I get google article alerts in my inbox and recently saw one about using essential oils in the bath. As a certified aromatherapist I learned about the benefits of essentials and they are excellent additions to a bath IF used properly. As I read this article I was concerned about some of the suggestions, lack of guidance, and just some plain misinformation.
While essential oils are generally safe people have had some unpleasant reactions to using essential oils improperly in the bath (see:https://tisserandinstitute.org/safety/adverse-reaction-database/#grouped-by-application/?view_15_search=bath&view_15_page=1 and https://tisserandinstitute.org/safety/adverse-reaction-database/#grouped-by-application/adverse-reaction-report-details2/583483cad71064d92c957ff5/)
First of all essential oils should be diluted with carrier before adding to the tub. This could be a carrier oil, castille soap, or natrusorb. Something to help disperse the oils.
Second, essential oils are highly concentrated. Three to five drops of essential oils are plenty for the tub (although Robert Tisserand of the Tisserand institute suggests you could add up to 20 drops total). Dilute your three to five drops of essential oils in your carrier (a tablespoon) and add to the tub. Castille soap works really well as it doesn't leave the tub slick. Carrier oil with help moisturize the skin but can leave an oily residue.
Third, consider your essential oil choices carefully. Yes peppermint is a great analgesic, it's cooling, and smells great BUT in the bath on sensitive areas it can just plain burn. I know people who have learned this the hard and painful burning way. Essential oils like clove or cinnamon can be hot and irritating to the skin. And even essential oils such as orange or lemon can be irritating if not diluted before adding to the tub. Oils like geranium and ylang-ylang are wonderful but can cause headache if more than a drop or two is used. And some oils are phototoxic and could potentially increase your skin's sensitivity to sun.
It's a good idea to refer to Essential Oil Safety by Tisserand and Young or visit a website that refers to safety data concerning maximum dermal concentration or any safety concerns or talk to a certified aromatherapist.
Lastly essential oils offer many therapeutic benefits but the oils don't necessary offer the same benefits as the actual plant part they come from. For example oranges are rich in vitamin C and I often see people exposing the use of orange essential oil for its vitamin C benefits. However vitamin C is water soluble and essential oils are not. So when oranges are distilled the vitamin C is not coming along for the ride. Perhaps a little is found in expressed orange essential oil but mostly we get d-limonene.
Another example is with frankinscene and boswellic acid. While frankinscene resin may contain this compound and it has been shown to have anti-inflammatory benefits among others it is not found in the essential oil. So the bottom line is that essential oils contain only an oil soluble aromatic fraction of compounds found in the plant from which it is derived.
Some ideas for safe bath time essential oil use:
4 oz glass or PET plastic jar
* 2 oz of sea salt, Himalayan salt, or epsom salt.
* 2 tablespoons of castille soap, shower gel, or shampoo
10 drops of essential oils
Use one ounce per bath. You can add in extra salt if you like. Or you can leave out the salt altogether and simply use carrier alone to dilute and mix your essential oils.
Try one of these blends:
6 drops lavender
4 drops palmarosa
Add the the essential oil to the castille soap, add salt, and mix well. Use 1 oz per bath. Both lavender and palmarosa are excellent for the skin and soothing for the body.
Sore Muscle Soak:
5 drops rosemary
2 drops lavender
3 drops eucalyptus
Add the the essential oil to the castille soap, add salt, and mix well. Use 1 oz per bath. Rosemary is analgesic and supports circulation and respiratory health. Eucalytus likewise is a great analgesic and anti-inflammatory essential oil that also supports the lungs (for children under ten caution should be used with eucalyptus -- a good substitute is cedar wood or frankincense). And lavender is soothing and a tonic to the body and helps ease aches as well.
There are lots of gorgeous combinations of oils that work great in the tub -- Roman chamomile, sandalwood, vetiver, ylang-ylang, gingergrass, and more. Just be sure to double check the oils safety and max dermal usage and dilute in a carrier.
For more information on using essential oils in the bath check out this infographic from Robert Tisserand. https://tisserandinstitute.org/learn-more/dispersing-essential-oils/
So yes essential oils are a lovely and therapeutic addition to a bath -- just be sure to use them safely.
If you have questions about essential oils or aromatherapy contact Tricia or stop by Be Kekoa Apothecary at 28636 Old Town Front St Suite 200, Temecula, CA 92590.