For years, essential oils have been touted for their relaxing properties and abilities to alleviate the symptoms of certain ailments. While essential oils are wildly popular for aromatherapy, some are now consuming them to better their health. Is this safe? Should you take capsules, spoonfuls, or drops of essential oils to stay healthy? Let’s go over the benefits and risks associated with essential oils to help answer these essential questions.
What Are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are natural products extracted from the fruit, flowers, roots, leaves, or stems of plants. Essential oils do not have an “oily” consistency but rather contain oil-soluble chemicals. The complexity of the plant’s chemicals is what gives the essential oils their therapeutic properties.
Risks of Essential Oils
While there are many benefits to breathing in essential oils as a form of topical treatment or aromatherapy, there are also risks associated with them:
Despite what some companies may advise, essential oils should generally not be swallowed! These substances are not regulated and range in quality. Moreover, ingesting large amounts of certain oils like tea tree oil, wintergreen, and camphor can lead to throat swelling, racing heart, vomiting, and even seizures. Something else to consider is that your body absorbs more of the chemicals in the essential oils when they are swallowed. This increases the chances of the oils interacting with any medication you may be on or causing a severe reaction.
Some people experience skin irritation and allergic reactions when applying products with essential oils to their skin. If you know your skin is sensitive or you take a lot of medication, it’s recommended that you do a patch test before applying anything to your skin. One extra note, you can develop allergies after first exposure, so it is possible to develop an allergy after multiple uses.
You should be overly cautious about using essential oils while pregnant since they can cross the placental barrier. Certain essential oils can be more harmful to pregnant women than others, so it’s important to be aware of the type of essential oil you’re using. Little is known about how using essential oils can affect a baby in utero, so be sure to consult with a medical professional first.
Best Ways to Use Essential Oils
Don’t be deterred from using essential oils entirely! They can be soothing in the correct usage and doses. The safest and most effective ways to use essential oils are aromatherapy accessories, body oils, and aroma sticks. With some research, you can decide if it is safe to diffuse essential oils in your home as well. For more detailed information, you can visit the International Federation of Aromatherapists.
Do you use essential oils? Tell us about your experience in the comments below and share any tips you might have.