Essential oil are the natural essences extracted from flowers, plants, herbs, leaves, woods, fruits and gums by steam distillation or other methods of extract.
The resulting essential oil is a highly concentrated liquid containing all the aroma and therapeutic properties of the source of which it came.
There are hundreds of different essential oil blends used by aromatherapists, all carrying out different functions and working in different ways. There are however, a number of oils that are considered to be too dangerous to be used at all in aromatherapy. Some examples of this include aniseed, cassia, sage and mustard, and while some are more dangerous than others, they all at least pose some risk to users and in some cases can cause quite serious damage to the skin.
The use of certain oils such as camomile, jasmine and lavender can pose a risk to users and should only be used with extreme caution, especially when used directly on the skin and in particular if administered to a pregnant woman. They can however offer significant benefits to users suffering from certain ailments and should therefore not be ruled out entirely. However, because of the dangers associated with their use, this category of oils is recommended only when administered by a trained aromatherapist.
Some essential oils are considered toxic and ideally should not be used for more than a few days at a time. These include oils like angelica and eucalyptus, as well as some everyday properties that people may be surprised to find listed, such as lemon, orange, ginger and peppermint. Toxic essential oils should be diluted to one percent before application, and in most cases never applied before exposure to sunlight.
If you are using a new essential oil for the first time, it is always a good idea to test it on a small patch of skin before applying the oil to your body. Even if the oil is not considered to be an irritant or a ‘toxic’ variety, this is always recommended. And whether or not your skin is usually sensitive to beauty products, creams and perfumes, you should always administer aromatherapy oils with care.