Essential oils are not for everyone. Even the most trending ones need to be used with caution.
What Are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are plant-based oils that are obtained through the distillation process and cold pressing. Once extracted, they can be used by mixing with a carrier oil.
They contain a mixture of compounds and characteristic aroma of the plant.
The safety of these oils largely depends on the person using it. These products like any other plant product can lead to skin irritation, respiratory symptoms, and hormone-related symptoms.
What Are Essential Oils Used For?
Essential oils are commonly used in aromatherapy for mental and physical wellbeing. They can be massaged on the skin or inhaled or immersed in water.
The different uses of essential oils are as follows:
- Eucalyptus oil can be used as a nasal decongestant and also a disinfectant.
- Clove oil can be used for toothaches.
- Tea tree oil is well known for its antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral properties.
- Peppermint oil can be used for digestive disorders.
- Lavender oil can help in insomnia and restlessness.
Dangers of Essential Oil
Essential Oils and Endocrine System
The endocrine system includes glands that produce hormones for regulating metabolism, sleep, mood, appetite, sexual function, growth, and other functions. Inaccurate production of these hormones can lead to weight gain, mood swings, low libido, disturbed sleep, hot flashes, and fatigue.
Essential oils can act as endocrine disrupters and interfere with hormone production. They can cause lower or raise the normal hormone levels of the body. This can cause disruption with development, reproduction, and also interfere with the immune system.
Certain essential oils have been linked with hormone-related health complications. Research shows lavender oil to be associated with early breast development in girls. (1) Lavender and tea tree oil are also thought to be linked with a condition called prepubertal gynecomastia in boys.(2)
Pregnant females or people with hormone-related medical conditions should speak with their doctors before using essential oils.
Essential Oil and Allergies
An allergic reaction is the most common and immediate health consequence of using essential oil.
Using essential oil topically, symptoms such as redness, hives, itching, and swelling of the skin can occur.
The allergy symptoms completely depend on the route of administration of the essential oil. If you suspect an allergic reaction after using any essential oil, stop using the product.
Some people have just contact-allergy with the essential oil. In such cases, an essential oil diffuser can be used. Make sure to handle the oil properly so that it does not come in contact with the skin.
Few More Drawbacks Of Essential Oils:
Eucalyptus oil is soothing but can lead to seizures if ingested.(3)
Chamomile helps unwind, but people with allergies to ragweed and daisies can have severe allergic reactions.
Peppermint gives a cooling effect to the skin but has skin rashes, burning, and flushing as their side effects.(4)
Symptoms of Toxicity With Essential Oil
When absorbed orally, the symptoms can develop as quickly as 30 minutes after ingestion. There can also be a delay of 4 hours after exposure. The severity of the toxicity also depends on the amount ingested.
The symptoms include:
- Drowsiness, shallow breathing, and coma
- Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
- Skin irritation
- Persistent cough, gagging, and shortness of breath
- Eye redness, irritation, and pain
How To Use Essential Oils Safely?
To enjoy essential oils, the following tips can be adopted:
- Always speak with your doctor before using an essential oil, if pregnant or if suffering from any medical condition.
- If you want to use it on your pet, talk to a vet.
- If the essential oil is causing coughing, sneezing, or watery eyes, stop diffusing it.
Before applying any essential oil topically, it is good to do a patch test. Place a diluted drop of oil onto a small portion of the skin. If any dermatological symptoms develop, wash it off immediately, and do not use the oil again.
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