Ayurveda

Ayurveda, an ancient Indian stream of medicine, is basically a Sanskrit term that has been drawn from two roots – ‘Ayus’ denoting life and ‘vid’ meaning knowledge. In effect, life or ‘Ayus’ manifests an amalgamation of the body, the mind, the sense organs as well as the soul. It may be noted here that the Vedas are earliest Hindu texts of knowledge which are known to have been exquisitely discovered by the sages or wise men of India several thousand years back. The four Vedas enclose the information, cadence as well as the makeup of the universe, in addition to the secrets behind the ailments and health.

As aforementioned, there are four Vedas – the Rig Veda, Sama Veda, Yajur Veda and the Atharva Veda. Precisely speaking, Ayurveda is an element of the fourth Veda, which comprises comprehensive critiques related to treating the sick by means of using mantras, potions, and herbs. Actually, Ayurveda is an amalgamation of both science as well as the philosophy that specifies the numerous physical, emotional, mental as well as spiritual elements that are essential for complete or universal health. The superiority of this system is evident in the most prominent among all the ancient ayurvedic manuscripts – the Charaka Samhita.

Charaka Samhita is a significant manuscript regarding internal medicine that was written over 2,000 years prior to the invention of the microscope. This document presents a detailed explanation of the manner of the composition of the cells, in addition to listing as many as 20 dissimilar microscopic organisms that may be responsible for various ailments. Another such text in Atharva Veda – the Sushruta Samhita elucidates surgical techniques, surgical tools, suturing as well as the significance of hygiene during the period or as well as following any surgery. Thorough medical knowledge is merged with philosophical and spiritual guidance regarding the manner to lead a healthy as well as meaningful life. As per the Vedic way of life, human lives would be complete with purpose when they endeavor to accomplish their utmost potential, but this is not possible to achieve devoid of health on a primary level.

AYURVEDIC MEDICINE

Ayurvedic medicine, mainly practiced in India as well as Sri Lanka, is a customary and comprehensive system of medicine of these two nations. In effect, Ayurvedic medicine is an all-inclusive healthcare system and has several elements that function in conjugation stipulating a lifestyle or routine, instead of a cure for particular ailments. Ayurvedic medicine comprises several elements and some of them comprise the following.

  • Detoxification by means of ‘panchakarma’ wherein in Ayurveda, ‘panchakarma’ – a Sanskrit term – denotes the five purifying therapies used in this ancient Indian medicine stream.
  • Yoga
  • Diet
  • Meditation and prayer
  • Herbal medication

The fundamental belief in Ayurveda is that all things in the universe, counting ourselves, are made up of five elements known as ‘panchamahabhutas’ and ‘tridoshas’. By means of rectifying the equilibrium of the tridoshas inside us as well as concerning the environment and humanity around us, we will be able to endorse health on every level.

It is interesting to note that Ayurvedic cure is customized to suit the requirements of every individual. In fact, in Ayurveda, there is no single cure that works for any disease in all the patients. Precisely speaking, the combination of the different doshas that comprise an individual may possibly result in the best possible health for him or her. In the instance of another individual, the equilibrium of doshas may be responsible for the origin of the ailment. Therefore, in Ayurvedic medicine, each individual ought to be treated separately. The talent of a practitioner of Ayurvedic medicine actually lies in evaluating every individual’s nature, make a diagnosis of the reasons in case there is any lack of equilibrium of the doshas, recognizing the constitutional types as well as identifying the location of the doshas’ equilibrium and, subsequently, making a decision on the optimum treatment.

Ayurveda is also a wonderful guide for well-being and leading a good and ethical lifestyle. Similar to several other comprehensive treatments, the stress of Ayurveda is on the body, mind as well as spirit. Moreover, in Ayurveda, this theology is inherent for good health as well as a dignified and righteous manner of life. The objective of ayurvedic medicine is not just to treat ailments, but also to develop well-being and happiness.

Ayurvedic conjecture is founded on the individual structure of a person depending on which he or she is vulnerable to specific ailments. Ayurveda takes into account the sway of psychosomatic aspects in the majority of the ailments as well as the lack of balance of the fundamental constitutional aspects that are liable to cause any ailment.

Ayurvedic treatment aims at reinstating the troubled mechanisms. The primary constitutional aspects are the three doshas – Vata, Pitta, and Kapha and reinstating their dynamic equilibrium controls the life cycle as well as regulates the total body, thereby restoring our health.

HOW IT WORKS

Ayurvedic medicine is rooted in the theory that each individual person possesses a distinct constitution which is associated with energies inside their body. An excellent and balanced constitution is considered to be the greatest resistance against ailments. In case your body is performing at its best possible plane, there is no possibility of ailments gaining ground. Nevertheless, a feebly balanced constitution makes an individual vulnerable to physical as well as mental ailments. Ayurveda aspires to avoid the development of ailment by functioning with the individual foundation of a person. In effect, our constitutions are decided upon by the equilibrium of the three key energies within the body, which are also known as doshas or tridoshas. According to Sanskrit, the three doshas or tridoshas are known as Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Every personal constitution is regulated by all the three doshas to dissimilar extents, although an individual may have one or two prevailing doshas. A practitioner of Ayurvedic medicine will first evaluate the individual’s constitution and then decide on the prakrti or physical construction to which he or she belongs.

It may be noted that besides determining the attributes of our constitutions as well as the nature of ailment to which we are almost certainly going to give in, the three doshas also decide on the aspects that make us distinct, for instance our hair color, the shape of our body, our desire for food and the type of foods we ought to consume. The doshas have an effect on each and every feature of our lives.

We are in the pink of our health when there is equilibrium among all the three doshas or the tridoshas. Every dosha has a distinct function in our body. For instance, Vata creates movement and primarily has to do with the nervous system as well as the energy of the body. Pitta is actually fire and is concerned with digestion, metabolism, bile, enzymes and acids. Kapha is associated with water in the phlegm, mucous membranes, moisture, lymphatics and fat. To a great extent, the equilibrium of the tridoshas is dependent on an assortment of issues, especially appropriate diet as well as exercise, healthy elimination of body wastes, proper digestion as well as an even-handed emotional and spiritual well-being.

Every constitution is decided on by the condition of the parental doshas during the time of formation. In addition, every individual is born with a distinct prakrti (physical structure) – a blend of doshas that are exclusive to him or her. In fact, this is the individual’s constitution and this continues with you throughout your life. However, while we traverse life, environment, diet, trauma, stress, and injury make the doshas turn out to be imbalanced – a condition called the ‘vikrti’ state in Sanskrit. When the intensity of loss of equilibrium becomes too elevated or low, it may cause ill health. Practitioners of ayurvedic medicine endeavor to reinstate every individual to the optimum balance that is possible in their prakrti.

Constitutions or physical structures are basically innate and can never be altered. The philosophy of Ayurveda recognizes as well as acknowledges the dissimilarities between individuals and the uniqueness of each person. In effect, the science of Ayurveda assists us to comprehend our individual constitutions as well as to subsist in a manner that underlines their constructive features, which, of course, is not easy all the time.

It is important to note that in Ayurveda, every disease is associated with the tridoshas or the three doshas. Imbalances of the doshas have an effect on additional aspects that are at work within our body and result in disparities that are responsible for the development of diseases. These additional aspects comprise the five elements, also known as panchamahabhutas, the ten pairs of attributes of the tridoshas, Agni (fire), the three malas as well as the seven tissues (known as ‘sapha dhathus’ in Sanskrit).

Our body, as well as the mind, may be the dwelling of ailments in the same way and as easily like healthiness. We can achieve good health by means of the equilibrium of the biological elements, and ailments are a result of the imbalance of these elements. The aim of Ayurveda is to restore the balance at times when we are sick and also to sustain the equilibrium with a view to helping us maintain our good health.

THE TRIDOSHAS

In Ayurveda, the tridoshas, which denotes three doshas, are the basic and vital aspects of the human body that manage our complete physical formation as well as utility. The tridoshas include Vata, Pitta and Kapha and they are drawn from the five primary perpetual substances, called the ‘panchamahabutas’ in Ayurveda. In fact, every dosha has a prevalence of at least one of the five ‘bhutas’.

Vata comprises the collective prevalence of ‘vayu’ (air) and ‘akasha’ (space) while Pitta comprises of ‘tejas’ (fire) and ‘jala’ (water). Similarly, Kapha consists of ‘jala’ (water) and ‘prithvi’ (earth).

When our health is in the pink, all these three doshas are balanced or in a condition of stability. When the tridoshas are in their usual and balanced condition, they provide us with potency, an excellent complexion, standard or usual working of the fundamental organs as well as a long life. On the contrary, when these three doshas are unbalanced or unstable, they result in diseases.

It may be noted that all the three doshas have their respective subtypes, having attributes that carry out a variety of functions at dissimilar levels in our body.

Several of the bodily, as well as mental occurrences, which contemporary physiology attributes to the nervous system, may be related to Vata. In the same manner, the whole chemical progression functioning in your body may be attributed to Pitta, counting hormones, enzymes, and the entire dietary system. The actions of the skeletal, as well as anabolic system (the features of metabolism concerned in developing the physical body), may be credited to Kapha, which implies that the complete bodily volume in any living being is in the effect of Kapha.

To be precise, the whole productive procedure in any living being may be credited to Kapha; the total chemical process may be attributed to Pitta; while the sensory, as well as the motor movements or activities, may be credited to Vata.

VATA

In Sanskrit, Vata denotes ‘to progress’ or ‘to stimulate’. In effect, Vata comprises the most significant component of the tridoshic structure and has a prevalence of ‘akasha’ (space) and ‘vayu’ (air) mahabhutas. Vata is accountable for all the movements of our body (including physical and mental). In addition, this dosha sustains the entire supportive framework as well as tissue, in addition to managing circulation all through the body.

Vata has numerous physical attributes and they have been depicted in the form of:

  • Chala (unstable)
  • Laghu (light)
  • Ruksha (dry)
  • Suksma (subtle)
  • Site (cold)
  • Visada (clear and transparent)
  • Khara (rough)

Every one of the above-mentioned physical attributes of Vata originates from one’s intra-uterine life, which denotes the life inside the womb. These attributes actually determine one’s individual prakrti (physical structure).

Generally, Vata is accountable for the total physiological performance of your body. In addition, Vata also controls the mind as well as its functioning. Hence, when Vata is unstable or not in equilibrium, it is likely that you will undergo a variety of psychosomatic problems. In fact, it results in weight loss and depleting strength and, at the same time, generates various emotions, such as concern, nervousness, apprehension, sorrow and even anger.

Vata can be present in these five forms according to its role and the site of action:

  • Apana
  • Prana
  • Samana
  • Udana
  • Vyana

When the equilibrium of Vata is bothered, it brings about:

  • Abnormal blood pressure and heart disease
  • Arthritis
  • Constipation
  • Mental instability
  • Rheumatic and joint pain

Diseases that can be caused by unbalanced Vata:

  • Aksepaka (violent muscular convulsion, as in “clinic” fits in epilepsy)
  • Aksibheda (eye pain)
  • Aksivyudasa (sunken eyeball)
  • Aksisula (pinching pain in the eye)
  • Atipralapa (delirium)
  • Anavasthitacittatva (mental instability)
  • Arasajnata (ageustia – loss of the sense of taste)
  • Ardita (facial paralysis)
  • Asabdasravana (tinnitus)
  • Asvapna (sleeplessness)
  • Badhirya (deafness)
  • Bahusosa (atrophy of the arm)
  • Bhrama (giddiness)
  • Bhruvyudasa (drooping of the eyebrow)
  • Dandaka (continuous muscular convulsion)
  • Dantasaithilya (loose teeth)
  • Dantabheda (a toothache)
  • Ekangaroga (monoplegia – paralysis of one limb)
  • Ghrananasa (anosmia – loss of the sense of smell)
  • Grdhrasi (sciatica)
  • Grivastambha (stiff neck)
  • Gudarti (tenesmus, a bowel disorder)
  • Gudabhramsa (rectal prolapse)
  • Gulphagraha (stiffness of the ankle)
  • Hanubheda (pain in the jaw)
  • Hikka (hiccup)
  • Hrddrava (tachycardia – rapidity of heartbeat)
  • Hrnmoha (bradycardia – slowness of heartbeat)
  • Jrmbha (yawning)
  • Januvislesha (genu valgum – club feet where the feet are turned outward)
  • Janubheda (genu varum – “knock-knees,” where the feet are turned inward)
  • Kanasula (an earache)
  • Kanthoddhvamsa (hoarseness)
  • Kasayasyata (astringent taste in the mouth)
  • Kesabhumisphutana (dandruff)
  • Khanjatva (lameness)
  • Kubjatva (kyphosis – curvature of the spine)
  • Lalatabheda (frontal pain)
  • Manyastambha (torticlorosis – twisted neck)
  • Mukatva (aphasia – loss of speech)
  • Mukhasosa (dry mouth)
  • Nakhabheda (cracking of the nails)
  • Osthabheda (pain in the hip)
  • Padabhramsa (fallen arches)
  • Padasula (pain in the feet)
  • Padasuptata (numbness of the feet)
  • Paksavadha (hemiplegia – half body paralysis)
  • Pangulya (paraplegia)
  • Parsvamarda (chest pain)
  • Pindikodvestana (cramps in the calf)
  • Prasthagraha (stiffness of the back)
  • Rauksya and Parusya (dryness and hardness)
  • Sankhabheda (temporal pain)
  • Sephastambha (priapism)
  • Sarvangaroga (polyplegia – paralysis of all limbs)
  • Siroruk (a headache)
  • Sroni bheda (pelvic girdle pain)
  • Syavarunavadhasata (dusky red appearance)
  • Tama (fainting)
  • Timira (cataract)
  • Trikagraha (sacroiliac arthritis)
  • Uccaihsruti (hard of hearing)
  • Udaravesta (gripping abdominal pain)
  • Udavarta (misperistalsis – difficulty with passing food down into the gut)
  • Urusada (pain in the thigh)
  • Urustambha (stiffness of the thigh)
  • Vaksanga (slow speech)
  • Vaksastoda (stabbing pain in the chest)
  • Vaksa uparodha (impaired thoracic movements)
  • Vaksa uddharsa (friction pain in the chest)
  • Vamanatva (dwarfism)
  • Vanksananaha (groin tension)
  • Vartmasamkoca (entropion – introversion of the eyelids)
  • Vartmastabha (ptosis – drooping of the eyelids)
  • Vatakhuddata (clubfoot)
  • Vepathu (tremor)
  • Vidbheda (diarrhea)
  • Vipadika (cracking of the feet)
  • Visada (weakness)
  • Vrsanaksepa (scrotal pain)
PITTA

In Sanskrit, the term Pitta denotes ‘to burn’ or ‘to heat’. The entire biochemical activities, counting heat generation, are attributed to Pitta. Pitta is made up of ‘jala’ (water) and ‘tejas’ (fire).

The inherent ordinary attributes of Pitta are:

  • Acrid and sour tastes (arnlam)
  • Blue and yellow colors (neelpitta)
  • Fluidity (sara)
  • Fleshy and unpleasant smell (pichhila)
  • Heat (ushma)
  • Liquidity (drav)
  • Sharpness (teekshna)
  • Slight oiliness (sneham)

The prakrti or individual constitution of a person possesses aspects that are analogous to these natural attributes. When one is ill or suffering from any disease, the natural attributes as well as actions of Pitta are present, often completely or to some extent.

Pitta has been divided into five categories:

  • Alochaka
  • Bhrajaka
  • Sadhaka
  • Ranjaka
  • Pacaka

When the equilibrium of Pitta is disturbed, it can bring about:

  • Subnormal or abnormal temperature
  • Burning feelings all over the body
  • Confused mind and anger
  • Impaired skin health, luster, complexion, and color
  • Impaired visual perception
  • Impaired skin health, color luster, and complexion
  • Yellowness of urine, eyes, feces, and skin

Diseases that can be caused by unbalanced Pitta:

  • Aksipaka (conjunctivitis)
  • Amlaka (acid eructation)
  • Amsadaha (burning sensations in the shoulder)
  • Angavadarana (cracking pain in the body)
  • Ashwagandha (foul odor of the body)
  • Antardaha (burning sensations in the body)
  • Asyavipaka (stomatitis – inflammation of the lining of the mouth)
  • Atisveda (excessive perspiration)
  • Atrpti (dissatisfaction)
  • Carmadalana (itiching of the skin)
  • Daha (burning)
  • Davathu (boiling)
  • Dhumaka (fuming)
  • Galapaka (pharyngitis)
  • Gudapaka (proctitis – inflammation of the anus)
  • Haridratva (icterus, jaundice)
  • Haritaharidra netra, mutra, purish (greenish yellow coloration of the urine, eyes, and feces)
  • Haritatva (greenishness)
  • Jivadana (hemorrhage)
  • Kamala (jaundice)
  • Kaksa (genital herpes)
  • Lohita gandhasyata (smell of blood from the mouth)
  • Mamsakleda (sloughing of the muscles)
  • Medhrapaka (inflammation of the penis)
  • Miluca (skin warts)
  • Osa (heat)
  • Plosa (scorching)
  • Putimukhata (foul odor of the mouth)
  • Raktakoshtha (urticaria)
  • Raktapitta (bleeding tendency)
  • Raktavisphota (red vesicles)
  • Rakta mandala (red wheals)
  • Sonitakleda (sloughing of the blood)
  • Tamahpravesa (fainting)
  • Tiktasyata (bitter taste)
  • Trsnadhikya (excessive thirst)
  • Tvagavadarana (cracking of the skin)
  • Tvagdaha (burning sensation of the skin)
  • Usmadhikya (high temperature)
  • Vidaha (burning sensations in the chest)
KAPHA

In Sanskrit, the word Kapha basically denotes ‘phlegm’. In addition, it also means ‘to keep together’ or ‘to embrace’. Kapha is known to be the basis of potency as well as resistance (known as ‘bolla’ in Ayurveda). Going by Ayurveda, Kapha is accountable for the formation of the living body, and Kapha comprises water (‘jala’) and earth (‘prithvi’) elements. Owing to the composition of Kapha, it is additionally stable in nature compared to the two other doshas – Vata and Pitta. When it is in its usual state, Kapha is accountable for the power as well as the construction of the body.

Physical features of Kapha are described as:

  • Guru (heavy)
  • Ishat (viscous)
  • Madhura (sweet)
  • Mirdu (soft)
  • Picchila (slimy)
  • Sita (cool)
  • Sthira (stable)

Kapha can bring about:

  • Enthusiasm
  • Plumpness
  • Sturdiness
  • Virility
  • Wisdom

Kapha is of five categories, depending upon their location and purpose:

  • Avalambaka
  • Bodhaka
  • Kledaka
  • Sleshmaka
  • Tarpaka

When the equilibrium of Kapha is disturbed, it can bring about:

  • Confusion, lack understanding and ignorance
  • Emaciation of the body
  • Flabbiness
  • Immobility and loss of function of the joints
  • Impotency and sterility
  • Loss of oiliness
  • Weakness and susceptibility to disease
  • Lethargy and weariness

Ailments that can be caused by unbalanced Kapha:

  • Alasya (laziness)
  • Apakti (indigestion)
  • Atisthaulya (obesity)
  • Balasaka (loss of strength)
  • Dhamanipraticaya (atherosclerosis – narrowing of the arteries)
  • Galaganda (goiter)
  • Gurugatrata (heaviness of the body)
  • Hrdayopalepa (mucus around the heart)
  • Kanthopalepa (mucus in the throat)
  • Maladhikya (excess bodily excretion)
  • Mukhasrava (salivation)
  • Mukhamadhurya (sweet taste in the mouth)
  • Nidradhikya (excessive sleep)
  • Sitagnita (suppressed digestive power)
  • Slesmodgirana (excess mucus production)
  • Staimitya (timidity)
  • Svetavabhasata (pallor)
  • Tandra (drowsiness)
  • Trpti (anorexia nervosa)
  • Udarda (urticaria – irritation and inflammation of the skin)

What Is An Essential Oil? Essential Oil Safety – Basic Guidelines.

An essential oil is a highly concentrated compound, extracted from a herb, which gives the herb its characteristic fragrance. It is volatile, which means that it is easily dispersed in the air {think fragrance!} and can be distilled off and captured to produce a concentrated oil. It takes a large amount of herb to yield a small amount of oil, which accounts for the high price of commercially available essential oils. They are extremely concentrated – so strong that some are toxic – and should never be taken internally without professional advice. For external use, you should dilute an essential oil with a fixed oil, such as olive oil or almond, in order to avoid irritating your skin. When used safely and sparingly, essential oils add a delightful aroma and flavor to herbal preparations such as dried teas, tinctures, and salves.

Safety First – Using Essential Oils

  • Never use any essential oils of the citrus variety before sunbathing, for they are considered to be photosensitive oils, especially Bergamot.   See table 3 for a list of essential oils to avoid before going into the sun
  • Do not use essential oils before the 18th week of pregnancy and then the essential oils should only be blends which have been formulated by a professional health care provider and Certified Clinical Aromatherapist and always in low dilution.  Essential oils that appear to be safe include Cardamon, German and Roman Chamomile, Frankincense, Geranium, Ginger, Neroli, Patchouli, Petitgrain, Rosewood, Rose, Sandalwood, and other non-toxic essential oils.16 Before using any essential oils during pregnancy, check with your doctor first.  It would also be prudent to avoid the internal or undiluted application of essential oils throughout pregnancy.  See table 6 for essential oils to avoid during pregnancy
  • Keep aromatherapy products away from children under 12 and pets unless they have been approved for the correct application and usage by their health care provider or veterinarian.
  • Never take essential oils internally unless advised by a healthcare practitioner and Certified Clinical Aromatherapist.
  • All essential oils should be diluted with the exception of Tea Tree and Lavender which in most cases can be used directly on the skin (neat), but never on children under 12 or pets.
  • Avoid using essential oils when taking homeopathic remedies.
  • Reduce or avoid alcohol after aromatherapy massage.
  • With high blood pressure, avoid Rosemary, Peppermint, Black Pepper, Clove, Thyme, Hyssop, Sage
  • Low blood pressure – avoid excessive use of Lavender oil.
  • Epilepsy – avoid Fennel, Hyssop, and Rosemary.

Essential Oil Application Therapy on the Skin

General safety guidelines include: avoid application of known dermal irritant essential oils on any inflammatory or allergic skin condition; avoid undiluted application; avoid application on the open or damaged skin; and dilute known dermal irritants with appropriate vegetable oil or another carrier. If you suspect your or a client has sensitive skin, perform a skin patch test. Table 1 lists some, but not all, common essential oils considered to be dermal irritants.

Dermal Irritants (Table 1)

Essential Oil Latin Name
Bay Pimento racemosa
Cinnamon bark or leaf Cinnamomum zeylanicum*
Clove bud Syzygium aromaticum
Citronella Cymbopogon nardus
Cumin Cuminum cyminum
Lemongrass Cymbopogon citratus
Lemon verbena Lippia citriodora
Oregano Origanum vulgare
Tagetes Tagetes minuta
Thyme ct. thymol Thymus vulgaris

*bark is more irritating than leaf

Dermal sensitization

Dermal sensitization is a type of allergic reaction. It occurs on first exposure to a substance, but on this occasion, the noticeable effect on the skin will be slight or absent. However, subsequent exposure to the same material, or to a similar one with which there is cross-sensitization, produces a severe inflammatory reaction brought about by cells of the immune system (T-lymphocytes). The reaction will be represented on the skin as blotchy or redness, which may be painful to some individuals.

The best way to prevent sensitization is to avoid known dermal sensitizers and avoid applying the same essential oils every day for lengthy periods of time. Sensitization is, to an extent, unpredictable, as some individuals will be sensitive to a potential allergen and some will not.

According to Burfield (2004), the following oils listed in Table 2 are considered to be dermal sensitizers and are not recommended for use in aromatherapy massage.

Dermal Sensitizers (Table 2)

Essential Oil Latin Name
Cassia Cinnamomum cassia
Cinnamon bark Cinnamomum zeylanicum
Peru balsam Myroxylon pereirae
Verbena absolute Lippia citriodora
Tea absolute Camellia sinensis
Turpentine oil Pinus spp.
Backhousia Backhousia citriodora
Inula Inula graveolens
Oxidized (rancid) oils from Pinaceae family (e.g., Pinus and Cupressus species) and Rutaceae family (e.g., citrus oils)

Photosensitization

An essential oil that exhibits this quality will cause burning or skin pigmentation changes, such as tanning, on exposure to the sun or similar light (ultraviolet rays). Reactions can range from a mild color change through to deep weeping burns.

Do not use or recommend the use of photosensitizing essential oils prior to going into a sun tanning booth or the sun. Recommend that the client stays out of the sun or sun tanning booth for at least twenty-four hours after treatment if photosensitizing essential oils were applied to the skin. Certain drugs, such as tetracycline, increase the photosensitivity of the skin, thus increasing the harmful effects of photosensitizing essential oils under the necessary conditions. Table 3 lists some, but not all, common essential oils considered to be photosensitizers.

Photosensitizers (Table 3)

Essential Oil Latin Name
Angelica root Angelica archangelica
Bergamot unless bergaptene free 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

Non-phototoxic citrus oils (Table 4)

Essential Oil Latin Name
Bergamot: Bergapteneless
(FCF: Furanocoumarin Free)
Citrus bergamia
Distilled lemon Citrus limon
Distilled lime Citrus medica
Mandarin – Tangerine Citrus reticulata
Sweet orange Citrus sinensis
Expressed tangerine Citrus reticulata
Yuzu oil (expressed or distilled) Citrus juno

Mucous membrane irritant

A mucous membrane irritant will produce a heating or dry effect on the mucous membranes of the mouth, eyes, nose, and reproductive organs. It is recommended that mucous membrane irritating essential oils not be used in a full body bath unless placed in a dispersant first (e.g., milk, vegetable oil). It would also be wise to put the dispersed essential oils into the water after you have gotten into the bath. Bay, clove, cinnamon bark, lemongrass, and thyme. Thymol essential oils should be avoided in baths completely. Table 5 lists some, but not all, common essential oils considered to be mucous membrane irritants.

Mucous membrane irritants (Table 5)

Essential Oil Latin Name
Bay Pimento racemosa
Caraway Carum carvi
Cinnamon bark or leaf Cinnamomum zeylanicum
Clove bud or leaf Syzygium aromaticum
Lemongrass Cymbopogon citratus
Peppermint Mentha x piperita
Thyme ct. thymol Thymus vulgaris

Pregnancy

The use of essential oils during pregnancy is a controversial topic and one that is yet to be fully understood. The main concern during pregnancy appears to be the risk of essential oil constituents crossing over into the placenta. According to Tisserand and Balacs, crossing the placenta does not necessarily mean that there is a risk of toxicity to the fetus; this will depend on the toxicity and the plasma concentration of the compound. It is probable that essential oil metabolites cross the placenta due to the intimate (but not direct) contact between maternal and embryonic or fetal blood. Tony Burfield goes on to say, “to my thinking the responsible attitude is to discourage the use of essential oils completely during the first few months of pregnancy”.

Due to the lack of clear information regarding the toxicity of essential oils during pregnancy, it would be best to adhere to general safety guidelines. According to Tisserand and Balacs, the following essential oils should not be used during pregnancy: wormwood, rue, oak moss, Lavandula stoechas, camphor, parsley seed, sage, and hyssop.

Essential oils that appear to be safe include cardamon, German and Roman chamomile, frankincense, geranium, ginger, neroli, patchouli, petitgrain, rosewood, rose, sandalwood, and other non-toxic essential oils. It would also be prudent to avoid the internal or undiluted application of essential oils throughout pregnancy.

Essential oils to Avoid throughout Pregnancy, Labor, and while Breastfeeding (Table 6)

Essential Oil Latin Name
Aniseed Pimpinella anisum
Basil ct. estragole Ocimum basilicum
Birch Betula lenta
Camphor 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

General Safety Precautions & Guidelines

  1. Keep all essential oils out of reach of children and pets.
  2. Do not use or recommend the use of photosensitizing essential oils prior to going into a sun tanning booth or the sun. Recommend that the client stays out of the sun or sun tanning booth for at least twenty-four hours after treatment if photosensitizing essential oils were applied to the skin.
  3. Avoid prolonged use of the same essential oils.
  4. Avoid the use of essential oils you know nothing about on yourself or your clients. Research and get to know the oil prior to using it.
  5. Avoid the use of undiluted essential oils on the skin, unless otherwise indicated.
  6. If you suspect you or your client may be sensitive to specific essential oils or if your or your client has known allergies or sensitivities, it may be wise to perform a skin patch test.
  7. Know the safety data on each essential oil and place into the context of use and knowledge.
  8. Use caution when treating a female client who suspects she is pregnant or has been trying to become pregnant.
  9. Keep essential oils away from the eyes.
  10. 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.
  11. Make sure your treatment room has good ventilation.
  12. Do not use essential oils internally or advise on the use of essential oils internally unless you have been properly trained in one of NAHA’s approved schools and you have met the required hours of training to do so.  At this point, only those who have graduated and become a Clinical Aromatherapist have the training to prescribe essential oils.  If you advise on the use of essential oils for internal use and are not a Certified Clinical Aromatherapist, you are practicing medicine without a license and it is illegal.

Safety Measures

  1. If essential oil droplets accidentally get into the eye (or eyes) a cotton cloth or similar should be imbued with a fatty oil, such as olive or sesame, and carefully wiped over the closed lid. And / Or, Immediately flush the eyes with cool water.
  2. If an essential oil causes dermal irritation, apply a small amount of vegetable oil or cream to the area affected and discontinue use of essential oil or product that has caused dermal irritation.
  3. If a child or animal appears to have drunk several spoonfuls of essential oil, contact the nearest poison control unit (often listed on the front of a telephone directory). Keep the bottle for identification and encourage the child to drink whole or 2% milk. Do not try to induce vomiting.