Anyone who is looking for a natural solution to medical problems, or simply to clean the house, uses essential oils. These are extracted from different species of beneficial plants that possess many different attributes. These oils have many benefits, and therefore, they can certainly be of help to us, but they can also pose a real danger if they are not used properly. Although essential oils are natural, they are not always safe for consumption and may even harm us - even in small amounts.
To help you use essential oils properly, we have built a guide for you that shows their negative sides that are very helpful for you to understand. You are invited to find out which factors affect the safety of the oils, 6 side effects you should watch out for, how to take care of yourself when they happen, and other highlights that are a must-know for you when using them.
Factors that influence the safety of essential oils
It is important to consider several factors that affect the safety of essential oils and the severity of any symptoms they may cause.
These factors include:
- Health conditions
- Medications and nutritional supplements
- The chemical composition of the oil
- The manner and duration of use.
Dangers of essential oils and how to eliminate them
While essential oils have benefits, they can also be dangerous, and these dangers are influenced by the aforementioned factors. When consumed orally, the oil is quickly absorbed and may lead to symptoms within half an hour. Six inherent dangers of essential oil use include conflicts with medications, allergic reactions, and more. It is crucial to know how to deal with these dangers.
1. Clashing with medicine or causing allergies
In general, it is not recommended to consume essential oil by ingestion, unless you do so after consulting a doctor or specialist. The reason for this is that this way the substance is absorbed in a higher speed - 30 minutes as we wrote above - and thus increases the chance that it will cancel the effect of medicines or cause a dangerous allergy, especially if it is an anise type oil.
How to treat: If you swallow an essential oil and start suffering from side effects, rinse your mouth, call an ambulance for help, and avoid vomiting. In addition, do not ingest liquids, including water, until you receive permission from a doctor or health provider, because drinking may increase the risk of vomiting or essential oil vapors and liquids reaching the lungs.
2. Respiratory disorders
Essential oils, such as eucalyptus and peppermint oil, contain a chemical compound called phenol, the inhalation of which can irritate the respiratory system - especially in babies. As a result, you may suffer from various breathing problems, including asthma attacks.
If you experience any respiratory issues following the use of essential oils, it is advisable to step outside and inhale fresh air. If the symptoms persist, it is important to seek medical attention from a doctor or health provider.
3. Abnormal development of children
As mentioned, the use of essential oils is not recommended for children. Their skin is thinner, and the oil can be absorbed faster. Their liver and immune system are not sufficiently developed and therefore are not able to deal with the damage that may be caused as a result of oil consumption. In fact, even a small amount of 2 ml of eucalyptus essential oil, which is barely half a teaspoon, can cause various symptoms, some of which also occur in adults. One is abnormal breast development in young boys following excessive use of essential oils such as lavender and tea tree oil. These oils include components similar to estrogen and testosterone, according to a study from 2019. Therefore, it is better to keep children away from essential oils extracted from eucalyptus, fennel, mint, rosemary, and verbena.
How to treat: Various experts recommend simply avoiding the use of essential oils by children and teenagers. Consult a doctor regarding the consumption of these substances.
4. Skin and teeth issues
When using essential oils for body applications, it is imperative to be aware of potential skin and eye problems that may arise. Some essential oils, like those extracted from citrus fruits, contain chemicals that can cause burns when exposed to sunlight. Similarly, oil extracted from nuts can lead to rashes on the eyelids, and using lipstick or mouthwash made from peppermint oil can result in similar symptoms on the lips. Tea tree oil applied undiluted to the toes can result in large blisters. Oils high in phenols, like cinnamon oil, may cause skin irritation, so it is recommended to mix them with a base oil before use.
How to treat: If you feel burning or a rash in the eye area, you must immediately wash it with water for 15 seconds. If your skin is affected, remove the affected clothing and wash it with soap and water. Of course, if these solutions do not help, you must speak to a doctor or a health provider.
5. The risk for pregnant and breastfeeding women
Pregnant women should also be careful when using different types of essential oils, such as those intended for application to the skin. These oils can penetrate the placenta and thus affect the fetus. Consuming essential oils by ingestion, such as those extracted from the pineapple plant, may even lead to a miscarriage. As for breastfeeding women, beyond the fact that it is recommended to keep essential oils away from babies, such substances, and especially those extracted from peppermint, can negatively affect milk production.
How to treat: Pregnant and lactating women should contact a specialist to find essential oils suitable for them and their environment, or simply avoid using them.
6. Additional dangers that require examination by a doctor
Extended exposure to some essential oils can cause fatigue and headaches. Ingestion of high doses of essential oils derived from tea tree, walnuts, wintergreen, sage, cinnamon, and camphor may result in symptoms like vomiting, an increased heart rate, or swelling of the throat. It is crucial to note that sensitivity to essential oils is a lifelong condition. Furthermore, the safety of these substances is not monitored by the American Food and Drug Administration, and some manufacturers do not disclose all the components used. Therefore, it is always wise to select products from well-known and reputable brands.
Additional cautionary measures:
To ensure the safety of essential oil usage, it's important to dilute them and pay attention to these precautions:
To ensure the safe usage of essential oils, experts recommend using oils that are appropriately diluted. The ideal concentration level for oil consumption is less than 5%, with one percent equivalent to adding 6 drops of essential oil to 30 ml of base oil. However, the quantities may vary depending on various factors.
2. Test the oils you are about to use
Before applying essential oils to the body, it is essential to test them on a small patch of skin to determine their effects. This can be done by washing and drying a small area of the arm, and then applying a little diluted essential oil.
3. Check which essential oils need dilution and which don't
It is advisable to use oils that need dilution and avoid those that don't.
4. Avoiding internal use
It is important to note that essential oils should not be used internally unless advised by an expert.