Essential oils are popular among many individuals today including myself. There are studies that have shown that essential oils for aromatherapy can have a positive effect on reducing stress and anxiety if used properly. I jumped on the band wagon a few years back with diffusing essential oils as I’m sure many of you have as well, but to my surprise these oils can be very harmful if not used properly and with caution.
You see I had no idea of the risks that these oils pose and that oils should be researched carefully before use. I naturally assumed that if they were on the market that they were safe, that was pure ignorance on my part. Knowing what I know now, I was very lucky that I hadn’t had any negative effects using the oils without researching them first.
Essential Oils Can Cause Harm
- One Canadian woman infused her water with citrus oils and lathered her skin with lavender oil as she was informed that this would help reduce stress, to her surprise she ended up with a rash on her forearms which then lead to raised welts across her abdominal area and the back of her neck, her eyes became swollen and blisters appeared on her face, turns out she had a severe toxic reaction to the essential oils
- Other sides effects that have been reported as a result of misuse of essential oils are rashes, respiratory issues, allergic reactions and chemical burns
I diffuse essential oils, I don’t put the oils directly on my skin or ingest them, and after some of the stories I encountered, I’m very thankful I don’t or hadn’t in the past having not done the research on how to properly dilute the oils first. You see, during my research I read many horrible stories about devastating effects that some people had using essential oils without having diluted them with carrier oils, which I hadn’t even heard of until my research.
Essential oils are liquids derived from plants, flowers and fruits and are very potent and can cause toxicity and irritation if ingested or applied directly to the skin without having been diluted with a carrier oil first. It’s imperative that we research these oils and use them according to the instructions and when in doubt speak with an aromatherapist.
Carrier oils are vegetable oils such as coconut oil or avocado oil that has been derived from the seeds, kernels or nuts of a plant. Carrier oils are used to dilute essential oils so that they can be applied to the skin without side affects.
You might think that after having researched the risks of essential oils, I might be inclined to feel that it’s just not worth continuing the use of them however, that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
My experiences with essential oils have been extremely positive. Now that I am more aware of the risks and the importance of using them following the guidelines set out for their use (guidelines vary for each oil) I will continue using them keeping in mind that not all oils are intended for use of ingestion, diffusing and applying to the skin and it’s imperative that we know about the oils we are using.
My experience with essential oil aromatherapy has helped calm my anxiety and stress, soothe my mind, body and soul, and rest assured I won’t be giving up my diffuser or essential oils anytime soon.
BENEFITS OF DIFFUSING ESSENTIAL OILS
Essential oils can help improve sleep, increase energy, reduce stress and anxiety and can boost memory and concentration to name a few benefits that oils can provide.
When oils are diffused it releases a small amount of particles into air which can leave an absolutely amazing aroma that soothes the body mind and soul.
Most oils are safe to inhale and all it takes is a very small amount of oils (3-5 drops) dropped into the diffuser with water in order to obtain the effects. It’s considered a safe method of using oils that poses a lower level of risk, however please research the oils that are being used.
You can now even enjoy the benefits of essential oils while on the road. Portable diffusers are becoming a huge hit and I even had to get in on the action. I tried my fist portable diffuser about a month ago and I love it.
Nebulizing diffusers are also becoming a hit. I was surprised to learn that this diffuser doesn’t require water or heat, makes no noise and is extremely safe to use. This diffuser created by Organic Aromas is absolutely top notch.
Caution: Oils should never be diffused around newborns, small children, pets or nursing women unless thorough research has been completed and it’s been considered safe
TOP 10 ESSENTIAL OILS THAT HELP WITH ANXIETY
Throughout my research it was abundantly clear that there were specific oils targeted to reduce anxiety and stress and I have listed them for you below
1. Lavender Essential Oil – one of the most common oils used for relaxation (definitely a favorite of mine)
It restores the nervous system by lowering the heart rate and blood pressure. It’s also known to calm anxieties, restlessness and improve sleep
2. Melissa Essential Oil (also known as Lemon Balm)
Calms the mind and boosts immunity, strengthens the nervous system and can act as an antidepressant and release feeling s of worry and sadness
3. Jasmine Essential Oil – this oil is used in most of Asia as a natural anxiety, stress, depression and insomnia remedy. It acts as a natural sedative and has stimulating effects on the brain improving mood and energy levels
4. Rose Essential Oil – extracted from rose petals and soothes emotions, headaches and balances hormones. This oil is also known to strengthen the heart in periods of depression, grief, or high stress
5. Bergamot Essential Oil – produced from the aromatic citrus fruit (which has a distinctive and pleasant smell). This oil is used in Chinese medicine to enhance the flow of energy, fight bacterial infections and support the digestive system. It’s said to be an effective antidepressant due to its mood enhancing qualities promoting feelings of joy and happiness
6. Ylang Ylang Essential Oil – extracted from the Indonesian Cananga Tree and promotes feelings of joy and comfort. In addition, it improves mood and promotes relaxation. Inhaling ylang ylang can release negative emotions reducing stress and anxiety (another favourite of mine)
7. German Chamomile Essential Oil – a flowering herb that looks similar to a daisy. It promotes inner calmness, reduces anxiety and calms the nervous system
8. Basil Essential Oil – is known as one of the best essential oils to reduce anxiety and enhance mood. It acts as a natural stimulant promoting peace and clarity of the mind
9. Clary Sage Essential Oil – very distinctive smell that not everyone grows a liking to, it’s recommended to blend with another scent to lessen the distinctive smell but get the full effects. This scent acts as an antidepressant by promoting feelings of well-being and inner peace and decreasing stress
10. Neroli Essential Oil – derived from the citrus fruit of the same name. Egyptian priests used neroli oil to heal their bodies, minds and souls. It’s said to reduce stress and anxiety and enhances mood by reducing feelings of anger, irritability and worry
Essential oils can be applied to your skin, inhaled or diffused, some oils can also be ingested however there are different methods of application that are most appropriate for each essential oil and it is important that the time is taken to research and buy high quality oils in order to use these products safely.
5 ESSENTIAL OILS TO WATCH OUT FOR
1. Bergamot – although this oil is mentioned as an anxiety reducing oil, when applying it to the skin it can make it very sensitive to sunlight. It is recommended that if using this oil on your skin (after it’s been diluted of course) that you avoid sunlight for 12 hours
2. Clary Sage oil – another oil mentioned to reduce anxiety and calming. This oil is known to induce contractions in pregnant woman therefore this is an oil that they should not use if expecting.
3. Peppermint – we often use this oil to soothe our stomach and help with headaches however this oil should never be used on infants or young children as it can cause life threatening breathing problems
4. Eucalyptus – this oil is known to counteract medications taken for seizures, narcolepsy, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder therefore making the medications less effective. It’s also known to bring on asthma attacks. If you are using medications for these or any other particular reasons ensure to research the affects it could have on medications you are currently using.
5. Cinnamon Bark – this oil is commonly used in shampoo and lotions. It has been known to irritate the skin and have negative effects on people who suffer from seasonal allergies. This oil should be avoided if you suffer from seasonal allergies.
While these oils may in fact harm you if there are not used properly, they also have many benefits to them that can be enjoyed if used sensibly.
Bottom Line – Essential Oils and Safety
What we need to keep in mind is that essential oils are extremely concentrated and it only takes a very small amount to experience negative effects if not used properly.
Essential oils must be used with care and it’s imperative that labels are read to ensure that proper guidelines are being followed for each particular oil. Study up on the risks and benefits of each oil as each oil will differ in terms of guidelines and proper use.
Consult a licensed aromatherapist not just the distributor of the essential oil company in order to obtain proper information if clarification is required on the oils you are using.
Essential oils can provide array of benefits, it’s up to each of us who choose to use them to use them responsibility.
Let me know what your thoughts are on essential oils and if you use them what purpose are you using them for? Is it stress, pain, anxiety?? I’d love to hear what your thoughts are on whether you’d be willing try essential oils if you have never done so before.