Holistic Wellness Includes Taking Precautions

You may look at the title and think, “Of course! Isn’t that one of the points of natural, holistic medicine?” Yes, with preventative care, taking precautions, is a main focus of holistic medicine. There are a number of natural remedies available to treat ailments once you have them, but the goal is to prevent a person from suffering from an ailment in the first place. So, holistic practitioners recommend a variety of treatments, which aid in disease prevention.

Essential oils are often recommended and have many health benefits. They can be added to carrier oils, such as almond oil, and used in massage therapy to enhance relaxation or aid in improving circulation. Essential oils can also be used to support digestion, increase energy, and heal injuries. The benefits are numerous; it’s no wonder they are highly recommended.

Sometimes, though, we see the words “all natural”, “pure”, “from nature” and assume this automatically makes something healthful and beneficial. Just because something is beneficial doesn’t mean it can’t adversely affect someone. Granted, most of the time natural remedies like herbs, vitamins, and essential oils have a positive impact on a person’s health. However, there is still a need for caution.

While there are many reasons to be cautious with natural remedies (as well as conventional treatments), one of the main reasons is because of allergic reactions. Besides this, some simply have extra sensitive skin, so topical treatments such as essential oils may cause an adverse skin reaction.

This is where precaution comes into the picture. There is a specific preventative measure recommended in the holistic community relating to essential oils; it’s known as the skin patch test.

What is a Skin Patch Test?

A skin patch test helps you see if you have an reaction to essential oils. A skin patch test is especially important if you have sensitive skin or a history of allergies. Whenever you’re trying an essential oil for the first time, it is best to test it on a small area of your skin to see if you have a reaction. If you do, at least the reaction is contained within a small area. You can imagine how uncomfortable and distraught you would feel if you didn’t find out you had an allergy or sensitivity to a particular oil until you spread it over a large area of your body.

It might be wise to do a skin patch test more often, instead of just the very first time you use a particular essential oil. As we age, our body chemistry changes because of hormones or environmental changes. Our diet and environment play a large role in how our body reacts. When our body or environment changes (example: menopause, increased pollution), so does our reaction to things that may not have bothered us in the past. So, if you are going to use oil you haven’t used in a while, the wise course would be to do another skin patch test, just to be sure.

Some Reasons Why You Could Have a Reaction

Besides having sensitive skin or being allergic to the oil, whether it is the carrier or essential oil, there are other reasons you could have a reaction. Some essential oils must be diluted. If you used the wrong dosage or incorrect dilution ratio you could have an undesirable result.

Important, too, is the quality of the oil you use. Poor quality can result in an adverse reaction. Discuss the type of oils used and sold by your holistic provider to make sure you’re getting the highest quality possible.

Another reason for a reaction: interaction between the oil and medications. This is very rare, but it’s always best to have an open dialogue with your physician and holistic practitioner about what medications you’re taking and any possible side effects with essential oils or any natural remedy.

How to Do a Diluted Skin Patch Test

  • Wash and dry the forearm thoroughly with unscented soap.
  • Apply enough of the essential oil blend to moisten but not saturated.
  • Cover with sterile gauze.
  • Leave in place 24 hours, unless burning or irritation occurs.

**If irritation does occur, discontinue use and contact the local aroma therapist.

How to Do an Undiluted Skin Patch Test

  • Wash and dry the forearm thoroughly with unscented soap.
  • Apply 1 drop of essential oil to the crook of the arm.
  • Close arm (hand to shoulder) for five minutes.
  • Open and close once again.

**If irritation does occur, discontinue use and contact the local aroma therapist.

If stinging or any irritation occurs, wash with water and soap or wipe with a cotton ball saturated with milk or a vegetable oil. The poison control center recommends washing with soap and water.

Not everyone is going to have an adverse reaction. In fact, only a small number of people actually have issues with essential oils. Most people see positive results, particularly when the oils are high quality and administered properly. The next time you see your holistic healthcare practitioner, find out what brand they recommend and why. And, of course, make sure to do a skin patch test. As they say – “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!”

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