Essential Oils: Safety

I love using essential oils.

You're in love with using essential oils too, aren't you?? (If you're not yet in love with them, you are probably considering using them for the various ways they've been helpful for others.)

I knew it would happen. Seriously. They really are that wonderful. I mean, a healthy, chemical free alternative? Love it!!

Since we're friends, and since I do care about you. And, since we both love our oils, let's talk a little bit about oil safety. Even though they're all-natural, they are powerful. And, just like Spiderman says... with power comes responsibility!

We're going to start with a few basics.  First off, check out the label on your oil bottle. There's a lot of really great information on it!

Every bottle of Young Living Essential Oil has a label with usage directions, the oil grade, how to store your oil, and the batch number.  The front also tells you whether it's a single, a blend, and the bottle size. Each bottle also has a orifice/drop reducer.

1. Directions: There are 3 ways to use your oils: internally, topically, or aromatically. The directions on the bottle will tell you how many drops are recommended for each available use. Keep in mind that not every oils can be used in all 3 ways. So, it's super important to check your label!

2. Oil Grade: It's important that you are only using therapeutic grade essential oils. Those 4 words mean that they're of the highest quality. Sadly, those 4 words can mean different things for different companies. Here's a breakdown on oil grades:

3. How to store your oil: Make sure you're keeping your oils in a cool, dark place so they have an unlimited shelf life. Now you know the reason for the dark amber bottle color! (And, you also know that, except for a few oils, like citrus oils, Young Living Essential Oils do not ever expire. That's why there isn't an expiration date!)

4. Proper dropping: Each bottle of Young Living Essential Oils has a plastic bit in the bottle opening called an orifice reducer. This piece works as a drop reducer and will help you get the same size drop of oil every time. (It also helps prevent small children from accidentally swallowing large amounts of essential oil. If you suspect that a child has consumed a large quantity of oil, give them milk and seek medical advice.) Bottles need to be inverted and sometimes tapped to dispense one tiny drop. Please note that oils will emerge from the reducer at different rates depending on their viscosity. Very thin oils such citrus and pine oils will come out quickly, thicker oils such as Vetiver will dispense very slowly or not at all. Pipettes are recommended for removing fixed quantities of thicker oils from their bottle.

Now that we have those basics out of the way, let's talk general oil safety.

Note: The following safety precautions are guidelines only. You should follow the directions laid out on the back of your oil bottle and always inform your primary care physician what you are using as they may not be conducive with his/her prescribed therapy and medications. Please read the following rules for essential oil safety to ensure you have the best possible experience with your oils.
  • Oils rich in Menthol, like Peppermint, should not be used on the throat or neck area of a child younger than 18 months. 
  • There are some oils that cause photo-sensitivity and will contribute to a sunburn or a rash. Some of these oils are Angelica, Ginger, Bergamot, Grapefruit, Lemon, Orange, Tangerine, Citrus Fresh, and Lime. 
  • Dispensing oils by a "swiping" method instead of a "drop" method can contaminate the oils in the bottle. It is ALWAYS suggested that you either let the oil drop out or use a clean pipette to remove them from their bottle.
  • Be careful to keep essential oils away from the eye area. Clean your hands very thoroughly of any oils prior to touching contact lens. If you accidentally get an essential oil in your eye, dilute with  small amount of olive oil, or V6 oil instead of water. Also, never pour any oils directly into your ear. The Essential Oils Desk Reference (EODR) says to apply 1-2 drops of essential oil onto a cotton ball, diluting with a carrier, and place it at the opening of the ear. Also, applying oils to the exterior ear, behind, around, and down the lymph nodes can be very helpful.
  • Check first with your OB/GYN, Midwife, or NP about using therapeutic grade essential oil if you are pregnant or nursing. Print off information on Young Living's Seed to Seal guarantee to show your physician the different between average essential oils and Young Living brand quality. An excellent book written by Debra Raybern, titled Gentle Babies, goes into detail as to which oils to use for those pregnant, nursing, or for babies and young children. They recommend diluting for babies. When in doubt, mix a 1/30 blend with a carrier oil. Basil, birch, calamus, cassia, cinnamon bark, hyssop, Idaho tansy, lavandin, rosemary, sage, and tarragon are a few oils to avoid in pregnancy. Peppermint ON the abdomen shoudl be avoided fost of the pregnancy. Oils generally regarded as safe for pregnancy are lavender, peppermint, Roman chamomile, geranium, tangerine, grapefruit, lemon, orange, rose, frankincense, majoram, cedarwood, jasmine, melaleuca alternifolia, rosewood, sandalwood, thyme, ylang ylang and ginger.
  • Epileptics and those with hypertension (high blood pressure) should also contact and get clearance from your medical doctor prior to using any oils. Once clearance is given, pay close and special attention when using high ketone oils such as basil, rosemary, sage, and tansy oils.
  • If you have sensitive skin, test a small area of your skin with each new oil prior to body wide usage. The EODR says that the inside of the upper arm is usually a good place to test it. Wait 30 minutes before applying oils to the rest of your body. If skin becomes red or irritated, immediate dilution will greatly minimize discomfort, almost immediately.
  • The bottoms of our feet are great places to apply oils for children and adults. 
  • Direct inhalation (smelling an oil deep and long for several breaths) of essential oils is regarded as very beneficial for certain conditions but it should be limited to 10-15 times throughout the day. Direct inhalation of oils is not recommended. Topical application and diffusion are the safest routes for asthmatics, especially in acute situations.
  • Ingestion of Young Living therapeutic grate oils that are GRAS need to be tested for the first time by diluting one drop in olive oil, blue agave, or rice milk. If making capsules make sure to dilute with 1:1 with olive oil (or another indigestible carrier oil)
  • If you enjoy soaking baths, to evenly disburse oils into your bath water, mix 5 drops of essential oils with 1/4 cup Epsom salt, prior to adding the salt to your bath water.
  • Although "reactions" to essential oils are not the norm, they do happen. It can take up to 2-3 days to show up. Consider all of the cleaning and bath products, perfumes, lotions, etc that you are using. If you haven't already, consider making the switch to natural products, This ensures you have a fresh, clean slate to start with when applying the oils. Essential oils target toxins and digest them, so a rash or redness might look like an allergic reaction, but may actually be toxins being drawn out of the skin.
Now that we're all on the same page as far as oil safety... go forth and use your oils!!

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