Chances are pretty high that you’ve heard somewhere along this journey that this person’s aunt’s best friend snorted some lavender oil and BAM migraines be gone.
Vanished into thin air.
Chances, are the advice was given with good intentions, but the advice people give can have painful and even deadly consequences.
Before I went off to college, my neighbor was a distributor for Young Living and she ensured that I had a few small samples of peppermint and lavender oil on hand for my migraines. She gave good instructions regarding proper dilution and what carriers worked well if i wanted to apply the oil topically.
It wasn’t until almost a year and half later that I actually had much interest in oils.
Sure, my freshman roommate occasionally would put some peppermint in her diffuser when I wasn’t feeling well, but I personally had no knowledge or experience with the world that is essential oils.
Around Thanksgiving of 2017, I was gifted my first diffuser of my own and it came with three small viles of oil – orange, fight it, and pay attention. The pamphlet carefully explained the uses of all three oils, the benefits they have and clear warnings regarding ingesting the oils.
The first piece of advice I ever received was to take a drop of frankincense oil and put it on my thumb. I was to then press it to the roof of my mouth and I should shortly experience relief from the sharp pain of my migraines. This was a DoTerra brand oil, and at this point in time, I saw the big name brands as safe sources and trusted other people who used these oils religiously.
My first and most important piece of advice: DON’T INGEST OILS. Most importantly, if you do ingest oils and are advising another individual refer them to a doctor before they consume the oils.
I don’t care if the bottle says it is safe for consumption. Just don’t do it. I was lucky enough that the small drops I pressed to the roof of my mouth for 3 months only results in stomach ulcers. I could have died.
Essential oils are typically not safe for internal consumption. Responsible distributors have this information right on the packaging. Young Living, Tisserand, and Aura Cacia have it printed directly on the label. Woolzies had it in bold on the packaging. DoTerra however, states “for topical and aromatic uses” which to me isn’t enough information.
Essential oils are derived from plants, fruits, and nuts. For the most part, we all recognize that various plants are poisonous to humans or animals. Pet owners, please do extra research when using essential oils even if for aromatherapy as your pets may be poisoned if you are not aware of what is toxic to them.
Here’s a brief breakdown of common oils that are deadly/extremely harmful according to poison.org. More in depth information on each oil can be found here.
- Peppermint – depending on which mint plant is used
- Tea tree
The following oils should never be used for aromatherapy:
- Bitter Almond
- Boldo Leaf
- Yellow Camphor
- Jaborandi Leaf
- Pennyroyal (peppermint strand referenced above)
In short, simply don’t ingest oils without consulting your doctor as some oils are poisonous, while others may be unsafe to use depending on various conditions such as epilepsy, high blood pressure or diabetes, in addition to being pregnant or nursing.
Another important thing to note regarding oils, is the warning that is on every single bottle, prompting you to talk to your physician if you are under a doctor’s care. Chances are, if you have migraines, you see a doctor for them. If you are truly wishing to replace your migraine medications with essential oils and other herbs, you’re going to need to find a doctor who specializes in the subject – a Naturopath or an Osteopath. This person will be able to give you proper doses that are safe along with a large variety of guidelines. Essential oils are no different than your prescription medicines, and internal use needs to be regulated just the same. Just because they are natural, doesn’t mean they don’t have side effects.
So, you want to use oils but you want to do so safely and effectively? You’ve got two routes at your disposal, you can apply the oil topically or you can use them in aromatherapy.
Applying Oil Topically
In general, people will apply essential oils in a few key places on their body – the bottom of your feet, your chest, temples, and pulse points. Although you can apply oils directly on your skin, I would advise against this. Most people are extremely sensitive, so using a carrier such as jojoba, grapeseed oil, olive oil or an unscented lotion is recommended.
You don’t need more than a few drops, and a carrier oil/lotion can assist in making it go further.
For reference, I use eucalyptus oil topically and use 2-3 drops with roughly a dime of lotion. I massage this into my temples, forehead, neck, base of skull, and around the back of my ears. There’s usually enough left over to also massage it into my shoulders.
Always test an oil on a small area of skin before using it. This will help determine if your skin can handle the oil. It is important to note that some areas of your body will be more sensitive. I can apply peppermint to my face with no problem, but on my stomach it is painful.
Not all oils are safe to be used topically, although most bottles will indicate “topical” if it is safe. Googling the manufacturer will tell you if it is safe. Checking out the manufacturer is important because although one oil may be safe to use a different brand of it may have additives that make it unsafe. Those additives are also a good indicator that you should avoid that brand.
My personal favorite way to use essential oils is aromatherapy. Not only does it fill your room with amazing scents, but the benefits can be tremendous.
Aromatherapy is used for large variety of conditions, including anxiety, depression, migraine, insomnia, the list goes on and on…
It is also the safest way to use oils, unless you have furry friends that live with you, then see this guideline to start.
When it comes to migraines, I’ve found a few good options:
- peppermint & lavender mixed together can sometimes break the pain of a migraine. Both oils are typically the first recommendations you will receive and for good reason. Peppermint is great for nausea and Lavender is considered to be a calming and soothing oil. Personally, I don’t diffuse lavender by itself as the scent is too “floral” for me.
- frankincense with a dash of peppermint: Frankincense is my go to for when I desperately need to sleep but the pain is to much. It naturally makes you drowsy. I add in a drop or two of peppermint because I’ve noticed frankincense can make me nauseous on occasion.
- lemon + peppermint + rosemary: This blend is intended to be very uplifting – it said so right on the packaging. I’ve found that diffusing this during the morning can really get rid of the left over heaviness lingering from the night before. Depending on scent preferences you can switch out lemon for orange or rosemary for eucalyptus.
- fight it: This blend came with my diffuser which came from Kohls. It has a similar affect as the previous blend, just without hints of citrus.
Everyone has their own preferences and you don’t have to use oils strictly for therapy purposes. I have a lime oil simply because it smells good. I also have an oregano vile, to no one’s surprise, it smells like oregano and has never been used.
When it comes to selecting an oil, there’s more options than we could ever imagine.
Things to keep in mind when deciding what oil is for you, is how often are you going to use it and what is your goal with the oils? The phrase therapeutic grade is a marketing term and holds no real value. Most companies claim that their oil is 100% pure, but there are no strict guidelines and oils aren’t FDA regulated, so it may be 100% pure but it may not be.
To summarize Carolina Lopez’s thread “Essential Oils: How to Spot Fakes”:
The best way to find out the actual quality of the oil is to do some research. Look at the Latin name of the oil, and if you’re buying a set of oils, look at all of them not just one or two. They all need to be correct. They also need to have a correct place of origin. Don’t decide an oil is “good” because the lavender oil matches up correctly, companies often make this one correct because it is the most popular oil and it is most likely real oil.
Another thing to pay attention to is the bottle itself. It should be dark blue or dark amber. It should also have a dropper or orifice to regulate how much oil comes out.
A reputable oil company will provide you will all this information and more.To read the whole thread from twitter click here
Personally, I don’t think Young Living sells “bad oils” or is a company you should avoid. However, the prices are extremely marked up in order to pay employees who sell their products. When you’re spending $30 on peppermint oil, most of that money is lining someone else’s pocketbook.
Currently, my favorite brand is Tisserand. I trust the company and their oils and they are within the price point I can afford. They can be bought at stores like Home Goods or online, and typically aren’t sold individually.
Aura Cacia is another oil brand that I am fond of. I like them because all the information you need about the oil is directly on the bottle’s label. This may be a good brand if you have children as the top is similar to a medicine bottle and takes a bit of effort to open.
I have two bottles from a brand called Woolzies. I haven’t specifically researched this brand but the label tells me the ingredients, the aroma benefits, the extraction method along with the general doctors warning and the companies website. What concerns me is that it doesn’t state on the bottle that it is for external use only.
DoTerra to me is a complicated oil distributor. They have real oils, but they have price mark ups similar to Young Living without the accuracy to back it up. I mentioned earlier how I didn’t think the bottle was clear enough with ingestion guidelines, but they also claim the oils to be made from improper parts of the plant and use “India” as the location for oils that shouldn’t originate from India. It is also problematic, as they market essential oils for inaccurate uses such as treating Ebola and autism.
The brand that I have heard most about, that I will be trying next is Liberty Natural. This recommendation came directly from Carolina Lopez. The website speaks for itself, as it has a huge variety of oils, no fancy sales, and in depth descriptions of each oil and where it originates from.
Essential oils are a complex treatment option that in most cases works alongside our regular treatments.
However, I’ve seen a lot of misinformed individuals giving advice on oils, and wanted to address the issue. I am in no way an expert when it comes to oils and their uses and I’ve certainly made mistakes. It’s harmful to tell people to ingest oils just because you have and you’re fine, and you should always suggest individuals seek out a professional opinion.
So yes, please explore the world of oils, they’ve dramatically helped me, but do so with caution. Do your research and really work to verify what people are saying online or what your local Young Living rep is suggesting/advertising. They aren’t licensed to work with oils, remember that.
**update 7/9/19: After continuing to explore essential oils and new brands I wanted to add both Ellia oils and SHEATerra Organics into the mix. Ellia is the brand that developed my diffuser and after looking for the sample blend they sent me, I’ve determined that they offer quality oils at very reasonable prices. The blend is called Fight It. SHEATerra I discovered in looking for a new frankincense oil. This brand offers an impeccable selection of high quality products ranging from oils to soaps.**
None of the information above is intended to diagnose, treat or be used in place of medical advice. All uses of essential oils should be discussed with your doctor, as medications may interact with the oils. I am not a doctor and am not licensed to work with oils.
Content has been edited and approved by a Licensed Massage Therapist and a Practicing Curandera and Behavioral Health Peer Support Specialist Carolina Lopez.