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ESSENTIAL OILS 101 – For Health Coaches


Essential Oils – What are They?

Essential oils are compounds found in plants.  They may be found in the seeds, bark, stems, petals or other parts of the plant.

They are natures protection for the plant. Oils help the plant in pollination and protection.  Essential oils have distinct scents and are used for food, beauty and wellness purposes.

Essential oils are a complex mixture of chemicals that change over time within the plant.

Distillation and expression are the two ways that oils are removed from plants.  Distillation is the most common.




Cathy Sykora

Founder, The Health Coach Group

Cathy helps health coaches build and maintain successful businesses that improve the lives of others.

Safety Factors

  1. Quality of the oils.  Purity and potency are major factors in the quality of the oil.  The plants should be taken care of properly and harvested at the proper stage.  Oils that are not pure may present safety issues.
  2. Application Method.  Aromatic use presents far less opportunity for problems than dermal or internal use.  Be sure to do your research before using essential oils, especially when used internally or topically.
  3. Dosage.  Dilution of the oils is important.  Excessive use of essential oils may cause sensitivity, adverse reaction or build immunity.
  4. Age of user.  Children and elderly can be more sensitive to oils.

From the FDA

If an “essential oil” or other fragrance is “natural” or “organic,” doesn’t that mean it’s safe?

Sometimes people think that if an “essential oil” or other ingredient comes from a plant, it must be safe. But many plants contain materials that are toxic, irritating, or likely to cause allergic reactions when applied to the skin.

For example, cumin oil is safe in food, but can cause the skin to blister. Certain citrus oils used safely in food can also be harmful in cosmetics, particularly when applied to skin exposed to the sun.

FDA doesn’t have regulations defining “natural” or “organic” for cosmetics. All cosmetic products and ingredients must meet the same safety requirement, regardless of their source. To learn more, see “’Organic’ Cosmetics” and “FDA’s Poisonous Plant Database.”

Your Responsibility as a Health Coach

Check the laws in your state.  Different states have different regulations.  The Center for Nutrition Advocacy is a good first source.

Check the FDA.  You are not allowed to make any medical claims for the essential oils.

Essential oils and their therapeutic effects have been well documented for ages.  However, in an effort to cut back on the claims made by sales people, the FDA has taken a strong stand on the ability to make claims.

As a health coach, follow the law and stay out of trouble. If your state allows you to educate your clients, you may consider making educational materials available to your clients to discern and make their own determination.

How to Use Essential Oils



Essential oils can be released through a diffuser, direct inhalation.

According to the National Association for Holistic Aromotherapy, “Aromatherapy, also referred to as Essential Oil therapy, can be defined as the art and science of utilizing naturally extracted aromatic essences from plants to balance, harmonize and promote the health of body, mind and spirit. “

Dermal Application

Essential oil can be applied topically with the use of creams, lotions or oils.

Bath Bombs combine aromatic and topical use.

Creams and lotions may be purchased with a combination of oils or you can learn to mix and create your own.

For safety, special care should be taken to the condition of the skin and the age of the person using the oils.


Internal use of essential oils is considered to be the most potent method of use as well as the most controversial.

Essential oils may be added to teas, honey, or used in recipes.  Many of us have been getting essential oils through diet for years without being aware.  Spices and plants are natural oils in our everyday diets.  Essential oils may also be taken in capsules.