I honestly thought I would save this part of my “oily experience” until later in the conversation but, the more I thought about it, the more important I thought it was to just get it out there. I’m going to tell you about a few ways in which I used my oils early in my journey that I now regret.
I want to be clear about a few things before I even get into this:
- I was not harmed, to my knowledge, by doing any of these things. In my opinion, being okay doesn’t mean it was a good choice. However, I don’t want to mislead anyone into thinking that I’ve suffered horrible ill-effects from these choices– I have not.
- There are people, LOTS of people, who will disagree with me about some of these having any potential danger. That’s okay. Disagreeing is not a sign that either party is unintelligent. I have concrete reasons for feeling the way that I do and that is enough for me. You need to make your own decisions, of course.
- I do not judge others for making different choices for themselves, but I DO take issue with people insisting that their choices are appropriate for everyone.
- In ALL instances, I will be referring to essential oils that are pure and unadulterated– please note that this does NOT mean that I am speaking of only one brand, since there are multiple companies who meet very high standards in the oils they produce. It does mean that I’m never talking about contaminated, corrupted, or otherwise inferior product. This is important to note so that no one attempts to make the “Oh, but it’s okay with XYZ brand!” argument. Fair enough?
So, when I got my first set of essential oils, I was super duper excited and I was very eager to try them. They smelled amazing and I’d read a ton and I couldn’t wait to apply them in all sorts of wonderful ways. So I did.
I added oils to my water.
Now, listen. If I read that sentence out loud, I immediately see why I should have questioned this decision for myself. Oil and water simply do not mix. The oil floats on the top of the water, rather than mixing in. Sure, you can shake the heck out of it before each sip and that might work. Here’s what I know– essential oils are wonderful and powerful and I don’t really want to risk having them hit my sensitive mucous membranes undiluted. While I did not notice any issues (other than tingly lips when I added a drop of peppermint), it’s something I just choose not to risk anymore. For me, it’s a better, safer choice to just squeeze ACTUAL citrus in my water or throw in few a mint leaves. Honestly, it’s also cheaper. And there are vitamins in the fruit. So there you go. I still use and adore my citrus oils (lemon, lime, sweet orange, blood orange, grapefruit, tangerine– I love them all) and my mints (peppermint, spearmint, and wintergreen.) I just don’t put them in my water.
I dumped undiluted oils on my skin.
Shortly after I got started using my oils, I tore my meniscus. I was in SUCH pain and I was eager to avoid surgery. I started doing some (not thorough enough) research and came across wintergreen and lemongrass as oils that might help. I was thrilled to give it a shot.
Here’s the thing– both of those oils? Are real powerhouses. Wintergreen is amazing for pain and inflammation and lemongrass has a long history of being helpful for tendon and ligament issues. I wasn’t completely off-base in what I was doing. However, instead of mixing the essential oils with an appropriate carrier to get it to a safe dilution level (which varies based on oil, age, health, and usage, for the record), I just sprinkled on some drops and hoped for the best.
The potential for skin irritation increases greatly when oils are used undiluted, also called “neat.” Furthermore, a carrier oil helps spread and “hold” the EO on the skin which enables it to more effectively do its job.
Again, I was not knowingly injured from this and I’m not an alarmist– however, I do wish I’d been more careful and appropriate when using those oils.
I took oils internally for a cough.
Again, early in my journey, I had a nasty cough. It was keeping me from sleeping and I was over it. I read the testimony of several bloggers who said that lemon, orange, and peppermint, either by capsule or mixed into honey, would quiet a cough. I was sold! After all, those are all oils from stuff we eat anyway, right?
I mixed a drop of each in a spoonful of honey, swallowed it down, and finally experienced some relief. Truth be told, I think the honey did as much as the oils and the peppermint kind of numbed my sore, irritated throat.
So, if it worked and I didn’t notice any harm, why do I regret it? Well, plain and simple, I’ve found better ways to treat cold symptoms since then– steams and (diluted) rubs have proven far more effective and, in my opinion, carry fewer potential risks or side-effects. Additionally, I’ve learned a lot more about how to tweak the oil combinations to best treat our symptoms while being safe for whichever member of the family I’m treating– e.g. there’s no reason for me to use peppermint on my five-year-old when multiple aromatherapists caution against its use on children under 10 (or 6, depending on who you ask.) Spearmint is a safer, and still effective, choice for her. I know more, now. And I know better. So I try to do better.
So, there you go. There’s a short list of some ways I used my oils that I now regret. I’m sharing these not to incite panic and not to virtually scold anyone who chooses to use their own oils in these ways. I’m sharing them simply to show how knowledge is fluid. And that’s okay. It is truly okay if you change your mind about what is best or safest for yourself or your family.
I think about when my oldest was a baby. Back then, they marketed “Tylenol Cold- Infant” formula. This is sort of mind-boggling to us now, since recommendations for appropriate ages to receive cold medicine have since changed. Of course, when I was a child, we took baby aspirin– and now everyone knows aspirin for children is a huge no-no!
Should we feel awful about the things we ate, drank, or took when we didn’t have any reason to believe it wasn’t a good choice? I don’t think so. But I do believe we should commit to being life-long learners…
and that applies to essential oils, too.
(Note: If you love and are passionate about a certain brand of oils, that’s awesome! Glad you found a good fit. Feel free to share your experiences using oils, but please do not mention brands or solicit sales here. Any comments doing so will be deleted or I’ll ask you to edit it. Thanks for understanding!)