Online Orders are Still Being Processed
Restorative Aromatics is located in Philadelphia, PA and the "stay at home" order went effect on March 23rd. We will still be processing and fulfilling online orders that come in until at which point it becomes no longer feasible. I've been working from home for the past three weeks, so while I am a little stir crazy, my contact with the outside world has been minimal and I am still in good health. All of my products are handcrafted by me, in my home studio, so they are not coming from warehouses or retail locations.
My local post office has package drop off slots right by the main entrance and I am leaving the house wearing nitrile gloves and face masks while sanitizing everything in the process in order to keep myself safe. It literally takes me 30 seconds to drop off packages and I do not have to wait in line or interact with anyone. Please note that delivery times may vary once they are mailed out as the postal service is also overwhelmed at this point. There may be some additional delays with shipments of my supplies arriving on time. I am trying to anticipate my needs weeks in advance in order to keep things in stock.
Restorative Aromatics will soon be rebranding to Belladonna's Botanicals in next couple of months and will be launching a new website. I'm working hard to getting the content on the new website up and running.
I am still releasing new products on a weekly basis as my new product to do list is always about 100 items deep at any given time. My assistants: Corey (pictured right) the manager of sitting on my printer and Moon (pictured left) the VP of crinkling plastic things are hard at work assisting me in this process.
Coming Soon: Online Zoom Classes & Workshops
I am in the process of working on putting together a series of workshops and classes via Zoom, stay tuned for topics, announcements and scheduling. All classes will have a sliding scale payment fee since we are all struggling during this difficult time in human history. I've also been taking the time to enjoy several courses myself and to finish a few courses I started last year as well.
Taking Care of Ourselves
Magic and ritual have the power to help us and to heal the universal despair we are feeling as we face isolation and the disruption of our daily lives. I'd be lying if I said that I was doing great every day, because some days I am not at all doing well and its okay to feel grief for all that we are going through.
Stay home, do magic, and be well.
Hand Sanitizer recipes being circulated with regards to the coronavirus (COVID-19) are problematic. In this updated video, I am discussing what you need to know about making your own hand sanitizer for adults and safety concerns for children and pregnant adults if including essential oils. I am sharing the formulation recommendations from the World Health Organization plus recommendations regarding amount of essential oil drops per ounce, essential oils with antiviral properties and how they work, which essential oils to avoid for children and pregnant adults, and where to buy ingredients, and other alternatives.
Kayla Fioravanti further explains the importance of understanding the percentage of alcohol needed by volume, meaning that if you use 70% isopropyl alcohol and add aloe vera to it, the aloe vera then decreases the alcohol content. Read more in The Dirty Truth About DIY Hand Sanitizer Recipes The Tisserand Institute also talks about Effective Use of Alcohol for Aromatic Blending including the solubiity of essential oils in alcohol bases and using preservatives when needed if the alcohol content is too low and for water-based products.
Hand Sanitizer Ingredients
Some sources say if getting commercially available hand sanitizer that ones with 70% isopropyl alcohol are okay, but if you are making your own at home, it is best to use 99% Isopropyl alcohol if possible though if all you have access to is 91% which you can buy in stores, it is better than nothing.
*Most sources are suggesting using Aloe Vera Gel. I experimented with this since I have all varieties on hand as an aromatherapist and herbalist. The Gel does not blend well with the alcohol base and ends up in a slimy gelatinous blob. The Aloe Vera Gelly or Juice blend more consistently with the alcohol. The consistency will be more liquidy than the thicker gel type commercial hand sanitizers so a little will go a long way. Shake well before use and you will only need a few drops to cover both hands.
Essential Oils and Phytochemicals
All plants contain Phytochemicals (plant-based chemicals) and they are a part of what endow essential oils with their therapeutic applications. Essential oils can contain hundreds of different phytochemicals that are classified into different families: Monoterpenes, Sesquiterpenes, Monoterpene Alcohols, Sesquiterpene Alcohols, Esters, Aldehydes, Ketones, Phenols, Phenylpropanoids, Ethers (Oxides), Sesquiterpene Lactones, and Furanocoumarins.
Essential oils high in Monoterpenes, Monoterpene Alcohols, Aldehydes, Phenols, and Ethers/Oxides all have antiviral properties as a result of their chemical composition. Essential Oils high in Aldehydes, Phenols, and Ethers will have additional safety concerns and some are not recommended for use on the skin in high amounts.
Antiviral Essential Oils (Just noting that while they have antiviral properties, there is yet to be clinical evidence that they work in preventing Coronavirus COVID-19)
Not recommended due to safety issues because they are skin sensitizers (not safe for children and most should be avoided during pregnancy)
Not recommended due to price or limited availability
Herb bath: add epsom salt or sea salt and herbs, though I would not bath in garlic as that would be rather pungent. Use a tea bag to prevent mess. If adding essential oils use a carrier or vegetable oil base and then add to the tub so they disperse properly.
Herbal tinctures: use grain alcohol or apple cider vinegar, add herbs to the alcohol and allow to sit for up to a month in a cool dark place, strain, bottle and you can use a dropper full by mouth or added to a beverage as needed to boost the immune system. Tinctures last for years and do not go bad.
Making You Own Soap
Melt and pour soap bases would be the best way to go about making your own soap at home. It is easy to use. You can simply melt it in a double boiler or even in the microwave in a pyrex container or glass bowl. You can add essential oils. I would recommend a 1% dilution ratio which would be about 10 drops per ounce. You can also add small amounts (1 teaspoon per pound) of Vitamin E Oil, other carrier oils like Jojoba, Sunflower Oil, or butters like shea and mango butter. Soap bases tend to be relatively colorless or white if they are goat's milk or oatmeal shea based. In the clearer bases mica works well or you can use any variety of soap dye. Mica tends to sink with goats milk and oatmeal shea. You can add herbs to soaps as well. I even add my own Florida Water which is alcohol based to my florida water soap.
Where to Buy your supplies
Lastly, if anyone local to Philadelphia needs supplies or advice, please feel free to reach out to me.
Stay safe, wash your hands, and most importantly Don't Panic.
Let's talk about product labeling and presenting ingredients on your websites and online stores. The vast majority of witchcraft related products do not tell you whats in them or they only partially list the ingredients citing them as "propriety blends" of herbs and essential oils. I come from the professional aromatherapy, perfuming, and herbalism field where there are very specific FDA regulations in how you list the ingredients of the products. This is for two main reasons: safety and correct ingredient identification. Listing Eucalyptus is not specific enough as there are over 400 species of Eucalyptus. The botanical specification is very important and product labeling should adhere to International Nomenclature (INCI) which would make a listing for "Lavender" look like Lavandula aungustifolia (Lavender) Flower Oil as opposed to Lavandula stoechas (Spanish Lavender) Flower Oil. While they are both types of lavender, they have different therapeutic properties and safety precautions.
I had an experience at an event last year with a fellow crafter that really frustrated me. They were very inconsistent with their product labeling and I asked a question about their use of a Sassafras, which comes in two varieties one of which is safe and is used in food flavoring and the other is toxic due to the saffrole content and it should not be used topically or ingested. They brushed off my question like of course it’s safe to use. I asked another question about some liquid potions that were meant to be ingested. They wouldn’t even tell me the base liquid and did the zipper lips gesture that it was secret, which really put me off. I’m not trying to steal your products, I just want to know if they are safe to consume. I loathe the taste and smell of apple cider vinegar so I would’ve been rather displeased to spend over $20 on something I couldn’t use or what if I was an alcoholic in recovery and it had a alcohol base? While I make a lot of my own products, I do buy things from other businesses or individuals from time to time.
I have formal training and education in proper product labeling, FDA regulations and the fine line between that defines something as a cosmetic or medication, and product safety when using essential oils, herbs, and other ingredients. I always put a complete list of ingredients for my products on my website, online stores, and on the product labels. Transparency is very important to me. In this day and age, there are very few "secret" recipes and formulations out there. If you Google "fast luck oil recipe" you are going to find various ingredient lists that will help you guide your way. So, yes, your particular blend might be proprietary for you, but hundreds of other people are making the same thing. I don't know how much of each herb is used in those blends and how much of each essential oil is used, but my version is my version based on my knowledge base and experience.
I've taken my study of aromatics, essential oils, herbs, botanicals, perfuming and have prepared my products with that knowledge. I am open about the ingredients that I use, so that my customers can be well-informed... Don't take a salt bath with rue, hyssop, wormwood, or mugwort if you are pregnant or nursing as they are abortifacient or fetotoxic. That is pertinent safety information to disseminate. Safety is extremely important when you make witchcraft oils and powders with toxic ingredients or when you make entheogenic flying ointments using plants like Belladonna and Datura. That information needs to be known as well as potential side effects. As a business owner and product designer, my customers safety has to come first. They need to be informed in case they are allergic to an ingredient. Even if you are just dressing a candle with a ritual oil, you still should be aware if you need to wear gloves for your own personal safety.
I starting writing this blog post back in May when I saw articles and blog posts referencing a new class action lawsuit against Young Living accusing them of operating an illegal pyramid scheme. I read through the entire class action lawsuit and wanted to write about my experience having attempted to sell essential oils through Young Living casually for a year before I moved on to become a certified aromatherapist and started my own independent aromatherapy business, which has been a far more lucrative endeavor.
What experience do you need to sell essential oils for Young Living or doTERRA? ZERO. Buying a starter kit is pretty much it and then you rely on the companies marketing to provide "education" on how to use the oils and how to get other people to buy them too. I cannot emphasize enough the danger of millions of uneducated people using essential oils unsafely. Wintergreen (99% methyl salicyate) is great for pain relief, but did you know if a small child ingests a teaspoon of Wintergreen essential oil, they could in fact die and that is not some aromatherapist scare tactic, there are reported cases of deaths due to methyl salicylate poisoning. This is why professional aromatherapists educate themselves through certification programs and continue to investigate new information as it becomes available.
Young Living and doTERRA are both cult-like organizations. I’m not going to lie, there are definite cult-like aspects to Young Living and doTERRA. It's not a 100% across the board blanket statement and varies dramatically depending on your upline groups. I’ve met many wonderful people through my former Young Living upline and crosslines. However, I find that their marketing is treated like doctrine ignoring actual scientific facts and claiming to be beyond reproach. They espouse many unsafe practices that are practiced without question even when evidence proving the contrary is provided, which I have written about on this blog previously.
It starts out as a fun community of essential oil enthusiasts espousing empowerment and the business opportunity of abundance and prosperity.... and then it just gets weird and icky. If you question anything or offer scientific perspectives on safety you get shunned or chided because the company is above the law, no questions asked. Just to clarify, doTERRA was formed out of Young Living so they espouse many of the same things. The founder of Young Living, Gary Young was a fraudulent scam artist with a dubious past, but he was also genius for creating a billion dollar MLM company. I get the feeling that Gary Young is the L. Ron Hubbard of essential oils.
How do essential oil distributors and wellness advocates make money? In my experience, selling premium starter kits is really the only way that you can make consistent commissions with a new member bonus plus 25% of their sales for the first three months. It then drops to like 3%. So 3% of a $100 order is $3.00. You need a hefty downline that also sells oils in addition to their monthly orders to make any money off that. My best month selling oils, I made $150.00. Which was a drop in the bucket compared to my essential rewards order that month. Personally, I found the starter kit oils to be a little underwhelming you get a few single oils and then a bunch of their proprietary blends. The vast majority of education comes from uplines educating their members on the starter kit oils.
In order to receive compensation, you have to be a member of the Essential Rewards program and order a minimum of $100 or 100PV of products every month. Now, if you are actively using the oils, this really isn’t a big deal especially given their cost. $100 could buy you a 15ml bottle of Frankincense and Lavender, not dozens of products or oils that would sit on a shelf. If you use the oils, then it's really not a waste of money outside of them being overpriced. I don’t fault anyone in my upline because all of this was made clear to me and I loved experimenting with new oils every month. I still do that on a regular basis with other essential oil companies, I buy new oils that I have never used to experiment with for my own personal enjoyment.
In addition to having people in your downline, you will also need to have a portion of them selling essential oils as well. Organizational Group Volume is the total value assigned to the products bought by your downline group that determines your rank. So for the first rank of Star, you need to have 500 OGV, so all the people under you need to order about $500 a month combined EVERY MONTH to hold that rank. If you miss it a month, you lose the rank. The OGV goes up exponentially with each additional rank. In order to reach the highest rank, you would need a downline of 15,000 people ordering a minimum of $100 every month. According to the class action lawsuit, there are 46 people who have made it to this rank. It is not to say that reaching the higher level ranks is impossible, I know quite a few people who have done so successfully.
By the way, If you make less than $25 in commission you do not get a check or direct deposit, you get an account credit to spend on more products.
Use more, sell more, make more money.... Young Living and doTERRA's oils and products are some of the most expensive on the market, mostly due to having to compensate upline and downline commissions combined with the cost of owning some of their own farms. I spent a lot of money on their oils and they do push overusing them. I used to go through a 15ml bottle of Lavender every month and now I have not purchased a single bottle of Lavender in over a year. I always wondered, if their oils were so pure, why you would have to use so much of them to get any benefits? Something doesn’t add up there. One would think if you made a Rum and Coke with 90% rum and 10% coke that you would not need to drink as many as if you had a 50/50 mix, but I digress. I don't feel like I lost money per se, but their oils are vastly overpriced and there is no governing body determining whether or not they are "the most pure", " the only this or that", or "therapeutic grade." Those claims are nothing more than clever marketing language.
The Allure of Abundance I had difficulty recruiting members because the vast majority of people I know are anti-MLM. These companies will tell you they are different and in some ways they are, but you really need to know what you are getting in to so you don't get in over your head. You might think, okay I’ll invest X amount of money into the business because once I reach Silver I’ll be making $3,000 a month, which is the high end of the Silver compensation plan estimated income. The allure of all the higher ranking perks like being flown to Ecuador or go on a cruise or visit their Lavender farm in Utah makes the pursuit of selling the oils seem highly appealing. If you never reach that rank, you may have spent thousands of dollars in the process without making that money back. But, if you are actively using the oils and products that would lessen the blow. They use the promise of abundance and prosperity to lure in more members.
Since I started writing this post back in May, I am in the process of canceling my Young Living membership and have completely extracted myself from all Young Living Facebook groups. The final nail in the coffin for me was the highest ranking leader in my direct upline started espousing a lot of radical anti-vaxxer opinions and countless other members lauded their courage and lock stepped right into that dangerous mode of thinking that essential oils are a cure all for everything. This here folks, is what a cult looks like... unquestioning mindless devotion that is beyond reproach and anyone who questions or offers alternatives is the enemy. Be informed, do your research, and get out before you get in over your head.
As the recent news regarding the safety of commercial sunscreen hit the global news outlets yesterday, I did some research into it and as a skin care formulator and product safety advocate I found that there are numerous risks in making your own DIY sunscreens. I experimented with it last summer. It seems simple enough to do, but there are other risks involved in the process. I spoke with my peers at the School of Natural Skincare and The Handcrafted Soap & Cosmetics Guild and they all unilaterally stated do not make DIY sunscreens. There are tons of recipes on the web, but here is what you need to know about the risks of DIY sunscreens and how to buy commercial mineral-based sunscreens.
The study in question Effect of Sunscreen Application Under Maximal Use Conditions on Plasma Concentration of Sunscreen Active Ingredients A Randomized Clinical Trial shows that many chemicals contained in sunscreens penetrate the skin and enter the bloodstream very quickly. You might wonder how the FDA could approve such chemicals. Initially, sunscreens were developed to be used for short periods of time on vacation or at the beach and not meant for daily use. The problem is that many of the chemicals even when used short term enter the blood stream and can be hormonal disrupters and can cause other health issues
These are the ingredients to avoid in commercial sunscreens:
It is not all bad news though, there are plenty of commercial mineral-based sunscreens that are safe for your whole family. I reviewed the ingredients for the sunscreens listed below and they do not contain the aforementioned dangerous chemicals. They can be bought on Amazon, Whole Foods or any type of organic market.
But What About DIY Sunscreen?
Now you may be tempted to make your own DIY sunscreen. There are some natural ingredients that have are purported to have a natural SPF. DIY sunscreens might help to prevent sunburn, but they do not have the ingredients that block UV rays and reduce skin cancer risks and they are not waterproof.
Sunscreens have physical and chemical UV filters, unfortunately, many of those chemical UV filters are on the list above. Those can be avoided by using sunscreen with natural mineral UV filters like Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide. To simplify, chemical UV filters penetrate the skin to protect it from UV rays, while mineral UV filters sit on top of the skin and reflect UV rays away from it.
While Zinc Oxide is commercially available, it is hard to work with and clumps together making its coverage uneven so UV rays can still penetrate the skin leading to skin cancer risks. To properly blend, a sunscreen formulation with zinc oxide you would need professional cosmetic equipment like a homogenizer, which can cost upwards of $1,000 or more because a normal stick blender won't suffice. That said, the information that is passed around about the SPF of carrier oils is not conclusive enough to warrant them to be effective sunscreens.
Read DIY sunscreen: why you should NOT make your own sunscreen by the School of Natural Skincare for a more in depth analysis on how sunscreens work and why they do not recommend making your own DIY sunscreen.
All sunscreens have to be rigorously lab tested due to FDA regulations in order to determine SPF. This is quite cost prohibitive costing upwards of $5,000 or more.
My advice is to avoid products with the list of dangerous chemicals above and to use natural mineral based sunscreen instead of attempting to make you own DIY sunscreen.
I write a lot about the nuances and specifics of French Aromatherapy (or Aromatic Medicine) because not only is it a topic of interest, but it is also the subject of my final research paper for my French Aromatherapy certification. I completed the coursework almost a year ago and got sidetracked by business development and other certification programs so I ended up putting the final paper aside. It is still a work in progress, but I have done considerable research on the subject matter.
There is a lot of buzz and significantly misinterpreted information when in comes to the actual practice of French Aromatherapy, much of which comes from the MLM (Multi Level Marketing) side of the aromatherapy spectrum. The information passed down under the rubric of French Method/Model comes from Young Living and doTERRA and is a very loose interpretation of the actual practice of French Aromatherapy.
In this blog post, I am going to break down what the MLM companies are telling their reps and members about the "French method or French model" and counterbalance that with the actual practices of French Aromatherapy and general practices across the professional aromatherapy industry. They overlap in theory, but are extremely nuanced in approach.
The "Schools" of Aromatherapy: British, German, and French.
The Importance of Essential Oil Safety and the work of Robert Tisserand & Rodney Young within the practice of French Aromatherapy.
MLM companies use the French method/model which places a high emphasis on the quality of essential oils and encourages "aggressive" use of essential oils.
Ingestion of Essential Oils, Europeans widely practice this because they follow the French model, but everyone else follows the British model and is firmly against the practice.
Detoxing is a normal response to your body removing toxins from your body.... use more oils...
Negative effects of essential oils are extremely rare and no one has ever died from essential oils
In conclusion, and I say this a lot, the aromatherapy industry loves essential oils and we want everyone to experience their benefits and to do so safely. Do you need to be an aromatherapist to use them? Of course not, but knowledge is power. Safety precautions are not tantamount to rabid fear-mongering. The aromatherapy industry is not just a bunch of kill-joy gatekeepers, we are here to help and glad to do so. I answer countless questions on a regular basis from people who contact me personally with questions regarding safety, myths, and proper use of oils. Ask questions, learn something. This is how I became an aromatherapist.
Ever since I completed my French Aromatherapy Certification coursework last year, I have been curious about the trend of folks cooking with essential oils as a means of ingestion often touted under the tutelage of the "french method." Nowhere in the certification program was cooking with essential oils even once mentioned, nor have I seen it in any authentic French Aromatherapy articles, blog posts, or books. Cooking with essential oils seems to have come out of the MLM faction of the essential oils industry. Personally, I don't see the point of the practice as it is both expensive and wasteful, but lets delve a little deeper into the mythos surrounding the practice.
Setting aside the safety concerns about improper ingestion of essential oils, my gut feeling on cooking with essential oils is that it is nothing more than an expensive waste. I look at it the same way as cooking with alcohol -- my bourbon chicken is going to taste great, but I'm not going to get drunk on it because the heat required to cook or bake the dish burns off the alcohol content. The same would apply to essential oils, if you are using them for their therapeutic benefit, the heat is most likely taking that away and you will be left with expensive flavoring. So why not use fresh or dried herbs instead or even herbal infusions?
Essential oils do not contain any vitamins or minerals like herbs do. I have and am continuing to study herbalism extensively and one of the things I love about true French Aromatherapy is that it is a combination of herbalism and aromatherapy. They exist in harmony and balance and practitioners chose the best mode of application - would making an herbal poultice for a burn be a better application than putting an essential oil salve on it? Both are trusted methods of treatment and viable options.
Regarding the safety of ingesting essential oils in food, let us revisit the fact that essential oils are fat soluble meaning they are attracted the fats and not water. Once again, OIL AND WATER DO NOT MIX and that is just elementary science. With any mode of internal application of essential oils, the same safety principles apply, some essential oils are mucous membrane irritants meaning they could cause irritation in your mouth or digestive tract. Other essential oils can interact with certain medications when ingested. These are things to consider with the practice.
The potency of essential oils cannot be understated - you will often see the example comparing one drop of peppermint essential oil being the equivalent of twenty-six cups of peppermint tea. Would you drink that much peppermint tea a day? every day? GRAS (Generally regarded as safe) status does not necessarily indicate that there are zero safety concerns when it comes to ingestion. Things that were deemed GRAS by the FDA were done in parts per million not individual drops in a single beverage or dish. This article clearly outlines the particulars of essential oils and GRAS status.
As an experiment, I wanted to make Rose infused brownies, and I was not going to use a single drop of my precious and expensive Rose essential oil in it. However, I used a rose petal infused olive oil in addition to some powdered rose petals in the brownie mix and it was delicious. In my herbalism studies, there are so many amazing food and beverage preparations with natural materials that do not contain a single drop of essential oils. I prefer herbal infusions for flavoring. I've made infused honey, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar and am eager to experiment further.
If you want to cook with essential oils, no one is stopping you, but consider that there are much better alternatives to doing so that are safer, less expensive, and more sustainable in the long run.
I've been thinking about my why when it comes to aromatherapy especially pertaining to essential oil safety. I am a knowledge seeker and want to know as much as I possibly can about my field of study. Its not enough to look at the science of essential oil chemistry and throw caution to the wind as if they are unfounded or will never happen to me. I cannot do that for personal reasons based on a horrible medical experience I had several years ago. I will share that story now.
In 2011, I was suffering from major depression and constant anxiety so I began seeing a new psychiatrist who within a 15 minute session diagnosed me as Bipolar II. I had already tried Lithium and Depakote, neither of which worked for me, so he prescribed Lamictal. He warned that there is a potentially fatal rash that can occur and to check my skin daily for any signs. Thankfully, I did not get the rash. Lamictal is a psychiatric medication that is also used to treat epilepsy and you have to slowly increase the dosage over time to get to the therapeutic level. Almost immediately, I started having significant neurological issues, any stimuli like lights, noise, motion, sound, and smell would make me feel like I was about to have a seizure. I was assured this was normal and to continue with the medication increases every two weeks. Over that time more and more neurological symptoms arose; I was forgetting things, using similar, but incorrect words, repeating myself without knowing it in a short period of time, and talking in what can only be described as "word salad." I thought I was losing my mind. I was still having stimuli triggered feelings like I was going to have a seizure. My gait was affected too, for some reason, if I was walking in a straight line, I would always end up veering to the right. I felt unhinged, like I was coming apart at the seams.
One evening I was in crisis mode, wandering around the city before my therapist appointment at the same office and asked if I could see the psychiatrist that evening. I was given an emergency appointment and then scolded that this was not a walk-in clinic and that I had to make an appointment in advance. So in addition to feeling like I was about to have a mental breakdown, I was being guilt tripped for being an inconvenience. I talked with the doctor and I don't recall if anything changed at that time. The neurological symptoms did not go away. So, I decided to research the medication more and there it was, ALL of the neurological side effects, that my doctor 1) never warned me about and 2) failed to recognize as a serious problem directly resulting from the medication. Soon thereafter, I made another appointment and demanded to be switched to another medication, which he did. But, I had to slowly decrease the Lamictal and remain on it for another few weeks. Even once, I had stopped taking it. It took another 10 months for it fully to be out of my system. Most of the neurological effects subsided during that time though I had lingering anxiety and panic attacks if I had to be in a car, so I could no longer drive and would be a nervous wreck in the passenger seat because I still could not process all of the visual information of speed, movement, lights, other cars, etc. Luckily, after such a horrible experience, I started seeing a new psychiatrist, whom I adore and still see to this day.
Even though I recovered, I truly believe that if I stayed on that medication it would have killed me and that is not an exaggeration. Years later, I would also discover that his initial diagnosis of Bipolar II was incorrect, so I was in effect being treated for an illness that I did not have in the first place.
This is my why. This is why I am 100% committed to knowing the power of the essential oils and proper application methodologies. I prefer to know all of the contraindications no matter how slim of a chance they are to occur. Looking at my situation, if I was using an essential oil that affected the enzyme(s) used to metabolize that medication, either dulling or increasing the effects, it would have made the situation even worse. My purpose in aromatherapy is to ensure the safety of everyone that uses essential oils in their daily lives. I choose to be an informed patient and understand that not everyone has the impetus to do the same thing, so I do my best to disseminate the correct information based upon my research and studies. If I knew what to look for regarding the side effects from Lamictal, I would have saved myself months and months of trauma.
If you read my blog or follow me on social media, you know that I am keenly aware of essential oil safety issues and misinformation and love to research and write about the topic. When safety concerns come up pertaining to essential oils and aromatherapy practices, it goes beyond "listen to your body." Self-awareness is a crucial component, but not the be all end all good advice. No one will be able to tell if they are damaging their liver and kidneys by ingesting improperly diluted essential oils on a regular basis. It would take routine blood tests to ascertain that type of issue.
It takes a lot to keenly "listen to your body" because we encounter so many different things on a daily basis from what we eat, drink, breathe, allergens, pollutants, fragrances, etc. It is an obvious sign that if I put an essential oil product on my skin and I get a rash that most likely that was the cause... or was it a combination of different factors? Will it happen all the time? This can happen with anything. I realized rather shockingly that while I have never had a problem consuming anything using baking soda as an ingredient that I cannot use natural deodorants that contain baking soda as it turns my armpits into itchy, red, fiery, painful pits of agony. There is a lot of gray area when some signs might not be obvious.
Recently, I discovered that German Chamomile should be avoided all routes with the blood pressure medication that I take -- I did not notice any issues, but I do not use German Chamomile regularly, but it is something to be cognizant about. I switched out the two things that I occasionally use with German Chamomile in it with another oil with similar therapeutic properties. Knowing this, I will have to be careful when preparing blends for clients and customers so that I don't accidentally cause myself to have issues by incidental exposure.
According to Tisserand & Young: German Chamomile is to be avoid all routes (topical, internal, and inhalation) due to drug interactions with German Chamomile for drugs that are metabolized by the enzymes CYP2D6, CYP1A2, CYP2C9, and CYP3A4.
To explain what this means, a chemical component or multiple components in German Chamomile and other essential oils inhibit the way that drugs are metabolized by the aforementioned enzymes. Enzymes function works is different for everyone. Some people are ultra rapid metabolizers and others are slow metabolizers. The risk is that if a drug is metabolized too quickly, it may decrease the efficacy conversely if the drug is metabolized too slowly, toxicity could result. This is probably why there is a general precaution for drugs metabolized by this enzyme since it would be hard to know if you are an ultra rapid metabolizer or a slow metabolizer simply by listening to your body if not obvious symptoms emerge. Safety warnings are just that, they are there to provide us with the necessary information to make an informed decision about our health.
This is another case where "listen to your body" doesn't cover all bases. Some will argue that there are no documented cases of anyone having major issues. While that may be the case, everyone has a different physiology, so while 10 people on the same blood pressure medication may not have had an issue, you do have to take into account the 1 person who did have an issue. It all comes down to evaluating risks and knowing what those possible risks were. It is also important to note that not everyone reports injuries due to essential oils as it may not be obviously the culprit.
As an aromatherapist, I could not in good ethical practice, encourage someone to use a product that is contraindicated with their medications or a health issue. What if they were that one person who had a negative reaction? Their health and well being is not worth the risk. There are other essential oils that have the same therapeutic benefits that could be used in place of the problematic one. Besides which, this would be a huge liability issue. The mantra of anyone practicing in traditional Western medical fields or complementary alternative medical fields is "first, do no harm."
I urge you to read "The Unspoken Truth About Essential Oils" by Stacey Haluka and Kayla Fioravanti. It drastically changed my perspective on how safety issues are handled in the aromatherapy world especially when you have numerous people without any formal training selling essential oils and espousing dangerous myths and potentially dangerous misinformation. Stacey's story is a must read for anyone who uses essential oils personally or professionally -- even aromatherapists and other industry professionals need to read her story so they know what is at risk and how to avoid the pain and suffering Stacey had to endure.
Using essential oils safely is a topic that is very important to me as an aromatherapist and in the product creation process for my business. I recently finished up researching essential oil safety for my pregnancy care product line and am embarking on product development for a new product line for babies and children. There is a lot of misinformation and unsafe practices that come across in Google searches, Pinterest boards, blog posts, and Facebook groups.
Human physiology is different for everyone and the constitution for babies and children is extremely delicate. The safety standards espoused by aromatherapy educators and industry experts is based on science and decades of experience. These standards apply to all essential oils even ones that are 100% pure or "therapeutic-grade."
General Safety & Dosage Guidelines
Oils to avoid and why
There are plenty of essential oils that are perfectly safe to use on babies and children as long as you follow the correct dosage guidelines. However, there are many essential oils that you will want to avoid all together depending on their age. You may have used some of these oils on your children and have had no issues, but you should be aware of the safety precautions and wary of bad advice that is easily accessible online. Just because you have not had an issue, does not mean that it can never happen. Children do not metabolize essential oils in the same manner that adults do.
Avoid use on children under 2 years old
Certain essential oils should be avoided topically due to a moderate risk of mucous membrane irritation, skin sensitization, and the potential for phototoxicity. The only exception is Hyssop ct. pinocamphone which should be avoided using (all routes) due to methyleugenol content which is neurotoxic.
Avoid use on children under 5-6 years old
Oils to Avoid due to estrogenic content
Oils to Avoid due to Menthol content which can slow breathing and possible cause neurological issues in young children when applied on the face or nose.
Oils to Avoid due to 1,8 cineole content which can cause CNS and breathing problems in young childrenwhen applied on the face or nose.
Avoid Use on Children Under 10 Years Old
Avoid Use on Children under 14 years old
Diffusing in classrooms and shared childcare spaces
The topic of diffusing essential oils in classrooms, day cares, and other shared childcare spaces comes with a whole host of issues. It seems innocent enough to want to replace chemical air fresheners with a natural alternative, but it does pose a risk for children with medical issues and chronic illnesses.This poses the same concerns from parents and educators as it would for a child with a severe food allergy. You will see plenty of articles for and against this practice.
Diffusion should be done with care especially when you are around babies and children as essential oils that are mucuous membrane irritants like Clove, Lemongrass, and Ylang Ylang could potentially irritate the mucous membranes in the nose and mouth from prolonged exposure to diffusion. Now take into account anyone with chronic issues involving irritation and inflammation in these areas.You also have to take allergies into consideration as well. A parents consent should be taken into consideration. Would you want someone exposing your child to them without your consent?
Thieves - Is it safe to use on or around children?
I've received several private messages about the safety of Thieves and similar essential oils blends and product lines. Thieves is a blend of Lemon, Clove, Cinnamon Bark, Eucalyptus Radiata, and Rosemary essential oils. It is not clear which chemotype (camphor, cineole, or verbenone) of Rosemary is being used.
On Guard is a similar blend to Thieves and is a blend of Wild Orange Peel, Clove Bud, Cinnamon Leaf, Cinnamon Bark, Eucalyptus, and Rosemary. It would also pose the same risks as mentioned above.
I know many people who use Thieves and similar blends in the homes without having any issues. It is a trade off between using the standard chemical-laden cleaning products and room fresheners, but essential oils and essential oils products have their own safety precautions as well. They do not get a carte blanche 100% safe mark across the board.
Raindrop Therapy / Aromatouch Technique
Raindrop Therapy and Aromatouch Technique are widely regarded throughout the professional aromatherapy community as dangerous for not only children, but adults as well.
Raindrop Therapy utilizes the application of undiluted Oregano, Thyme, Basil, Cypress, Wintergreen, Marjoram, Peppermint, and two proprietary blends from Young Living: Valor and Aroma Siez. Valor is a blend of Black Spruce, Camphor, Blue Tansy, Frankincense, and Geranium. Aroma Siez is a blend of Basil, Marjoram, Lavender, Peppermint, and Cypress.
Aromatouch Technique utilizes a similar application of undiluted Lavender, Peppermint, Tea tree, Wild Orange, and proprietary blends by dōTERRA: AromaTouch, Deep Blue, Balance, and On Guard. Balance is a blend of Spruce, Ho Wood, Frankincense, Blue Tansy, Blue Chamomile, and Osmanthus. Aromatouch is a blend of Cypress, Peppermint, Marjoram, Basil, Grapefruit, and Lavender. Deep Blue is a blend of Wintergreen, Camphor, Peppermint, Ylang Ylang, Helichrysum, Blue Tansy, Blue Chamomile, and Osmanthus. On Guard is a blend of Wild Orange Peel, Clove Bud, Cinnamon Leaf, Cinnamon Bark, Eucalyptus, and Rosemary.
As discussed above, several of these oils should be avoided with children, especially wintergreen, but also including Eucalyptus, Rosemary, Camphor, Oregano and Peppermint. Even some of the other oils can be problematic as well, Cinnamon Bark and Thyme depending on the chemotype can be a mucuous membrane irritant and skin sensitizer as well.
Read more about the dangers of these popular methods of application:
Adverse Reaction Database
For more information on essential oils safety, the Tisserand Institute's Adverse Reaction Database is an excellent resource, but be warned some of the images shown in the database are graphic. Please note that these are reported issues, many people have reactions to essential oils and do not report them or do not recognize them as injuries due to improper use.
My intention is not to scare anyone aware from aromatherapy and using essential oils on your babies and children, but I urge you to do so safely. Do you research including pro's and con's and make your decisions based on this information, but be sure to discern the difference between marketing hype meant to sell products and actual research based on safety standards. The aromatherapy industry loves essential oils and we want you to use them safely for yourself, your families, and customers.
an eclectic witch, certified aromatherapist, herbalist, perfumer, skincare formulator, and incense crafter who specializes in unique creating handcrafted perfumes, bath products, skincare products, soaps, shampoo bars, aromatherapy products, incense blends, ritual oils, botanical charms, candles, and ritual and spell supplies.