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Use caution with essential oils: 8 safety guidelines to follow

There is no doubt that aromatherapy and essential oils are great ways to enhance our health and lifestyles. But that does not mean that everything with aromatherapy is good. There are several toxic essential oils which can prove harmful or fatal to you. There are some essential oils which need to be used with caution. Also, you need to know how to keep your oils safe, preventing them from becoming rancid and keeping them out of reach of children.

Below are a list of safety guidelines you need to follow with essential oils:

1. Children and Pets: Essential oils are highly valuable, but they can be harmful if used improperly or when there is an overdose. Keep essential oils out of the reach of children or pets. Store them in a cool, dark place in tinted glass bottles as some oils are photosensitive (cannot stand sunlight). Check periodically on whether your oils are in good quality.

2. Strictly NO intake of oils: Avoid intake of essential oils unless suggested or recommended by a qualified and licensed aromatherapist or aromatherapy practitioner. Intake of toxic oils can even result in death.

3. Do skin patch test: Do skin patch test if you are applying an essential oil for the first time on your body. To do this, mix one drop of essential oil with a teaspoon of carrier oil and then, apply on the inside of the wrist. Leave the area dry for 24 hours and do not wash the oil off the skin. If there is no skin irritation, redness, swelling or inflammation in the oil-applied area, then you can be certain that the oil is compatible with your skin. If you are using a carrier oil for the first time, apply it and check before testing with essential oil.

4. Application procedures: When using undiluted essential oils, wash your hands immediately after usage. Do not apply essential oils on your eyes, mouth, insides of the nose, mucous membranes, sexual organs or other areas. Take great care when using essential oils on children. When nursing babies, take care to avoid skin transference

5. Carcinogenic oils: Some essential oils can be carcinogenic and are banned in aromatherapy. Such oils are calamus oil, sassafras oil, camphor oil etc. If you have cancer, follow these safety rules: keep massaging lightly, avoid deep massages over lymph glands, do not massage if you have skin cancer, and do not massage on areas that were subjected to radiation. Avoid the following oils if you have cancer: antiseed, bay, basil, clove, cinnamon, laurel, nutmeg, fennel etc.

6. Liver-toxic oils: Certain essential oils can have a toxic effect on the liver. Since liver is the seat of several activities like lipid and carbohydrate metabolism, bile juice secretion, protein synthesis etc., a toxic effect on the liver can be harmful to the body. To avoid this, do not take the following oils orally: antiseed, basil, bay, cassia, cinnamon, clove etc.

7. Oral, dermal toxicity-inducing oils: There are a few oils that cause oral and dermal toxicity, which include: bitter almond, boldo leaf, calamus, camphor, mugwort, rue, pennyroyal, sassafras, savin, tansy, thuja, wintergreen, wormseed, southernwood, mustard, nightshade and stinging nettles. You need to avoid certain oils like hyssop, rosemary, sage and thyme if you have hypertension. And never use rosemary, fennel, sage, spike lavender, tansy, thuja, wormweed, and camphor oils if you have epilepsy or other related problems.

8. General safety tips: Check for interaction of essential oils with prescription medications and use them accordingly. Abstain from alcohol when using essential oils. Avoid sunlight after essential oil massages as some oils can cause sun-sensitivity in people.