I swore I wouldn’t touch the subject of essential oils on this blog, too controversial for my taste. I’ll probably be defriended by a few folks for this, in fact. Oh well…
Essential oils have become popular in recent years. So popular that nearly everyone I know owns at least one or two bottles. Especially in the more “crunchy” circles.
They have a lot of benefits, but they also have a lot of myths regarding their usage, making them dangerous if you aren’t armed with safety information.
There is so much conflicting information about oils that it can be very discouraging. I stopped using them for a while because I was getting conflicting and sometimes injury-inducing advise about the usage of oils.
Then I found a wonderful resource… and managed to snag an interview with her…
Please welcome essential oil guru, Shannon Dennis!
First off, please tell me a little bit about yourself.
I’m a quiet, fun-loving girl at heart. An out-going introvert as well as a deep thinker and feeler. I’m the oldest of 5 girls and mom to 3 beautiful boys. Both my husband and I are small business owners in Ohio who love family time!
What are your credentials?
I started the 230+ hour course at Aromahead and have studied and mentored under other amazing teachers since beginning my education journey 2 years ago. The thing I’m learning the further I get in this journey is that there is SO MUCH more to learn. So many facets and specialties. It is overwhelming and inspiring at the same time.
How did you start using essential oils?
I started with a set my mom got me about 8 years ago! Lavender for sleep was about all I knew but after using them a few times for my family, and myself I realized how effective they are for supporting wellness and decided to learn more!
What are essential oils?
Physically speaking they are the concentrated oil found in some plant materials that are comprised of many chemical compounds. They can be distilled, extracted or pressed from the plant’s flowers, bark, leaves, or roots. Essential oils are used in aromatherapy to support different body systems for optimal well-being. I love this post by NAHA about this subject!
How can essential oils be used?
Essential oils can be used in so many ways. Traditionally there are 3 main ways: topical application, inhalation and ingestion.
Execution of these main uses ranges from massage to diffusing to aromasticks and salves.
Ingestion is the most controversial and while best done under the care and supervision of an aromatherapist trained on ingestion, it is a very effective and viable option for use.
Topical application is best executed when there is a physical need like supporting the muscular system after a vigorous work out or to encourage a sluggish digestive system.
Inhalation is the fastest application and is excellent for emotional/mental support as well as supporting the respiratory system.
What are some safety concerns with essential oils?
With all the misinformation on essential oils that circulates these days I’m not sure where to start!
Dilution is important. While some aromatherapists may argue there is a time and place for neat use (which I am not negating as factual!) dilution of essential oils for the majority of the time is of utmost importance. Especially with little ones. So many benefits to dilution too!!
Another important safety consideration is age appropriate oils. Seems silly to some maybe but I think our culture has embraced a “natural = safe” mentality which is just not the case.
Natural means natural. There are side effects to consider for any natural product. Some compounds in essential oils are too strong for certain people to process.
For example cineole is a famous constitute (found in high levels in oils like Rosemary, Peppermint, Eucalyptus, Ravintsara). This compound is incredible for supporting the respiratory system and opening the airways however it is unsafe over 40% for children under a certain age because it can suppress their respiratory system causing slowed breathing. It can also lower the seizure threshold in those prone to seizures.
Other specialty considerations are pregnancy/lactation, elderly, seizure/epileptic, asthma, estrogen driven disorders, blood disorders, people on pharmaceuticals and others.
Doesn’t mean these people can’t use essential oils, but getting in touch with an aromatherapist for a personalized consult would be highly advisable! I touched on ingestion a bit, however, this is a very popular trend in the EO world and it is causing harm. Putting drops of essential oil in water or “bombing” your body can cause damage!
Can you be allergic to essential oils?
Yes…sort of. I’m not an expert in this area but have dealt with dermal sensitization, which is a form of an allergic reaction.
I also know of people effected by cross-sensitization from years of ingestion and misuse of essential oils who, are not only unable to use essential oils with certain compounds in them…
BUT also can not use pharmaceuticals with those compounds either!
How do you dilute essential oils and what can they be diluted with?
I dilute mostly with carrier oils and dilution depends on age, acuteness of support desired and sometimes the oil being used. Here is my dilution chart to help!
Can essential oils interfere with medications?
I hear a lot about these different “schools of thought” in regards to essential oils, can you give me your take on them?
Oh my stars, yes.
So there are different ways of practicing but I personally like a “spectrum of use/practice”. Not every MD you visit practices the same way, right? When it comes to all the hullabaloo we hear about the “different schools of thought” I stop and listen/read carefully.
Is the person trying to justify a misuse of an essential oil? Are they justifying recreational ingestion? Are they supporting their “school” with research and science? There is a lot of truth in this blog post written by vintage aromatherapist Sylla Hanger.
Not too long ago, there was some talk of the FDA regulating essential oils.
Can you give me a brief run down of what happened and what this means for essential oils?
What appears to be the FDA “regulating” is really the FDA enforcing laws that have been in place for a very long time.
Essential oils are not a regulated industry. What happened last year was the FDA delivered letters to two very large, high profile distributors and called them out for claiming their oils were “healing”.
The companies were given warning letters and have been attempting to transition their company and distributors into compliance.
Can essential oils be used on pets?
Great question! My training only extends to humans but I do know of aromatherapists who specialize in aromatherapy for our furry friends and find it very effective when done with education and safety!
Do essential oils expire?
Absolutely. Every oil has a shelf life and it is a good reason to know the distillation date (usually found via a batch number) from your oil distributor.
How can essential oils be used during pregnancy and nursing?
So many details here! I’ve written a few posts on this subject here and here. The best advice I can give during pregnancy is to avoid the oils listed here (for lactation period as well!) and get a consultation with an aromatherapist! It is truly the safest way to approach essential oil use during pregnancy.
Do essential oils cross the placenta?
Yes, some can!
Can essential oils be used on babies and children?
Sure! Use on babies and kids requires greater knowledge on age appropriate oils as well as higher dilution but essential oils can be a great compliment to a holistic life! Here is my Age Restricted Chart as well as some of my favorite, family friendly oils!
Let’s say I have injured myself using an essential oil, what can I do?
For adverse reactions, after you have been treated by a qualified medical professional I would highly advise two things.
First, gain as much information as you can concerning the oil used and document everything!
Second, fill out an injury report here.
Do you have a favorite oil and how do you use it?
I fall in love with new oils all the time! I’ve been in love with Neroli for a while now though. I used the hydrosol during my pregnancy to ease my restless mind without causing sleepiness.
I love the oils in blends to support worried or racing thoughts as well as in skin care products. The aroma is incredible and very uplifting!
Where can my readers find more information about essential oils?
There are so many incredible resources out there.
Robert Tisserand is another great resource for safety.
If you have more questions for Shannon, please check out the Facebook group! Her and her team are very helpful and knowledgeable. <3
Thank you, Shannon!
New Crunchy Mom