Using Essential Oils Safely

Essential Oils are powerful, and when used safely, they can forge a most effective path to physical, emotional, and spiritual balance. In my master essential oil certification course I am taking from Robert Tisserand of the Tisserand Institute, I am learning the vital importance of safety when using essential oils, and I am discovering a deeper reverence for proper aromatherapy use.

Did you know that it could take about one ton of rose petals to make 500 grams of rose oil, (Battaglia, 1995)?  Tisserand reminds us that steam distilled peppermint oil is 200 times the strength of the natural peppermint essential oil found in peppermint leaves. At these concentrations, improper and unsupervised use of these and any essential oils can not only be ineffective, but can actually be harmful.

The rule of thumb is, ‘Less is More’ when using aromatherapy, and oils must always be used within safe boundaries. One drop of rose or peppermint essential oil on a cotton swab can be more than enough for the nose to smell, the lungs to inhale, and the nervous system to react in the human body.

In the United States we have what is call the GRAS method of determining the general safety of essential oils. GRAS is referred to in businesses that use essential oils for herbal teas, certain foods, and synthetic fragrances.

As a health professional, I was taught safe procedures and protocols for essential oil use in my nurse midwifery education and in hospice use for clients and their families. I am very familiar with the boundaries and safe use of oils. You too can, and should, set boundaries and practice the safe use of your essential oils. One important boundary is keeping essential oils out of reach of children. The US National Poison Control Center has reported a significant increase in poisoning of children who have unintentionally ingested essential oils. Small aromatherapy bottles are attractive to small children and they can open and drink the contents.  This is dangerous since the extraction processes unnaturally elevates the concentrations of the essential oils, and ingestion can lead to severe reactions and in rare cases, even death.
Keep essential oils in safe places, such as in a tamper proof container high on the shelf in the refrigerator.  Light, heat, and air can oxide or deteriorate the oils before their time and even change their chemical structure. All of my personalized essential oil blend bottles now have childproof, tamperproof lids with droppers.  Remember, Safety First in aromatherapy!  Humble reverence for the concentrations of the essences themselves is a must. Decreasing the risk of harm is every qualified aromatherapist’s goal.

Be wise with essential oils, and seek professionals trained in the safe and proper use of essential oils to bring joy, peace and balance to your life.

Battaglia, S. 1996. The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy, 2ed. Brisbane, Australia: The International Centre for Holistic Aromatherapy.

Tisserand. & Young, R. 2014. Essential Oil Safety, 2ed. London, England: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier.

Peppermint oil yield

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