Essential Oil FAQ
1. Are essential oils safe for kids?
Yes. These products come straight from plants, you can’t get any purer than that. However, there are general precautions to take. Best practice is to use essential oils diluted, and on the feet only of children 6 and under. Use gentle oils like lavender, lemon, frankincense, tea tree. Always follow label instructions. Keep essential oils out of the reach of children. Do not overuse essential oils. More is not more: 1 drop at a time is sufficient. Speak to a physician trained in aromatherapy before using essential oils. Do your research and be an empowered parent.
2. Can I use essential oils when I’m pregnant?
Yes. However, some essential oils are considered best avoided: wormwood, rue, oak moss, Lavandula stoechas, camphor, parsley seed, sage, hyssop, common tansy, thuja, pennyroyal, mugwort, wormseed. Essential oils to use cautiously: wintergreen, basil, fennel, anise, myrtle, vitex, and blends that contain these essential oils. Consult your physician before use.
3. What is a hot oil?
A hot oil is an essential oil that feels warm (or sometimes cooling) to the skin. This may cause skin irritation or discomfort. Always do a patch test on a small area of the skin, like the bend of the arm, and leave for 24-48 hours. Dilute hot oils with carrier oils such as high-quality olive oil, coconut oil, jojoba oil, or grapeseed oil. Use butter if you’re in a pinch. Do NOT use water. This will magnify the effect.
4. Someone says you can take oils internally. Is that true?
The Canadian Federation of Aromatherapy does not recommend internal use of essential oils.
However, the aromatherapy industry is advancing in information on ingestion. Tisserand and Young recommend a dose per 24 hours as 0.05 – 1.3 ml. Consider the age, size of the person, and the essential oils being used. High phenol oils like oregano for example, should be used in lower concentrations. Methods of safe and effective ingestion include:
– Gelatin Capsules – Use size 00 capsules and fill with up to 20% essential oils diluted in vegetable oil. Pour the essential oil and carrier oil into the gel cap. Each gel cap will hold about 0.75ml. This is about 3 drops of essential oil and 12 drops of carrier oil.
Enteric-Coated gelatin capsules do not release the essential oil(s) until they are in the small intestine. This can be useful for IBS (Cappello et al 2007).
Vitamin C Tablets – this is how Mark Webb uses essential oils for ingestion. He lays the tablets on a cookie sheet and puts one drop of essential oil on each tablet. The cookie sheet is then put into the refrigerator for about an hour. He then flips the tablets over and puts another drop on each tablet and then puts back in the refrigerator for an hour. He then seals the tablets in a small plastic zip lock bag to avoid evaporation of the essential oils don’t evaporate. This would be an extremely safe way to ingest essential oils (Essence of Thyme College, 2019).
Additionally, you will find many botanicals on the FDA’s Generally Regarded As Safe food list. For example, peppermint, lemon, orange, basil, thyme, oregano, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, and many more are all recognized as generally safe to ingest. Even sage and hyssop are on the list, which are often considered riskier plants. Remember that dosage is always important. When looking at data, remember that oftentimes the dosage is much, much greater than a human would ever ingest.
Tisserand states that the absorption rate of ingestion is 95% compared to 50% absorbed from inhalation and 5% absorbed from topical use. This high absorption rate indicates that caution should be used. More is not better or necessary.
You will decide for yourself what is the best route of use. Please note that while these methods of use have been proven to be safe, ingestion of essential oils is not approved under liability insurance for professional aromatherapists.
5. Why does it say to avoid sunlight on my lemon bottle?
Citrus essential oils of bergamot, lemon, jade lemon, grapefruit, tangerine, lime, and essential oil angelica can cause phototoxicity. These essential oils have constituents calls furanocoumarins in them which cause the skin to burn more easily when in sunlight or UV light. Do not put them on skin that will be in direct contact with sunlight for 72 hours.
6. How much essential oil should I use?
These are very powerful wellness products. More is not more. Start low and go slow. One to two drops is plenty.
7. Can I be allergic to essential oils?
Yes. Essential oils do not have proteins that cause immune response, but they do have haptens or pre-haptens, which can bind to a protein in your body and illicit production of antibodies, which is an immune response. Generally takes the form of skin rashes. This doesn’t always show up immediately, but may show up over repeated use of the oil. Do a skin patch test first and dilute with a carrier oil (not water) if you react. Dilution is recommended for general essential oil use, and doesn’t change the efficacy of the oil. Use high quality carrier oils, and non-chemical products with your essential oils. You may react to the chemical in your lotion etc. Some of the studies that say they cause reactions were done using products with petrolatum etc. Consider the QUALITY of the oils you’re using.
Chronic Stress sets your body up for immune response, so reduce stress to reduce immune response. Weather and diet can also affect the skin sensitivity.
Best advice is to drink plenty of water, back off the essential oil and follow the recommendations above. Consult your physician before use.
8. Can I burn my essential oils?
No. Essential oils are very sensitive to heat, light, and oxygen. These three factors can change the chemistry of the essential oil and make it unsafe for therapeutic use. Use in a cold-air diffuser/humidifier.
9. How long will my essential oils last?
Again, essential oils are sensitive to heat, light, and oxygen. Essential oils do not go bad or rancid necessarily. They will last for years and years as they are not fatty like vegetable oils, however, they can oxidize. Everything subject to oxygen oxidizes. For example, an apple left on the table will turn brown as it is subject to oxygen. The chemistry of essential oils will change as it is subject to heat, light, and oxygen. When an oil is oxidized, it will no longer be as effective, or may cause skin irritation. Never leave your essential oils uncapped; store in cool, dry place with lids screwed on tightly.
Store the following essential oils with care:
Angelica, Anise, Caraway, Celery, Cistus, Citrus oils, Dill oils, Elemi, Fennel, Fir oils, Fleabane, Frankincense, Galbanum, Juniper, Lemon balm, Myrtle, Pepper, Pine, Sage, Spruce, Star Anise, Tea Tree, Verbena.
*Do not throw oxidized essential oils out. They can still be used in the diffuser or in cleaning product