What is a thieves-type blend?
What's the problem?
- Clove-Clove is considered a “hot” oil and has a maximum dermal limit of 0.5%. It is contraindicated for topical use with children under the age of 2. Clove essential oil has a moderate skin sensitization risk.
- Cinnamon-Cinnamon bark is also considered a “hot” oil which can cause skin irritation. It has a maximum dermal limit of 0.07%. Cinnamon bark essential oil has a high skin sensitization risk.
- Eucalyptus-Eucalyptus varieties that are rich in 1,8-cineole such as Eucalyptus radiata and Eucalyptus globulus are most commonly used in thieves-type blends for their affinity with respiratory health. The higher 1,8-cineole content in them however can cause CNS and respiratory problems in infants and young children. In the past they have been contraindicated for use with children under the age of 10; however, this has recently been reevaluated and they are indicated as safe for topical use on children from 3 months-3 years at a 0.5% dilution and children 3-6 years at a 1% dilution. Diffusion of 1,8-cineole rich eucalyptus oils has also now been determined as safe for children 3 months and up.
- Rosemary-Similar to eucalyptus, rosemary can also contain a significant percentage of 1,8-cineole as well as camphor. For this reason, caution is indicated when applying on or near the face of infants and children.
- Lemon and/or Sweet Orange-Most citrus oils are indicated as safe for children. The concern arises due to their phototoxic risks and consequently low maximum dermal limits of some expressed citrus oils. For example: expressed lemon essential oil has a low phototoxic risk factor and a maximum dermal limit of 2.0%. Sweet orange essential oil on the other hand is not phototoxic.
Pre-made blends can be an excellent time saver and easy choice, especially for those newer to essential oils or anyone that doesn’t have the interest in formulating their own recipes. When buying pre-made though, the company does not typically disclose the ratios of essential oils used in the bottle. Without this information it would be nearly impossible to determine how to properly dilute or use the blend in a safe manner. In this case for example: trying to calculate a dilution rate while making a roller bottle to ensure that the cinnamon bark essential oil in the blend will meet its very low maximum level of 0.07% to avoid the risk of skin irritation.
My Tips to Stay Safe:
- Read all the facts and taking the ages and health status of the members of your family, consider whether using a thieves-type blend would be the right choice for everyone.
- Try making your own germ fighting blend where you can be in control of the essential oils used and amounts. I personally like this one by Lea Harris of Using Essential Oils Safely: http://www.usingeossafely.com/anti-germ-essential-oils/
- If a pre-made blend is appealing to you, try one of these that have been formulated especially with children in mind: Healthy Hero by Edens Garden and Immune Boom by Plant Therapy or Germ Destroyer also by Plant Therapy.
- Forego using them on a daily basis for “prevention”. Use them instead once anyone in your family has been exposed to a particularly germy situation and/or once symptoms of an illness are present.
- Keep in mind that topical application is not always the most suitable method. For respiratory support, overall health, and germ fighting I find inhalation to be highly effective. Try diffusing for 20-30 minutes or making each member of the family a personal inhaler.
- Let’s not forget, the simplest way to avoid getting sick is by washing our hands. Make it fun for littles by helping them make their own hand soap! These are two of our favorites: Foaming Hand Soap (make it here) or Individual Use Bar Soap (make it here).
Tisserand Institute. (2017). Are eucalyptus and peppermint essential oils safe for young children? [infographic]. Retrieved from http://tisserandinstitute.org/learn-more/kids-inhalation-safety/
Using Essential Oils Safely. (2017). What is wrong with premade thieves blends? Retrieved from http://www.usingeossafely.com/what-is-wrong-with-pre-made-thieves-blends-what-makes-thieves-blends-unsafe-what-to-use-instead/