Essential Oils Troubleshooting
I’m new to essential oils. How are they used?
Each bottle of Young Living essential oil is labeled with directions for how that oil can be used, and these directions vary based on location. Please consult with the product label for appropriate use directions.
I see the term “carrier oil” used in several places. What is a carrier oil, what does it do, and why should I use it?
A carrier oil is a vegetable oil such as coconut oil or grapeseed oil that can be used to dilute EO. Young Living's V-6 Vegetable Oil Complex is an excellent carrier oil for all applications. Carrier oils ensure that EOs applied topically are comfortable. Dilution with a carrier oil does not dilute the effect of the EO, and prevents waste due to excessive application. Vegetable shortening, butter, margarine or petroleum derivatives (petrolatum jelly) should never be used as carrier oils. Some consumers choose to avoid olive oil as a carrier oil because of its strong aroma and thick viscosity.
Could I be allergic to my Young Living essential oils?
“Allergies are erroneous immune responses to proteins, peptides and amino acids - all nitrogen compounds, none of which are found in essential oils.” -Dr. David Stewart, Ph.D, D.N.M.
Sensitivities to Essential Oils
There are a couple of ways one can be sensitive to essential oils, but an
allergic reaction is not one of them. Allergies are erroneous immune
responses to proteins, peptides, and amino acids - all nitrogen compounds,
none of which are found in essential oils.
You can have an allergic reaction to a vegetable oil such as olive, corn,
peanut, walnut, almond, etc., since these are cold pressed and can contain
small amounts of proteins. For example, occasionally a person can develop an
allergy to an oil blend such as Valor, which is sold by Young Living. The
allergy is not due to the essential oils of spruce, frankincense, rosewood,
and blue tansy in the blend. It is due to the almond oil in the blend. So
read your labels. What may appear to be an allergic reaction to a blend of
essential oils may be due to a carrier oil contained in the blend.
You can also have an allergic reaction to citrus oils which are cold pressed
from the rind. However, while we refer to citrus oils such as orange, lemon,
lime, and grapefruit as "essential oils," strictly speaking they are not. By
definition, a true essential oil must be steam distilled, not expressed.
There are also oils extracted by solvents such as onycha, jasmine, and
neroli. Strictly speaking, they too are not true essential oils. Technically,
they should be called absolutes, not essential oils. One can have a true
allergic reaction to these because, like the citrus oils, they have not passed
through a distillation process and can contain traces of proteins, peptides, or
Because of the nature of distillation by heat, steam, and water, that true
essential oils must undergo, they do not contain the necessary compounds to
trigger allergies because these compounds do not pass through the distillation
Hence, sensitivities to essential oils, in the sense of allergic reactions,
are not possible. Allergic sensitivities are due to the body developing
antibodies in response to certain nitrogenous molecules. No one has ever
found antibodies in humans from essential oils. So if one has a reaction
to an essential oil, it is something else. Not an allergy.
There are oils that are naturally hot, such as oregano, thyme, mountain
savory, cinnamon, cassia, and a few others. This is because of their
phenolic compound content which cleanses our cells and paves the way to
healing. Such oils can be taken internally via capsules or applied to the
skin directly with caution or diluted with a fatty oil.
If burning or irritation occurs to the skin from such oils, prompt
application of a vegetable oil layered over the essential oil will take care
of the problem in short order.
The same thing applies if you get an essential oil in your eyes or if you
swallow a hot oil, like oregano, and it burns your mouth and throat. Don't
use water, use a vegetable oil for immediate relief. Pour it directly in the
eyes or take it orally if your mouth or throat are affected.
As for sensitivities to essential oils that produces a skin ash or other
allergic-like symptoms such as headaches or nausea, this is always a detox
reaction. While allergic reactions get worse and worse with each exposure to
the offending substance (allergen), detox reactions eventually get less and
less severe with each exposure to an essential oil until it disappears
completely once the toxins are cleared from the system.
When one has a detox reaction from an essential oil (which is a good thing),
they need to back off from using oils for a while and increase their water
intake and, perhaps, get into a cleansing routine for a month or so, going
light on the use of essential oils for a while. What is happening in this
kind of sensitivity is that the oils are detoxing too rapidly for the colon
and kidneys to handle so the toxins come out through the skin as the third
avenue for excretion. It is better to keep the rate of detox down to levels
that are flushed out through the kidneys and colon, if possible.
In rare cases, a person can react to a perfectly pure therapeutic grade
essential oil as if it were an allergen or a toxin, but in reality the
response is neither an allergy nor a detox. It is something else.
Another kind of sensitivity to essential oils has to do with emotions. In
cases of extreme unresolved grief, which can be due to the loss of a loved
one or other circumstances, one can become sensitive to anything, even the
most harmless of things. In extreme cases, people can become universal
responders, reacting to almost everything in what appears to be an allergic
reaction. This malady is sometimes referred to as "Extreme Chemical
Sensitivity" (ECS) or "Environmental Illness" (EI).
In such cases, some people have been known to react in an allergy-like fashion
to even the purest of essential oils, such as those sold by Young Living. But
healing from such an illness does not come by treating it as an allergy,
because it is not an allergy in the classical sense. It is a spiritual-
emotional disease and must be dealt with at that level.
The spiritual and symbolic message in this sort of reaction is that the
individual is so depressed, unhappy, and unwilling to accept life as it has
been given to them that they are rejecting all of creation and, thus, react
negatively to everything. There is a scriptural reference to this in
Proverbs 17:22, "A broken spirit dries the bones."
The basis of our immune system is in the marrow of the bones where the T-cells
and other white corpuscles are formed. Allergies and other environmental or
chemical sensitivities are due to malfunctions of the immune system at the
level of the white corpuscles (leucocytes). Hence, this Bible verse is
actually referring to a negative autoimmune response originating in the bones
caused by an individual's rejection of the world around them stemming from
extreme grief or a broken spirit.
The solution to this spiritually rooted illness is to recognize the source of
the grief, accept it, and deal with it. When that is done, the sensitivities
disappear, usually within a few days and sometimes overnight. Applying
selected essential oils for emotional purposes can assist in revealing and
releasing the buried feelings that underlie such a malady.
There is one other source of sensitivity that may be blamed on essential
oils and that has to do with perfume and food grade oils. True therapeutic
grade essential oils are grown organically, harvested in proper ways and
times, distilled gently at minimum temperatures and pressures, and
bottled without any ingredients removed or added. All of the essential oils
sold by Young Living are therapeutic grade oils. However, the vast majority
of aromatic oils sold in retail stores and other places are perfume or food
A true therapeutic grade essential oil contains hundreds of compounds,
all of which are necessary in a proper balance for them to possess healing
power. Since only a few of these compounds contribute significantly to aroma
and/or taste, when essential oils are used for fragrances or flavors, the
only compounds that matter to commercial users are the ones that have
smell or taste. In some cases, this involves only 2 or 3 compounds in an oil,
and the manufacturers and users don't care if these compounds are natural or
synthetic so long as the smell and taste are there and the cost is cheap.
Hence, fragrance and food grade oils are always incomplete in their
composition, containing only part of the chemical profile of a complete
therapeutic grade oil. Furthermore, they are usually adulterated with
synthetic compounds or diluted with petrochemicals to increase their volume
One can have reactions to such oils, but these are not reactions to true
essential oils. Such reactions are due to the adulterants in the oil. They
are not caused by the natural essential oil components of the oil.
For More Information
So there you have it. As to what you should do in a given situation where
sensitivities are encountered, you will have to decide. If you want a more
detailed discussion on essential oils, reactions to them, and allergies, my
book, THE CHEMISTRY OF ESSENTIAL OILS MADE SIMPLE, has a lengthy discussion of the subject.
Source: The Center for Aromatherapy Research and Education
What if I experience skin discomfort or irritation?
If discomfort or irritation occurs, stop using the EO, and apply V-6 or other carrier oil to the affected area. Never use water in an attempt to flush the oil off the skin, as this may increase discomfort. If a rash occurs this may be a sign of detoxification; drink adequate water to encourage the release and removal of body toxins. Toxins present in petrochemical based soaps and skin care products, detergents and perfumes may trigger some of the detoxification reactions. Consider discontinuation of these agents if a reaction occurs. Before using the EO again, perform a patch test (see above) and dilute with carrier oil as needed. Water drives oil into the skin and the eyes. If EO gets in your eye, flush with V-6 carrier oil to alleviate any discomfort. Discomfort should be alleviated within minutes. If eye discomfort does not subside within 5 minutes, please seek medical attention. Be aware that some documents suggest diluting the oil with water. YL suggests that you dilute with carrier oil to ensure that discomfort is alleviated as quickly as possible.
Can essential oils be applied to sensitive areas?
YL recommends that you avoid contact with EOs and sensitive areas such as eyes, ears, genitals and mucous membranes. If you choose to use the oil in any sensitive area, dilute 1 drop of the essential oil to 5-10 drops of V-6 carrier oil.
How often can essential oils be applied? How much do I use?
Proper usage is indicated on each EO label. Please follow label instructions. The idea of “if a little is good, a lot is better” is not always correct. Essential oils are very potent and powerful– start low and go slow. In most cases 1-2 drops are adequate and using more may waste product. Depending on the EO you can gradually build up to 3-4 uses per day if desired. Excessive use of essential oils may increase the risk for adverse reactions.
Can essential oils be used during pregnancy or while nursing?
As with any medical condition it is strongly recommended that, prior to use of essential oils, you seek the advice and recommendation of a competent, trained health care advisor who is experienced in EO usage. It is generally recommended to avoid overuse and excessive use of Clary Sage (Salvia sclarea), Sage (Salvia officinalis), Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare), Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis), Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare), and Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens) as well as the blends and supplements that contain these oils.
Can essential oils be used on children?
Many EOs are appropriate for use with children, and they should be diluted prior to use. Some YL products are pre-diluted with carrier oil as indicated on product label and are intended for direct application on children. Children generally respond well to EO, and use of a carrier oil is recommended. One-2 drops of EO such as SleepyIze, RutaVala, Gentle Baby and Peace & Calming may be diluted in carrier oil and applied to the bottom of the feet.
How does exposure to sun affect essential oil use?
Some EOs, especially citrus oils, contain natural molecules that react with sunlight (UV light) and cause a sensitivity reaction. All YL EOs and oil blends that contain these compounds are labeled with a warning to avoid sun/UV light for 12 to 48 hours after applying. Caution should always be used when starting to use a new oil: use patch testing (see above), dilute and apply the oil to skin that is protected from sun/UV exposure to reduce the risk of sensitivity. YL beauty and cosmetic products are formulated to remove sun-sensitizing agents to reduce the risk of sun sensitivity.
What about the use of essential oils if I have a medical condition? Can essential oils interact with prescription medications?
If you have a disease or medical condition, or if you are using a prescription medication, it is recommended that you consult with a health advisor who has experience with EOs prior to using an EO. Seek the advice of the prescribing physician and a pharmacist about potential interactions between the medication(s) and the essential oil(s).