Adverse reactions, do you know what to look for?

Overuse, incorrect use of dilution (or lack there of), internal use, using essential oils in cooking, foods, drinks, confectionary, sprinkling over salads, actually, the list is becoming endless what foods essential oils are being added to – and as I’ve said before, when used in the food and beverage industry, essential oil must be deterpenated before they are safe to consume, and when used in food manufacturing, they are used in parts per million (minute amounts), let alone the food regulations assuring what is being produced is safe for human consumption! This seems to be completely lost on the unqualified reseller – 1 drop in home cooking is too much!

Do you know what to look for if you are having an adverse reaction to essential oils?  They can be one or more of several things:

  • headaches & migraines
  • watery eyes
  • respiratory problems
  • irritability
  • gut or IBS type symptoms
  • seizures
  • unexplained skin rashes (that can appear anywhere on the body)
  • redness
  • itching
  • burning/and or pain
  • hives (tiny blisters)

These adverse reactions can happen at any age range, it is vital that you are mindful of what you are using on and around babies, toddlers & children.  If you are using essential oils around this age range and not under the guidance of a qualified practitioner, please look out for the above reactions. Children have a valve at the top of their lungs that don’t mature properly until they are 6 years old, their lungs, kidneys, liver, immune & central nervous systems are immature – over exposure is even more risky, and it’s hard for a child to know they having breathing difficulties because of the essential oils you are rubbing on them, diffusing around them, are they irritable? have runny eyes? babies & toddlers don’t know what headaches are – the irritability could be due to this, do they have respiratory problems? Sleep habit’s changed? Do they have an unexplained rash? It is vital that you are aware of these.

What should you do if you do have an adverse reaction? STOP USING ANY ESSENTIAL OIL, IN ANY WAY, IMMEDIATELY! Essential oils have a cumulative effect (so they build up in the body, this is a fact!) and depending on how long you have been using them, it can take 1-3 weeks to be out of your system. A minor rash can be treated by applying extra virgin olive oil, but anything more from the list above, seek medical advice as soon as possible.  With babies, toddlers & children, seek medical advice straight away. 

The Tisserand Institute have a brilliant article explain adverse reactions in more detail, if you are reading this article, I implore you to read it here

As quoted in the article:

Allergic contact dermatitis

“This is the most common type of adverse skin reaction to essential oils. It is also called delayed hypersensitivity because it does not occur the first time the skin is exposed to the substance. In a recent report, 3.9% of 4,238 dermatitis patients who were patch tested with cinnamaldehyde had a positive (i.e. allergic) reaction (Warshaw et al 2015). The mechanism that takes place involves the immune system, and is illustrated here:

There are complex reasons why this happens to some people and not others:

  • Some essential oils, such as Cinnamon bark, Ylang-Ylang and Lemongrass, are more prone to causing allergic reactions than others. In most cases a single constituent (such as cinnamaldehyde in Cinnamon bark and citral in Lemongrass) is responsible.
  • Dilution and risk are directly related. The more dilute an essential oil is, the lower the risk, and the more concentrated an essential oil is, the greater the risk.
  • Women are at greater risk of allergic reaction to essential oils than are men. The reasons are probably hormonal.
  • Frequency (how often an oil is applied, diffused or ingested, per day) and duration (the number of days, weeks, months it is applied) are also factors, basically increasing risk.
  • People who have, or who have had atopic dermatitis are at greater risk.

It’s interesting that there is often a correlation between people with seasonal allergies and those prone to skin allergies to essential oils. The reason for this link may be genetic, and/or may be due to immune-reacting cells migrating from one part of the body to another

An allergic reaction often will not happen the first time an essential oil is used.

Tipping the scales

In a few cases, sudden and widespread allergic reactions develop following a long period of very intensive use of essential oils, both topically and orally. This can be simply described as the body saying enough is enough. Three examples of such reaction can be found herehere and here. Source: Tisserand Institute

I agree with the Tisserand Institutes wise words in this graphic above, in my professional opinion, essential oil use should be always under the guidance of a qualified practitioner when treating babies, toddlers, children, during pregnancy, when breast feeding, when on regular medication, after major surgery, terminally ill, anyone suffering mental illness, diabetics, people with thyroid conditions, kidney, heart, gut, conditions – anything where absolute extra care is vital.

I used to say “Qualifications Matter”, I’ve changed that to “Qualifications Matter Even More Now”

Adverse reaction
These reactions were caused by dermal & internal use

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