Using essential oils in complementary therapies can be very enjoyable and indulgent. There are so many differnt methods of use, but here are the most common and my favourite – and don’t forget to check the safety precautions at the bottom of this post.

Topical Administration

Direct application of many essential oils works like a sponge.  Your skin is a huge organ sopping up oils (or chemicals) you apply to your skin. Topical application is best when you want to clear up an ailment on the skin’s surface or in the underlying muscle tissue. When applying topically, you may either massage the oil into the skin or simply dab on the skin  or use a compress for therapeutic results.

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Some essential oils are potent and should be combined with carrier oil such as fractionated coconut oil or olive oil to dilute its potency. This is safer for topical use. You may support your body’s defenses against rash or muscle pain in this manner, but you should always test for allergens before applying. Apply to a small area before expanding the application to larger areas of the skin.

To test for allergens, place a drop or two on your inner forearm. If a rash develops within 12 to 24 hours, it indicates a likley allergic reaction. In addition, phototoxicity – sun exposure resulting in an exacerbated burn – may be an issue when citrus oils are applied topically and then spend time in direct sunlight. It’s important to proceed with caution when applying oils topically.

I recall a horrific story during my Aromatherapy class at Nature Care College, where a student had been massaged by a beginner – who used Orange Oil in the carrier oil, resulting in dark and blotchy skin pigmentation that required skin therapy procedures to remove.  Citrus may smell great and uplifting but never risk applying it to someones skin and have them exposed to the sun.

Check for contra-indications – especially in the case of pregnancy.


I recall my mother and grandmother sticking my head over a bowl of hot steamy water with Vicks in it as a child, when I had a cold. So this is by no means a new age, hocus pocus remedy!  Add a few drops of essential oil in a steaming bowl of distilled or sterilized water.  Drape a towel over your head, bend over the bowl and inhale. The towel captures the vapors, making the technique even more effective.


Essential oils can also be placed in a diffuser or potpourri throughout a room to produce somewhat diluted medicinal effects.

As always – check the contra-indications.


When using this method, proceed with caution. Direct ingestion of essential oils must be monitored and applied in small doses that are diluted in a tablespoon or more of any carrier oil – olive oil, for example. If you are unsure of dosage amounts, make a tea with the relevant herb instead. Although the effects of this diluted use may be weaker, this application is a better alternative than an overdose of essential oils.

Always use therapeutic grade oils and ensure a specific oil lists that it is suitable as food or internal use.  A top quality oil will list this on the bottle.

I use a drop of lemon oil in my water all the time!  It’s refereshing and makes it easier to digest.  Some companies will also create blends that are suitable for ingestion – just a daily drop in a glass of water or tea – such as DigestZen from doTERRA.

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I’ll say it one more time – check contra-indications!

Safety Precautions for Essential Oils

It is especially important that if you have a medical condition or are pregnant or nursing, that you consult with a medical professional before using essential oils. Some essential oils should not be used when pregnant. In addition, it is recommended that you read all the safety information before using the product.

While there are risks involved, the use of essential oils to promote health and wellness has been a growing market as people seek to find natural methods for cures. We find that risks vary from person to person and that moderation is best practice. Remember to be under the guidance of a doctor and / or aromatherapy practitioner while using the oils. in a therapeutic manner. Make the most of what nature provides and minimize risk by understand what is involved and how to correctly use the product.

Certain adverse reactions may occur when using pure essential oils. Allergic reactions, too, may occur, especially when applied topically. Always administer an allergy test before committing fully to topical application.

When used with other medications, essential oils may react negatively. If you are on any current prescription medications or have a chronic illness, such as high blood pressure, epilepsy or liver disease, then researching the effects of essential oils against your own personal medical history will eliminate any potentially problematic issues.