There is a bit of dichotomy that lives inside me. One part of me strives to be conservative when it comes to taking medicine. When I was pregnant, I rarely even took acetaminophen for a headache, if I could help it. The other part of me is grateful for advances in modern medicine, and I’m happy to take medication if it can provide quick recovery. Even now, as a mother for the past 12 years (almost), I still battle between toughing it out and going for the easy fix. However, one new addition in my medicine cabinet is essential oils.
In my typical, later adopter persona, I only recently joined the trend of essential oils, even though companies like Young Living and doTERRA have been around since 1993 and 2008, respectively. I had friends using essential oils, but I always declined the invitations to learn more until late 2014. I had moved to Las Vegas and found my children bringing more germs home from their much bigger school. I made a small purchase that sampled some of the more popular oils and tried them out on everything from occasional nasal congestion to sore muscles and headaches. I have not abandoned prescription and over-the-counter medications, but instead use the two together, a holistic approach to health that even cancer.org supports.
Although essential oils are “natural,” some people wrongly assume they are inherently safe. But as wellnessmama.com warns in a post about the risks of essential oils, there are many resources online that give worrisome blanket advice about the use of essential oils. The truth is that essential oils are highly concentrated (easily penetrating the skin and entering the bloodstream) and should be used with proper education and in safe amounts.
Wellnessmama.com highlights some important points about essential oil and safe use. Here’s a brief summary:
- Pregnant women, nursing mothers, and children should use caution when using essential oils. Some oils are never recommended for use during pregnancy, like basil, cinnamon, and juniper, to name just a few. Others, like peppermint, are also not recommended for children, as they may cause breathing problems. Dilution of essential oils with carrier oil is always recommended.
- Some oils, especially those in the citrus family may cause photosensitivity.
- Some oils carry “antibacterial, antimicrobial, antiviral, and antifungal” properties. All good things, right? But remember, our bodies have many types of necessary and beneficial bacteria that we don’t want to kill off.
- Essential oils can degrade plastic over time. Never store oils in a plastic container.
For me, using an essential oil is no different than using a prescription or over-the-counter medication. I research the ingredients, seek information from those who know more than I do (aromatherapists, doctors), and use my findings to weigh if the benefits of using certain oils outweigh the potential negative effects. We live in an exciting time where we have so many traditional and holistic medical options available; just make sure you do your research and that you select the most appropriate course of action.