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Notes from the Essential Oil Class

Essential Oils for Animals presented by Dr. Krista Lorenz DVM

Essential Oils

Novemeber 27, 2018 Workshop: Essentials Oils for Animals

What is an Essential Oil?
1.      An essential oil is a volatile aromatic(fragrant) compound found naturally in seeds, bark, stems, roots and flowers of      plants and trees.
a.      It is the fat-soluble fluid portion from the plant.
b.      The oil is either extracted, pressed, or distilled and is highly concentrated.  For example, 1 drop of lemon oil is equal to 1 pound of lemons. 
c.       An oil is 50-70X more powerful than its herbal counterpart.  For example, 1 drop of peppermint oil equals 28 cups of peppermint tea.

2.     An oil is comprised of many chemical constituents that perform vital functions for the plant.  The oil is the ‘life blood’ of the plant and is essential to its survival.
        a.     It is the parasitic, bacterial, fungal, and viral defense.
        b.     It promotes healing and prevents infection of the plant by weeping when the plant is injured.
        c.      It protects its host.
        d.     An oil can perform similar functions for our bodies and they do for the plant.

3.     The many constituents of an oil can be affected by numerous variables.  This would affect its quality and therapeutic properties.
        a.     The part of the plant from which the oil is produced
       b.     Soil condition/fertilizers used or not used
       c.      Geographic region incl. climate and altitude
       d.     When/how harvested
        e.     Distillation process

4.     An oil can provide numerous emotional and physical benefits to those who choose to use them, human and animal

Why is Quality and Purity Important?
Quality refers to the oil doing what it’s supposed to do therapeutically.  Purity refers to the oil being free of pesticides, contaminants, and fillers.
1.     There are NO regulations of the essential oil industry…..NONE!

2.     Terms such as therapeutic grade, certified therapeutic grade, 100% natural, organic, wild-crafted are only as good as the company touting them.

3.     It is estimated that over 70% of the essential oils on the market are adulterated.  Meaning they are chemically altered, other cheaper oils are added/used, or they are diluted.

4.     True quality oils

        a.     should have the genus and species of the plant on the bottle
        b.     should come in a dark glass bottle that is sealed until you open it
         c.      should have at least a batch number(even better if there is an expiration date on the bottle, and even better still if     you can look up that batch number and see some of the testing done on that oil)
        d.     will have supplement facts on the bottle if it’s safe for internal use
        e.     should not all be the same price, that is a big red flag
        f.       should have at the minimum a GC/MS test run on each batch, better if other testing done as well

General Use of Essential Oils
1.     There are four main ways to absorb essential oils
         a.     Through the lungs
                 i.      direct inhalation
                 ii.      diffusion methods
        b.     Through the skin
                 i.      applied topically either neat or diluted
       c.      Within the gastrointestinal tract
                 i.      when swallowed in a capsule
                 ii.      when put in food or liquid then swallowed
       d.     Through the mucous membranes
                i.      when taken orally ie. under the tongue

2.     No matter what method used, the oils can be detected in the brain in less than a second, in the hair in about 20 min, and will be metabolized in 12-24 hours

3.     Some of the confusion about how oils are used stems from the presence of different aromatherapy models.
         a.     German model – use oils through inhalation only
         b.     English/British models – use very diluted oils in massage application
         c.      French model – use oils topically, orally,  and by inhalation

Use of Essential Oils in Animals
1.     More confusion comes from some common misconceptions and differing opinions when it comes to using essential oils with animals.
              a.     If the animal turns away from the oil, don’t use it
              b.     Don’t use citrus with cats; don’t use any oils with cats; cats can’t metabolize oils; essential oils will kill cats
              c.      Don’t use grapefruit oil if on medications
              d.     Apply to pads of feet; don’t apply to pads of feet
              e.     You need to part the fur or the oils won’t be absorbed
              f.       Okay to add oils to drinking water; don’t add oils to drinking water
              g.     It’s okay to use oils neat, don’t ever use oils neat
              h.     Inconsistent dilution rate suggestions

2.     Use common sense when it comes to using essential oils, some precautions are necessary
               a.     Always better to dilute…start with a more dilute solution, you can always add more oils if needed, but you can’t take them away.
              b.     Always use a high quality oil
              c.      When diffusing, always allow a way for the pet to leave that room
             d.     Generally recommend blending 3-5 oils together-synergistic effects and less of each oil
             e.     Don’t apply oils into the ear, eyes or nose
              f.       Animals have a keen sense of smell and find a lot of smells offensive not just oils
              g.     Yes, pets have been injured by use of oils, but when a thorough case history has been taken, it’s often not the culprit, or there was gross misuse of the oil or a low quality oil was used
              h.     With as many households that are using essential oils now(even the cheap ones) and as many products that contain essential oils, the actual rate of true toxicities is really quite low
               i.        What about other fragrances in the home like plug-ins, room sprays, cleaning supplies, laundry detergent, fabric softener, perfumes, candles….all synthetic chemicals/questionable quality essential oils

3.     Cats…what’s their deal
               a.     Commonly stated that cats are deficient in a particular enzyme therefore they can’t metabolize essential oils…this is not quite true…it’s outdated science
            b.     Cats have less of particular enzymes…does not make them deficient, it makes them cats
           c.      Also have alternative pathways for metabolism that are more efficient than other species
           d.     Metabolize essential oils slower than other species…true for many drugs that are used or not uses for cats in veterinary medicine as well
           e.     All species metabolize substances at different rates, that’s just normal
           f.       There is a wealth of information showing that cats are tolerating proper use of essential oils quite well
           g.     If oils were truly as toxic as some imply, cats would be dropping like flies with the vast amount of oils that are being used in households throughout the world

4.     Ways to use essential oils on dogs, cats and horses
           a.     Aromatically
                      1        Water diffusion
                      2        Spray into the air
                      3        Direct inhalation-put a drop in your hand and allow the animal to smell it-great for horses
                      4        On a cloth, cotton ball or tissue near the animal or on bedding
                      5        Hot water or steam like in a shower
                      6        In an EO safe humidifier
                      7        On a cotton ball in a fan
                     8        Mix with baking soda and sprinkle in litter box
          b.     Topically(I always dilute with a carrier oil first- FCO is my favorite, absorbs quickly and not too greasy or sticky)
                      1        Direct application-place a drop of diluted oil in hand, rub together and pet along spine
                      2        Massage in to area of interest
                      3        Apply to tips of ears
                      4        Reflexology points between pads or back feet
                      5        In shampoo
                      6        Cold or warm compress
          c.      Internally(diluted first)
                           1        Mix into food
                           2        Place drop on finger and rub on gums
                           3        Can put in a capsule(dogs)
                           4        In drinking water(1 drop per 4 cups, 3-4 drops per gallon)
                           5        In natural toothpaste(1 drop oil, 2Tbsp baking soda and enough water to make a paste)

 5.     Proper dilution(my recommendations)
           a.     Always start with less and add more if needed
            b.     For most cases
                         1        Dogs…5% concentration for small dogs up to 10% for large dogs
                          2        Cats…2-3% concentration
                             3      Horses…25-50% concentration
          c.      Also depends on the oils used, if a hotter oil will dilute more, if a really safe oil might go a little stronger
         d.     It’s been shown that mixing with a carrier oil actually increases the absorption of the oil into the hair and skin better and it also lasts longer in the system

6.     What about Tea Tree oil(Melaleuca)?
                  a.     Most controversial EO used in animals…reports blown out of proportion
                   b.     Became popular quickly so an abundance of poor quality, contaminated and synthetically created oils came on to the market
                   c.      Poor quality Tea Tree has killed cats and most cases of suspected toxicity were from gross misuse
                   d.     The research that most refer to when disparaging this oil was based on a case where 60ml of the straight oil was applied to 3 cats…this is an insane overdose and an actual poisoning
                   e.     Also many cases where Tea Tree was used successfully without incidence.
                   f.       Even though Tea Tree can be very effective, there are other alternatives to use in its place so we can play it safe and not use it
                    g.     Perfectly fine to use on horses

7.     A couple notes about using essential oils with horses
                  a.     Tolerate most oils very well so more options available
                  b.     Still want to dilute hotter oils more
                  c.      Tempting to use oils neat, but don’t need to so why…
                  d.     Don’t apply oils to saddle area prior to riding
                  e.     Some organizations do not permit use of certain herbs or essential oils during competitions
My Top 12 Oils…
1.     Frankincense (considered the King of Oils)…when in doubt about what oil to choose, choose this one. It’s incredibly safe, well tolerated, versatile and effective.  It works on every body system because it supports healthy cellular function. Indicated for all forms of cancer, tumors, cysts, behavioral conditions, depression, brain disorders, seizures, immune system regulation, autoimmune disorders, DNA repair, eases end of life transition, has synergistic effect with other oils

2.     Lavender…a highly adulterated oil, but when pure is incredibly mild and well suited for all species.  It’s indicated for skin conditions of any kind, muscular concerns, calming effects, burns, frost bite, high blood pressure, CCD, anxiety, poor sleeping

3.     Eucalyptus...indicated for anything respiratory like asthma, bronchitis, sinusitis, respiratory viruses like the flu; helpful for Herpes infections; also beneficial for purifying and cleansing the air; not for internal use and not recommended topically for cats, but can be used in litter box

4.     Cedarwood…gently increases circulation and stimulates release of toxins, also supports the body by increasing oxygenation, good for deodorizing, calming, and repels insects. Not for internal use.  Could use in shampoo and conditioner, litter box, massage blend for muscles, and insect repellant blends.

5.     Copaiba…one of my favorite oils.  One of its main constituents is BCP (betacaryophellene).  BCP is a cannabinoid.  Guess who BCP’s two cousins are…CBD and THC. Yep that’s right, Copaiba works on the same system as CBD, the endocannabinoid system.  The cool thing about Copaiba is that it works directly on the CB2 receptor in the endocannabinoid system whereas CBD has to go through an enzymatic process before it affects the CB2 receptor.  (THC works on the CB1 receptor and that’s the one that causes the psychoactive effects).  So Capaiba can be used as an alternative to CBD oil if the desired effects of CBD are not attained or vise versa.  We all respond to herbs and oils differently and what works for one may not work for another.  Nature has a great way of working around that by providing several options for us.  It is one of the highest anti-inflammatory oils and it affects the cardiovascular, immune, digestive, respiratory and nervous systems.  Indicted for arthritis, gastric ulcers, dental disease, skin conditions, any sort of inflammation, GI disorders, pain, incontinence, urinary disorders, anxiety, seizures, and neuropathic disorders.

6.     Peppermint…another highly adulterated oil, lower quality oils will smell more medicinal, better oils will actually smell sweeter.  It is stimulating/energizing, stimulates circulation so an excellent addition to massage blends for injuries, sprains, strains, arthritis or dysplasia; clears the airways and promotes proper breathing; helps with digestive issues and car sickness; reduces mouth odor; can be added to insect repellant blends as well.  Cats don’t do as well with peppermint mostly because of the strong smell, however if diluted enough (1% or less) it can be part of a blend that many cats will enjoy.

7.     Ginger…indicated for any gastrointestinal issues, good for nausea/car sickness in combo with peppermint, helps with GI motility whether too much or too little, may help with ulcers; it is also quite warming so it increases blood flow and can be used in massage blends.

8.     Marjoram…has calming spasmolytic effects and strong antibacterial effects; it is indicated for musculoskeletal issues(muscle spasms, joint discomfort), respiratory issues, gastrointestinal issues(increases gut motility), helps with fluid retention, circulatory disorders and nerve pain; also used for skin infections, wound care and insect repellant; interesting to note that it can have effect on hormonal issues in dogs such as excessive sexual drive.  Good alternative to Tea Tree oil (melaleuca).

9.     Myrrh…valued for its anti-inflammatory effects, it also has antiviral properties and is supportive for many endocrine and hormonal conditions including thyroid; it is used for mouth pain and topically for post-surgical pain, treating irritated or inflamed skin conditions, and immune boosting; indicated for use with diabetes, cancer, hepatitis, tooth and gum problems, skin diseases, and as an analgesic.

10.Geranium…good for skin ailments especially yeast overgrowth, can be used to treat fungal ear infections, is a good tick repellent; also indicated for use with hepatitis, fatty liver, ringworm, Herpes, hormone balancing, liver and pancreas stimulation, dilation of bile ducts for liver detoxification, and it help release negative memories and eases nervous tension; it is another good alternative to Tea Tree oil.

11.Helichrysum...has analgesic, anti-inflammatory and regenerative properties; excellent for skin, can use for healing lacerations and wounds; great as a topical anesthetic especially for the mouth; indicated for nerve regeneration and neurologic conditions, hearing impairment, circulatory and blood vessel disorders, heart disease, liver disease, hypertension, chelation of chemicals, toxin exposure, poisoning, vaccination detoxification; indicated for blood clots as an anti-coagulant, but also used for bleeding and bruising

12.Turmeric...a new favorite, different chemical constituent than the herb; used for healthy glucose levels and fat metabolism; supports the nervous system; anti-oxidant properties so good for immune system; great for skin rashes/crud; anti-inflammatory so indicated for musculoskeletal issues; can use with the herb-it increases potency and bioavailability; not for topical use with cats, but diffusion is fine