How To Safely Use Essential Oils
Occasionally, individuals beginning to use quality essential oils will suffer rashes or allergic reactions. This may be due to using an a diluted spice, conifer, or citrus oil, or it may be caused by an interaction of the oil with residues of synthetic, petroleum-based, personal-care products that have leached into the skin.
When using essential oils on a daily basis, it is imperative to avoid personal-care products containing ammonium or hydrocarbon-based chemicals. These include quaternary compounds such as quaternariums and poly-quaternariums. These chemicals can be fatal if ingested, especially benzalkonium chloride, which, unfortunately, is used in many personal-care products on the market.
Other chemicals such as aluminum compounds, FD&C colors, formaldehyde, all parabens, talc, thimersol, mercury, and titanium dioxide, just to name a few, are all toxic to the body and should be avoided. These compounds are commonly found in a variety of hand creams, mouthwashes, shampoos, antiperspirants, after-shave lotions, and hair-care products.
Other compounds that present concerns are sodium laurel sulfate, propylene glycol—–extremely common in everything from toothpaste to shampoo—-and aluminum salts found in many deodorants.
Of particular concern are the potentially hazardous preservatives and synthetic fragrances that abound in virtually all modern personal-care products. Some of these include methylene chloride, methyl isobutyl ketone, and methyl ethyl ketone, These are not only toxic, but they can also react with some compounds in natural essential oils. The result can be a severe case of dermatitis or even septicemia (blood poisoning).
A classic case of a synthetic fragrance causing widespread damage occurred in the 1970’s. AETT (acetylethyltetramethyyltetralin) appeared in numerous brands of personal-care products throughout the United States. Even after a series of animal studies revealed that it caused significant brain and spinal cord damage, the FDA refused to ban the chemical. Finally, the cosmetic industry voluntarily withdrew AFTT after allowing it to be distributed for years.
How many other toxins masquerading as preservatives or fragrances are currently being used in personal-care products?
Many chemicals are easily absorbed through the skin due to its permeability. One study found that 13 percent of BHT (butylated hrdroxytoluene) and 49 percent of DDT (a carcinogenic pesticide) can be absorbed into the skin upon topical contact (Steinman, 1997). Once absorbed, they can become trapped in the fatty subdermal layers of the skin where they can leach into the blood stream. Even in small concentrations, these chemicals and synthetic compounds are toxic and can compromise one’s health.
Chemicals can remain trapped in fatty tissues underneath the skin for several months or years until a topical substance like an essential oil starts to move them from their resting place and cause them to come out of the skin in an uncomfortable way. Besides skin irritation, you could experience nausea, headaches, and other slight temporary effects. It is all about what chemicals were used, how much, how long, and perhaps the level of toxicity in your body. Essential oils have been known to digest toxic substances, and so when they come in contact with chemical residue on the skin, the oils start to work against them. The user may mistakenly assume that the threat of an interaction between oils and synthetic cosmetics used months before is small. However, a case of dermatitis is always a possibility.
Essential oils do not cause skin problems, rashes, or eruptions on the skin, but they may only indirectly as they go after the chemicals. Do not make the mistake of blaming the essential oils. Just be glad this chemical residue is coming out of your body.
You can always reduce the amount of the oil you are using or stop the use of any oil for a couple of days and then start again slowly. You can also use V-6 Vegetable Oil Complex, other vegetable or massage oils, or natural creams to dilute the oils.
BEFORE YOU START
Always skin test an essential oil before using it. Each person’s body is different, so apply oils to a small area first. Apply one oil or blend at a time. When layering oils that are new to you, allow enough time (3-5 minutes) for the body to respond before applying a second oil.
Use a small amount when applying essential oils to skin that may carry residue from cosmetics, personal-care products, soaps, and cleansers containing synthetic chemicals. Some of them—–especially petroleum-based chemicals—-can penetrate and remain in the skin and fatty tissues for days or even weeks after use.
Essential oils may work against such chemicals and toxins built up in the body from chemicals in food, water, and work environment. If you have this kind of an experience using essential oils, it may be wise to reduce or stop using them for a few days and start an internal cleansing program before resuming regular use of essential oils. In addition, double your water intake and keep flushing those toxins out of your body.
You may also want to try the following alternatives to a cleansing program to determine the cause of the problem:
- Dilute 1-3 drops of essential oil in 1/2 tsp. V-6 Vegetable Oil Complex, massage oil, or any pure vegetable oil, such as almond or olive. More dilution may be needed as necessary.
- Reduce the number of oils used at any time.
- Use single oils or oil blends, one at a time. Reduce the amount of oil used.
- Reduce the frequency of application.
- Drink more purified or distilled water.
- Ask your health-care professional to monitor detoxification.
Test the diluted essential oil on a small patch of skin for 30 minutes. If any redness or irritation results, dilute the area immediately with a pure vegetable or massage oil. Then cleanse with soap and water.
If skin irritation or other uncomfortable side effects persist, discontinue using the oil on that location and apply the oils on the bottom of the feet.
You may also want to avoid using products that contain the following ingredients to eliminate potential problems:
- Cosmetics, deodorants, and skin-care products containing aluminum, petrochemicals, or other synthetic ingredients.
- Perms, hair colors or dyes, hair sprays, or gels containing synthetic chemicals, avoid shampoos, toothpaste, mouthwash, and soaps containing synthetic chemicals such as sodium laurel sulfate, propylene glycol, or lead acetate.
- Garden sprays, paints, detergents, and cleansers containing toxic chemicals and solvents.
You can use many essential oils anywhere on the body except on the eyes and in the ears. Other oils may irritate certain sensitive tissues. See recommended dilution rates in the chapter for singles and blends. Keep “hot” oils such as oregano, cinnamon, thyme, eucalyptus, mountain savory, lemon, and orange essential oils or blends such as Thieves, PanAway, Relieve It, and Exodus II out of reach of children. These types of oils should always be diluted for both children and adults. Children need to be taught how to use the oils so that they understand the safety issue. If a child, or infant swallows an essential oil, do the following:
- Seek immediate emergency medical attention, if necessary.
- Give the child milk, cream, yogurt or another safe oil-soluble liquid to drink.
NOTE: if your body pH is low, your body will be acidic; therefore, you could also have less of a response or perhaps a minimal negative reaction to the oils.
This information is not meant to diagnose, prescribe, or substitute for professional medical assistance. It is provided as information only for your better understanding of holistic health. In case of medical need, please consult an appropriate licensed professional.