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  • Essential Safety Measures
    Used to treat anxiety, headache, allergies, eczema, nausea, and all sorts of other conditions, you can find an essential oil for nearly every health condition. Yet, their medical credibility is questioned. Here’s what you should know before using essential oils. Read >>
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Health and Fitness News

Essential Safety Measures

Tips for using essential oils safely.

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you’ve probably heard about the essential oil craze. As essential oils have grown in popularity, questions regarding their effectiveness and safety have increased. Used to treat anxiety, headache, allergies, eczema, nausea, and all sorts of other conditions, you can find an essential oil for nearly every health condition. Yet, their medical credibility is questioned.

Currently, there are more than 90 kinds of essential oils, each with its own scent and health benefit claims. Some are designed to be applied directly to the skin, and some are meant to be diffused, inhaled, or ingested. While generally considered safe, always follow the oil’s specific instructions to avoid negative side effects.

Here’s what you should know before using essential oils.

During Pregnancy

Many oils have an influence on your hormones. They’re also able to reach a developing baby through the placenta and have been known to cause miscarriage or decrease a new mother’s milk supply. For these reasons, it’s very important to use essential oils cautiously or not at all while pregnant or breastfeeding. While most oils may be safe, pregnant and breastfeeding women should at least avoid rose, camphor, parsley seed, clary sage, hyssop, tarragon, wintergreen, and rosemary.

Babies and Children

Even though they are naturally occurring compounds, essential oils should be administered with care to young children. Since their bodies and minds are still developing, strong oils can have more of an effect and come with greater risk of toxicity for young children. For this reason, always dilute oils more than usual when using on or around children. Never use fennel, eucalyptus, rosemary, peppermint, wintergreen, or verbena around children and keep all essential oils well out of reach of children.

Dilution

No matter your age or health, always be sure to dilute your essential oils according to the directions. The higher the concentration, the greater your chance of a negative reaction. In general, the concentration of oil should be less than five percent. A one-percent dilution means combining six drops of oil with one ounce of carrier oil. Carrier oils are usually made of vegetable oil and are safe to apply to your skin.

Skin Application

Use care when applying oil to your body. Some are poisonous on the skin and some may cause you to experience extra sensitivity to sunlight. Always avoid contact with your eyes, inner ears, and broken skin.

Before starting with a new oil, it’s a smart idea to perform a skin test on a small area of skin on your forearm before applying oil to a larger area of the body. To do this, wash and dry your arm. Then apply a few diluted drops of oil to the skin and wait 24 hours. If skin irritation, redness, itching, or swelling occurs, wash the area thoroughly and don’t use the oil again.

Ingesting Oils

Unless you’re trained and certified in the use of essential oils or are under the supervision of a trained professional, you should never ingest essential oils. If someone accidentally ingests an essential oil, immediately take that person to the nearest emergency room.

Inhalation and Diffusion of Oils

Inhalation and diffusion of essential oils are generally considered safe for most people. Inhalation is most often used for respiratory conditions, while diffusion is commonly used for managing your mood. Lethargy, vertigo, headache, nausea, and vomiting are potential side effects of prolonged exposure to high concentrations. Therefore, it’s important that you follow the directions for dilution, use with proper ventilation, and use for less than one hour at a time.

Other Considerations

Though potentially helpful, there are a variety of other problems that can arise from essential oils. So before you buy up every one you can find, know their potential risks. In addition to those listed above, some oils can cause drug interactions, photosensitivity, facial flushing, seizures, hormone disruption, rashes, hallucinations, vertigo, tremors, or confusion.

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