the integrity of your oils at risk. The lids should remain tight on the bottles and should be closed immediately after use. This is because the chemicals can degrade when exposed to sunlight and smaller chemical compounds can also escape from the bottle when the lid is opened for a prolonged period of time. Both of these outcomes lead to an essential oil that is no longer at peak performance meaning it will not be as effective and may even have an unpleasant odor. Most essential oils are bottled in a dark glass bottle however if you make any products or blends at home be sure to follow the dark glass bottle guideline. For reference, I like to use these and these.
Do you have any to add to this? If so please comment below so everyone can learn from you! Questions for me regarding the use of essential oils, let me know, I'm all ears!
Essential Oils Pocket Reference. 2014. Sixth Edition. Life Science Publishing
Katie 2017 www.wellnessmama.com Risks And Uses Of Essential Oils. https://wellnessmama.com/26519/essential-oils-risks/
Tisserand R and Young R. 2014. Essential Oils Safety. Second Edition. Churchhill Livingstone