Painful Lesson

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Painful Lesson

I know better than to apply certain essential oils undiluted (aka neat) to my skin. I really do know better. I have read the research and studied the effects of the constituents when applied topically.  I know which medications I am on, and I know which oils may interfere or reduce my medication’s efficacy.

So all this “knowing” doesn’t mean diddly when I forget to use my brain!

Yep, I did a big “oops” and I am now paying the price.  Let me take you back a few days to set the scene.

Last week was a busy week around here, in addition to our normal homeschool schedule, we were also getting the house ready to host a bridal shower.  Over the course of the week, I must have overdone it (yeah, it really doesn’t take much for me to overdo it, I know) and started to feel nerve and joint pain in my arm and lower back. I ignored the pain for a couple days the best I could, but by the time Saturday night came around, I was ready for some relief. (Here is where I forgot to use my brain…and my eyeglasses)

As I was getting ready for bed I thought I could benefit from some pain relief and grabbed my bottle of arthritis plus (This is a proprietary blend, not one made by me) and proceeded to rub a couple drops into my elbow and forearm. Then I fell asleep.

I slept very well and woke up with no nerve or joint pain. And, I went on to have a very nice Sunday with the family. My nice Sunday came to a screeching halt about 24 hours after the application of that arthritis plus blend.

img_2101I started itching like crazy.  That “can’t stop myself until I draw blood” type of itching. My forearm looked like a landscape from a Dr. Seuss storybook. Pale skin (no, not all Hispanics tan nicely) dotted with a thousand pink pin pricks. I quickly realized that it was popping up in the exact location that I applied the blend.  Argh!!!!

I opened the box of blended oils (yeah I have a separate storage box for single oils and blended oils) and went to take a closer look at the blend, thinking that there must be something in this particular blend that I am allergic to.

Arthritis Plus : White Cedar, Lemongrass, Peppermint, Black Cumin, Helichrysum italicum, Black Pepper

Nope nothing there that I am knowingly allergic to and the bottle had a blue sticker dot on top so that means it is oils blended with a carrier.

Wait!   Where is the carrier in the ingredient list?

Yep, this is where my eyes and brain failed me. The first time I looked at the blend when I bought it, I missed the fact that it was a synergy of oils and not a blend in a carrier. I miss identified it., and I had proceeded to rub a couple (2-3) drops straight into my skin.

Well, now I just had to wait a couple more hours to watch the remaining spots erupt. You see, Sunday mid-day I was so happy with the pain relieving effects from the night before, I rubbed a couple more drops on my lower back.

So fast forward to today. I am still dealing with a polka-dotted forearm that is still very itchy, and a lower back in the same condition.

Out of all my recent studying, this by far is the most painful lesson to date. Maybe I needed to learn the lesson about using oils neat the hard way, I mean I have read about the reactions that can happen, but maybe having it happen to me gives me a heightened awareness now? Yeah, let’s say that this had to happen so that I can become hyper-vigilant from this point forward. I think I prefer that spin on it.  But, you can bet the farm that I will be double checking all my blends today!

What can you learn from my lesson?

synergy” when used in aromatherapy means the collective benefits of two or more essential oils that when combined result in a much more potent and effective oil than the sum of their individual effects.

blended” when used in aromatheraphy can mean many things and it should never be assumed that blends are dilluted or that they contain a carrier oil.  Blended can be synonomous with synergy in some cases, so you really need to read the labels and ask questions if the labels are unclear.

Both of these terms are really just a combination of essential oils (sometimes herbal oils are included) that can be crafted for a specific purpose or to obtain a certain aroma or created to ellicit a particular emotional response (uplift, calm, energize, ground, balance).

Bottomline – Read the labels and know what you are applying to your skin.


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