Essential Oils


According to the British Columbia Association for Practicing Aromatherapists’ (BCAPA) aromatherapy is: “The science and art of using 100 % genuine and authentic plant essences for healing the body, mind and spirit.”

 Benefits of using aroma therapeutically  

 There are many benefits to using aromatherapy in your life:

1.   Stress reduction: Essential oils provide an easy, immediate and aromatic way to  reach the central nervous system and encourage relaxation and a sense of well being.

2.   Preventative healthcare: Essential oils support all body systems, especially the immune and nervous systems.        

3.   Travel : Essential oils allow you to experience the smells, seasons and energies of other lands throughout the world just by opening a bottle and inhaling. 

4. Skin Care/ Self Care: Their many healthful and relaxing properties make essential oils an excellent addition to a skin care and self care program.

What are  Essential Oils? 

Essential oils are the concentrated, volatile plant extracts obtained from fragrant plant matter. Different parts of the plants are used for oil extraction depending upon their aromatic properties. For example:

flowers - eg. rose oil                roots  - eg. valerian oil 

barks - eg. cinnamon oil,          seeds  - eg. fennel oil

needles - eg. fir oil                   leaves - eg. peppermint oil    

grasses - eg. lemon grass oil     fruit  - eg. lemon oil

resins - eg. frankincense           tree blossoms - eg. ylang ylang oil

bulbs - eg. garlic oil

Essential Oil Safety

Due to the chemical complexity and concentration of essential oils there are definitely safety considerations. Essential oils that contain phenols and ketones should be used with caution. They can be strong skin irritants and may be toxic to the liver and nervous system. However, when used with care and in the proper concentrations, they can also be very beneficial. For example, clove oil contains phenols but it is also analgesic, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and an immune system stimulant. Be sure to check for any contraindications before using an essential oil.

There are many books written by qualified aromatherapists and research scientists that explain the proper and safe use of essential oils. Aromatherapists as well as merchants selling essential oils should be qualified to answer your questions about the safe use of essential oils. Remember … education is the key. Follow these guidelines for safe use: 

 •   keep out of reach of children and pets

 •   avoid contact with eyes

 •   educate yourself about possible contraindications for each oil you use

 •   label essential oil bottles clearly

 •   consult a professional before using oils for therapeutic purposes

Essential oils should not be taken internally


Essential Oil Cautions


When using an essential oil for the first time it is important to do a skin patch test if you have allergies. Mix one drop of essential oil in a teaspoon of carrier oil, rub a small patch on inside of your wrist or on the inside crook of your arm, leave uncovered and unwashed for up to 24 hours. If you don’t have a negative reaction, then this oil should be safe for you to use.  

Photosensitizing Essential Oils

Photosensitizing oils can cause skin sensitivity when exposed to sunlight. Skin pigmentation can occur if the oil is applied before going out into the sun or being exposed to any type of ultra violet rays. All Citrus essential oils are in the photosensitive category. These oils include: orange, lemon, lime, mandarin, grapefruit, angelica and bergamot.

Nursing Mothers

Avoid using perfume strength essential oil blends on the skin when nursing. Some essential oils can be too stimulating for young babies and may disturb their sleep pasterns. Do not use essential oils directly on nipples.

Babies and Young Children

Many essential oils are too potent for babies and young children. For dry skin or massage use plain olive oil, it is very nourishing for babies delicate skin. Therapeutically Essential oils should not be used on babies skin until a baby reaches six to 12 months. That said essential oils such as lavender and chamomile blended with a carrier oil that can be very beneficial medicinally. Vaporized oils at a low concentration can also benefit babies and young children.


There are many essential oils that should not be used during pregnancy because they are emmenagogues which promote menstruation.

The following essential oils are emmenagogues, meaning they induce menstrual flow and should be avoided during the first trimester; cedarwood, chamomile, cypress, geranium, juniper berry, lavender, peppermint, rose (after24 weeks), rosemary.

The following oils should be avoided during pregnancy:

 Angelica, Aniseed, basil, bay leaf, birch, bitter almond, carrot seed, champa, cinnamon, clary sage, clove leaf, fennel, hyssop, jasmine, marjoram, myrrh, nutmeg, oregano, parsley seed, pennyroyal, sage, white or red thyme, wintergreen, wormwood


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