FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What are essential oils?
Essential oils are volatile oily substances that are extracted in various ways from plants. The compounds contained in essential oils are fat soluble and are very compatible with body tissue. They can be used externally and in some cases internally as well. Although essential oils are mostly known for use in aromatherapy for affecting moods and alleviating tension and stress, they are also used to help the body heal itself for many conditions such as sinusitis, bronchitis, allergies, pain, hypertension, menopause symptoms, cancer, and more.
How do you store essential oils?
Keep oils stored in dark-colored glass bottles (not plastic) in a cool, dry place tightly closed.
How long do oils stay fresh?
Oils usually stay good for at least 2-4 years. Refrigeration extends shelf life.
Is there a limit on how long an essential oil should be used?
To maintain effectiveness and to give your body a break if using the same essential oils daily, stop use after 3 weeks of daily use for 1 week. Then recommence use. Reduce chances of acquiring sensitivity reaction from constant use of the same oil over the years by varying choices.
How many different ways can essential oils be administered?
There are three basic ways that the oils are administered. One, via the skin by applying the oil to the skin or the soles of the feet in diluted form; two, through the respiratory system, where you inhale the vapors of the oils from your hands, through the diffusion of the oils into the air, or via a nasal inhaler; and three, through the digestive tract, where you take the oils orally, in diluted form, as advised and monitored by a professional. They can be introduced to the body in combination, such as in a bath where you get the benefit of the oils through skin absorption and by inhalation.
Why use blends as opposed to single oils?
Just as there is synergy between single oil components that render the whole essential powerful, when 2 or more specially selected oils are combined the synergy between them provides a more powerful effect than the single oil alone.
Are there any essential oils that are harmful?
Special care needs to be taken if you are pregnant, have epilepsy, hypertension, or any medical condition as there could be adverse reactions to certain oils so seek advice from a trained professional aromatherapist. If you have any medical condition or symptoms, see your medical doctor for proper diagnoses and treatment. True toxic or poisonous essential oils are not sold to the general public.
What makes these oils different from prescription medicines?
The oils are complete or whole. The allopathic way is to extract the chemical constituents of the plant for specific use. For example, antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, antiinfectious, immunostimulant, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic, properties may be contained in one plant and thus one essential oil, as in the case of tea tree oil. The clinical aromatherapy way is to keep all the chemical constituents of the essential oil complete as they are presented in nature. Components of essential oils work synergistically for best results. The allopathic way would be to separate out the chemical constituents to deal with one symptom or pathology.
There is the phenomenon of quenching whereby the potential unwanted results of one component in an essential oil are canceled out by the natural presence of other components. In other words, a “hazardous” component does not automatically render the whole essential oil unsafe. This shows the importance of using the natural synergistic composition of whole oils rather than isolates. The concept of quenching is also used in blending oils.
As presented in Aromatherapy for Health Professionals, Eucalyptus globulus and E. smithii (another type of eucalyptus) both contain approximately 65% of 1,8-cineole which although greatly effective for infection, is also a skin irritant. Yet because of the quenching aspects of components in E. smithii, it is not irritating to the skin and safe enough to be used on children whereas Eucalyptus globules is a skin irritant. An example using the quenching phenomena in blending would be to combine oil of oregano with lavender. Alone oregano oil is very hot and caustic. Combined with lavender, it can be used as a non-irritating highly effective fungicide that does not burn.
For the most part, you will find that essential oils do not cause as many side effects as prescription drugs
1) Essential oils do not dissolve in water. They must be diluted with some type of vegetable oil.
2) Essential oils, in their concentrated state, with few exceptions, should never come in contact with skin or mucous membranes. Tea tree oil is one exception. Seek advice from an expert about applying neat (undiluted) oils to the skin. Oils should always be diluted if used over a large area of the body.
3) Never add undiluted essential oils to bath water. Add the essential oil to a bath salt, egg, milk, or bath gel first and then add it to the bath water. This promotes the dispersion of the oil.
4) Generally, allergic people should use essential oils with caution. The least sensitive area is the soles of the feet.
5) Citrus oils can cause skin sensitization when the skin is exposed to the sun after application. Avoid exposing the treated skin area to the sun for at least 12 hours after application. Exceptions to this rule- if essential oil has been steam distilled.
6) Some oils have very strong caustic characteristics and should be used very cautiously, generally in diluted form.
7) Essential oils rich in menthol should not be used near the neck or throat of children under 18 months.
8) Care must be taken to keep essential oil bottles tightly closed, out of the reach of children, and preferably in a cool place out of direct sunlight.
9) Taking essential oils orally requires oils of impeccable quality and under the supervision of an appropriately trained doctor or therapist.
2.5% = 15 drops essential oil per 30 ml carrier oil; 5 drops essential oil per 10 ml. carrier oil; 2-3 drops essential oil per 5 ml. 2.5% solution is ideal for full body massage
2.5% = 1 drop essential oil per 30-40 drops carrier oil
5% = 30 drops essential oil per 30 ml carrier oil; 10 drops essential oil per 10 ml carrier oil; 5-6 drops essential oil per 5 ml. 5% solution is good for local massage, and scalp oil.
1% = 6 drops essential oil per 30 ml carrier oil; 2- 3 drops essential oil per 10 ml. carrier oil; 1-2 drops essential oil per 5m. 1% dilution may be appropriate for young children or infirm older adults. Please check with a professional regarding oil selection and safety for this group.
1% = 1 drop of essential oil per 100 drops of carrier oil
2-5 years: 1 drop of essential oil to 5 ml carrier oil 2 drops of essential oil to 10 ml. carrier oil
5-10 years: 3 drops essential oil to 10 ml carrier oil
10 years and over, use 5 drops of essential oil to 10 ml carrier oil
May use stronger dilutions for small local areas – up to 15%. See oil descriptions.
10% = 60 drops essential oil per 30 ml carrier oil; 20 drops essential oil per 10 ml. carrier oil; 10-12 drops essential oil per 5 ml carrier oil
8-10 drops of essential oil per 4 oz. distilled water for the face
5-15 drops for a tub of warm water – mix first with a little salt or milk for good dispersion
4-8 drops on wet washcloth after shower, rub briskly over body
5-8 drops per cup. Use equal parts Epsom salt & sea salt. Dissolve in water for bath or