Sometimes I meet people who are either very afraid of using essential oils, or very careless. I think essential oil safety is an issue that needs addressing. The bulk of essential oils are used by the food, cosmetics and toiletries industry. It is mainly used as a taste-enhancer in foods or as a scent in different household and cosmetic products. Therapeutic grade essential oils are used by aromatherapists, natural perfumers, natural skin-care manufacturers and laymen (anybody who enjoys using oils around the house). Therapeutic grade means either ecologically / traditionally grown or wild harvested.
Essential oils are concentrates which means that they are strong. You don’t rub the entire content of a 10ml bottle into your skin or put it in your bath; you use some drops. There is a huge amount of information on how to use EO’s around the house and if you follow the advice given, there should be no problem. An aromatherapist has received in-depth training on EO’s; how, why and when to use them (or not). Often they use the oils in different dosages or ways than you would find in a book. This doesn’t mean that the oils suddenly become dangerous, it just means that with training you learn to use EO’s therapeutically for specific problems. You won’t find this in books, it is not for laymen to play around with and if using EO’s would be that easy there is no point with professional training.
Popular literature give people access to these wonderful oils without causing themselves harm. That’s why the dosages are kept low, administration routes are safe and many oils have warnings. When your therapist uses any of the “dangerous” oils, the ones with warnings, she/he has a reason. It’s like medicine; you can buy aspirin over the counter but not antibiotics… Essential oils are widely available and if people would use them in a seriously therapeutic way without knowledge there would arise so many problems that the oils would become restricted.
In the early 90’s Tea tree was banned because there were many reports of skin irritations, subsequently Tea tree was deemed hazardous and taken of the market. We know today that Tea tree is a very safe and useful oil but at the time popular belief said you could use the oil for any skin-problem, mainly acne, but there was no information on dosage or how to use it, therefore careless use was what created the problem, not the oil itself. Sage (Salvia officinalis) is an EO that should be used with caution yet it is a cooking herb. It’s all about concentration and dosage.
Do enjoy these gorgeous oils carefully and when you are not sure or you are facing a serious problem, contact a professional. You won’t find the answer in a book or on the internet.