There are a lot of opinions out there on how to use essential oils (EO’s). So many, in fact, that it can leave you scratching your head wondering what way to go. Companies like doTERRA, for whom I sell, claim that many of their products can be applied directly to the skin without dilution, or neat; those that are considered “hot” need a carrier oil like fractionated coconut oil. On the other side of the coin, many aromatherapists state that essential oils are such strong compounds that you should always diffuse them and/or use them with carrier oils. Then there are the age ranges, like how and when and how much to use on young children.
Truth be told, it gets overwhelming!
Even though I represent doTERRA, I fall on the side of caution for several reasons: 1) scientific research, while being done, isn’t finished yet on many/most EO’s; 2) diffusion/dilution of EO’s reduces the risks of sensitivity reactions and/or sensitization; 3) there’s a lot of reading I need to do on the various EO’s genotypes and any safety concerns that go along with them; 4) I typically believe in the less-is-more approach. Even Modern Essentials, the reference book many doTERRA wellness advocates regularly consult, suggests diffusion/dilution for a good many of the oils listed, and to not use any oil (except, perhaps, lavender) on children under the age of 6 neat, or even at all.
Then, for many of us who use Dr. Google to find out more information on a particular topic of choice, there are the internal disagreements in the EO community, both between traditional aromatherapists and corporations, and between corporation and corporation. I’m not one to bash any company or way of using EO’s. I merely promote doing your own research. Therefore, I’ve dug around and come up with a starter list of good places to go when you want to know more (regardless of any company affiliation):
- Using Essential Oils Safely (Facebook group): where education is the primary focus, not sales or support of brands, and moderated by a group of trained aromatherapists who, in my opinion, give good advice on EO use. They also have a list of good websites to go to for more EO information under their files.
- Learning about EOs: a website run by an aromatherapist trained through AromaHead Institute, one of the leading aromatherapy schools in the USA.
- The Tisserand Institute: Robert Tisserand is, perhaps, the foremost expert on EO’s, their constituents, their uses, and their safety concerns. He also sends out a newsletter, to which you can subscribe, and also wrote Essential Oil Safety, a huge compendium of his lifelong research in the field.
- Essential Oil Blogging: run by Plant Therapy, a company that I’ve heard recently began working with Tisserand, and whose blog is extremely friendly for those who aren’t into scientific terminology.
I’ve deliberately stayed away from websites linked to big corporations, like doTERRA and Young Living, merely because my primary goal here is to educate rather than sell (though I do list the monthly promotions in each month’s EO blog post), and because there is a lot of contention between companies that, frankly, I’d rather not get into as it makes my head spin. I think that the EO community is better off with good, solid information from non-biased sources (or as non-biased as I can find currently) rather than any propaganda aimed at undermining a competitor. Where you go to purchase quality therapeutic-grade oils is entirely up to you, as each person will swear by what works for them–and what works for them isn’t necessarily what will work for others. (DoTERRA has worked well for me, which is why I chose to become a wellness advocate in addition to how they source their oils and work to give back to the distillation communities. Likewise, a friend of mine swears by her Young Living oils. It all comes down to personal preference and what works for you.)
So how do you use EO’s safely?
- Read the Latin name of the oil being used–this is really important so you aren’t using the wrong type of, say, lavender.
- Check out material safety data sheets, if available, or another source (like Tisserand) to find out what safety concerns there are.
- When in doubt, dilute, diffuse, or avoid all together.
- Always consult your physician before starting a new regimen (even an EO regimen) and/or an aromatherapist for details on EO’s that will benefit you.
The biggest part of using EO’s safely is to read, read, read, and talk with those who have experience in the field. If you aren’t certain that the information you received from a company sales rep is accurate, look for good, non-biased EO sources that can just focus on what EO’s and their blends are about without regard to brand name and the bottom line. In my own personal experience, the more I research, the more I am considering becoming a certified aromatherapist so that I know what I’m selling better in order to give the very best advice to those seeking to use EO’s.
For those who are interested, there are many good aromatherapy training options out there. Check out the Alliance of International Aromatherapists and the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy for lists of approved schools. Those that cross over in both lists are, it seems, the most highly recommended.
Speaking of how doTERRA sources, here is a spotlight on the process they go through on sourcing their lemon and bergamot essential oils in addition to a closer look at lemon oil.
March 2015 Specials