Essential Oil Safety – Is it OK to use lavender essential oil undiluted on your skin?

When I trained 10 years ago, I was taught that it was generally accepted to be safe to use lavender and tea tree essential oils undiluted on the skin. A drop applied neat to a specific area such as a spot, cut, burn, insect bite or a graze was considered appropriate as an anti-septic, to ease pain & inflammation and help the area to heal more effectively and efficiently. It’s something that I’ve practised myself and also advised clients to do so, but after investigating essential oil safety more deeply recently, my view on this has now changed.

The safe use of essential oils is a hot topic in the world of professional aromatherapy right now because there is a huge amount of unsafe use promoted on the internet, mainly by MLM (multi-level marketing) companies, especially with regards to using oils internally and undiluted on the skin, with severe outcomes.

You should never use essential oils internally without professional support from someone experienced in using oils in this way – it is worth noting that it would be quite rare that it would be recommended, and should definitely not be used for boosting general health.

You should never use essential oils undiluted internally; drinking a few drops of essential oil in a glass of water would expose the delicate lining of your digestive system to a neat oil, (since essential oils do not mix with water) it could burn and cause serious damage.

Mayfield Lavender Farm

If you consider how much plant material is needed to make such a tiny bottle of oil, you get an idea of how concentrated it is; 250 pounds of lavender for just 1 pound of lavender oil, 1200 rose flowers for just 20 drops of rose oil.

I had never had a ‘reaction’ to an essential oil (apart from a few I’ve disliked the scent of), but a few months ago during a course making an alcohol perfume, my skin responded in this way (see image below) after dropping an essential oil mixed with alcohol on it, it passed after about 20 minutes and may have been due to the alcohol. I have handled essential oils pretty much every day for 10 years without problems but this goes to show that you can never be sure and should always be careful.

Reaction to a blend of essential oil & alcohol.

If you do happen to get an essential oil on your skin and have a ‘reaction (which could include burning, itching, a rash or hives) then you can apply olive oil or another base product to the area as this will help to dilute it. Even if you have used lavender neat on your skin without any initial reactions or irritation it could still cause ‘sensitisation’. which can occur after over use of a product.

What does sensitisation mean?

  • it’s an immune response to using an oil regularly over a period of time,
  • symptoms could include a rash, hives, blisters, sores, burning, cracked skin & shortness of breath,
  • it could mean that you can never use that oil again.

If, like me, you use lavender for a myriad of reasons, it would be a real shame to one day find you can’t use it all, so it’s wise to take precautions.

Using essential oils is not a case of the more you use the better the effect, so you do not miss out by diluting the oil, in fact it is usually more beneficial to be used in a carrier product.

Advantages of diluting essential oils:

  • base oils are nourishing to the skin,
  • you use a lot less oil which reduces the demand which means less impact on the environment,
  • you use less and therefore spend less.

I now have a bottle of ready to use lavender essential oil blended in olive oil in the house for all those moments when I need it. If you want to make a ready to use blend you can either add 5 drops to 10ml of base oil (or 2 drops in 10ml for children & sensitive skin), or if you have a different sized container, click here to refer to the blending chart to check how many drops to use.

Click for How to Use Essential Oils in the Bath

Do not dilute essential oil when using in a diffuser or burner, in an inhaler stick, if you sprinkle lavender on your pillow at night, or use it in your ironing water. None of these are going directly on your skin and using a base oil would stain sheets or damage diffusers.

Since lavender is one of the safest essential oils to use, all other essential oils should also be diluted before use on the skin, including in the bath.

How to use Essential Oils in Pregnancy

Can you use essential oils in pregnancy?

Essential Oils can actually be very supportive in pregnancy, many women naturally become more connected to their body and more considerate and caring of themselves at this time – so using essential oils can be a lovely way to nurture and support through out this precious cycle.

There are important cautions to be observed when using essential oils anyway and a few more during pregnancy so I have written this blog to ensure you use them safely and confidently.

Professionals are advised not to treat during the first tri-mester in training, I’m sure this is because miscarriage is so common during this period and because there are cautions with using essential oils, therefore it may be simpler and safer to take them out of the equation. I suspect most people are exposed to millions more harmful products than essential oils through out their day but I would still err on the side of caution and avoid them in the initial stages unless you have support from an experienced professional and feel 100% confident.

Below are the most useful ways I have used essential oils with clients… (use the links at the end for instructions on how to make balms, creams, massage blends & roller ball blends).

  • Which Essential Oils?

Some essential oils are contraindicated in pregnancy and should not be used. Those mentioned in this blog are safe to use but you should ensure you use a trustworthy source*. Those that are suitable must be used at a much lower dilution as they are absorbed through the skin and as with most things you do during pregnancy, can have an affect on the baby too

  • Dilution

Essential Oils should always be diluted before skin application. In pregnancy I usually go with 0.25-0.5% but 1% is the maximum dilution I would use. The scent may be quite delicate but this is more than enough to be effective. Click to view a chart showing how many drops to use.

  • Nausea & Morning Sickness

Essential Oils: I use a blend of cardamom, spearmint & neroli – you could use a mix of these or on their own depending on which scents you like, many women become hypersensitive to smell during pregnancy. All three are soothing & calming to the digestive system & their scent not too intense.

Use: A roller ball bottle is most practical for this blend as you can carry it around and apply it whenever you feel to, whether it is to avoid the feeling of sickness or to soothe it when you do feel it.

  • Stretch Marks

Essential Oils: Lavender, roman chamomile and mandarin with a base of rosehip and calendula carrier oils. The essential oils are all great for skin care but remember to ensure you get pure Lavender Oil with the Latin name Lavandula angustifolia*.

Use: A massage oil, balm or cream would work best in this case, I would suggest which ever you like the feel of most because consistency is key in nourishing your skin at this time – if you love using it you’re more likely to do so everyday.

  • Back Ache

Essential Oils: Back pain and ache is common especially during the later stages of pregnancy along with various other aching body parts so using a massage oil or balm with lavender and chamomile essential oil would help to ease this.

Use: It is not usually appropriate or comfortable to lie on your tummy to receive a back massage, I have done them with a client lying on their side, or seated –which ever is most comfortable for you. ‘Some doctors specifically recommend that pregnant women sleep on the left side. Because your liver is on the right side of your abdomen, lying on your left side helps keep the uterus off that large organ. Sleeping on the left side also improves circulation to the heart and allows for the best blood flow to the fetus, uterus, and kidneys.’ https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/sleep-during-pregnancy.html

  • Tired Feet

A foot massage with a cooling aloe gel mixed with spearmint (not peppermint as it is much stronger so avoid this) or lavender to ease and refresh tired weary feet (Lavandula angustifolia).

  • Oedema/ Water Retention

Essential Oil: Geranium essential oil can help with water retention.

Use: In a cream, balm or massage oil to apply to the affected area can be supportive.

  • Moods

Essential Oil: Geranium essential oil has a balancing effect on the endocrine system so can be very supportive through out pregnancy.

Use: See blog on How to Use Geranium Essential Oil to Support Women’s Health.

  • Inducing Labour

Many people ask me about using essential oils to help induce labour. Although I would advise letting things unfold naturally, myrrh oil is a uterine tonic and so can be used to prepare for the birth but not during the rest of the pregnancy. I would wait for the due date to pass and use in a massage oil around your bump.

  • Labour

Something practical and easy to use is a floral water, you can spritz this on your face and across your body – it’s very gentle – much more so than essential oils and has a refreshing and calming effect – rose water is my favourite but you could use lavender or neroli. It also has the added benefit of calming others in the room and cleansing the atmosphere which is desirable, especially if you are in a hospital setting.

  • *Lavender Oil in Pregnancy

When it comes to lavender there is some concern about its use, but ‘Lavandula angustifolia‘ is safe to use –some other types of lavender oil have a higher camphor content. It’s important to use a trustworthy source of essential oil because some can be adulterated and mixed with synthetic products or mixed with cheaper lavender oils which are higher in camphor.

All of the products mentioned can be purchased as bespoke blends made especially for you. Please get in touch if you have any concerns or queries or would like personal support and remember to continue to care and nurture yourself just as much as your baby.

How to get through December and still smell Divine… with the most Delicious Essential Oils!

The lead up to the end of the year can often feel a little fretful rather than festive, so here are some recommendations for essential oils to support you as the ‘silly season‘ takes over:

Image by Jane Torvaney

Orange & Clove for a warming, comforting scent that has a powerful cleansing & anti-microbial action, a perfect combination for using in a burner or diffuser* to scent your home and ward off winter bugs. You can get a similar effect by piercing cloves into the peel of an orange which releases their essential oils – as well as smelling delicious it will sanitise the atmosphere. Place them around your home, especially close to the fire as the heat will encourage more essential oils to be released.

Fir & Pine for supporting the immune system & respiratory conditions during vulnerable times. Use these Christmas tree oils on a tissue and inhale throughout the day, or blend them into a balm* to massage across your chest – you can use them in this way if you have come down with a cold, flu or virus and also if you want to avoid them.

digestive massage image
Cardamom & Grapefruit to help soothe, digest & detox – these would be lovely made into a blend* if you happen to have over indulged over the Christmas period. Lay down on your bed and massage around your tummy in gentle anti-clockwise circles following the clockwise route of your colon.
Frankincense & Myrrh – these two oils come with extremely precious qualities, they support moments to stop, breathe gently and come back to yourself – especially useful during times of stress and overwhelm. I like to use them in a roll-on perfume blend* to keep in my pocket and apply when ever I feel to.

You can use all of the recommended blends in a burner or diffuser* to scent your home, or dilute in a carrier oil to massage into your skin and add to a bath*.

Any oil you choose to use with the intention to truly nurture and take care of yourself will support on some level, so enjoy experimenting and feel free to get in touch if you would like assistance.

Take advantage of the 10% DISCOUNT on essential oils throughout the month of December – just enter the code DecemberGold at the checkout.

*Useful Links: How to make a balm.
How to make a body and bath oil blend.
How to make a roll on perfume blend.

How to Use Geranium Essential Oil to Support Women’s Health

The key reason I use geranium essential oil is for its balancing effect on the endocrine system. When you consider how much the endocrine system and our hormones play a key role in every part of running our bodies, geranium oil becomes a useful tool to support health and wellbeing, especially with regards to a woman’s health and her cycle.

Geranium Essential Oil – Pelargonium graveolens flower oil

It’s important to actually see and feel how, as women, we are constantly in a cycle, whether it be our monthly menstrual cycle, which goes through various phases as shown in the video below by UnimedLiving, or our life cycle as a woman and the way we move from beginning our periods as a girl or young woman to menopause and beyond… I like to think of it as the way a rose begins to bud and bloom, continuing to open until each petal eventually falls. Even when all the petals have fallen the cycle is not over, it is then that rose hips begin to form, a stage as gorgeous as the flowering… Just as with women, when our  monthly bleed ceases, there is much to appreciate and enjoy as a woman enters her elder years.

Geranium is an oil you can use to support you, your connection to your cycle and your body at any stage in life. The key is to use the oil to support the whole cycle, rather than as a quick fix when you feel tension (and all the other possible symptoms such as moods, exhaustion, hot flushes, period pain, bloating, breakouts, cravings etc.) – although it can still help at these more intense times, it would be more effective to make it a regular ritual.

For example you could use geranium essential oil in the following ways:

How ever you decide to use geranium oil, make sure it feels lovely, that you enjoy it and that it doesn’t become a chore. If you find a way that you really adore, you are more likely to make it a part of your natural rhythm. It’s worth noting that if you don’t enjoy the scent of geranium, then you could replace it with rose essential oil, which has a deeply nurturing quality; or lavender essential oil, which is very clearing (in fact, all three together would make a great blend). Alternatively, you could blend a small amount of geranium oil with other essential oils that make the scent more appealing. You could also look at making a blend of essential oils that can address other symptoms you may experience, such as period pain, back ache, nausea, hot flushes, tiredness, dizziness, etc.

The endocrine system is a very delicate, subtle system in the body, and although geranium oil has this balancing effect on it, once you find a way to bring essential oils into your day-to-day life, you will naturally be building more of a connection and awareness to your body. This connection and awareness is key as you then have an opportunity to respond in a more nurturing, loving way, something that can continue to grow and deepen as you move through your cycle.

For more support with women’s health wether it be how to prepare for your first period or support with going through menopause, there are some amazing articles on the following sites:

www.esotericwomenshealth.com
www.unimedliving.com – women’s health

The Importance of You in a Relationship with Essential Oils

When we think of relationships most of us will automatically refer to the one we have with an intimate partner, but actually we are having a relationship with everything all of the time, even with inanimate objects such as a chair, or with our computer. We have a relationship with our environment, with sleep, with work and with food… so of course we can have a relationship with essential oils too. And, in all cases, we are either having a healthy, harmonious relationship or not.

Essential Oils and You is about bringing awareness to the relationship we have with ourselves and how that can be reflected in how we use the oils.

Essential Oils + You = Relationship.

The question is though, what kind of relationship is that?

The quality of your ingredients will play a part in the quality of the outcome, so using quality essential oils is important but what is the quality that ‘you’ bring to the relationship?

Whatever it is that you are having a relationship with, ‘You’ are the common ingredient, and the relationship you have with yourself will have a great impact on the outcome. And so, ‘the way’ you relate to you and the quality of care that you bring to you is really important.

When it comes to using an essential oil, I have had many clients who ask for an oil to ‘fix’ back pain, or an oil to ‘solve’ sleep problems. It is possible to use them in this way, i.e. to match the symptom with an essential oil with properties to address that symptom.
For example, lavender essential oil has pain relieving and calming properties, so it can support back pain and sleep problems. But, what about the affect of ‘you’ in that equation?
What if it is the quality of our intention behind using the oils that matters most? Do we just want relief from a situation so we can continue living in a way that has contributed to those ailments? Or do we want the true healing on offer?

What if your purpose in using the oils was more like this:

I have back pain, there are lots of things going on in my life that I think may be causing it, and some that seem to make it worse, how can I support myself best to change or address these things that are resulting in back pain?

When we ask ourselves these questions, then there is the potential for true healing to be the result, rather than bypassing the issue that caused the symptom and just addressing the outcome. The more honest you can be with yourself, the more you get to discover about yourself and the quality of your relationship with yourself deepens. You then bring a different intention to the way you can use essential oils (support rather than relief) and a different quality to all your relationships.

So the equation has the potential to look something like this:

Essential Oils + You = an unfolding relationship with more honesty, more care, more awareness, more understanding, more nurturing, more love… in relation to everything in life, and hopefully along the way the symptoms will improve or pass as you deal with the root causes.

So, the most important relationship is the one you have with your self, because you are the key ingredient in your relationships with everything else in your life, whether it be the way you use essential oils, the way you express with your colleagues at work, or the way you put yourself to sleep each night… You are the most important ingredient in every relationship.

Flax Seed Cracker Recipe – with a sprinkle of lavender flowers.

This is a Super Simple Flax Seed Cracker Recipe…

A slightly strange post for an essential oil site but I’m sharing this recipe after several requests because I usually make them for my Perfume and Aromatherapy Workshops to have as a snack during the ‘fragrant’ tea break. They are literally just made with flax seeds and water as follows:

Ingredients
2 cups ground flax seeds,
1 ½ cup water
That’s it!

…but you really need to add some spices and herbs (2-3 tea spoons) to the recipe other wise they would be pretty bland.
I usually sprinkle lavender flowers on mine (which smells amazing when they’re baking!), and a few spices like turmeric and caraway seeds. Sunflower and pumpkin seeds give them a bit more bite. Black pepper and rosemary is a nice combination, but really you can add anything you like – chilli powder, lemon zest, fennel seeds – (Check out my blog ‘The Art of Blending Essential Oils’ for some more tips & inspiration).

Method
♥ Preheat oven to 160⁰ C
♥ If you have whole flax seeds put them in a blender and grind to a fine dust.
♥ Blend the ground flax seeds with spices and herbs (and other seeds) in a bowl and then add the water and mix until it becomes a gooey mess.
♥ Line a baking tray with parchment paper and place the seed mixture in the centre. Cover with another baking sheet and flatten with a rolling pin. Try to make it as thin as possible but be quick or the mix will stick to both sheets..
♥ Once flat, you can sprinkle with sesame seeds, lavender flowers etc., press down with your hands so they stick and place in the oven.
♥ After about 5 minutes, remove from the oven and run a knife or a pizza cutter along the tray to score your desired cracker shapes.
♥ Bake for one hour then turn the oven off and leave the crackers in there as long as possible as this dries them out further.

The crackers are tasty on their own but really useful with dips here are some recipes for delicious accompaniments:

Guacamole recipe
Hummus recipe
Parsley, lemon and macadamia dairy free pesto recipe
Beetroot dip recipe

If you have a sweet tooth you could turn them into healthy biscuits by adding things like dried fruit (very small pieces), vanilla or cinnamon powder, desiccated coconut and even orange zest. Let me know how your experiments go…

Click here to see up and coming workshops (which generally include fragrantly themed healthy snacks).

When you can’t see the Roses for the Weeds – Appreciation is the Key!

Each year I have the absolute pleasure of working at Hever Castle, in Kent, during their summer event: ‘Hever In Bloom’ -it’s a week in their calendar when the gardens are in full bloom and I give daily talks and run workshops for visitors about essential oils.

I can not help but appreciate my surroundings here and every day I enjoy a walk around the walled rose garden that smells so heavenly in the warm sunshine. And here I am reminded of an anecdote on the importance of appreciation that Natalie Benhayon shared at a presentation for women earlier this year, it goes something like this…

You have the most beautiful rose garden, you’ve put lots of work into it leading up to the summer and there is an entire rainbow of coloured flowers on show, delicious scents that make you swoon and an abundance of wild life enjoying the full blooms in all their glory. It’s a stunning sight and everyone that passes by is impressed and can’t help but enjoy it.

But – there has to be a ‘but’ – and that ‘but’ is a very small patch of weeds, tiny infact, just a few sprouts, but they’re really annoying you, so when anyone pays you a compliment about how beautiful your rose garden is, you respond with “Oh, but look at those weeds, I really need to get on top of them”, and when the person responds with “What weeds? I hadn’t noticed any.” all you can do is remain focused on the weeds: “Oh they’re all over the place, those darn weeds!”. And, yet, the garden is breath takingly beautiful. Yes, there are a few weeds to deal with, and if they were ignored they may begin to affect the beauty in the rose garden, but by bringing all the focus to them, you miss out on the beauty and joy in the garden – When you can’t see the roses for the weeds, it seems even a few weeds have taken over the show…

It’s worth considering how much we bring appreciation into our daily life. How often do we bat away a compliment by playing it down, ignoring it, completely denying it, or possibly admitting it with a ‘Yes, but…’ deflection. What would happen if we actually accepted that compliment and realised the importance of showing and sharing our natural, unique and lovely qualities? We are taught to not blow our own trumpet, but what if the more we blow our own trumpet, the more others will realise it’s ok to blow theirs and before long we’ll have a full blowing orchestra of people shining. The music is then enjoyed by many, just as the beauty of the rose garden is, and we too can enjoy and cherish ourselves with out holding back or playing small.

If it feels a little awkward to accept a compliment and enjoy the rose garden in full (while still taking care of the weeds) then we can start to bring appreciation into our daily life. This can be as simple as taking a moment in between the day’s tasks and recognising the completion before rushing onto the next task. We can easily get caught in the overwhelm of ‘things to do’ but if we were to appreciate each little step along the way, then the whole day doesn’t need to pass by under the pressure of trying to get a ‘to do’ list done, with a view to only appreciating and feeling satisfied if we complete it -which never happens as the ‘to do’ list is always never ending!

Appreciation can then begin to really bloom, with our rose garden showing the depth of the beauty that resides in us naturally, what ever kind of day we are having.

‘A rose by any other name would smell as sweet’, but there is no trying to be sweet, the sweetness is just there, so take a moment to stop and enjoy it.

Click here if you would like to book a place at the Natural Perfume & Aromatherapy Workshops at Hever Castle.

If you enjoyed this post then you might like to check out details on a ‘Rose Retreat‘ in Bulgaria, May 2018 – an opportunity to deepen your understanding of appreciation in a place that will constantly reflect this. Click here for more details.