Pros and Cons of Essential Oils; How to Use Them Safely

I’ve seen Essential Oils ridiculed, and I’ve seen Essential Oils praised. Those who ridicule them make them sound like they’re nothing but a hoax, at best, or a scheme of the devil to lure us into the occult, at worst. Those who praise them sometimes seem to regard them almost as if they were magic in a bottle. Both perspectives seem extreme. Is there possibly a middle ground?

Here are a few good points from both sides.

Those who see Essential Oils as unnecessary usually point out that there are a myriad of natural health benefits found in plain, old regular herbs and that eating properly will take care of almost all health issues. These remedies cost very little, and can still be very effective. For example, instead of slathering peppermint oil all over yourself, why not just drink peppermint tea? It costs a lot less.

In addition, Essential Oils are much more concentrated than anything found in nature. If God had intended us to use something so concentrated, why didn’t He make it happen naturally? Perhaps there are dangers involved in using something so unnaturally condensed.

At worst, Essential Oils can be viewed almost as if they were magic, a way of charming ourselves against evil powers and of achieving our highest potential not only physically, but spiritually, as well. This is obviously not true. Nothing has the ability to protect us from evil or to help us grow spiritually except God, and to put anything in His place is idolatry.

But at the same time, Essential Oils do have some value. Herbs are great, but sometimes making an herbal tincture, for example, takes much more effort than simply applying the oil straight out of the bottle (with a carrier oil, discussed later); all the hard work has already been done for us. And, however true it may be that quality herbs and nutritious food are usually all we need, what about those situations where we want the boost of something more powerful? Many testimonies, and even scientific studies, support the merits of Essential Oils. It isn’t just “in people’s heads”; their effectiveness, in many cases, has actually been proven. (See PubMed.com for information on scientific studies.)

As for their being concentrated; think about this: How often do we use nature’s gifts exactly as they come without changing them in any way? Surely there are benefits to eating raw, for example. However, even God allowed us to eat meat after Noah’s flood and commanded it when He gave the law to Moses, and even Jesus gave the people fish to eat. We aren’t all vegetarians, and those of us who aren’t see the value in cooking our meat. Not natural at all, but it’s how we survive.

For centuries we have been eating fermented foods; in other words, food we allow to “go bad.” That’s not natural, either. But we do it, and there are many health advantages involved. Taking this a step further, we manipulate nature all the time in order to build buildings and design aircraft; make fabrics and plastics, etc. When compared to all the synthetics being manufactured (which we benefit from everyday in almost all aspects of life, though there are certainly some valid health concerns involved), Essential Oils are a much healthier “manipulation” of nature: they are not synthetic but come directly from plants (if the company who prepares them is committed to 100% purity).

And lastly, Essential Oils are neutral, just like meat (Romans 14, 1 Corinthians 8). Some people use meat to sacrifice it to idols. Some people eat it to feed their bodies. Meat in and of itself has no intrinsic spiritual value; it is how we use it that counts. Similarly, some people may use Essential Oils in the wrong way, while other people use them properly. Is it right to expect all people to throw out their Essential Oils because of those who use them improperly? That doesn’t seem fair. Even though they could, for “conscience sake,” the truth is, that when it comes to the health of their family, it makes more sense to most people to take advantage of a health option that could potentially bring with it huge benefits, as opposed to “worrying what other people will think.” Besides, Essential Oils, in one form or another, are mentioned in the Bible in a positive light, which seems to give weight to the opinion that God does not disapprove of their use but to the contrary, accepts them and approves of them.

To top it all off, though some people have misused Essential Oils (just as they have misused many other elements of God’s creation), perhaps our duty as Christians is to shine light upon the issue and take dominion over the earth, as God mandated, using what He gave us for our own good. We should reclaim what has been lost to eastern mysticism and declare that it really belongs to God. We should show a model of Christians using Essential Oils in the appropriate way that everybody can look up to and learn from.

Since there is so much controversy over this issue, I can’t give answers that will satisfy everybody. Each person must look at both sides of the issue in as objective a mindset as possible. Each person must do their own study and use common sense, to the best of their ability. Finally, each person must not think they have the only valid viewpoint. Just as we can see from a casual perusal of this topic that there are reasonable points coming from both perspectives, we must recognize that other people may not agree with us for good reasons and must respect their viewpoint and individual situation.

To wrap this up, I’d like to give a quick rundown of how to use Essential Oils safely, for those who are already using them and for those who are considering using them. Disclaimer: I am not an expert; these are tips I’ve learned from people who are more experienced than I and from reference books on Essential Oils. 

Essential Oils are very powerful. Yes, people can have adverse reactions. Some people are highly sensitive to Essential Oils and cannot use them topically (on the skin). In that case, they may opt to diffuse them, instead. There are still many health advantages to be derived from diffusing the oils. However, for those who choose to use them topically, here are a few rules of thumb:

  • At least at first, always use a carrier oil. This is a fatty vegetable oil such as olive oil, coconut oil, jojoba oil, almond oil, etc. I usually fill a dime-sized area in the palm of my hand with the carrier oil (perhaps 1/4 to 1/2 tsp) and mix one drop of Essential Oil in with it. This I then apply to my skin. I have used Essential Oils without diluting them, too; but, this is not recommendable for first-time use or with “hot” oils such as cinnamon, peppermint, oregano, etc. Some oils, such as lavender or Frankincense, are usually mild enough to use without a carrier oil; still, caution is always recommended.
  • Start slowly. Don’t try out a whole bunch of oils at once; start with one. Apply it with a carrier oil to a small patch of skin. Watch for redness. If there is any at all, stop using that oil for two to three days. Then, try again. If the same reaction occurs, discontinue use of that oil. You may be able to use other oils; however, if you continue to have skin irritation with the other oils as well, perhaps the best option is to only use them in a diffuser.
  •  Take advantage of a high-quality reference book. There are many out there and they don’t all say the same thing. However, there may be one your Essential Oils company recommends; I would start with that one. Here’s an inexpensive pocket guide. Here’s the full-length desk reference.
  • Be careful when using Essential Oils with children. They are much more sensitive than adults. One of the easiest and safest ways to use Essential Oils around children is by diffusing them. You can also apply them (with a carrier oil) to the bottoms of their feet. Most reference books will have recommendations for adults and for children. Some are even written especially for use with children.
  • Be careful when using Essential Oils during pregnancy. This is a very sensitive period in a woman’s life. Because of changing hormones, her body’s chemistry is not the same as it normally is. She doesn’t want to use any oils that could interfere with her hormones, unless recommended by her health practitioner. Oils such as clary sage and myrrh may disrupt her hormones. Refer to a reference book for guidance.
  • Be careful when using Essential Oils with pets. Their bodies are different, and some oils that are fine for us would not be fine for them. Look in your reference book which oils are recommended for pets, and which are not.
  • Use caution when taking Essential Oils internally. They are very powerful, as mentioned before, and could cause a burning sensation, depending on how “hot” they are. If the oils are 100% pure and free from ALL synthetics, pesticides, and herbicides (do your research), they should be safe to take internally, with caution. However, it may be best to take them in a gel capsule, or to combine them with an emulsifying ingredient such as milk (in a smoothie would be great!). I like mixing a drop with honey in some very warm water for tea, every now and then.

Hopefully, these tips will help familiarize you with the basics of how to use Essential Oils safely. This list is not exhaustive, and again, I am not a health professional. Interestingly, however, there are health professionals who advocate Essential Oils! Here is one below, chiropractor Jim Bob Haggerton, discussing whether Essential Oils can cause allergies:

Look up on YouTube –> Can you be Allergic to Essential Oils? (EOC)

*I am a distributor with Young Living Essential Oils, and would love to chat with you about these amazing oils! Whatever your questions are, you can send them to me by filling out this Contact form. Looking forward to talking to you soon!

 

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