Basic Essential Oil Safety

10:18:00 AM Laura at Fantastically Four 0 Comments

If you're new to oils or even a seasoned user, essential oil safety is important information that should be learned and reviewed from time to time. It will provide a great foundation for you to use your essential oils with confidence. Here are a few things everyone should know before they reach for that beautiful bottle of essential oil.
basic essential oil safety

1. Dilute for skin applications.

Young Living oils are pure, therapeutic grade essential oils. And that means they are safe to use diluted, and in acute situations, neat on the skin. But there are so many reasons to dilute essential oils when applying to the skin. Please read about those and properly dilute them.

2. Keep essential oils away from the eyes.

Every single one will sting the crap out of your eyes. And every single essential oil lover will eventually get some in the eye at some point in the course of working with them. Here's how to deal with it when it happens.

  1. Place a drop of a fatty oil (like olive oil) on a cloth or tissue. 
  2. Then gently place that tissue on the outer edge of your eye where the essential oil is killing you. 
  3. Just like that, it'll attach to the tissue and you can breathe a sigh of relief.

Remember essential oils are lipophilic and using water to flush out an essential oil would be a needlessly long process that may not prove fruitful.

3. Use caution during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

I think it's best to use a well-balanced approach to oils during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Please don't stop using your EOs or be afraid of them during this time. Just get to know your oils and use them conservatively (dilute for skin applications, don't go over the recommended number of drops in your diffuser, don't ingest them) and you will be fine.

Specific oils to avoid during pregnancy include...

  • Aniseed (Pimpinella anisum) 
  • Basil ct. estragole (Ocimum basilicum) 
  • Birch (Betula lenta) 
  • Camphor or Ravintsara (Cinnamomum camphora) 
  • Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis) 
  • Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) 
  • Parsley seed or leaf (Petroselinum sativum) 
  • Pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium) 
  • Sage (Salvia officinalis) 
  • Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare) 
  • Tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus) 
  • Thuja (Thuja occidentalis) 
  • Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens) 
  • Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium)

This list is from NAHA's information on essential oils and pregnancy. I think it's important to note that a few of these essential oils are rare because they have some alarming safety concerns only when misused. So it's not likely that a casual essential oil user (or a careful one) would own half of these oils or ever use them incorrectly. Only the oils in bold above are sold by Young Living.

For women who are breastfeeding, the list above applies. Also, add peppermint and jasmine to that list. Peppermint slowed down my milk supply until I stopped using it after discovering the fact that it affects milk production.

4. Use caution with babies and young children.

As a new mom, I abandoned my oils completely. I didn't know much about essential oils, and what I did know concerned me just enough to avoid them altogether. I waited until my son was two before I really delved in to using essential oils! So, I recommend a balanced approach. A few quick pointers include:

  1. Dilute essential oils if applying to your child's skin (0.5-1% dilution is enough for a child)
  2. Only use gentle oils that are regarded as safe...some examples:
    lavender, sweet orange, frankincense, roman chamomile, Gentle Baby
  3. Never, ever give EOs of any kind by mouth to your baby or child
  4. Introduce oils slowly to your child or baby; wear them (diluted) on yourself first as you hold your baby near, or diffuse a small amount for 15 minutes.

This topic merits roughly a billion different blog posts, but I've started with an overview on using essential oils with your baby. This is a topic very close to my heart, since my children's health is what spurred me on in this field, and I think trustworthy information online is more difficult to find than it should be. Too many sites are spreading unnecessary fear, or just the opposite, encouraging unsafe use of oils.

5. Keep EOs out of reach of children.

It's easy to leave oils around where young ones can get to them, so keep mental tabs on your oils and store them in a high place! While the fridge is a fantastic place to store your EOs, putting them there could pose a bit of a risk for little ones who may mistake them for food or drink. If you store them in the fridge, the top shelf behind other foods is best. Anytime you're working with EOs around kids, mention that they aren't for drinking.

6. Be careful with phototoxic oils.

Many citrus oils are phototoxic and can cause extreme irritation or a severe sunburn-like reaction on the skin when exposed to sunlight or a tanning booth. Phototoxic oils include:
  • Angelica root (Angelica archangelica) 
  • Bergamot (Citrus bergamia)
  • Cumin (Cuminum cyminum)
  • Distilled or expressed grapefruit (low risk) (Citrus paradisi)
  • Expressed lemon (Citrus limon)
  • Expressed lime (Citrus medica)
  • Orange, bitter (expressed) (Citrus aurantium)
  • Rue (Ruta graveolens)

It's ok to use these oils in soaps, shampoos, or any product that is for cleansing and gets rinsed away. A reaction with the sun can occur if these oils are used in products that are worn on the skin, such as lotions, balms, or applied neat. If you've used a phototoxic oil on your skin, stay out of the sun or tanning booth (Um, personally I'd recommend never ever visiting a tanning booth!) for at least twenty-four hours.

Not all citrus oils are phototoxic. You are sun safe with distilled lemon, distilled lime, sweet orange (Citrus sinensis), and tangerine/mandarin (Citrus reticulata).

7. Don't use near flames.

Essential oils are highly flammable substances and should be kept away from direct contact with flames, such as candles, fire, matches, cigarettes, and gas cookers. You may have heard of adding oils to your firewood, and this is acceptable if the oil is added to the logs, and allowed to soak in and dry before adding to the fire.

8. Educate yourself.

The best thing you can do to safely use essential oils is to simply get acquainted with them. When you're first starting out, choose a few oils that are well known for their gentleness. The EOs that come in the premium starter kit are perfect! Buy an essential oil reference book and learn about a handful of oils. Then, start using those few EOs in practical ways.

Diffusing a few drops is an excellent way to get acquainted with your oils. Of course, applying EOs to soothe your skin (like adding lavender to a natural, unscented lotion) is another great idea. Begin slowly and conservatively, using small amounts as your body gets used to these potent gifts from God. Don't go overboard, but don't be afraid to USE your wonderful oils either!


RESOURCES

National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy Safety Information
Aromatherapy & Pregnancy, Jolene Meum, MBA, The School for Aromatic Studies blog

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The Biblical Oil of Joy (or Gladness)

7:30:00 AM Laura at Fantastically Four 0 Comments

The Biblical Oil of Joy (or Gladness)

I didn't mean for this to be my first in-depth look at one of the infused oils in the Bible, but joy is SO compelling and this oil is so important that I'm really glad God brought this to mind as the one to begin with.

JOY. Everybody wants it, but there's a lot of confusion out there about what it is. Young Living's blend named Joy is a best-seller for a few reasons. It smells fantastic (many wear it as a perfume), and we love to use it to uplift spirits and add a little extra cheer our day. But where does true joy come from? I think the biblical oil of joy contains the answer.

While I've been familiar with the biblical oil of gladness, I don't think I ever realized until pretty recently that it's an actual, physical oil infused with myrrh and cassia. These oils are known for their spiritual significance, and are part of the recipe for holy anointing oil. But while the oil of joy is a real substance, it's also a powerful metaphor.


The Oil of Joy in the Bible


There are a few specific references to the oil of joy (or the oil of gladness) in the Bible. I love how these passages work together to provide a profound look at God's salvation plan in Christ and the inheritance of joy that he has for us.

The first time this oil is mentioned by name is in Psalm 45. This lovely wedding song focuses on a description of a groom whose lips have been anointed with grace. The metaphor of Christ and his church is so powerful. The whole thing is gorgeous, but here's the part I'd like to focus on...

Psalm 45:7-8 (NIV)

7 You love righteousness and hate wickedness;
   therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions
   by anointing you with the oil of joy.
All your robes are fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia;
   from palaces adorned with ivory
   the music of the strings makes you glad.
So the oil is used to set Christ above all others, and it contains myrrh, sandalwood (aloes), and cassia. This anointing oil and the way it blesses Christ is quoted almost word-for-word in Hebrews 1:9. But the context makes everything so clear. Here's a quick look. (Or read the whole chapter here.)

Hebrews 1:3, 8-9 (NIV)

3b The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.

8 But about the Son he says,
“Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever;
   a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom.

9 You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness;
   therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions
   by anointing you with the oil of joy.”

I love that not only is Psalm 45 interpreted here so plainly, but that the oil of joy in particular is highlighted once again. This passage of Hebrews clarifies a lot for me, specifically that the oil of joy is used to bless and set Christ apart, to exalt him, and especially to usher in joy at the marriage of Christ with his bride, the church.

A famous reference to the oil of joy is found in Isaiah 61:3 (NIV).

3   and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
   instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
   instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
   instead of a spirit of despair.
First, it's important to understand that Jesus fulfilled this for every Christian today! This isn't some lofty description of heaven. It's our reality now. Jesus read this passage from Isaiah 61.

Luke 4:20-21 (NIV)
Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, and he began by saying to them, "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing."

Second, there are several verses which indicate that during a time of mourning, oils (sometimes translated lotions) were not used (2 Samuel 12:20;14:2; Isaiah 61:3; Daniel 10:3). So the oil of joy is a powerful indication of God's blessing for us, and victory over sin and death. The oil of joy heralds in heavenly gladness that indicates our time of mourning is over! Our bridegroom is here and we are his.

Joyful Oils of Today

I don't think that the oil of joy is one that can be replicated, or really needs to be replicated. I'm discussing the biblical oil of joy for those who are curious, for essential oil lovers, for Christian aromatherapists, and for those who are wondering about the biblical use of essential oils.

The oil of gladness shows us that God loves symbolism, anointing with oil, and releasing his power (in this case, his joy) through that ritual. For those of us who love essential oils, just be encouraged to use any oil that you associate with joy on any occasion that you wish. Citrus oils like sweet orange, bergamot, and grapefruit, as well as florals like jasmine and ylang ylang come to mind.

Young Living's Joy is a lovely blend that includes several essential oils that are known to be uplifting. They may add value to your day or even help in cheering your spirit. I use essential oils in this way all the time, and I recommend it! Essential oils are a beautiful gift from God that can be used to honor him and enhance our lives. But, of course, don't expect to find actual joy in a bottle.

Where True Joy is Found

The biblical oil of joy wasn't just a pretty oil that was great for celebrating. It has potent symbolism and a direct link with Christ. He's always the one ushering in this joy.

If you're looking for joy, wondering where it comes from, the answer is in the word of God. Joy comes from our symbolic marriage to Christ in acceptance of his salvation. That's a joy that no one can take away and no temporary sadness can destroy.

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Spirituality in Aromatherapy: Essential Oils and the Christian Faith

8:53:00 AM Laura at Fantastically Four 0 Comments


I'm setting out to answer a really important question when it comes to essential oils. What do they have to do with faith, and should Christians be wary of using them? (I'm intimidated already at answering such big questions!) Hopefully I can start to address this big topic on my humble little blog.

Aromatherapy and Spirituality

For now, I wanted to point out one thing that's clear about plant essences: they have been used in worship and with careful intent in times of anointing, prayer, and sacrifice for ages. Because God describes the use of specific plant essences, incense, and perfumes to be used in the temple and for worship, I believe that essential oils can bless God when our hearts are doing the same.

So while I believe essential oils have an inherent spiritual significance, it's important to point out that the oils on their own can't do anything in our spiritual lives; God does that. Essential oils simply enhance what God's doing.

There is a spiritual component to true aromatherapy, because it's all about the holistic use of essential oils to support the physical, mental, and spiritual health of the individual. It's an incredible healing modality that addresses each of these aspects of life. In the hands of a Christian, aromatherapy and the use of essential oils are a wonderful thing!

Aromatherapy and the Believer

The use of essential oils is, of course, not exclusive to any one faith. However, I think they are particularly powerful for Christians. There are so, so many examples of using plants and their fragrant essences in worship that come straight from God. He gave his people recipes of how to make anointing oil and perfumed incense. The Hebrew people used infused oils and resins like frankincense, myrrh, hyssop, cypress, cistus (the rose of Sharon) and much more in their everyday lives as well as for special occasions and religious ceremonies. More importantly, Jesus was blessed by these oils on several occasions.

As a Christian, I'm simply using essential oils as God leads. I love the science behind each one, the aromatic molecules that are packed with all sorts of beneficial properties. To me, these plant essences are beautiful and powerful gifts from God that I get to discover and unwrap on a regular basis. (Using oils is like Christmas EVERY DAY!!)

Yes, there are plenty who practice ayervedic, eastern, and native healing arts that incorporate essential oils. But that is no reason to avoid using them yourself if you are a Christian.

In fact, the spiritual properties of aromatherapy have a very close relationship to the Christian faith. For Christ-followers, essential oils can aid us in prayer and worship, support healing that God is doing in our lives, and add a little extra value and wholeness to our daily walk.

As long as I'm making sure that I don't turn to essential oils, expecting them to address my problems and desires as though they are all I need; as long as I hold Christ in the highest place in my heart and look to God for fulfillment and health, I'm completely free to use essential oils the way I believe God intended when he created them.

My passion as a Christian aromatherapy student is to use essential oils in accordance with my faith, to use them to draw myself, my family, and others closer to God, and to shine light on the fact that aromatherapy and Christianity are not opposed to each other.

Over the next few months, I will be writing more on Christian aromatherapy topics, especially the aromatic oils of the Bible and different aspects of their use in the Old and New Testaments. I'm so excited to share more about how Christianity resonates with aromatherapy!

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A Dilution Guide for the Safe Use of Essential Oils on the Skin

2:48:00 PM Laura at Fantastically Four 0 Comments

A Dilution Guide for the Safe Use of Essential Oils on the Skin


I'm so thankful that my lovely friend and Young Living sponsor taught me a few things when I purchased my first essential oils. This is really one of the most basic safety guidelines to follow: Dilute your essential oils for skin application!*

Why?

  • Essential oils are not water soluble and have a different molecular density than water (usually lighter, most will float on top of it). This means that putting an essential oil in water and then on the skin or swallowing it with water has the same effect as direct contact with your body.
  • Fat is drawn to fat. Essential oils are lipophilic (fat-loving!). If you place an essential oil on your skin "neat," it will be drawn directly to the lipids in your skin. 
  • EOs are extremely concentrated (check out the graphic below) in comparison to rest of the plant they are derived from. For example, lemon juice is known to be exfoliating and lightening in skin applications (especially in the sun, something called phototoxicity). Now imagine what the concentrated liquid from a lemon rind would do!
  • Certain oils can be very irritating to the skin. "Hot" oils like Thieves, peppermint, clove, and thyme, to name a few, should definitely always, always be diluted before applying to the skin.
  • One big concern is that using essential oils neat on the skin can create a sensitivity (also known as contact dermatitis), causing the user to develop a permanent allergic reaction. This is a particular danger if the oil is used without a carrier on a regular basis, or if the oil has been oxidized or has expired, or if the oil was poor quality and chemically adulterated. Young Living's essential oils are unmatched in terms of quality and purity. They are the only oils I recommend for a reason!
  • Using a carrier can help sustain the effects of the essential oil, as the skin slowly absorbs it. The essential oil will evaporate more quickly if it's applied neat.

The good news is that essential oils disperse nicely into an aromatic vegetable oil carrier, creating a single solution. The carrier is a gentle buffer between your skin and the essential oil. Don't worry, you will still experience the benefits of the essential oil even in a concentration as little as 1% or 2%. Young Living's website states "Dilution with a carrier oil does not dilute the effect of the essential oil. In fact, it prevents waste due to excessive application."

So let's get down to the nitty gritty of how to create safe products for your skin.

Dilution Guide

1% Dilutions
Use this when applying essential oils to babies, kids, seniors, pregnant women, or anyone with a compromised immune system.

2% Dilutions
This ratio is perfect for use on healthy adults, and for blending products like lotions, massage oils, and creams.

3-5% Dilutions
This is better suited for use on someone who has a cold or flu, for muscle pain, and other situations when an otherwise healthy adult has a need for something a little strong.

Carrier Amount1% Dilution2% Dilution3% Dilution
1 ounce5-6 drops EO10-12 drops EO15-18 drops EO
2 ounces10-12 drops EO20-24 drops EO30-36 drops EO
1 teaspoon2 drops EO3 drops EO5 drops EO
2 teaspoons3 drops EO6 drops EO9 drops EO
10 ml (typical roller size)2 drops EO4 drops EO6 drops EO

The "drops EO" refers to a total amount of drops of essential oil. If you're making a product, for example, 6 drops EO might look like 1 drop vetiver, 3 drops lavender, and 2 drops sweet orange within your carrier.

That covers dilution. Have an amazing time mixing and creating products for yourself and others!

*Okay, okay. Even the most diligent diluter will apply a skin-friendly oil neat in times of an urgent situation, like a small burn or a bee sting. Young Living oils are pure and have potent effects when applied neat, which can be a very good thing.

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He Comes First: Putting God before Essential Oils

10:09:00 AM Laura at Fantastically Four 0 Comments

He Comes First: Putting God before Essential Oils

When I first started exploring essential oils more seriously, I became immediately enthralled with the world of aromatics. I mean, there's something so compelling and just plain lovely about using God's creation to support health and life in our homes and families. Let me tell you just how pumped I was about this healing modality.

It wasn't too long ago. I was at a fair with my husband and kids, and I'd found a somewhat secluded bench in the shade where I could nurse my baby. But something interrupted my peaceful little break. A woman with two small children was yelling at her husband.

"I DON'T CARE!" she screamed, visibly agitated. As he stood there cringing, holding on to one of the girls' hands, I tensed, then had an immediate internal reaction. Want to know what it was? That woman could use some Stress Away! And, If only she knew about lavender! My mind was flooded with what essential oils I'd use to create a product or synergy for her, and which ones had the right properties for her anger and stress.

Yikes.

There's a part of me that laughs at how ridiculous my thoughts were, but in that moment I also knew to take my reaction seriously, because the first thing I should think of is her need of a savior.

My faith has serious transforming power, as I take my sins and selfish heart to Christ daily in exchange for his grace. I have to share a couple of quick verses on this topic.

And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
-2 Corinthians 3:18

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
-Romans 12:2

I think for those of us who find ourselves so in love with aromatherapy, it's easy to place it on a pedestal and turn to it before God. And that's creating an idol.

I was really grateful for my internal reaction to the woman I saw that day, because it drove me back to my savior. Now I know to keep myself in check, and each time I reach for essential oils, I make sure I've prayed first.

If I'm looking to ease for some sort of ailment, I pray for God to heal. If there's some emotional imbalance I'd like to address, I ask for God to do the transforming work. If I'm a little unsure of which oil to use, I pray for guidance. If I'm cleaning or simply refreshing the air, I pray too, that God would be present in the mundane and give me a servant's heart.

Essential oils have a lot of powerful properties because God made them that way. He's the creator of all things and obviously so much more powerful than anything he made. God is the ultimate healer. He's the first one I want to turn to, while the oils support the work he's already doing. There is no substance in the world that can heal, forgive, renew, and transform like God. He works through these gifts he's given us, through every single drop of lavender, and I'm so glad he does.

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What Are Young Living's Vitality Oils?

9:44:00 PM Laura at Fantastically Four 0 Comments


What's with all the Vitality?

Young Living's line of Vitality oils are still 100% pure therapeutic-grade essential oils. They are the same ones customers have been diffusing, applying, and generally enjoying for decades. So why all the vitality?

Labeling their food-friendly oils this way meets the requirements of the FDA to be able to market them specifically for internal use. Young Living has free reign to refer to Vitality oils as supplements and address how to use these essential oils in cooking. Customers have been taking these oils for health benefits and cooking with them for a long time, and this new line and labeling just makes it a little easier to talk about that and encourage using them that way.

So, Young Living's Rosemary essential oil and their Rosemary Vitality oil is the same product inside. You can choose to go with the Vitality oil if you want to keep it with your seasonings and use it your cooking, for example. As a Young Living enthusiast, any time I refer to using essential oils internally, I'll mention the Vitality line.

Here's a complete list, broken down by categories created by Young Living to help you sort through them all.


For those of you just getting acquainted with Young Living and looking at the Premium Starter Kit, you will receive five different Vitality oils: Peppermint, Lemon, Copaiba, Thieves, and DiGize. I hope this clears up any confusion about these awesome, therapeutic-grade essential oils.

So, of course, you can use any oil in the Vitality line for cooking and taking small amounts internally for a short period of time. Because I'm an aromatherapy student, I'm personally focused on the aromatic use of all essential oils in particular, whether in inhalation or topical application. That being said, I would be lost without being able to add a drop of Lemon Vitality to my muffin batter!

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All information on a drop of lavender is informative in nature and not to be construed as medical advice. I am not a doctor or medical professional, but I am passionate about aromatherapy and the safe use of essential oils.