HOUSTON – Essential oils are widely used for aroma therapy and treating certain ailments, but while many claim to be health enhancing, can they actually be harmful?
They have a variety of uses, but essential oils are not regulated by any agency and doctors say you should be aware of certain factors before delving in them.
"Most of the patients seem to use essential oils to help them get some rest some of them are using them for pain," said Dr. Christine Le, with the Kelsey Seybold Clinic.
Essential oils are derived from plants and people use them to treat everything from acne to blood pressure.
However, Le said that before using essential oils, learn how they will affect you.
"Probably the smallest amount will help patients because we just don't know how it will affect the body, how it gets absorbed by the kidneys, and also it may fight different prescription medicines," Le said.
Le said essential oils are considered a food supplement, so they are not really regulated. There is also CBD oil made from the hemp plant. It's not supposed to have traces of THC but some do.
"In some studies, they have found one in five of the CBD oils have the THC, which is the component in marijuana that actually makes people high," said Le.
Some people use them directly on their skin, while others put the oil in a diffuser and breathe it in.
Le said if you use the oils on your skin, there is the risk of irritation, which could feel like a chemical burn.
She also said the oils will have different effects on different people, so it's important to figure out what is right for each person.
"Some of the patients have felt fatigue or nausea and it can get some patients agitated," Le said. "I had one couple who the wife felt great on it, but it caused her husband to cough and itch. Every person is different. It's trial and error, really, but if people feel better-rested and energized it is a good way to get some rest."
For pets and babies, Le said to check with a veterinarian and pediatrician first.
Le said to avoid getting the oils in your eyes and to never ingest, eat or drink, any essential oils.
If you are pregnant or nursing, ask your doctor before using essential oils.