Essential oils have been used for centuries in ceremonies and for general health. Today, the use of essential oils for massage and in baths is both pleasurable and soothing. The oils are also widely used to improve health. However, essential oils are highly potent and can cause side effects if used incorrectly. Precautions should be followed to ensure safe handling and use of essential oils.
Safe use of essential oils
Keep essential oils out of reach of children and use them with great care. Use a weaker dilution on children as their bodies are smaller and their skin is more sensitive.
Essential oils are volatile and may ignite if exposed to a high temperature or flame. Do not leave vaporizers or diffusers unattended.
Never take essential oils internally without consulting a medical practitioner first. Do not use oils in cooking or baking.
There are very few essential oils that can be used directly on the skin. Essential oils should be blended with a carrier oil first, such as sweet almond oil, jojoba or olive oil. Do not exceed recommended dilutions, even when adding to bath water.
Some essential oils should be avoided altogether and may be detrimental to those suffering with asthma, heart disease, liver disease or epilepsy. Do thorough research before using essential oils and check with your homeopathic practitioner first, especially if you are currently taking homeopathic remedies. People suffering with asthma or other chronic respiratory conditions should also consult a homeopath or naturopathic practitioner, since the intensity of essential oils may provoke an asthma attack or aggravate chronic conditions.
Care should be taken when applying a new oil or blend of oils, and it is always prudent to perform a skin patch test before use, especially for those who have sensitive skin.
There are also certain oils that cause severe skin sensitizing and are phototoxic. These should be used with great care if one will be spending time in the sun.
Essential oils and pregnancy
There are oils that are safe to use during pregnancy, but many are not. It is prudent to avoid anethole rich oils, such as fennel and aniseed during pregnancy. Some oils should not be used in aromatherapy massage at any time during pregnancy. Research carefully before using essential oils during pregnancy and while breast-feeding.
Be especially careful about using essential oils in the first three months of pregnancy, when a miscarriage is most likely to occur.
Certain oils may cause skin sensitization or irritation and this may be heightened during pregnancy.
Although some oils are listed as abortifacient oils, this is mainly due to their toxic nature and they should not be used in aromatherapy massage at any time.
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