In the last 20 years aromatherapy has spread its influence to the household, toiletries and personal care areas: consumer products claiming to relax or invigorate our psyche’s have invaded our bathrooms, kitchen and living room areas. The numbers of therapists using essential oils in Europe and the USA has grown from a handful in the early 1980’s to thousands now worldwide. We have had time to add to our bank of knowledge on essential oils from reflecting on many decades of aromatherapeutic development and history, the collection of anecdotal information from practicing therapists, as well as from clinical & scientific investigations. We have also had enough time to consider the risks in employing essential oils in therapy. In the last twenty years, many more people have had accidents, been ‘burnt’, developed rashes, become allergic, and become sensitized to our beloved tools. Why is this?
Essential oils are highly concentrated substances and should always be diluted before applying to skin. It is important to be aware of the chemistry and the quality of the oils being used. Use only high quality oils from reputable sources. Store oils in a cool, dark place. Dosage is another important factor in aromatherapy. Too much of certain oils can irritate skin or cause other side effects. Essential oils are always applied to the skin in combination with vegetable and nuts oils, gels, lotions, butters, salts or other herbal ingredients. Always lower the dosage for children, elderly, pregnant women or anyone with serious health conditions.
There are differing opinions regarding the use of essential oils during pregnancy, labor and delivery. AIA recommends that schools of aromatherapy include an educational component regarding the appropriate and safe uses of essential oils during pregnancy including patho-physiology, risks and benefits. This will include, but is not limited to, emmenagogue and abortifacient essential oils.
Including a safety-based educational component relating to pregnancy will prepare the qualified aromatherapy practitioner to determine safe oils for each trimester, appropriate dilution and a variety of uses of essential oils to complement routine maternity care. Aromatherapy practitioners will avoid using any essential oil when safety issues are uncertain.