In general, diffusing essential oils into the air is safer than using them on the skin. Don't diffuse essential oils around infants under 6 months old
Diffusing essential oils, or applying them topically, without knowing what type they are can cause irritation and/or irritation-based burns. The kind you can get from Walmart may be made from tallow ( animal fat), coconut oil, sweet almond oil, shea butter or mango butter, for instance. The kind you can get from a holistic store is usually pure or strongly-spiced. If you're using one of these types of essential oils, soak the cotton ball or a pad and dab the essential oil onto the affected area. Don't apply too much.
The essential oils you use need to be pure for the oils to be effective. Pure essential oils are either made from a plant's own ingredients or from a high-quality essential oil from another plant. Some essential oils will not be effective at all if you mix them with other, less potent, essential oils.
Dispensing oils for aromatherapy should be done by trained professionals, and every diffuser has a recommended dosage amount. However, a small quantity of pure essential oil will do the trick for many applications. It's also important to use distilled water for making essential oils.
Essential oils may have a role in supplementation. You can buy a specialized skin care product or drink a homemade, fruit-based blend. Some people may use essential oils to relieve stress or sleep better, but the exact evidence is not conclusive. Some people claim the effects are similar to a certain type of Tylenol.
Ingesting essential oils may also help, as they do not contain a lot of calories or any fat.
Aroma therapy involves breathing in the essential oils as they are being diffused into the air.
Aromatherapy can be very relaxing and help people relax. "Aromatherapy and restorative and calming oils can improve sleep quality, reduce stress, and improve quality of life," reads the Essential Oils page of The Mind Unleashed.
As with most other forms of aromatherapy, there's no proven evidence that essential oils have any specific benefits to the brain or the body. They may be helpful for people with a variety of anxiety or other conditions, but only the essential oils you are sensitive to will work for you.
Other essential oils
Many essential oils are cheap, easy to grow and work well in diffusing. If you grow your own essential oils, you can have a family of essential oil users in your own backyard.
A quick search on Amazon will yield many diffusers, oils and blends, from a few dollars to hundreds of dollars. While there's no right or wrong way to use essential oils, and you can use them as a way to supplement regular essential oil usage, some oils, like lavender, will cause a tingly sensation in some people.
If you're interested in the best ways to use essential oils, read Essential Oils 101: The Essential Guide to Essential Oils and Do-It-Yourself Relaxation.
This article first appeared on AskDrManny.com.
Dr. Manny Alvarez serves as Fox News Channel's senior managing health editor. He also serves as chairman of the department of obstetrics/gynecology and reproductive science at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey. For more information on Dr. Manny's work, visit AskDrManny.com.