Updated: Oct 17
I have been using essential oils for years, admittedly for the first few years I had no idea what I was doing, I assumed the “it's natural so it’s safe” adage. I would use eucalyptus and tea tree when we were sick, there was a bug spray that had oregano, but that was pre-made. Sometimes I used cinnamon essential oil on some pinecones, you know, basic stuff.
Then, I was introduced by a friend to an essential oil network marketing company. I was hooked, I was buying all the oils, using all the oils, and sharing all the oils. I had NO CLUE what I was doing. I was listening to what the company representatives suggested, yes, I was even ingesting the oils. Why would a company tell me I can do something that isn’t safe? I am still asking that question.
Now, I think I need to say that I am not OPPOSED to ingesting essential oils, BUT without knowledge about HOW those oils work in your body, it’s a dodgy game to play. I do NOT recommend ingesting oils unless under the supervision of a practitioner TRAINED in the pharmacokinetics of the essential oils. This means what happens to them as they move through your body systems. When you ingest, the liver is more involved, and it can become stressed or damaged if you do not understand what you are doing. You may not see it right away, but is it worth the risk? I don't think it is. Before aromatherapy school I just didn't get that. I was skeptical but still did it. That is a regret for me.
Here's the thing, the therapeutic components of most of the oils get absorbed better through inhalation NOT ingestion. I am really simplifying here but they go right to your brain / nervous system via the olfactory system ( which is why they work so well for stress) and go right into your bloodstream via your lungs when you inhale, so they get into your blood stream AND affect your lungs directly which is why they work for many people for so many other things, and why people with respiratory conditions need to be careful! Safety first!
Some other things.....
Essential oils are not 100% effective for everyone, no matter what anyone tells you. No medicines are 100% effective either, nothing can claim that because we are individuals and are all different. An essential oil that helps my headache may give you one!
Essential oils are not cures for disease.
Essential oils are not a substitute for seeing your regular medical practitioner, I see aromatherapy as a complimentary therapy that can help support you and ease some of your symptoms while you heal.
Let’s talk about sensitization, while most of the companies do warn about phototoxicity / photosensitization, it is not always taken seriously or understood by the people selling the oils. Oils such as grapefruit, lemon, and a few other citrus oils as well as cumin, angelica root and others have constituents that are phototoxic. The constituents are called furocoumarins (FCs), that react with UV light (sun or tanning beds) and can result in severe burns with blistering and reddening, there have been serious injuries from this. No Joke.
Sensitization is not just caused by the phototoxic oils. If you use an essential oil too much, or if you use an essential oil undiluted, your body can start to react to it. I have had that issue myself. Certain oils leave me with horrible skin irritation and hives, I wear gloves when I work with these oils now. I didn’t know that using an oil undiluted could cause issues like that, it did. It wasn’t until I started my aromatherapy education through The Aromahead Institute, that I learned these things.
Contraindications- when some essential oils should not be used
I am not going into the details in this post BUT there are some essential oils that should not be used during pregnancy, when nursing, for children under 5, on people with epilepsy, on people using certain antidepressants or blood thinners. Until I educated myself I did not know this. The people who KNOW of this and are saying " well it hasn't hurt me so far" are playing a dodgy game with themselves and with others that they recommend essential oil use to. I have been there and I have learned.
My goal now, as an aromatherapist is to educate you and guide you.
I have no problem with network marketing companies selling oils. In fact there is no problem with the quality of the oils being sold by some of these companies. I think it is great that aromatherapy has become more mainstream BUT what I would like to see is more education, especially on safety (sustainability too but that is another post). I am committed to providing you with that.
There are many places where you can learn about safety; the Tisserand Institute comes to mind, their webpage is a great source of information and the book Essential Oil Safety By Tisserand and Young is a must have.
I will be running workshops in person and on-line on various aromatherapy topics so stay tuned and sign up for my newsletter to get updates.
We, as settlers, acknowledge that we practice our craft on the unceded and unsurrendered traditional territory of the Wolastoqiyik and Mi'kmaq. We are all treaty people under the Peace and friendship Treaties. We are committed to honouring their stewardship of the land in our work and our lives.
Fawn Last is a life long learner and educator with degrees in biology and geology. She left an academic career to become a certified aromatherapist and continues to learn as she helps others find ways to support their wellbeing using aromatherapy.
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