When it comes to the safety of using essential oils, it depends on the oil being used, what it is being used for, and who it is being used on. Even though all essential oils are produced from plants, each oil has a distinctive chemical compound that brings unique health benefits.
Personally, I didn’t know much on the safety of using essential oils until I starting researching it. I always used them according to the instruction on the bottle, but didn’t realize that there was more to it than just the recommended drops. FUM cares about health and well-being and we want you to understand the benefits of using essential oils and how to do it safely.
Safety of Using Essential Oils
There are three applications of essential oils: topical, ingesting and inhaling. Not all oils can be used in all three ways. Some can be dangerous to ingest, but safe to use topically and inhaled. It all depends on the specific oil. Certain oils have been approved and classified as safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to eat and drink. However, essential oils should be used in very small amounts when ingested. For example, adding a few drops of lemon or ginger oil in your tea or water is safe. However, use precaution on the amount and the type of oil when taking essential oils internally. It's important to research the oils being used along with their correct and safe applications, as it is different for each essential oil.
It is also important to realize that different people react differently to each essential oil. Whether a specific oil is safe for you, depends on personal factors; such as, age, underlying health conditions, medication and supplement use and pregnancy. Essential oils have a detoxifying nature that can reduce the effectiveness of medication. Always consult a physician when introducing new regimens alongside other prescriptions.
Those who are pregnant also need to take precautions when choosing to use certain essential oils. Some essential oils are not recommended to be used by pregnant women, as the oils can alter hormonal levels. However, essential oils can also help increase maternal hormones to normal levels if needed; the use and type of oil all depends on what your body needs. Make sure to look if the oils you're using are on the safe for pregnancy list. Lastly, age can determine if a certain essential oil is safe. Infants and children have thinner skin and less developed livers and immune systems, which make them more susceptible to potential toxicity associated with oil use. Nevertheless, children can still benefit from the use of essential oils. However, it is recommended that the oils be diluted or given in lower doses as children are smaller and less developed than adults.
Inhaling & Ingesting Essential Oils
Inhaling and ingesting are often confused as being the same. Although both uses of essential oils are similar in that they enter through the mouth or nose, inhaling and ingesting differ though the amount of the compound that enters the body and where the absorption of the essential oils take place.
Ingesting is directly consuming essential oils. For example, placing a few drops on the tongue or adding to food is considered ingesting. When ingesting essential oils, the full compound of the oil is dispersed throughout the body. Many oils are considered safe for ingesting in small doses. However, due to some essential oils potency, they are not safe to ingest in the oil's purest form. These oils need to be diluted with either; other eatable carrier oils, or water to safely benefit from essential oils through ingestion.
Inhaling is different than ingesting as it involves the vapour of essential oils, rather than the oil’s full liquid compound, entering the body.The most common way of inhaling essential oils is through the use of a diffuser. A diffuser disperses essential oils throughout a room so that the aroma fills the space and can be inhale. Most diffusers are water base, where the essential oil and moisture are combined and dispersed together; allowing the air molecules from essential oils to enter the lungs. Unlike ingesting, the action of inhaling the essential oils simultaneously diffuses the oil externally before entering the body; the full oil compound is not entering the body. According to the Essential Oil Safety Guide by Robert Tisserand, inhaling essential oils is one of the best route of exposure, as the act helps the “essential oil enter the bloodstream and reach the central nervous system with relative ease.” FUM acts as a portable essential oil diffuser/inhaler. When inhaled, the essential oil is diffused with air molecules and moisture from your mouth. The airborne particles from the oils are drawn in as you breathe. When using proper recommendations, inhaling can be one of the most effective uses of essential oils.
As each oil is different in nature, the directed use varies depending on the essential oil. Make sure to look up your oil's proper doses and usage before using. Personally, knowing each oil’s unique features and usages, makes me more comfortable with exploring different oils and their health benefits.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jocelyn's passion to help others drives her work here at FUM. Jocelyn uses her research knowledge to bring information to the FUM Family on how to improve health. She graduated with a degree in Business Management and Organizational Communication from University of Ottawa and currently lives in Calgary, Canada.
Tisserand, Robert, and Tony Balacs. Essential Oil Safety. 2nd ed., e, Churchill Livingstone, 2000.