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Essential Oil Safety Guidelines
Young Living essential oils are considered to be “therapeutic grade” – meaning they are completely pure, unadulterated and highly concentrated.
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“Because of the tiny molecular structure of the components of an essential oil, they are extremely concentrated. One drop contains approximately 40 million-trillion molecules. Numerically that is a 4 with 19 zeros after it: 40,000,000,000,000,000,000. We have 100 trillion cells in our bodies, and that’s a lot. But one drop of essential oil contains enough molecules to cover every cell in our bodies with 40,000 molecules. Considering that it only takes one molecule of the right kind to open a receptor site and communicate with the DNA to alter cellular function, you can see why even inhaling a small amount of oil vapor can have profound effects on the body, brain, and emotions.” (David Stewart, Ph.D.,R.A.)
To ensure you use these powerful substances safely, please read the following safety guidelines:
- Never flush oils from your skin OR EYES with water; always use a fatty, plant-based oil (such as olive, coconut, hemp or almond) or milk. The carrier oil will bind to the essential oil molecules and help flush them out, whereas water will only spread them around and increase irritation. Unless otherwise stated, never use essential oils on your skin without diluting the essential oil with a carrier oil. A skin test is recommended prior to use. If you experience any soreness, redness or irritation that does not subside with dilution, then discontinue use. Seek medical attention if the stinging and/or irritation continues.
- Always store essential oils in a cool, dry location with lids fastened tightly. This ensures the oils retain their potency and do not evaporate. Always store them in dark glass bottles. Pure, unadulterated essential oils do not expire as long as you store them properly.
- Treat your oils with the same respect you give to medications. Keep essential oils in a secure place away from children and pets. Always follow the directions on the bottle or as noted in reference books. Take the time to read the labels and learn about your oils before using them. Know about adverse effects. Less is always more – these are very powerful!
- Undiluted essential oils should never be stored in plastic containers, as some properties in many essential oils will break down certain types of plastic, which can cause chemicals from the plastic to leach into the oil. Citrus oils in particular are known for breaking down plastics. If you add essential oils to water or beverage, always use a glass or stainless steel container. If you do need to store *diluted* essential oil mixtures in plastic containers, make sure the containers are made from HDPE plastic, or plastics number 1 (PETE) or 2. These types of plastics are more impervious to essential oils and will not break down in the same way.
- Do not use peppermint oil or eucalyptus oil undiluted on children under age 6. Do not let children inhale peppermint straight from the bottle. A very small percentage of young children may exhibit respiratory issues when they inhale peppermint or eucalyptus oil (any issues should reverse as soon as the oil is removed). Never use peppermint on the neck, chest or around the face/head of children under the age of three.
- Do not use more than 2 drops of the following essential oils when used in a bath the first time: Aniseed, Black pepper, Camphor (rectified), Citronella, Clove, Eucalyptus globulus, Ginger, Juniperberry, Peppermint, Sage, Spearmint, Thyme.
- Discontinue use immediately if adverse reaction occurs. While true allergic reactions to essential oils are rare – and there is ongoing debate as to whether they exist at all – as a general rule of thumb, do not use essential oils or carrier oils that come from foods you are allergic to. Most adverse reactions are due to your body detoxing, but they can also be due to sensitization, which should not be ignored. Take an epsom salt bath and wait several days before attempting to use again. Reduce the concentration or method of use and start slowly. Most reactions come from topical use, so test using aromatically first, and then spot test in a new location. If the symptoms continue, seek guidance from an experienced professional or discontinue use of that particular oil. Almost all oils have alternates that can be recommended.
- Some oils are phototoxic and should not be used topically in direct sunlight. This includes most cold pressed citrus oils and those with high levels of prism-like compounds called furanoids. This means that they may cause a rash, dark pigmentation or even burning of the skin if applied topically and exposed to direct sunlight. Always wear sunscreen and avoid direct or prolonged sun exposure on areas where these oils were applied for 12-72 hours, depending on pigmentation and tendency to burn.Phototoxic oils include the following single oils and any blends which contain these (always read ingredient labels): angelica*, bergamot*, dill, ginger, grapefruit, jade lemon, ledum, lemon*, lime*, orange, tangerine, rue (Ruta graveolens). Those with a * are considered more phototoxic than the others.
- Pregnant women should avoid using the following oils: aniseed, basil, birch, calamus, camphor, cassia, cinnamon bark, hyssop, Idaho tansy, jasmine, lavandin, mugwort, parsley, pennyroyal, rosemary, sage, tansy, tarragon, thuja, thyme, wintergreen, wormwood. Use the following oils with caution: angelica, cedarwood, chamomile (German/blue), cistus, citronella, clary sage, clove bud, cumin (Black), cypress, davana, fennel, bay laurel, marjoram, mountain savory, myrrh, nutmeg, peppermint, rose, spearmint, vetiver, yarrow.Peppermint topically on the lower abdomen should be used with caution during the 3rd trimester as it can encourage baby to turn (though this may be beneficial if baby is breech).While the National Association of Holistic Aromatherapy maintains that there have been “no recorded cases of miscarriage or birth defect resulting from aromatherapy massage using therapeutic applications of any essential oil” – it’s always best to be cautious.
- Essential oils may be contraindicated for certain medications or conditions. If you have epilepsy, heart or kidney problems, or any serious medical condition, discuss the use of essential oils with your medical practitioner.Some specifics to avoid (carefully review ingredients on essential oil BLENDS):
- Epilepsy: camphor, eucalyptus, fennel, hyssop, rosemary, sage
- Diabetes: angelica
- Bleeding disorders (or while taking blood thinning medications): wintergreen
- Some oils are naturally flammable. Keep your oils off the stove and away from any open flames.