A little over a year ago I started using essential oils on a regular basis to treat and prevent illness in my home. I’ve been very pleased with my results and naturally shared them with others.

Essential Oils Uses

I found that in addition to asking about which oils should be used for which ailments, I was also asked a lot of questions about how to use them, what to look for in oils, and more about their safety for children and pregnancy.


So, I thought it would be helpful (for you and me) to write down the answers to some of my most frequently asked questions about using essential oils:

What should I look for in essential oils?

Note:

Matt and Betsy use and recommend the essential oils from Mountain Rose Herbs, their prices and quality are top notch!

When it comes to using essential oils, get the highest quality you can afford. While some companies produce essential oils that are pure enough to be used internally, many essential oils have been diluted with a carrier oil or the plants they are derived from were grown using pesticides, thus creating a product you don’t want to take internally (essential oils are very concentrated).

Instead, look for companies that are certified organic or grow their plants without using pesticides. This information can usually be found on their website or by contacting customer service.

Look for oils that are tested for purity before they’re sold. You want oils that are as pure as possible, without any additives like carrier oils. Common essential oil tests include:

  • Mass Spectometry - Ionizes chemical compounds to generate charged molecules and measure their mass-to-charge ratio.
  • Gas Chromatography - Separates the different compounds to test for purity.
  • Sensory evaluation – Oils are tested/evaluated to make sure everything is right – color, odor, clarity.

How do I use essential oils?

  • Topically – Essential oils can be applied directly on your skin, either neat (without diluting) or diluted in a carrier oil.
  • Internally – Certain high quality essential oils are safe for internal use.
  • Aromatically – Diffusing essential oils in the air is a great way to get the benefits of essential oils. (where to find diffusers)

What is a carrier oil?

A carrier oil is an oil that is used as a base to dilute essential oils before they are applied to the skin. Diluting essential oils is ideal when they’re being used on children, pregnant women or with particularly strong oils like oregano. My favorite is coconut oil. (Find high quality coconut oil here and other great carrier oils here.)

Can I consume essential oils?

Generally, the answer is no. However, some high quality essential oil companies recommend using their oils internally. If you are using high-quality oils (as mentioned above) and they have usage instructions that include internal use, then it has been deemed safe.

However, if you’re not sure about the quality of your oils or their bottles don’t say anything about internal use, contact the company and ask what they recommend.

If your oils are safe for consumption, you can try taking them:

  • In a capsule - Empty capsules are available online or in your local health food store. Capsules are great for taking essential oils (that are safe for internal use) that will normally burn your mouth if you take them undiluted or in water.
  • Under the tongue - Some essential oils, like digestive essential oil blends, can be taken under the tongue. Start with one drop, see how you feel in a few minutes and do another drop if you feel you need it. You should experience relief pretty quickly.
  • In water - Some essential oils, like lemon, wild orange or peppermint, are great in water. The typical dilution is one drop per 4 oz. water.

How often should I use essential oils?

I know some recommend using several essential oils several times a day. However, I mostly recommend using them on an as-needed basis. Doing so prevents you from overdosing on essential oils and keeps your body from becoming accustomed to the remedy (I’m thinking specifically about lavender essential oil at bedtime – try alternating between two calm-inducing essential oils).

Though, there is one blend of oils I apply, diluted, to the bottoms of my feet on a daily basis (if I remember). The mixture contains frankincense, lavender, balance blend and an immune-boosting blend. This helps prevent illness and keeps me from stressing out too much (raising four small kids can be somewhat stressful).


How do I use essential oils on children?

Some essential oils can be toxic to children if taken in large doses (like wintergreen) or small doses internally (like melaleuca). That’s why it’s important to treat essential oils like medication and keep them out of reach of children and to teach them about the proper use of essentials oils. When I use them on my kids, I’m sure to:

  • Dilute – I either dilute the essential oils in a carrier oil or in the bath. (Find quality carrier oils here.)
  • Apply to the bottoms of their feet – Most oils, I apply to the bottoms of their feet. The oils still enter the bloodstream quickly, but the tough skin on the bottoms of their feet isn’t as prone to irritation like other areas of the body may be.
  • Let them apply themselves – When possible, I let them put on their oils. I’ve found roller bottles online that make this super easy. I just dilute the essential oil(s) with a liquid carrier oil in these little bottles and pop on the lid. They can roll the oils across the bottoms of their feet themselves, which they love.

Which essential oils are safe for pregnancy?

Pregnancy is a special time that requires more caution with any remedy. Here are some extra precautions for essential oil use during pregnancy.

  • Take extra caution during the first trimester - The first three months, even the first three weeks, are a precious time of rapid development for your baby. Even herbs, foods and essential oils considered safe for pregnancy should be used with caution during this time.
  • Dilute – Rather than applying an oil directly to your body, dilute it first in a carrier oil. You can then apply it to the problem area. Or, you can also apply oils to the bottoms of your feet.
  • Use aromatherapy - Diffusing oils aromatically is a safe way to use essential oils during pregnancy. Most concern is over the topical and internal use of essential oils.

According to Everything Essential, you should avoid the following oils:

  • Basil
  • Cassia
  • Cinnamon bark
  • Clary Sage
  • Lemongrass
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Vetiver
  • Wintergreen
  • White Fir

Can I use essential oils when breastfeeding?

Yes! Using essential oils during breastfeeding can be done, just with some extra precautions. The following list, from Everything Essential, notes which essential oils are considered safe to use while breastfeeding:

  • Bergamot
  • Clary Sage
  • Grapefruit
  • Geranium
  • Lavender
  • Lemon
  • Melaleuca
  • Patchouli
  • Roman Chamomile
  • Sandalwood
  • Wild Orange
  • Ylang Ylang

*Peppermint can decrease milk supply. It can be used sparingly.

What precautions should I take when using essential oils?

Though essential oils are a natural remedy, they are very potent. Use precaution:

  • Do a skin test before using essential oils topically.
  • In case of skin irritation, stop using the oil. If you’re using it neat, try diluting it before using it again.
  • Keep them out of your eyes. Ouch.
  • Use only high quality oils that you know are pure.
  • If in doubt, dilute.
  • Listen to your body. If you don’t feel right after using an essential oil, stop using it, or if you feel like you need to use a certain one, try it. Your body is a great guide.

How much should I use?

A little bit goes a long way. I suggest starting with just one drop and working up from there, unless you have a recipe or suggested protocol that recommends doing otherwise.

What all should I have on hand in order to use essential oils?

No special equipment is needed to use essential oils, however the following can be helpful:

  • Diffuser - This is a special machine that allows you to diffuse essential oils in the air for aromatherapy.
  • Empty capsules - Can be used to take oils internally. (find empty capsules here)
  • Carrier oil - A good carrier oil, like coconut oil, is essential for diluting your oils. (find high quality coconut oil here)
  • Guidebook - I highly recommend buying a guide for using essential oils. While this post addresses common questions, I invite you to empower yourself by researching essential oils further, especially for specific situations. (Find a great guidebook here or here.)

Note:

Matt and Betsy use and recommend the essential oils from Mountain Rose Herbs, their prices and quality are top notch!

What about you?

Do you have any other questions about using essential oils? Feel free to ask below!


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Comments

  1. Rowena says

    This is a great introductory article. May I suggest a revision? The “safe for use in pregnancy” section then has a list of NOT safe, then back to safe in breastfeeding. I fear someone scanning (like I was, until I recognized a “stop, go back” feeling) may mistake the Don’t list for a Do list. Many blessings to your family, and thanks for sharing your experience! Rowena

  2. Kristi says

    LOVE essential oils! I have been using oils for many years (candles and other homemade products) but have just started using them for body health.

    Peppermint is great for cooling off on hot days (as well as those pesky hot flashes!). Lavendar on pillows helps my kids calm and sleep better. Orange in my car always gives long rides a better feel. Lemon in water makes a great room freshener. Coconut oil (organic, virgin, non-GMO) in a jar makes a great lotion and (believe it or not) sunscreen. I can pronounce every ingredient on the label! :D Always a huge plus.

    Anytime you begin to use something at your own learning curve or something other than the prescribed “norm,” others come out of the woodwork telling you that you are in great danger.

    Moderation and research are the keys to everything. Learn. Don’t over do. LEARN.

  3. Karen Yong says

    Hello! I’m so excited to see this article. Could you please direct us to where we can get the best essential oils?

  4. Linda says

    I was interested in the oils frankincense, lavender used on the bottoms of feet. It said to dilute it, what would you dilute it with. I get the even amounts of the oils, just need to know what to dilute it with.

  5. Linda says

    Thanks Nina, is there a book where I can learn more about using the oils for body health. I would like to learn more.

  6. Jackie DeNucci says

    Is there an essential oil I can use externally for nerve ending pain as a result of shingles?

  7. vicki says

    Hi Nina I have made a fragrant oil that I use for perfume. I use about 2 teaspoons of carrier oil and add a blend about 8 drops of essential oils, I then put it into a perfume bottle and dab a little on as perfume. After reading about overdosing in essential oil I am a little worried what do you think.

  8. Terry says

    Hi. I found a great way to use essential oils to avoid using those nasty, toxic air fresheners. It happened by accident, actually. I make my own bath salts and every time I opened the jar the smell was wonderful. I started putting my bath salts in the smallest mason jars and poked holes in the lids. I put them in my linen closets and some of my drawers. Now when I go to get fresh sheets they smell so good. Not to mention when I go to put the freshly laundered and folded ones away.

  9. says

    My friend just posted this on her facebook page and shared it with me. I was excited to see this. What a great article! I had become interested in aromatherapy and other holistic and natural products in the past couple years, now that I am getting older and hopefully wiser. I had written a blog about aromatherapy can help with arthritis in order to to even try to do a daily exercise regime.
    Keep Up the good work! This is now one of my favorite sites! I have it bookmarked.

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