Health, home, cosmetics… essential oils, pleasant to use, are more and more part of our daily life. Natural remedies are now often an alternative to traditional medical treatments or are a complementary product. But beware, they can quickly become toxic.
Here is a list of the most commonly made mistakes:
Mistake n°1: not to seek information
EOs are natural but powerful, even sometimes dangerous to use: they must therefore be used in a secure manner. Some EOs should never be used on the skin or must not be ingested… Being knowledgeable on the matter is therefore very important. Seek information regarding counter-indications, carry out allergy tests in the crook of the elbow and be respectful of dosage.
Please note: If your intention is to use EOs therapeutically or if you want to advise members of your family, think of being informed through an online training, reading serious literature, consulting a professional or scrolling through various web sites.
Beware: you must remain alert and careful when reading and applying these advices.
Mistake n°2: skimp on quality
The purchase of essential oils must not be done lightly.
Given today’s great enthusiasm regarding aromatherapy, and potential commercial derivatives, numerous synthetic products have either no or at best lesser effects. Check ingredients to make sure that the EOs are pure, that is to say, that they are free of any additives. A good guide regarding quality is the mention of its Latin name.
In practice: to check the quality of an EO: drop one drop on a blotter. If a lighter area shows up around the drop, it means it has been diluted in a VO.
Mistake n°3: neglect their conservation
The bottle is a guarantee of quality of the EO.
In practice: it should be in dark glass (never in plastic) and rather small in size (5 to 10 ml). EOs do not like the light nor oxygen (think of closing your bottle after usage).
Please note: keep EOs in a cool place, dry and away from daylight.
Most EOs have a shelf life of five years maximum.
In order to keep citrus EOs in good condition, put them in the fridge for two to three years.
All essential oils from wood last up to four years.
The ones that are spices, don’t move. They can even improve with age.
Mistake n°4 : combine essential oils and homoeopathy
Essential oils and homoeopathy must not be used simultaneously.
Mint, in all its forms, is not compatible with a homoeopathic treatment because it tends to tighten micro-vessels situated under the tongue through which saliva seeps in and therefore it stops the absorption of granules.
In practice: Start with the homoeopathic treatment and wait about an hour before using essential oils
Mistake n°5: Applying pure EOs on the skin
The skin is a royal path for EOs. However, it is also fragile et easily irritated. It is therefore recommended to dilute the EO in a VO.
Please note: in some emergency situations (mosquito bite or burn), you can apply directly 1 or 2 drops of pure essential oil (the vegetable oil could slow down the effect of the essential oil).
If in doubt, test it or ask your local pharmacist for advice.
Mistake n°6: combine EO
– Do not combine several treatments containing EOs without advice from a professional if you want to avoid a toxicity threshold
– Do not use one EO instead of another without reliable advice
– If the treatment is to be carried out over several weeks or months, always build in a pause of one week in three.
– Always respect the correct dosage as indicated. In case of doubt consult your pharmacist.
– If there is not notable effect after taking an EO, do not persist and do not increase the dosage at a glance. Consult your doctor.
Beware: Taking an EO does not substitute a classical medical treatment without advice from a professional.
Mistake n°7: Lack of vigilance during pregnancy
Essential oils are not recommended during the first three months of pregnancy because they can filter through into the placenta and become harmful to the foetus. They can also become abortive, stimulate contractions, increase the risk of a miscarriage and wreak havoc with the hormone balance. After this period, some oils can be used but not through the oral route. Others will remain out of question until the end of the pregnancy.
Please note: Avoid dangerous essential oils, such as cinnamon, basil, black pepper, eucalyptus, clove, oregano, tea tree, clary sage and organic sage, fennel, wintergreen, myrrh (this is not an exhaustive list. Ask for a full list by speaking to a health professional).
In practice: Favour floral waters and aromatic hydrolats that are more appropriate because more gentle. These are less concentrated with only 0,05 à 0,10 % of active ingredients.
Mistake n°8: Prolonged use
Diffusion: It is not recommended to diffuse for more than 8 hours, even with base oils. After a certain time, they lose their effect on the brain and can start irritating the respiratory tract or be the cause of headaches and nausea.
Please note: A diffusion of 20 to 30 minutes is generally sufficient.
In practice: Do not diffuse continuously in a small, stuffy room or in a room in which a child is sleeping.
Regarding direct inhalation (breathing directly from the bottle or above a steamy bowl of boiling water), 5 minutes are sufficient. To breathe in deeply from the bottle can sometimes by three times more effective and much more practical. It saves having children and pets breathing in diffused aromatic air.
In practice: In inhalation, remember to close your eyes to avoid irritation (especially with mint) and do not exceed 5 minutes (perhaps 10 minutes at most).
The internal use of certain oils, with medical advice, is not recommended long term, such as oregano.
Mistake n°9: Not using them wisely with children
Children are smaller, it is therefore logical that the quantities used will be smaller too.
Always dilute EOs in a VO before applying on a child (for a baby, the dilution should even be greater. In the order of one drop for 20 ml of VO)
– Do not apply EOs on the face or on the hands in order to avoid any contact with the eyes and mouth.
– NEVER five an EO by oral route to a child, unless advised to do so by a medical practitioner.
– Some oils are not suited for children (oregano and lemongrass [cymbopogon flexuosus], for example).
Please note: Chamomile and incense are gentle oils for children. Dilute them and use them in massage on the sole of the feet after having tested them on a small area of skin. Put socks on the child when the massage is finished.
Mistake n°10: Apply photo-sensitive EOs before sunbaking
Some EOs, particularly citrus ones, augment the sensitivity of the skin when exposed to sunshine.
In practice: It is preferable to use these only at night in areas that are not exposed or not to sunbake in the 12 hours following an application.
Mistake n°11: Perfume bath water with pure essential oils without a dispersant
Essential oils cannot be used pure in bath water. You could actually burn your skin as the drops of essential oil remain in suspension in the water.
In practice: in order to make essential oils soluble in water, you need to use a dispersant or an emulsifier. Solubol can be used or a shower gel, a shampoo. These should be as neutral as possible.
Mistake n°12: Apply peppermint essential oil to the temples
Peppermint essential oil is an irritant for ocular mucous.
In practice: Apply it preferably at the base of the neck. A solution of 10% of peppermint essential oil in local application will soothe the pain. Wash your hands thoroughly before and after application.