I remember when I first discovered aromatherapy, like 100 years ago. 🤣 I was fascinated by essential oils and excited to try using them. Looking back, I realize I should have done a bit more (a lot more) research before diving into aromatherapy! Knowing what I know now....I could have EASILY poisoned myself or my pets! There are essential oils, that when spilled in their undiluted form - actually should be treated like hazmat material! Misuse of essential oils can cause serious poisoning and even death.
Many people think essential oils are harmless because they are natural and have been used for a long time. In some cases, that is simply not true. Many essential oils if not handled properly can cause rashes if used on the skin and many can be poisonous if absorbed through the skin or swallowed. I offer you the advice I wish I’d had when I was an aromatherapy novice:
1. Buy One or Two Aromatherapy Books
Choose just one or two books to start your aromatherapy library. Select books that are general resources, which will give you some basic information and help you discover the areas in which you have the most interest.
2. Join Aromatherapy Discussion Forums - but with caution, always back up things you read with your own research!
Facebook Groups, Instagram pages and other forums are great resources for aromatherapy novices. Read past discussions, ask questions, and learn from others.
3. Choose Five Essential Oils to Start
Though you may be tempted to buy more, try to begin with just five different essential oils. Essential oils can be quite expensive, so you may want to experiment with a few at first and then invest in more if you decide to pursue aromatherapy further.
4. Make Sure to Buy 100%, Pure, Unadulterated Essential Oils
When you buy essential oils, choose a well-known and reputable manufacturer. Synthetic, fragrance, and perfume oils are not essential oils; they contain man-made chemicals and have no aromatherapeutic value.
I really like the brand NOW FOODS and have used this brand for over a decade.
5. Buy at Least One Carrier Oil
For nearly all topical aromatherapy applications, you will need to dilute essential oils into a carrier oil. Good all-purpose carrier oils include sweet almond oil, sunflower oil, and grapeseed oil. Buy cosmetic grade carrier oils, and use only a few drops of essential oil(s) per ounce of carrier oil. I tend to stick with grapeseed oil - it has no scent and people with sensitive skin do very well with that oil.
6. Store Your Oils Properly
Essential oils should be stored only in dark glass containers. Since essential oils are volatile, keep the lids tightly closed. Essential oils and carrier oils should be stored away from heat and light. Carrier oils will go rancid eventually, so it's best to buy smaller quantities. Damage and deterioration is a common problem to plastic containers that hold essential oils - so NEVER store your oils in plastic! Use blue, green or amber glass.
7. Learn How to Do a Patch Test
Essential oils can cause adverse reactions, due to allergy or due to sensitization over time. A patch test helps to determine whether you might react to a particular essential oil. Learn how to perform a skin patch test on yourself with each new oil you want to use topically.
Dilute the essential oil of choice with a carrier oil of choice.
Apply a small amount of diluted essential oil to your inner elbow.
Put a band-aid over the oil.
Leave it undisturbed for 48 hours.
If there is no reaction, then you are probably not sensitive or allergic.
8. Don't Use Aromatherapy with Children or Pets
Until you are thoroughly familiar with essential oils and associated safety issues, don't use them on children or pets, or while pregnant or breastfeeding. Cats, in particular, may be adversely affected by essential oils. Make sure essential oils are kept out of reach of children and pets! There could be DEADLY consequences otherwise.
9. Don't Ingest Essential Oils
Though you will read conflicting information about taking essential oils internally, you should avoid doing this. Some essential oils that are fairly safe to use topically may be quite toxic if taken internally. In addition, some essential oils may have contraindication with prescription or over the counter drugs. ALWAYS air on the side of caution.
When in doubt - do not do it! The risk is not worth it.
As you experiment with and learn more about aromatherapy, you will become more confident using essential oils. There is so much to explore, just be safe and remember to have fun learning!