Risks and Dangers of using Naked Essential Oils

Written by Sophie Barrow

Risks and Dangers of using Naked Essential Oils

Did you now that it takes 256 pounds of peppermint leaves to make just 1 pound of peppermint essential oil? Or 150 pounds (or more!) of lavender flowers to make 1 pound of lavender essential oil?

Essential Oils are made of high concentrations of the plant they are derived from. While they are extremely powerful, this isn't to say they shouldn’t be used, and this is why they are such an integral part of our plant based cleaning and organic body care range (in their safely diluted formats!) But it's important to use them with care and in safe amounts.

Essential oils on the skin

The key to using essential oils on the skin is diluting them before you do so. There are exceptions to this rule, but generally speaking, undiluted EOs should only be used under the care and guidance of a medical practitioner. Eos are so small (molecular sized!) that they can penetrate the skin, and therefore the bloodstream, easily. 

In general, Eos should be diluted in a carrier oil (check our last blog post for suggestions) in a 3-5% solution. In other words, 3-5 drops of EO per teaspoon of carrier oil. When using on babies and children, we'd recommend using a weaker solution.

Undiluted Eos on the skin can cause irritation or an allergic reaction. There have also been cases of people getting permanent sensitivity or allergy to a particular oil after using it undiluted on broken skin. There are some oils which are accepted as safe to use undiluted on the skin, such as lavender, rose and chamomile, but it's still safer to dilute them just in case!

Before using any solution on the skin, test a small patch on your arm before using over your whole body.

Photosensitivity of some oils

There are certain oils that can make skin more sensitive to the sun. They have certain qualities that can make skin more sensitive to UV light, which can lead to blistering, discolouration of the skin or burning easily from minor sun exposure. The risk of photosensitivity varies based on how the oil has been distilled. Oils to watch out for are:

  • Orange
  • Lime
  • Lemon
  • Grapefruit
  • Bergamot
Internal use of Essential Oils

There are many Eos that are unsafe for internal use and should be used with extreme caution. To be sure you're using them properly, seek advice from a medical professional before ingesting them. The DoTerra website has a wealth of information on how to use essential oils for internal use - we'd really recommend it!

It's crucial to be wary of the different bacterias that essential oils can kill. For example, many sources tell us about their 'antibacterial, antimicrobial, antiviral and antifungal' properties. While these may be good for killing unwanted bacteria etc in our bodies, they might also be killing the good bacteria in our gut that we need and want!

Different sources inform us that essential oils could be good alternatives for antibiotics - and this might well be true - but always do your research or talk to a trained medical practitioner before trying to treat yourself.

When using in food, always check the label to see the maximum number of drops you should ingest per day. While not all oils state this on the label, DoTerra do a great job of making this info clear.

Essential Oils During Pregnancy or Nursing

Essential oils can affect gut bacteria, hormones and other areas of our health. Thus, extreme care should be taken if you use them during pregnancy or if you're nursing.
Many websites and blogs suggest that essential oils can cross the placenta and reach the baby. While we couldn't find any studies online, this isn’t to say it's not true (inviting anyone that can to let us know!). Make sure you do some research before using Eos when pregnant and talk to your doctor to ensure you use them safely.

There are lots of oils which are considered safe to use during pregnancy, especially after the first trimester, but we'd recommend seeking advice from a trained professional first. Especially as some women might respond differently to certain oils based on medical history etc.

Oils not considered safe during pregnancy include:

Aniseed, Angelica, Basil, Black pepper, Camphor, Cinnamon, Chamomile, Clary Sage (often used during labor by midwives safely), clove, fennel, fir, ginger, horseradish (should not be used by anyone), Jasmine, Juniper, Marjoram, Mustard, Mugwart (should not be used by anyone), Myrrh, Nutmeg, Oregano, Peppermint, Rosemary, Sage, Thyme, Wintergreen.

Peppermint oil has also been said to reduce milk production when nursing, so be sure to speak to a professional before using!

Use on babies and children

There are many contrasting opinions on this topic. Again, seek medical advice before using on children or babies. Generally speaking, oils like lavender, chamomile, orange, lemon and frankincense are considered safe when diluted on children. However, make sure you do a patch test beforehand and speak to your doctor! (are you seeing a trend here…?!)

There have been cases of Eos causing seizures in children, so be sure to only use them with extreme caution. In this article, Dr Krumbeck provides more info on this topic and some case studies!

Other oils like peppermint, rosemary, eucalyptus and wintergreen are generally not accepted to use around children or babies.

We don't want to be overly alarmist, but we do think it's important to take extra care when using essential oils around children and babies!

Something good!

While we have to be cautious of certain oils under certain circumstances, Eos can be great natural remedies when used properly. We wouldn't want to discourage you from using Eos, rather encourage you to use them safely and research before doing so.

In our previous blog post, we looked into using Eos for skincare, so check it out if you want some inspo for creating your own serums!

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