You’re often advised to use essential oils for aromatherapy or to dilute and use them on various parts of your body. Have you ever been told to apply them to the soles of feet? For a variety of reasons, this is an effective way to use essential oils.
Myth: Essential Oils Are Absorbed More Quickly Through Your Feet
Many essential oil experts say that because your feet have large pores, they can suck up essential oils like a straw. Your feet do have many pores, but they allow sweat to exit. Pores don’t absorb many chemicals from the outside world.
Also, essential oils don’t require an opening to be absorbed through your skin. However, the layers of dermis on your feet are thicker than on the rest of your body. Essential oil will be absorbed more slowly from the bottom of foot than areas of thinner skin.
In fact, experts have demonstrated this using alcohol. In one study, researchers measured participants’ blood alcohol levels while soaking their feet in vodka. No perceptible change occurred in detectable blood alcohol levels.
Although the feet may not absorb large concentrations of essential oils, they can still be an ideal place to apply the product, for a few reasons.
A Foot Massage Activates Therapeutic Points
Rubbing essential oil on your soles can make you feel good. One method of application involves diluting the essential oil with a carrier and massaging it into your feet. Doing this can stimulate zones and reflex areas that affect different areas of the body.
Reflexology involves applying pressure to specific areas on the underside of the foot. The nerves in each zone carry messages to particular parts of the body. Your nerves don’t carry the essential oil with them, but they can transmit healing signals to different areas. Combined with aromatherapy from the oils, this can improve your mood and energy.
Reflexology is considered safe, and some studies have shown that it is effective for managing pain and relieving psychological conditions, such as anxiety. It may improve relaxation and help you sleep better.
Even if you aren’t familiar with reflexology points, a foot rub can be relaxing. It stimulates blood flow, which nourishes and heals the entire body. Incorporating essential oils in this practice doesn’t hurt.
Other Reasons To Put Essential Oils On The Sole Of The Foot
Besides getting a rejuvenating foot massage, there are several other advantages to putting essential oils on your feet.
The Skin On Your Feet Is Less Sensitive
If you have sensitive skin, you may be concerned about the topical application of essential oils. Some oils can create a warming sensation on your skin. You might find this uncomfortable.
It’s important to use a generous amount of carrier oil to dilute these “hot” essential oils. If you continue to experience discomfort, try applying the mixture underneath your feet. Chances are you won’t feel a thing.
People with eczema or dermatitis may hesitate to use essential oils on their skin. They can use the oils in other ways, such as by inhaling them. If they want to try to use the products topically, they can start by doing a patch test on their feet. If they can tolerate a small amount in that area, they might be able to use the essential oil there more regularly.
Anybody can become sensitized to essential oil, however. This means that over time, the body develops an allergic reaction to a compound in the oil. Sensitization is different than an immediate, acute reaction. Using the same oil too frequently and applying it without diluting it are two factors that increase the likelihood of sensitization.
Even if your feet can withstand a full-strength application of the essential oil, don’t be tempted to use it this way. People with sensitive skin are especially prone to sensitization. Even if you love using a particular oil, take breaks from it to lower the risk of becoming sensitized.
The Scent Bothers You
If you’re using an oil with a strong scent or an aroma that isn’t pleasing to you, putting it on your feet will keep it away from your nose. You still get some absorption through the skin, especially because the feet don’t have oil glands, which can slow absorption through other parts of the epidermis. Throw on some socks after applying the essential oil, and you may find that the intense smell doesn’t affect you.
You’re Using Essential Oils On Children
First, we just want to mention that you should be extremely careful when using essential oils on children or babies. Essential oils are extremely powerful. They should always be diluted with a carrier oil when applied to a child’s skin.
Just because the feet are less sensitive, you don’t have to use more essential oil or apply it directly. If you’re using essential oils on an infant, make sure that the child doesn’t put his or her feet in her mouth.
In some religions, the feet have a certain symbolism. Mary Magdalene anointed Jesus’ feet with oil. Some cultures show respect by removing their feet when they enter a home. Walking barefoot is considered to be grounding.
Therefore, rubbing essential oils on the sole of the foot can be part of your own spiritual or self-care ritual.
The Bottom Line
You may have heard that when essential oils are absorbed through the skin, they bypass the liver. This is not true. The liver and kidneys must still process compounds that enter your bloodstream through the skin. However, if you apply essential oils to your skin, the components make it to your circulatory system before heading to the liver. The active ingredients can do their work before they’re metabolized.
Topical application of essential oil is generally better for the liver than oral administration. Some essential oils are toxic to the liver when swallowed. Placing diluted essential oils on the soles of feet may be one of the safest ways to use them.