Are Essential Oils Safe for Everyone to Use?

The essential oil industry is booming and VERY lucrative, but is the use of essential oils safe for everyone? Who should you trust to give you educated and honest answers? These are just a few of the many questions you will want to consider before you purchase or use any essential oils.

Side Note: I do not sell essential oils, I am interested in teaching the safe and effective use of essential oils.

The largest distributors of essential oils are Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) companies. There are also many small companies that have reps who sell oils with zero to little knowledge of the product they are selling. You may ask, how do I know this. I have first-hand knowledge. My first experience was with an MLM company that I thought was the best place to purchase oils, after all, they were one of the biggest. I, therefore, believed they must be the best. I VERY quickly discovered their main function was selling, not promoting safety. It is impossible to safely use essential oils after just viewing a CD provided to “educate” an individual in aromatherapy. The company even provided a certificate showing I had been trained after viewing a very short video. This was a complete turn off to me.  I realized this was not something I could be a part of. I wanted to help my own family use essential oils safely and the thought of providing oils to others for their benefit was very appealing. I discontinued my association with this company.  I was referred to a second company which was not an MLM company. Their oils were touted to be of the highest quality with reasonable prices and I believed in them. It was about the same time I decided I wanted to become professionally trained in aromatherapy to learn how to use essential oils safely. It wasn’t long into my studies that I discovered I was hoodwinked again, this was getting old, who could I trust? The more I studied, I realized there were massive amounts of confusing and dangerous information in the essential oil community and on the Internet. My studies taught me how to look for reputable essential oil distributors who back their oils with scientific research as to the chemistry and purity of their oils by providing test results to the consumer. This test is referred to as a GC/MS report. If a company will not or cannot provide this report to you, I personally would not purchase any oils from them. (More on this a bit later)

How to Use Essential Oils Safely

Finding an individual who is professionally trained in aromatherapy is a step in the right direction. Is the person you are entrusting your safety to certified, registered, or a clinical aromatherapist? There are MANY individuals who sell essential oils without actual training at any significant level.  There needs to be education to back their rhetoric. The education should be from an accredited school and should teach why essential oils work. This involves learning about the individual oils, their chemical make-up, what the chemistry of the oil means, human anatomy and physiology, Latin names as well as common names, why a gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) report is of great value and necessary for every oil and every individual batch of oil, safety issues, contraindications of specific oils, and much more. The study of essential oils is not an overnight learning experience. I currently have over 500 educational hours and know my learning experience is nowhere near where I want to be. The learning never stops.

Safety Report

Currently, there is a new Safety Report available to the public. Not surprisingly, the vast majority of injuries reported are from Multi-Level Marketing companies. There would most likely be many more reported if the public was aware of where to report these incidents. You can find the information on my blog, Did You Know There is an Essential Oil Injury Report? The reports are from individuals who were personally affected. I feel this report is a real eye-opener.

Unsafe Use of Essential Oils

The unsafe use of essential oils can be extremely dangerous and it gives the essential oil industry a bad rap. When essential oils are used correctly, they can do amazing things. Here are a few things to AVOID:

  • Internal use – This should ONLY be done under the guidance of a trained aromatherapist with the level of expertise to assess the situation. From the Alliance of International Aromatherapists (AIA) – “AIA does not endorse internal therapeutic use (oral, vaginal or rectal) of essential oils unless recommended by a health care practitioner trained at an appropriate clinical level. An appropriate level of training must include chemistry, anatomy, diagnostics, physiology, formulation guidelines and safety issues regarding each specific internal route (oral, vaginal or rectal).” – In France, aromatherapists who are not doctors are not allowed to direct this type of usage. This shows how dangerous it can be.
  • Undiluted oils on the skin – this is known as neat application. A carrier oil should be used with a dilution of the essential oils at the proper dilution rate (there are a few exceptions but the oils should not be used without proper knowledge)
  • Raindrop Technique (RDT), Aromatouch, or a similar practice – this is a method of application that is very unsafe. Members of the Alliance of International Aromatherapists (AIA), The National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA), and the Aromatherapy Registration Council (ARC) are prohibited from using this method.
  • Using essential oils without knowing contraindications with certain medications and medical diagnosis
  • Stating essential oils can cure
  • Making a diagnosis – this is NOT in the scope of practice of an aromatherapist – must refer to a medical or qualified health practitioner

Natural Does Not Mean Safe – Common Myths Used to Sell Essential Oils

They:

  • Don’t expire
  • Can be ingested without worry
  • Can be used undiluted (Neat Application)
  • Are safe for everyone
  • Can be mixed in water
  • Can be used undiluted directly in your bath
  • Are natural so they are completely safe

(A quick note, there is a true story on my blog, Severe Danger Using Essential Oils, about a severe burn received by a young lady who was given advise to use essential oils undiluted in her bath)

Factors to Consider When Using Essential Oils

To safely use essential oils, many significant factors need to be considered:

  • Medications
  • Diagnosis
  • Allergies
  • Age
  • Health Level
  • Pregnancy
  • Cancer Therapy
  • Aromas (Good/Bad)
  • Medical History
  • And More…

Essential oils can do wonderful things when used safely. Many hospitals are now implementing integrative health modalities, including essential oils, into their programs with great success. The important thing to remember is to make sure you use the oils responsibly. They are natural chemicals, but that does not mean they do not have safety concerns. Consult a professionally trained, certified, registered, or clinical aromatherapist for your safety.

If you have any questions, send me an email and I will be happy to reply.

Essential Oil Injury Report 2018

In order to get the most out of aromatherapy and to avoid injury, you must take ownership and use essential oils safely. Essential oils can be very effective when used correctly. Unfortunately, many people do not know how to use them safely. You can find information on my website to help you learn some important safety guidelines. Often, misinformation is given regarding safety which can lead to injury. The latest injury report (2018) is now available.

Why an injury report is valuable

Regrettably, some companies want to keep injuries that have been reported away from the public. These companies have untrained sales representatives who are not professionally trained. The largest number of reported injuries are from MLM (Multi-Level Marketing) companies.  The essential oil industry has produced sales reps that do not fully understand how to use essential oils safely. I do not feel these individuals realize the information they are regurgitating is not safe. This can be dangerous to their customers who have relied on the information. Some of the guidance given to consumers is downright harmful. Noteworthy! The reports from 2014 – 2018 shows only the self-reported injuries and has no way of knowing how many actually go unreported.

Where Does This Information Come From?

Sylla Sheppard-Hanger took on a big responsibility from the National Association of Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA).  It seems the association had been collecting reports of essential oil injuries, but, at some point, discontinued the collection of data. Sylla Sheppard-Hanger realized the importance of this information and took over the responsibility. This is a huge benefit to the aromatherapy community and Sylla deserves an enormous thank you.  Aromatherapy United now works with Sylla’s school, Atlantic Institute of Aromatherapy, to continue providing yearly reports of essential oil injuries that are reported by individuals through their own testimonials. The reports can be found on Aromatherapy United.   You will also find forms for reporting injuries you may have experienced.  

I have found it is easiest to download the 2018 report, or any year you wish to see, and then print it. You can then take it to an office center to have them printed out in a large size, 11” x 17” works well. This way you can see the actual injury claims and also see how safety guidelines were not followed.

Safety Refresher

A quick safety refresher taken from the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA) and Alliance of International Aromatherapists (AIA) brochures. You can also find great essential oil information on both of these websites.

Essential Oil Safety

  1. Keep out of the reach of children/pets.
  2. Avoid contact with eyes and mucous membranes.
  3. Use pure essential oils, avoid synthetic and fragrance oils.  Ensure all essential oils you purchase are authentic essential oils.
  4. Use for external application only.
  5. Use lower concentrations with children, women in pregnancy, or serious heal conditions before commencing treatment.
  6. Patch testing is advisable.
  7. If irritation occurs, discontinue use.
  8. Store essential oils properly to avoid oxidation. Air, heat, and light degrade essential oils. Store in dark bottles, in a cool, dark place, tightly capped.
  9. Store carrier oils properly to avoid rancidity.
  10. Before using a new essential oil, become familiar with its properties, method of application, toxicity, precautions, and contra-indications.
  11. Essential oils of known phototoxicity should be avoided prior to exposure to UV light (sunlight/tanning beds).
  12. “Natural” does not mean “harmless”.
  13. If irritation occurs, discontinue use.
  14. Use essential oils in a well-ventilated area.
  15. Avoid internal or undiluted use unless you are working with a qualified aromatherapist or healthcare practitioner.

How To Find A Trained Aromatherapist

You can find Certified Aromatherapists in your area on both the AIA and the NAHA website. You can find Registered Aromatherapists in your area (currently there are only six in Florida, I am pleased to be one of them) on the Aromatherapy Registration Council (ARC). I can also be found on AIA, NAHA, and ARC links. If you have questions, please contact me. Safety is the pathway to successful use of essential oils. They have so very much to offer!

It is always a good idea to work with a professionally trained aromatherapist who is qualified to make individualized aromatherapy blends for your unique situation. Professionally trained individuals have dedicated themselves to hundreds of hours of study to make your aromatherapy experience worthwhile. I, personally, have a little over 500 hours of study in aromatherapy. I look forward to hearing from you to make your aromatherapy journey all that you wish it to be.

Five Top Essential Oil Resource Sites

Five Top Essential Oil Resource Sites

There are numerous websites you can discover on the Internet that provide information about essential oils. Many of these sites, unfortunately, do not provide accurate or safe information. Explore my five top essential oil resource sites. These are highly reputable sources of information.

AromaWeb

AromaWeb is a wonderful free site with a vast amount of information useful for new or seasoned essential oils users. You will find information about individual essential oils, hydrosols, carrier oils, and even some absolutes. It’s like having a free reference book online. Looking for safety factors, essential oil benefits, extraction methods, Latin names, notes, and much more, you’ll find it all here.

There are very helpful articles regarding safety (such an important issue), recommendations for proper dilutions, applications, finding non-brand specific quality essential oils, and so much more. There are also sections for locating additional resources, business directories, and education directories to help locate experienced professionals and schools.

Tisserand Institute

Robert Tisserand is, in my opinion, and in the opinion of MANY others, the expert on essential oil safety. He has written the go-to safety book along with Rodney Young, Essential Oil Safety – Second Edition. This book is packed with detailed information experts often refer to and study. It took 12 years for the book to be completed. Once you see the book you will understand why and you will gain an immense appreciation for his work.

His free site, Tisserand Institute, offers infographics for easy reference, blog posts you can rely on, and multiple safety articles (Again, I don’t feel safety can be overstated and this is coming from the “safety guru”). He also provides a reading list, you know that’s got to be good, and several highly reputable sites you can access.

Aromatics International

Although Aromatics International sells essential oils, and I do love their oils, they are also one of my favorite sites for great information. There are numerous resources available on this site.

Here, you will find detailed information on individual essential oils, carriers, and much more. There is a section under the tab, “Learn”, where you will find an abundance of information. Areas of interest and importance include, essential oils, their purity, chemical families (I love this area and enjoy blending based on science), common essential oil “buzzwords”, therapeutic properties often heard in the medical environment, understanding shelf life of products used in aromatherapy, important information about blending (safety pops up again), and information on distillers, the hard workers who provide all the wonderful oils we love to use.

NAHA (National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy)

NAHA is a non-profit organization promoting safe practices in holistic aromatherapy. The organization is very involved in supporting high standards in education and in the practice of aromatherapy.

On this website, you can read about safety (so important) and sustainability. It is vital to ensure plants harvested do not adversely affect the plant or animal kingdom. You will find a description of aromatherapy and essential oils with information on best practices. The association provides on-going research of essential oils to support their usage as well as monthly teleseminars/webinars promoting continuing education. You might want to consider becoming a member of this great organization.

AIA – Alliance of International Aromatherapists

The AIA is another great resource for the aromatherapy community. There are several levels of membership. Explore the generous information for anyone studying aromatherapy or actively involved in this modality. You can obtain knowledge to jump-start your entrance into the essential oil world. More experienced and professional essential oil enthusiasts will find this site VERY beneficial. The organization does a great job with monthly teleseminars providing continuing education. There is an excellent “Members Only Resource Section”. This area includes valuable research articles and information.

Summary

There are a number of excellent resources on the Internet. Just make sure you are accessing truly knowledgeable and verifiable sites. When I first became interested in learning about essential oils, I read all kinds of blogs. I thought the information was legitimate. I made indexed notebooks, bought essential oils that turned out to be less than the highest quality, watched YouTube videos, and any free webinars I could find. I wanted to learn. What I learned was, as I’m sure you’ve heard, not everything on the Internet is reliable. Fool me once… It was at this point I got rid of EVERYTHING I had so diligently put in my indexed notebooks.

My epiphany made me search for an accredited school where I could learn about essential oils. This was the best thing I could have done. The learning NEVER stops. Now in my seventh year in the world of aromatherapy, I have attained several goals and my knowledge level is so much more than it ever would have been on my original path. I am still on my journey and probably always will be. The world of plants is amazing. It seems the more one learns, the more you want to know. There is great value in using essential oils safely and effectively. You can do it too!

Please visit Blue Jean Mama for additional information on essential oils and their safe use.

Subscribe today to continue receiving pertinent information for your learning journey.

 

 

Photo – Copyright: zurijeta / 123RF Stock Photo

SEVERE DANGER USING ESSENTIAL OILS

SEVERE DANGER USING ESSENTIAL OILS CAN BE AVOIDED

There is the potential for severe danger using essential oils improperly. Granted, essential oils are natural derivatives from plants. This does not mean they cannot cause harm. Unfortunately, many essential oil salespeople do not have solid knowledge regarding the safe use of essential oils. They are therefore unable to alert purchasers of potential safety risks with specific essential oils.

TRUE STORY

I would like to share a story of just such an occurrence. This experience presented a definite severe danger to this individual. A few months ago, I was contacted by a young lady who sounded very desperate for some help. She told me she had visited a natural health store to purchase some essential oils for a headache. This was her first time using essential oils.

She was sold two vials of essential oils, one peppermint, the other eucalyptus. She was instructed to mix the oils with water and apply topically. She also put it in her bath. She had immediate burning upon submerging in the water. The next day the burning was so intense she had to leave work early. She then found me online and hoped I could help her.

I asked her how much she had put in the bath and she replied the whole small vial. I have no idea how much that would have been. However, I feel certain it was not just a couple drops. I explained that peppermint is an essential oil that should be used in a bath with GREAT care, if at all. I personally would not use it. The chemical constituents of this oil can be intense especially when used in a warm bath. Warm water promotes absorption of the oils. Anytime essential oils of any kind are used in a bath, certain precautions should be taken. The oils should first be mixed with a dispersant such as a vegetable oil, or mixed with Epsom salt or magnesium flakes. Only a FEW drops are required, usually five – six drops of essential oils in a tub of water. Oil and water do not mix. Essential oils dropped directly into the water will not disperse into the water. This means the undiluted oils can come directly in contact with the skin. According to Salvatore Battaglia in his book, The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy Second Edition, “Be cautious when using citrus oils such as peppermint, lemon or sweet orange and spice oils such as clove or cinnamon because they can easily irritate the skin when used in a bath. A prickly sensation may be felt and a rash may occur. If this happens the bath should be vacated immediately, the oil washed off and a vegetable oil such as jojoba should be applied to soothe the irritated skin.”

Imagine what the young lady experienced with a small VIAL, not just a FEW drops, of peppermint essential oil. She informed me her private areas were also burned. Since it was the second day after exposure to the oils, I told her I wasn’t sure if applying a vegetable oil to dilute any possible residual oils would help. She indicated she had olive oil on hand. I recommended aloe vera gel as well. She said she had an aloe plant and would try using it. I also urged her to reach out to a doctor if the situation warranted it.

I called her back the next day to check on her. She had not gone to work the next day. She had tried to get into a dermatologist’s office but could not get an appointment fast enough.  She was going to try to schedule an appointment with her primary care physician. I recommended she call the store where she purchased the oils.  By letting the store know what happened to her, it might prevent someone else from the same misinformation and bad experience.

WHAT EXPERTS SAY

The National Association of Holistic Aromatherapy, The Alliance of International Aromatherapists, and The Aromatherapy Registration Council all concur that using undiluted essential oils, especially oils that are considered mucous membrane irritants, should be used with great caution and in a properly diluted concentration. Robert Tisserand, a VERY respected expert on Essential Oil Safety, states that essential oils used in a bath should be mixed with a dispersant before using in a bath.

SUMMARY

Please use essential oils safely to prevent severe danger and injury. If you are new to essential oils, check with a certified aromatherapist or a registered aromatherapist for assistance. You can find these experienced individuals by clicking on the links above. You can search by state and city.  I am available to answer your questions on safety and can also be found in the links above. Using essential oils is a wonderful way to balance your well-being naturally and safely.

RESOURCES

Please visit the Resource pages of BLUE JEAN MAMA to see more safety information for your enhanced experience using essential oils. As a seasoned essential oil user or as a newbie, you will find valuable information on this site. Take a moment to make your essential oil experience better than you could imagine.

SUBSCRIBE

To keep informed about essential oils and how to use them safely subscribe to Blue Jean Mama, LLC.

REFERENCES

Battaglia, Salvatore – The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy   pg. 372 (One of my FAVORITE books)

Tisserand, Robert – Essential Oil Safety – Second Edition pg. 655

National Association of Holistic Aromatherapy

Alliance of International Aromatherapists

Aromatherapy Registration Council

 

Picture attribution: Copyright: alenkasm / 123RF Stock Photo

Thanks for stopping by,

Debrah Nadler – CA, RA

ATTENTION “ESSENTIAL OIL NEWBIE”

 

ATTENTION “ESSENTIAL OIL NEWBIE”

As an “essential oil newbie”, you’ve probably heard about the wonders of using essential oils.  It sounds great and you may have even attended a “sharing essential oil party”. You may have been caught up in the wonders of the oils and bought some or many. You may have even signed up to become a health advocate or some similar impressive term for salesperson. STOP, think about what just happened. You purchased items that you hope will improve your life. The question is, will they or will they do harm to you or end up in the back of your cupboard, lost forever?

Did the person you purchased the oils from have the appropriate professional training and certification to promote these VERY potent essential oils or are they just trying to make a sale? It reminds me of the old days when salesmen went around the country with concoctions that were said to be the end-all for healthy living. Many companies recruit people to sell their products without the training required to safely protect the people that buy their oils. The result, the sales person makes money. In many situations an offer will be made to the untrained consumer, a chance of a lifetime to spread the word and make some amazing money for themselves. Putting money ahead of safety is not my idea of how things should be.

HOW CAN YOU PROTECT YOURSELF?

Using essential oils can be overwhelming for a newbie or even a seasoned user. It doesn’t have to be, BUT…, you need to make sure you check out the company selling the oils. How?

Important Information to Look For

  1. Go to their website to see if they have a Certified or Clinical Aromatherapist on staff
  2. Does every bottle of essential oil have the date the essential oil was distilled? Essential oils DO have a lifespan. You want to make sure you know how old your oil is. The typical lifespan of the oil should also be available to you.
  3. Find out where they source their oils from
  4. Does the company purchase their essential oils from a distiller or a distributor? This can be a red flag. Adulterations are more apt to happen with a distributor.
  5. Are their oils organic, certified organic, or wild crafted (grown in the wild and not typically sprayed)?
  6. VERY IMPORTANT – does the company provide the Latin name and common name), of their oils? This can make a significant difference in the essential oil’s chemical constituents and performance since there are variations of many common named oils.
  7. Ask if the company provides samples. You can expect to pay a minimal but reasonable fee for a sample. Not all companies are willing to do this. This should not be a reason to pass on buying from the company if all other areas meet your approval.
  8. Cheap is not a bargain if you are looking for quality. Spending a competitive market price to get essential oils that will provide the benefits you are looking for is worth the price.

Do They Test ALL Their Oils?

  1. Do they test their oils with GC/MS (gas chromatography/mass spectrometry)? I know it is a big word. These tests can detect impurities and additives in the essential oils. The GC/MS report is an indication, although it is not 100% perfect, it is none the less important. If the company is willing to provide this report, you are on the right track. Make sure you can get your hands/eyes on the report rather than accepting the old “trust me”, we test all our oils statement.The proof is in seeing the report yourself.
  2. Are the GC/MS reports batch specific? Each harvest of the plants that essential oils come from varies due to weather, soil conditions, and location. It is therefore important to see the report specific to the harvest of the essential oil you are buying.
  3. Some very reputable companies will offer a MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) report as well as a GC/MS report or only the MSDS report.

Any company that tells you they do not supply the reports, but they test all their oils, should be suspect. I have even had a company tell me they test their oils, but, the BIG but…, I would have to physically visit their business to see the report. REALLY, I think not. Trust but always verify.

Please visit the Resource pages of BLUE JEAN MAMA to see more safety information for your enhanced experience using essential oils, aka “the wonders of the amazing plant world”. As a seasoned essential oil user or as a newbie, you should find valuable information on this site to make your essential oil experience better than you could imagine.