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Essential Oils Blog

Tag Archives: essential oil safety

Phototoxicity: Everything You Need to Know to Stay Safe!

The sun is outside shining, the temperatures are warming up, and it’s time to dig out that summertime wardrobe from hibernation! Shorts, tank tops, and flip flops — here we come! But before you go and lather up your skin with all those DIY lotions, creams, lip balms, body oils, and perfumes you’ve had so much fun making, there is something very important we need to discuss: Phototoxicity.

So what IS phototoxicity anyways?

The term ‘phototoxicity’ just means that there are specific essential oils that when you put them on your skin and go out into the sun, can cause pretty significant damage, including severe burning, blistering, and discoloration. 

Wait, what?

Don’t worry. Even though phototoxicity isn’t something to take lightly, it’s also easy to avoid and keep yourself safe in the sun, I promise.

Phototoxicity, also called photosensitization and phototoxic contact dermatitis, is a UV light induced reaction to a photoactive substance. [1]

Some essential oils are termed ‘phototoxic,’ since they increase the likelihood of a phototoxic reaction. These oils contain certain chemical constituents with a structure that gives them the ability to absorb UV light, store it, and release it in a burst into the skin. [2] 

Reactions can occur up to 18 hours after the oil has been applied to the skin and then exposed to UV light. So even if you don’t see a reaction right away, do not assume that a reaction won’t occur later. So be careful!

Here’s a handy graphic for reference: 

What phototoxic oils does Plant Therapy carry?

You may notice that these phototoxic oils are all cold-pressed. The distillation method is extremely important, since some of these oils can also be steam distilled. When distilled, the components that cause phototoxicity are not present, so they’re safe to use in the sun.

To avoid phototoxic reactions, cover any area of the skin with a phototoxic oil on it, or just don’t use a phototoxic essential oil topically if you are concerned about sun exposure.

So which oils can you use in the sun, and still get that citrus-y smell you love?

Our website clearly states if an oil is phototoxic, and also provides maximum dilution recommendations to avoid phototoxicity. We also offer many non-phototoxic oils that still have the uplifting, citrusy aromas you love:

So even though summertime is the perfect time to discuss phototoxicity, please be aware that UV light is present all year-round. Phototoxic reactions can be painful and permanent, so use extreme caution when using phototoxic oils and being outside!

And as always, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact one of our Certified Aromatherapists to learn more!

 

References:

[1] “Aromahead Institute’s Aromatherapy Certification Program” https://www.aromahead.com/courses/online/aromatherapy-certification-program

[2] Phototoxicity. Retrieved from https://westcoastaromatherapy.com/articles/phototoxicity

 

Essential Oils for Kids: What’s Safe, What’s Not

safe essential oils for kids

Essential oils aren’t just a trend! It may seem like essential oils are the “trendy new hotness” right now, but actually essential oils have been used by humans for thousands of years to heal, calm and enhance lives.

Before you read anything else: Rest easy knowing that using your essential oils for kids is not inventing the wheel, you’re actually using tried-and-true methods moms have been using throughout history. Plus, we’ve got your back.

 

safe essential oils for kidsWhat’s the big deal about using essential oils for kids, anyway?

Kids are not tiny adults!

One single drop of essential oil is equal to 15-40 cups of medicinal tea, or up to 10 teaspoons of tincture. Woah, it’s no wonder we love them so much!

But think about it, would you give a child 40 cups of tea, or 10 teaspoons of tincture? No way! Which is why you need to treat essential oils a little differently when using them for kids. Plus, some essential oils can only be used on children over a certain age, and some oils that just plain can’t be used for kids at all.

Don’t stress! We’ve got your back with all the info you need to safely use essential oils for kids.

 

What are some essential oils that you CAN safely use for kids?

There are so many essential oils that you can diffuse, or apply topically on your child’s skin that are 100% safe, beneficial to their health, and affordable. Here is just a short list:

Blue Tansy
Cedarwood Atlas
Copaiba Oleoresin
Cypress
Chamomile German
Geranium Bourbon
Helichrysum  Italicum
Lavender 
Mandarin
Neroli
Sandalwood Australian
Tea Tree

That’s just a tiny part of the list of child-safe oils! You can also  choosKidSafe® oils! Choose from anything in our KidSafe® line and be 100% sure you’re getting essential oils that are safe for your children.

Which essential oils should you AVOID using on and around your kids?

So, it’s true that some essential oils aren’t safe for use with children. Peppermint, for example, has a high amount of menthol, and some chemotypes of Eucalyptus and Rosemary have high amounts of 1,8-Cineole, which are not safe for use around children.

Don’t put your oils away just yet, you can still safely use essential oils for your kids in the home, you just need to make sure your oils and synergies are kid-friendly, and make sure you’re educated.

Here’s a long–but not complete–list of which essential oils are NOT safe to use on children:

Oils to avoid using for children at all:

  • Birch (Sweet)
  • Chaste Tree

Here are just some of the oils to avoid using for children under 10:

  • Benzoin
  • Black Seed
  • Cassia
  • Clove Bud, Clove Leaf, Clove Stem
  • Garlic
  • Ginger Lily
  • Honey Myrtle
  • Hyssop
  • Lemon Leaf
  • Lemon Myrtle
  • Lemongrass
  • Massoia Bark
  • May Chang
  • Melissa
  • Sweet Verbena
  • Oakmoss
  • Opopanax
  • Oregano
  • Peru Balsam
  • Saffron
  • Sage (Wild Mountain)
  • Savory
  • Styrax
  • Treemoss
  • Tuberose
  • Turpentine
  • Verbena (Lemon)
  • Ylang Ylang Complete

 

There are still ways of using your “not safe for kids” essential oils around children:

You’re probably wondering if you can use essential oils that are NOT safe for your children yourself when you’re around your children all the time.

The answer is–you totally can! A personal inhaler lets you use whichever essential oils you need, without worrying about affecting your little ones.

Just make sure to use your personal inhaler away from your baby and leave enough time for the scent to dissipate before bringing your child back in the room.

Remember, essential oils are an amazing way to naturally enhance your child’s life, care for their body and nurture their mind. All it takes is a little education, some quality oils and a loving parent to reap all the benefits essential oils have to offer!

Top 10 Most-Read Plant Therapy Blog Posts of 2017

Plant Therapy’s team of Certified Aromatherapists have posted hundreds of blogs over the years, intended to educate and inspire. Millions of page views later, these are Plant Therapy’s top 10 most popular blog posts of 2017. Enjoy!

SAFE ESSENTIAL OILS FOR CHILDREN

These oils were chosen by Plant Therapy’s expert as the oils to start out with when using essential oils on younger children.

These safety guidelines are for the general public use. This does not mean that these safety concerns will effect every child under the age of 6.

 

CAN PEPPERMINT AND EUCALYPTUS BE USED ON YOUNG CHILDREN?

This amazing safety information has been floating around some pages and has started to concern a lot of parents who have used these oils on their young children. I contacted Robert Tisserand with some of these concerns and just heard back.

 

FRANKINCENSE 

We discuss the differences between different species of frankincense.  It’s fair to say that frankincense species can be used in place of each other, for the most part. However, for those who want a more targeted approach, we want to be sure that you are armed with the information you need to buy the frankincense that is right for you.

 

 

ESSENTIAL OIL DILUTION CHART

Plant Therapy provides the best resources for dilution, safety, and usage information in easy-to-use reference charts. We’re taking the guesswork out of essential oils!

 

5 ESSENTIAL OILS TO HELP WITH MOTION SICKNESS

With summer on it’s way, I am starting to plan for all my summer vacations. I have two young boys and we are planning on going to Disney Land this summer!! I will also be quite pregnant and know that car/motion sickness will be an issue with my family while traveling. Because of this, I have gone ahead and listed my top 5 essential oils to use for motion sickness.  Stay healthy and enjoy your summer!

 

 

HOW TO READ THE DILUTION CHART

The dilution chart. We often get asked, “How in the world do you read this thing?” We realize that this might seem intimidating — but we promise it’s not as bad as it seems! It’s important to remember that anytime you apply essential oils to the skin, you’ll want to use a carrier oil. This chart helps you find the right ratio for your situation. 

 

PLANT THERAPY SYNERGY COMPARISON CHART

When building our comparison charts we like to focus on the therapeutic properties of the blends rather than the oils that make up the synergy blend.  With this in mind, we have included a list of each individual oil in the blends so you can determine for yourself if it is the right one for you.

What is a synergy blend?  It is the “working together” of two or more essential oils that gives a better result than the total of their individual effects. When blended together, completely new compounds are formed.  The chemical constituents in a single oil can have an enhancing effect on the other oils in the blend.

 

WHERE TO APPLY ESSENTIAL OILS ON THE BODY

When it comes to essential oils the saying “I’d rather be safe than sorry” should be taken seriously. Essential oils are very potent and may cause irritation to some skin types. Here’s how to be SAFE rather than SORRY. 

 

CAN ESSENTIAL OILS BE INGESTED?

Can essential oils be ingested? Yes? No? Sometimes? Maybe? Yep, that about sums it up. You are probably getting a different answer everywhere you look. You will find people who are adamant for ingesting essential oils and people who are equally as adamant that you should not ingest essential oils. Who is right? Who should you listen to?

 

NATURAL REMEDIES FOR POISON IVY, OAK AND SUMAC USING ESSENTIAL OILS

I had NEVER had a poison ivy breakout before now, so I was quite surprised when I noticed my arm was bright red and twice the size that it normally is.  Then the itch set in…and it itched and itched…  I searched the medicine cabinet for relief, remembering my poor little ornamental rose bush, that 2 days earlier was being strangled to death by that evil little vine known as poison ivy.

A Field Trip

Some of us recently had the pleasure of taking a “field” trip to a Peppermint/Spearmint farm. It’s always fun to spend time with co-workers in a different environment and being outside in the sun, was an added bonus. We were in beautiful fields where Peppermint and Spearmint are grown for essential oil. Much mint is now grown in the United States. In fact the US is one of the largest producers of mint.

Naturally, we all had to pick some sprigs and smell the wonderful aroma of fresh-from-the-field mint. It’s so uplifting and invigorating. Chris Jones, the owner of Plant Therapy, was there with his associates as well. They often personally go to farms where the oils are grown to check the quality of the plants and the practices of the farmers. They also like to look at the sustainability of the farms.

Chris Jones speaking to the farmer while the Peppermint distills

There is something about being in a field or garden that Is very grounding and pleasing to the senses. It brings one back to the earth and our dependence on it. We all were enjoying slowing down for a moment and learning about these wonderful, useful herbs. We know that Peppermint is strong and helpful with many things. In my opinion it is a must have, as it is great for physical issues as well as emotional.  Plant Therapy  has two Peppermint essential oils, from two different places in the world! One is grown in the US and the other is grown India.  Although they can address similar issues, they have a slightly different scent. 

Peppermint is cooling and can help sore muscles and joints, due to overexertion. It is better for a localized area, rather than a whole-body application. It is good for head and neck tension and congestion. I look at Peppermint with fondness, because it turned my husband from skeptical about essential oils, to someone who now asks me, “Can I use some of your Peppermint? I have a headache.” Peppermint is useful for digestive issues and has calmed my tummy in many situations. Even just smelling it, has at times done the trick for me. It is also uplifting and energizing. Peppermint essential oil is not a KidSafe essential oil, and we recommend that it be used on those ages 10 and up.

Peppermint is featured in many different synergies. Some of these are; DiGiZen, Brain Aid, Tingly Mint, Tension Relief, Respir-Aid, Zit Fighter, and our Muscle Aloe Jelly.

KidSafe Spearmint Essential Oil Mentha spicata is the more subtle relative of Peppermint and sometimes overlooked. but it too is a gem.  It also can help with tummy issues, head and neck tension and discomfort as well. But according to essential oil expert Robert Tisserand, Spearmint is a more sedating, while Peppermint is stimulating. They are both uplifting, but in the evening I would be more likely to use Spearmint than Peppermint if needed, so as to not keep me awake. I also love that Spearmint is KidSafe.

Some synergies with Spearmint are; Tummy All Better, Sniffle Stopper, Coco’s Blend and Tension Relief.

The finished product of Peppermint essential oil and hydrosol 

Any essential oil is very concentrated and requires a lot of plant material. In this case, it takes 1 acre of Peppermint to make approximately 1 lb of essential oil!  This demonstrates just how powerful each drop can be.  As we watched the collecting of the plant material with a swather coils and pipes and huge vats doing their distillation magic, and then the finished product, we certainly had an appreciation for the hard work that goes into each little bottle. This is a precious and abundant crop that offers such versatility of uses.

 

What are your uses for Peppermint and Spearmint?

 

Carrier oils – The Other Part of the Equation

Carrier oils have become so exciting to me!

I used to think of them as just oils used to dilute essential oils. But in reality, there is much more to them than that. Did you know that Argan Carrier Oil can help with scars and with the skin’s elasticity as well as to nourish the hair? Camellia Carrier Oil is great for mature skin, and to help when you’ve experienced sun damage…Rosehip Carrier Oil is rejuvenating to the skin, can be used on minor burns and wounds, and can be helpful for other skin issues. Some carrier oils like Jojoba (which is really a wax) and Meadowfoam can actually extend the shelf life of other carrier oils. Jojoba is also most like our natural sebum and is well received by our skin and rich in Vitamin E. Tamanu is one of the newest carrier oils that we have and one we are very excited about. This shimmery, thicker carrier oil  is amazing at helping with skin issues, irritations, and minor wounds.  It is best used in a blend because of it’s viscosity and strong scent.

We must remember that these carriers come from plants as well and have their own constituents.

Although they are not concentrated like essential oils (which makes them very safe), they do have properties and characteristics of their own. They can determine how fast an essential oil will penetrate, depending on the viscosity of the carrier and how many Omega 9’s that they contain. Carrier oils can be blended as well, to create a synergy of their own and be helpful in adding to the benefits of an essential oil, when combined.

 

Carrier oils are made up of fats, which can go rancid, so correct storage is important.

With the exception of Jojoba, most carrier oils, should be stored in the refrigerator. The shelf life is much shorter than essential oils, so by all means use them up! Don’t save them for a special occasion or you’ll be missing out daily on the benefits of these great oils. If your oil is approaching a year in age, and you still have a full bottle then try using it as a cleanser or moisturizer. Then you can see which carrier oils agree with your skin type. Many have found the the Oil Cleanse Method to be beneficial for them.

It’s a personal decision whether to buy an expeller pressed, which is extracted by steam method, or a cold pressed carrier oil.  While cold pressed does retain more of the beneficial oils, there are benefits to steam distilling too. These beneficial properties can be acquired that didn’t exist without steam distillation, as in the case of fractionated coconut oil; fractionated coconut oil will gain more caprylic acid through steam distillation and in other carrier oils it will decrease the fatty acids.

We’ve created a chart that will be an easy reference for the single carrier oils that we currently carry.  It can help with the basic questions about carriers and will be helpful for a quick comparison regarding different common issues.

At Plant Therapy, we have an extensive, lovely selection of carrier oils.  Here is a list of the single carrier oils that we carry:

 

Download Carrier Oil Chart HERE:

Carrier oil preferences are an individual choice and everyone has different skin types. We hope that you will explore carrier oils and their benefits.

 

Which carrier oil is your favorite?

 

References:

Price, Len and Shirley.  Carrier Oils for Aromatherapy and Massage. 

Worword, Valerie Ann.   The Complete Book of Essential oils and Aromatherapy.

Pregnancy and Nursing Safety – Part 2

As an expecting mother and essential oil lover I have found myself with a lot of questions about using essential oils safely while pregnant and while nursing. In Pregnancy and Nursing Safety – Part 1 we discussed safe usage while pregnant and reviewed our updated pregnancy and nursing safe chart. In this installment we will look at using essential oils safely while nursing.

When using essential oils while nursing it is important to keep in mind that they do have the potential to cross over into your milk supply. Normally less than 1% of the amount of oil the mother absorbs will cross over [1] however, “[i]t should also be remembered that infants have an undeveloped capacity for metabolism and renal excretion, and so their ability to clear [essential oils] is relatively impaired.”[2]

With all this in mind, one must consider the following when using essential oils while nursing:

  • The method of use
  • The amount of essential oil used
  • How often you choose to use essential oils
  • How often feeding occurs and in what volume
  • Duration of use
  • Your baby’s age and health

The more often we use essential oils, the longer the duration of use, the higher the dilution rate and the amount of absorption, the more essential oils have the potential to transfer to our milk supply. This can in turn affect our little ones. You can safely use essential oils while nursing, we just recommend keeping your dilution rates low, only using your oils as needed, and using essential oils that are safe for children and breastfeeding. Essential oils should not be applied directly to the chest or breasts while nursing.

If your little one has health issues or is premature please email an Aromatherapist directly at [email protected] so that we can offer guidelines and recommendations specific to your needs.

Checkout the recipe below for a soothing and nourishing nipple balm.

Nipple Balm

What you’ll need:
What you’ll do:
  • Over a double boiler, on medium, mix and melt all ingredients.
  • Pour melted mixture into 2 ounce tin containers.
  • Allow to harden and use as needed.

 

Click Here to Download and Print the Pregnancy and Nursing Safe Chart

 

Click Here to Download and Print the Pregnancy and Nursing Safe Chart By Concern

 

 

[1] Smith, Anne. “Drugs and Breastfeeding” Breastfeeding Basics., Retrieved 10 October 2016. https://www.breastfeedingbasics.com/articles/drugs-and-breastfeeding

[2] Tisserand, R., & Young, R. (2014). Essential Oil Safety (2nd ed.). Churchill Livingstone Elsevier.

 

 

Welcome to Essential Education

By: Ellen Brenner, Certified Aromatherapist


With another new year, we are excited to launch an entirely new blog series! As you may know, we are not only passionate about essential oils, we are passionate about education and educated use.

The mainstream use of essential oils continues to explode. Holy cow, I was in a major, national department store chain over the holidays and ran smack into a display of diffusers and essential oils in the fragrance section as a seasonal offering. Yep! If this iconic store has jumped on the bandwagon (let alone other big box stores), essential oils have reached a new level of exposure.

But, here’s the thing. I feel there is a huge disconnect happening with essential oils from aromatherapy. From  that potent little powerhouse we see as drops from the bottle and the nature of how it got there. And, from safe, appropriate use to anything goes.

When I got started in aromatherapy in the late 1990’s, aromatherapists generally purchased their essential oils from a few, reputable, boutique suppliers. The aromatherapists and suppliers knew their way around the best use of essential oils for their intended therapeutic outcomes.

The few home enthusiasts could find some good solid brands, with a selection of a few oils, at health food stores and places “hippies” hung out. Many times, these supplies were also displayed with featured “how to” books written by reputable leaders in the field.

My very first guide book was “Aromatherapy: A Holistic Guide to Natural Healing with Essential Oils” by Valerie Cooksley, RN who is still widely recognized as an aromatherapy educator and leader today. I still have her book, originally published in 1996, though it is dog-eared, splattered, marked up and has pages falling out.

My new very favorite resource is “The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy  — 25th Anniversary Edition,” by Valerie Ann Worwood. The aromatherapy team reviewed this updated and revised version and loved is so very much, Plant Therapy is now offering it through their bookstore (and I made sure my own mom got it).  This is a fantastic guide for beginners and seasoned practitioners alike.

Our aromatherapy team loves sharing our knowledge with you and will continue to do so. As our community continues to grow, and Plant Therapy continues to grow, one thing has become clear. Folks are hungry to learn. We hear you and, as always, we want to be responsive. And, we want to honor that appetite for learning.

And, we believe it is time to get back to basics. Many of you are new, many are home enthusiasts, and many just want to keep expanding your horizons. Having access to safe recipes is a great way to get started. But, many of you want to branch out and grow. And, we want to encourage you to plant a foundation so you feel confident to move from memorization to exploration. To understand the how and why of safe and appropriate use and well as have the confidence to create your own blends.

If you haven’t had a chance to read The Wonderful Wide World of Aromatherapy,” please start with this blog. It is actually the prequel to launching this series and it launched one lucky winner to the opportunity for formal aromatherapy education at the Aromahead Institute.

We realize not everyone has that opportunity, nor may not be ready just yet. Also, we recognize that many in our community are at various levels of their essential oil and aromatherapy journey. We hope each of you finds something essential to your education.

By no means is this meant to be a replacement for formal classes in aromatherapy education, nor reading essential oil educational and reference books, but rather a supportive nudge toward new knowledge with a basis in safe and appropriate use for the home enthusiasts.

So, here is the basis for this blog series. Our intention is to:

  • Discuss how to use essential oils within the wide world of aromatherapy.
  • Distill down some basic, essential education into blogs with bite-sized bits of beneficial information.
  • Instill the confidence to take the next steps in learning from memorization to exploration.
  • Provide a synergy of info from topics such as using specific essential oils, to how to best use them, to simple ways to blend.

 

Getting to Know Your Essential Oils — Part 1

To get started, the first thing I would like to encourage is simply to get to know your oils. This is an exercise to not only instill confidence and competence, but also to connect us with the nature from which they come rather than the bottle from which they drop.

If you have a large collection, you might wish to start with your top 5 or 10. Or, start with those you with which you are not familiar. You may have some new additions to your collection. Or, you can even go back and test yourself to see what you know and if there is more to learn. But, start with a few at a time.

This may seem overly simplistic at first, but it is the very first thing I do when I get a new oil with which I have little or no experience. And, I have received several lately, so I will be doing this along with you.

You will find attached a printable worksheet as a guide for the basic knowledge for each oil. Even if I have print outs from other sources, the act of writing things down helps the info to stick to my brain. Or, you can use this as inspiration for creating your own worksheet for a binder or your computer files.

Download Printable Worksheet Here

 

But, just sit with your oils. Don’t worry about blends, or creating. Just be and breathe with them. Get to know them as good and trusted friends. Open the bottle and put a drop on a cotton ball or fragrance test strip.

Get to know their smell, what part of the plant they came from, how they were extracted, and what their best uses are. The worksheet will guide you through the exercise. Don’t worry if you don’t have all the answers at first. The blanks will show you what you still need to research and learn. You can get basic information from the Plant Therapy website and blogs. And, you can find more detailed information in books by reputable aromatherapy educators such as those listed above.

I hope you  will enjoy creating these inventory worksheets for future reference while you create a deeper relationship with your oils.

In the meantime, I look forward to meeting you back here for next steps in getting to know our oils!

Copyright © 2018 Plant Therapy Essential Oils. All Rights Reserved.