The safe use of essential oils

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Training is very important in any career to ensure you perform well, do no harm and work ethically. This is certainly true in complementary therapies.

While a weekend course in massage will certainly give you a sequence of moves to enable you to give a friend a nice “back rub” it does not make you a massage therapist.

And a weekend course in reflexology will teach you some points to help relieve stress and tension it does not make you a reflexologist.

And a weekend course in yoga will certainly teach you stretches to prevent back pain and encourage good joint mobility it does not make you a yoga teacher.

Why then do people and therapists think a weekend course in aromatherapy makes you an aromatherapist?

Is it because essential oils smell nice so they must all be safe? Not so – wintergreen must not be used by people on blood thinners as wintergreen is a blood thinner.

Is it becsuse they all come from nature so they must all be good for us? Not so – cinnamon bark oil can be a skin sensitiser and is not recommended for use in aromatherapy and certainly not for use on people with sensitive skin. And some weekend courses teach people to drink this!

Is it because a plant is a plant and once you know something you know everything? Not so – Thyme oils can be very different. Alcohol rich Thyme oil is a wonderful tonic and antiseptic with no cautions to its use, but Phenol rich Thyme oil is a  powerful antiseptic but can irritate the skin and must be used with care and knowledge.

We live in a world of more is better. Not so with essential oils. 20 drops of any essential oil does not work twice as well as 10 drops.  But you need to understand how essential oils enter the blood stream to fully understand this. The extra 10 drops are just wasted. But if your teacher is working for an essential oil company they will teach you more is better and more of their product is even better again.  But more is not better, it can lead to skin irritation, allergies and sensitisation.  More is just wasted and can have potential problems.

This latest craze of vaporising essential oils in class rooms, yoga studios and therapy rooms without any understanding of the oils you are vaporising is asking for trouble. Do you know if anyone has asthma, if so, what essential oils, if any should you vaporise? Do you know if anyone has a perfume allergy? Some essential oil components are found in perfumes.

Now for the most unbelievable of all. People are being told to take 1 or 2 drops of essential oils in water 2 to 3 times a day because they are good for you. Well, the above photo shows 2 drops of essential oil added to water and put into a polystyrene cup. It took 40 minutes for it to burn a hole in the cup. Do you really want to take this daily?  If you are doing this please stop! Now! It has no health benefits and has potential health risks.

Christine Courtney

Professional Aromatherapist

Click here for “How to use essential oils”

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