The Best Essential Oil To Use Safely
Your sense of smell enables you to experience your surroundings in a powerful way. Essential oils are used to stimulate the sense of smell through aromatherapy. They can also be mixed with carrier oils and used directly on the skin or hair.
Distilled from the leaves, flowers, and seeds of plants, there are so many kinds of essential oils. To help you sift through the essential oil shelf, we rounded up a list of oils, along with specific recommendations.
How we chose
- There’s research. The 10 essential oils on this list were chosen because they have proven benefits and are popular with many people.
- The manufacturer matters. Each one comes from a trusted manufacturer that’s transparent about oil extraction methods and plant sources.
- It’s clear how it was made. With exception of the jasmine extract, the essential oils on this list are manufactured by cold pressing or steam distillation.
- It’s good for general use. They’re all considered appropriate for both fragrance and aromatherapy uses and get excellent customer reviews.
- It’s available in many sizes. Since Eden Botanicals offers their oils in a range of volumes — from sample to 16-ounce bottle and larger — there’s also a wide range of price points, which makes it more flexible for your budget.
Peppermint essential oil
Eden Botanicals Peppermint Essential Oil
In addition to having a delightful scent that many people associate with winter holidays, peppermint oil has health benefits for athletic performance and can improve irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms.
The peppermint essential oil is sourced from the peppermint plant, Mentha x piperita, in the Pacific Northwest and acquired via steam distillation.
Lavender essential oil
Eden Botanicals Organic Lavender Essential Oil
Lavender essential oil provides a soothing and relaxing scent. It’s often used in aromatherapy to relieve stress. Lavender oil also makes an excellent massage oil when mixed with a carrier oil.
This essential oil is made from certified organically grown lavender and imported from France. It’s steam distilled.
Tea tree oil
Eden Botanicals Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree (melaleuca) oil is thought to have antibacterial and antifungal properties. It’s used in wound care, to eliminate head lice, and to control dandruff.
Tea tree oil can be added to shampoos or used in diluted form on the skin for minor fungal infections, such as athlete’s foot.
It can be irritating to the eyes, so be careful if you use it in shampoo or as a lice treatment.
This tea tree oil is steam distilled from the leaves of Australian Melaleuca alternifolia trees.
Bergamot essential oil
Eden Botanicals Bergamot Essential Oil
Bergamot essential oil comes from the rinds of Citrus bergamia fruits, a hybrid combination of oranges and lemons. It’s enticing, distinctive scent enhances body lotions, massage oils, and colognes.
Bergamot essential oil may help reduce stress. It contains compounds that may also help to alleviate pain and inflammation.
Some people find bergamot oil irritating to the skin, so make sure to always dilute and do a patch test (more on that below).
As a citrus oil, bergamot essential oil can cause skin to be photosensitive. If applying it to your skin, be sure to cover up before going outside or use it at a time when you can avoid going out in the sunshine.
Chamomile essential oil
Eden Botanicals German Blue Chamomile Oil
The comforting scent of chamomile has coaxed many people into slumber over the centuries. Chamomile essential oil has multiple benefits for health, including anxiety reduction.
There are two types of chamomile, German and Roman. German chamomile is higher in chamazulene, an active ingredient that’s thought to give chamomile its health benefits.
This brand is USDA-certified organic German chamomile.
Are Essential Oils Safe?
Most essential oils are safe and free of adverse side effects when used properly. However, as with any substance you are introducing into your body, it is important to use them intelligently. We recommend that you never eat or drink essential oils. You should pay attention to the following factors.
Dose is the most important factor in essential oil safety. Some essential oils used in the wrong doses or too high a concentration have been found (in animal and laboratory studies) to contribute to tumor development and other harmful changes in the body. Some essential oils can even be damaging to the skin, liver and other organs if used improperly.
Sometimes essential oils are altered by adding synthetic chemicals or other, similar smelling, essential oils or they are sometimes diluted with vegetable oil. Look for language indicating purity on the label. It is not necessarily bad if the label indicates, for example, that the bottle contains 20% essential oil and 80% vegetable oil. This is sometimes done so that popular but expensive oils like rose or neroli (that can cost over $100 per teaspoon when pure) can be made more affordable. If you think you are starting with 100% essential oil and you are not, however, you may be disappointed with the results. On the other hand, if you are starting with professional quality essential oils, which are generally much more concentrated, you need to dilute them to be safe.
- Application method
An essential oil that is safe when applied in one way may not be safe when used in another way. Some oils are considered safe if inhaled, and yet may be irritating if applied to the skin in concentrations as low as 3-5%. Thyme, oregano, clove, and cinnamon bark essential oils are examples of this. Several of the citrus oils, such as bergamot, lemon, lime, orange, and angelica, can cause phototoxicity (severe burns or skin cancer) if there is exposure to natural sunlight or sun-bed radiation following skin applications, whereas this would not result from inhalation.
Be sure to clarify the recommended application method and concentration for the essential oil and intended use. And once again, don’t ingest oils without professional guidance.
- Possible drug interactions
There is little published research on interactions between pharmaceutical drugs and essential oils. Given the complex chemistry of essential oils, however, it makes sense that this is possible or even likely. As with dietary supplements and herbs, it is important to discuss regular essential oil use with your healthcare provider and together assess any potential risks and benefits. For example, studies indicate that peppermint and eucalyptus oils increase the skin absorption of 5-fluorouracil, an anti-cancer drug (Abdullah et al 1996, Williams & Barry, 1989).
Don’t forget to dilute!
As stated earlier, it is important to note that most essential oils cannot be applied directly to the skin (without being diluted). Refer to the section “How do I choose and use essential oils?” for more information on dilution and carrier oils.
Can essential oils be toxic?
Toxicity rarely occurs with appropriate use of essential oils and is primarily attributed to misuse and accidental ingestion, especially in young children. Essential Oil Safety by Tisserand and Balacs, 1995, is a valuable reference to understanding potential toxicity and lethal dosages. Again, we recommend that you never eat or drink essential oils.
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