Finally! An easy question. The short answer is; Yes, they are safe.
However, just like anything else you put on (or in) your body, there are some safety guidelines.
For example; Some essential oils can increase the skin’s sensitivity to the sun’s UV light and heat. This means that care should be taken when planning to be outside after using them. This simple caution applies, primarily, to the citrus oils such as Grapefruit, Lemon, Lime, Citrus Fresh, Bergamot, etc. But, other oils such as Lemongrass and Xiang Mao may also cause sun sensitivity in some people.
A brief list of oils that can increase sensitivity to sunlight are but, NOT limited to:
- Bitter Orange
- Citrus Fresh (Blend)
- Jade Lime
Pregnant and nursing moms should exercise care when using essential oils. While problems are not common, there are some possible complications to be considered. As just one example, ingestion of mint oils is discouraged during pregnancy as they may cause premature contractions. However, a quick review of several discussion groups will reveal a LOT of moms who had no idea of this possible issue, have been gleefully using spearmint and peppermint in teas, for nausea and relaxation. So, it is possible to use your own discretion. If diffusing a small amount causes no discomfort, then perhaps you can derive the benefits. However, the warning is there because at least one mom experienced a problem. However, most physicians will still advise pregnant and nursing mums refrain from ingesting essential oils... Just to exercise an abundance of caution. (Your mileage, of course, may vary.)
The first rule for topical use of essential oils with children is to ALWAYS dilute them in a high-quality carrier oil, such as Young Living's V6 Vegetable Oil Complex. And, always test a small area before deciding to apply to larger areas - just to be super-safe. The skin of a child is far more permeable than in adults and, will, therefore absorb the oils more rapidly. While essential oils are generally safe and highly beneficial for a child's overall wellness, it is always best to keep this in mind. Experience is the best teacher. But, when starting to use any new oil on a child's skin, a highly diluted blend is the safest method. If no ill effects are encountered, subsequent applications can be of a higher concentration, if desired and well-tolerated.
About Hot and Cool Oils
Two main classifications of essential oils are the 'Hot' and 'Cold' classes. Cinnamon, Black Pepper are examples of oils which are considered 'hot'. This simply means that they can cause a dramatic increase in circulation, reddening the skin and causing a warm or heating sensation where it is applied. An example of a 'Cold' oil would be Wintergreen essential oil. As you may expect, it causes a cooling sensation as it is absorbed into the skin. With young children, a careful strategy of avoidance (of very hot oils) or highly diluted applications should always be considered. As for Wintergreen, this oil contains Salicylates (marketed as common aspirin). Although there are no documented issues with natural salicylates, it is prudent, Due to possible complications with children under six, to avoid use with small children.
Generally speaking, it is not common for essential oils to adversely 'react' when applied - outside of the occaisional mild-to-moderate 'heating and reddening' of the area. However, essential oils ARE chemicals... Natural chemicals, but chemicals nonetheless. As such, they can and do react with the chemicals found in common personal care products.
When this occurs, apply a generous portion of carrier oil, to dilute and reduce the rate of absorbtion.
If this occurs in your case, seriously consider discontinuing the use of any commercial personal care products which may be causing the reaction. For a deeper discussion of toxic and persistant chemicals from personal care products, look for an article called "The Dirty Dozen - Revisited" on our eMagazine site. (Should be posted in July 2018)
If a child has been exposed to commercial lotions, creams, and oils; it is possible that an essential oil reaction with the chemicals in the old product, trapped under the skin, may occur. First of all, don't worry. Maybe the commercial product was a mistake, maybe not. But, it will work its way out of the skin in a short time. Simply dilute the carrier/essential oil blend to a sufficiently low concentration so that no reaction occurs. The natural oils will help to 'detox' the skin in a child just as they do for an adult. It may simply require more patience to avoid any undue discomfort.
Young Living Essential Oils has created a line of essential oil-enhanced products for babies and small children called the "YL Seedlings" product line. These products are specially formulated to be gentle and safe for your infant or toddller.
It is also important to note that diffused oils in a child's space should be appropriate for the child's size as well as honor any sensitivities that may arise. Inhaled vapors may affect a small child at significantly lower concentrations than in adults.
What about internal use of essential oils? Here is the nitty gritty on ingesting essential oils; Most aromatherapy schools in North America do not advocate the ingestion of essential oils. This is primarily due to the simple fact that their business model is AROMA-therapy. However, the fact remains that the FDA has not approved any essential oil (Either brand or type) for internal, medicinal use. (I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for them to do so either)
The approval process for medicinal use is an expensive and corrupt political process that is usually funded by drug company’s seeking to have their patented chemicals approved for medical use. And, since essential oils cannot be patented and controlled for profit, it is unlikely that any of the dozens of pharmaceutical corporations would spend their cash on the process.
Therefore, the official position on the ingestion of many essential oils is determined by a lack of action from corporations, which have no profit-incentive, and a government agency which has no interest in evaluating therapeutic grade oils for medicinal purposes (Again, no profit incentive). Yet, either will gladly prosecute any company or individual who makes the mistake of advocating it for 'medical' purposes.
To make choosing dietary oils easier for our members, Young Living Essential Oils has developed a special labeling process for oils which are considered dietary. These are oils that no sane person or even government agency could dispute the safety of ingestion. These specially labeled oils are called "Vitality" Dietary Essential Oils." At the time of this writing, there are forty-three oils in the Vitality line which can be used for flavoring beverages, baking healthy snacks, adding to frozen treats and smoothies, and using on meals in lieu of certain spices.
Cooking with Essential Oils:
While the Vitality line of oils are specifically labeled as dietary oils, there are many more essential oils which are considered by many to be perfectly safe to ingest. One such example from the writer's personal experience, is Pine Essential Oil which, I ingest on a regular basis for its wellness benefits. Ethnobotanical pioneer Euel Gibbons was famous for quoting the many parts of the pine tree which are, most certainly, edible. The pine tree elements have been used in Native American traditional medicine for centuries or more.
Much has been said here about safety concerns when using essential oils. Yet, the fact cannot be disputed that essential oils have been used for milennia in almost every aspect of human life. Most of the information above is dedicated to children who have more sensitive constitutions than adults. That being said, the effective use of essential oils in the home, on the body, and at the office, requires very little effort to do safely and responsibly.
Our mission is to provide every member with the knowledge and tools necessary to remove harmful toxins from their homes and, to live the most rewarding wellness lifestyle possible.
We believe essential oils are KEY to achieving that goal.