With Aromatherapy increasing in popularity, many people are using essential oils to cure what ails them. Along the way, budding essential oil enthusiasts are using Aromatherapy in less-than-safe ways. Many have been there – so excited about something new that they jump right in. I’ve been there, too.
When I first ventured into the world of essential oils, there were very few places to learn about them. Way back then, there weren’t even many Aromatherapy books available in the States. I read a book and took a home study class and figured I was ready to solve my health woes. Ah, the hubris of a newbie.
Here are a few of the silliest (and sometimes stupid) things that I did with essential oils before I studied them in-depth.
My first mistake was to self-diagnose. I had a rash on my elbow and looked in a natural healing book to understand it. I read the description for shingles and figured that must be it. Upon referring to an Aromatherapy book, I discovered the oil good for that and applied it to the offending elbow. Big mistake! When I woke up the next morning the rash had doubled and was very itchy. I was trying to treat something that was really an unknown, seeing as I am not a dermatologist.
The next problem I gave myself when using the oils was in not understanding the power of an essential oil’s chemistry. A friend and I were making blends for her massage practice until late at night. We were using Peppermint essential oil because we read that it was good for muscle aches. What I didn’t do was look further into the oil to see that it was very stimulating. Neither of us could fall sleep until 3:00 am and my alarm for work went off way too early.
My funniest misadventure was in doing a respiratory steam with essential oils. I boiled a pot of water and added the oils. I then grabbed a towel to tent my head so I could breathe in the steam. After a few minutes my chin felt hot so I removed the towel, only to find a red mark all around my mouth and nose where I cupped the towel. I forgot to take the pot off the stove! The still steaming water heated the exposed skin and made it overly sensitive to the essential oils. The discomfort was very temporary but the red mark lasted a bit longer. I got a few strange glances when I later went to work.
Fortunately, I never did anything that caused lasting harm. People have told me stories of ways they used essential oils that sent them to the hospital or left a mark for many months. Essential oils are concentrated substances that should be treated with respect. I’ve learned to honor them for the good they can do and to use them wisely, a practice I advise to all for the incoming year.