Here at Integrative Health Therapies, we love aromatherapy for its many health benefits. However, we also know that these wonderful oils can come with some devastating effects if not used properly.
Let’s start off by telling you what Aromatherapy is. Aromatherapy works by simply taking a deep breath: the aromatic molecules enter our bloodstream and travel to all parts of our body. The wide range of aromas available can gently help any mood or emotion. The essential oils used in aromatherapy are highly concentrated substances, extracted most commonly by steam distillation from a variety of flowers, herbs, trees, roots, and fruit. Each oil offers its own unique chemistry of healing qualities.
Essential oils are typically used topically or by inhalation.
Topical uses include:
Adding essential oils to baths and showers to refresh and cleanse
Applying directly to skin for wounds, sprains, strains, muscle pain and tension
Making personalized skin care products for a wide array of common skin conditions.
Inhalation of essential oil molecules is the most common method for mood and emotional support, respiratory conditions, and cleansing and purifying the air. Essential oils can be inhaled from tissues or inhalers, dropped into steaming water, added to vaporizers, diffused or sprayed.
One of the most important pieces of information on aromatherapy safety that we cannot stress enough is to NEVER ingest essential oils diluted or not without consulting a Clinical Aromatherapist. Essential Oils can have negative interactions with medications and medical conditions, so without a full consultation with an expert, it is not recommended to ingest essential oils. There are some companies that advocate taking these oils internally for health benefits, but they are misguided. While being harvested, a distiller may use hundreds of pounds of plant material and get only a pound of essential oil in return. So these companies that encourage you to put a few drops in some water and drink it to stave off cancer are encouraging you to drink the equivalent of 20 tea bags worth of any given plant of origin oil. That’s just plain dangerous.
We also recommend that you do not use any undiluted oils directly on your skin. Essential oils are concentrated substances they can cause many skin irritations and other skin problems such as burns and blistering. To avoid this problem it is recommended to add essential oils to a carrier oil such as jojoba, coconut, almond, or others, before using. Diluting them in this way provides a measure of protection from skin irritation, allergic reactions, and even sensitization.
And one final, very important safety note:
Keep essential oils out of reach of children. The wrong handling of these oils are terrible for anyone of any age, but they are extremely harmful to children.
There are a lot more safety tips and concerns out there. Below are some links to more safety information that anyone interested in essential oils should read before getting started. And again, when in doubt, ask a professional before doing anything.