Essential oils are used for everything from aromatherapy to medical treatments. Let's discuss their safe use.
Like many medicinal products, essential oils have been used for centuries and can be effective for minor home remedies. However, casual use has led to problems because these are potentially potent, concentrated products that can be harmful if misused. Essential oils are extremely concentrated forms of active molecular components of plants. A drop of essential oil can contain 100X the active ingredient found in a tea of that compound (chamomile oil vs. chamomile tea). The oil drop itself is often a strong irritant. That means applying directly to the skin can cause signs from mild redness to burning rashes. Smears of essential oils are known to potentially remove varnishes and finishes on furniture. Eyes, nose, mouth, throat and lungs that are exposed to concentrated forms of essential oils can burn and itch and potentially constrict into asthma-like events. Just think of pepper spray- an essential oil of pepper. The essential oil compounds absorbed through the skin or eyes, nose, mouth, throat or lungs can enter the blood stream and be damaging to the liver or kidneys. They should never be ingested or eaten or licked. Wintergreen oil is found in our chewing gum - what could go wrong? Well, wintergreen oils is known to be organotoxic to both cats and dogs through topical or ingested forms.
Please keep in mind the differences between humans and animals as well. You may rub a nice moisturizing lotion onto your hands with some helpful aromatic essential oils in it, but you will not then lick it off. And in using essential oils for aromatherapy keep in mind that dogs and cats have a sense of smell that is thousands of times stronger than ours, so what might smell like a calming lavender scent to us may be a headache inducing overpowering wall of lavender to your pet.
No essential oil has been FDA tested or approved for use in pets, so the safe and consistent use is not determined. Use essential oils at your own risk.
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