Essential Oil Safety

Essential oils are highly concentrated substances that come to us from the plant world; specifically from the leaves, flowers, roots and fruits of aromatic plants. The amount of plant material it takes to produce an oil varies, but to give a rather dramatic example, 1000 pounds or 3.6 million jasmine flowers are needed to create one pound of Jasmine oil. And rose oil is even more concentrated, requiring over 10,000 pounds of rose petals to produce one pound of Rose oil! These two examples illustrate both why these oils can be expensive, and why, due to their concentrated nature, it's so important to use them with knowledge and care, especially on sensitive or damaged skin. 

Dilute Before Using Essential Oils

Always dilute essential oils before applying to the skin, as applying them straight (in their pure form) can cause skin irritation, rashes, and allergic reactions. Lavender and tea tree oils are often cited as being exceptions to this rule, but in most situations, diluting these oils is still the preferred method. A general rule of thumb is to add one drop of essential oil per teaspoon of high quality, cold pressed carrier oil, such as sweet almond or grape seed oil. If you want to create an aromatherapy bath, add two to four drops to a warm (not hot) bath. If blending several oils together, treat the blend as a single oil; in other words, use no more than four drops of the blend in a bath, or one drop of the blend to a teaspoon of vegetable oil. 

Always Do a Patch Test

When trying out a new aromatherapy oil, it's a good idea to do a patch test first, especially if you have sensitive skin or allergies. Mix one drop of the oil you're testing into a teaspoon of base oil and dab a tiny amount on the inside of the arm or wrist area. Wait 24 hours to ensure no redness or irritation occurs.

Quality Matters When Choosing Essential Oils

It's important to buy high quality oils, and not confuse essential oils with fragrance oils, which are synthetic, not natural products. Some products sold as pure oils are diluted in cheaper carrier oils or are adulterated in some other way. Again, read product labels carefully but be aware that labels may not disclose full information. Become familiar with the botanical names of the oils you want to use and never purchase an oil that is not labeled with the botanical name, as well as the common name. 

Precautions When Using Essential Oils

If you are pregnant or nursing, consult with your doctor before using aromatherapy.

Keep aromatherapy products out of reach of children and pets. 

Keep essential oils away from your eyes and mucus membranes.

Be careful around furniture, as undiluted oils can damage varnished surfaces.

Citrus oils, such as lemon, tangerine, orange, bergamot and grapefruit are photosensitizing - which means they can induce sunburn. Do not use these oils before exposure to sunlight or tanning beds.

Do not use essential oils internally, unless under the supervision of a doctor or qualified practitioner. Remember that these oils are concentrated substances, and could be dangerous if ingested. Using the oils in massage or inhalation is safer and very effective. 

Hopefully, this list of cautions won't put you off from experimenting with aromatherapy. Essential oils are versatile, powerful, emotionally and physically balancing, and of course, they smell fabulous. Enjoy experimenting with them . . . safely.

Aromatherapy Diffusers and Oils- Diffusing Essential Oils For Maximum Immune and Emotional Benefits

Essential oils are a curiosity to many folks -- they smell nice, but they're just not sure what to do with them, never mind how to get the most from aromatherapy's science-proven benefits (like antiviral, antibacterial and stress-reducing actions). So where to start?! Inhale! Breathe them in! By using a diffuser to accelerate the evaporation of oils in the air around you, not only does your place smell great, but its the best way to use the most sought-after uses of aromatherapy: immune system and emotional support. We'll start with a quick review of the potential benefits of diffusing essential oils for your family, with specific notes for children, then look at the best diffusers for each use.

Scientifically Proven Health Benefits of Essential Oils

The big interests in the home use of essential oils are twofold: 1) They can bring calm to overexcited youngsters while acting as antidepressants for everyone. 2) They have proven antibacterial and antiviral actions; they are able to destroy these microbes in the air, while simultaneously support the strength of our immune system. There's a good bit of scientific data backing both these claims available for free viewing at PubMed.Gov -- start by simply searching for "essential oil" and see where it takes you.  Again, the easiest way to reap these benefits of essential oils is to use a diffuser to release the oils into the air in your environment. A diffuser simply evaporates oils faster than they would naturally, getting a therapeutic concentration into your living or office space  -- but there are many diffuser styles -- we'll help you find the one best suited to your needs.

Diffusers For Antiviral/Antimicrobial Action & Immune Support

For disinfecting the air in your environment, you need to evaporate a relatively high concentration of essential oils. The only way to do this effectively, while conserving the oils to keep costs to a minimum is to use a "nebulizing" diffuser in conjunction with a timer system. While these diffusers will have a somewhat higher initial cost, they're the only diffusers that will output "therapeutic" doses of essential oils for every possible application. These diffusers "nebulize" the oils, making them into a fine, quickly evaporating mist. This is also the diffuser that will diffuse aroma in the largest area; so even if you're only wanting a pleasing aroma in your home, for over 800 square feet, this is the diffuser of choice.

The nebulizers come in two styles: "cold air" and "ultrasonic". The cold air units use only air pressure to diffuse the oils and output the highest concentration of any diffuser type. The ultrasonic is essentially a small water-humidification unit, where oils are mixed with water and then evaporated. Both styles typically have output controls, so you can turn up or down the amount of oil being diffused. They are also both exceptionally quiet.

Diffusers for "Aroma"-therapy: Anti-Stress and Emotional Support

For simple aromatic use -- where oils are used for uplifting your spirits, calming or helping your children sleep, or just making your environment smell fantastic, a "fan" or "warming" diffuser is totally appropriate. The fan diffusers work by blowing air from a small fan over a pad that has been saturated with essential oils -- the warming diffusers work the same way, but with a little bit of heat (they don't get so hot as to burn anyone, and are safe to use around kids). The fan units will emit a quiet hum when on, the warming units will be silent -- and the fan units will generally emit aroma into a moderately-sized space, while the less-expensive warming units are suited for a single room.

Use Oils and Diffusers Efficiently with a Timer

The best way to use the least amount of essential oil for your needs is to use a timer -- either built-in to the diffuser or a readily-available appliance timer. For ANY application, whether the simple aromatic use or medicinal needs, one need only be exposed to the diffused oils for a few minutes at a time. Aromatically, your "smell scent" will become quickly accustomed to the aroma, and you'll start to think the diffuser isn't working anymore. Running the diffuser for only a few minutes every half an hour lets your nose "forget" the oils are in the air. The same principle works for disinfecting the air and immune-system support -- there's no need to over-saturate the air with essential oils. They are so potent that there's no need to continually diffuse a high concentration for these results.

Choosing the Right Oils For Your Purpose

All essential oils have naturally different chemical make-ups. That's what gives them their individual aromas and their individual therapeutic actions. For an uplifting, pleasing atmosphere, the "evergreen" oils are very nice: Fir Needle, Spruce, and Juniper Berry. These are excellent antidepressant aromatics too, along with the citrus oils: Bergamot, Orange, Lemon, Grapefruit and the like, plus Rose and other uplifting flower-scents. For calming and better rest, Lavender is the first choice; when folks aren't a fan of this popular floral oil, Sandalwood and Ylang Ylang are great choices. For all the purposes, its important to use oils you or your family actually like the smell of! There are MANY oils to choose from, and by sampling a few, you're sure to find something everyone enjoys.

For immune support and air-cleaning, there are many oils highly regarded for their antimicrobial actions. Bay laurel is very nice and scientifically shown to be an effective anti-viral. "Plain" Lemon and Rosemary oils are excellent antibacterials, as is Lemon Tea Tree (very potent), Lemongrass, and Eucalyptus Radiata (shown specifically to help our white blood cells function better). Most oils that are sharper and brighter will be effective, but be careful as there are some herb-oils that are too strong to diffuse, like Oregano and Thyme, along with the spice oil Cinnamon. In any case, use your judgment with the aromas: if they seem to intense, they are -- and either switch to a different oil or turn down the diffuser output. Also be aware that children are MUCH more sensitive to essential oils than adults -- adjust your use as necessary, and consult a reputable guide to using essential oils with children.

Conclusion: Diffuse Your Oils for Best Results!

Diffusing essential oils is easy to do, and gives the best results for certain aroma-therapeutic applications -- specifically those to do with preventing colds and flu, supporting emotions and bringing calm to a family environment. There are many diffusers to choose from -- generally, the more expensive units will offer the greatest potential for therapeutic uses, but they're certainly not necessary to get started. The lowest-cost warming diffusers are only about $12, simply to use, and are very durable. This and several essential oil samples is a great way to get started using the therapeutic aspects of essential oils and aromatherapy. 

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