I want to tackle a topic that comes up very often in chatter groups for naturally minded parents. Let me preface this by saying that I understand where some parents are coming from on this one. We all want what's best for our kids, and for some of us, that means the most natural, and most effective, product we can find. There is a popular teething remedy on the market, and it consists of carrier oils and essential oils. So, people are buying a bottle of diluted essential oils. And, this is not limited to only one brand, so I'm not singling out one brand in particular.
So, first, we need to look at how these teething oils are being used in the first place. Product descriptions state to use these oils on baby's gums. So that's internal use right there. Gum tissue is very porous, and we have to assume that anything we put on our babies' gums is also getting into their bloodstream. Some parents might opt to rub the oil on the jawline near the erupting teeth, instead of rubbing it right on their gums. So, we have to look at dermal use, too.
Let's look at why internal use can be dangerous, since I know that's a point of divergence among parents. First, the mouth is full of mucous membranes. Mucous membranes line pretty much the entire gastro-intestinal system. Essential oils are highly concentrated botanical products, so even one drop of an oil could represent multiple pounds of the correlating herb. So the equation begs the question - if we wouldn't eat that much of any food in an entire dish, why would we use its concentrated equivalent in our mouths or our babies' mouths?? In many cases, it could be toxic. Even water can be toxic in large enough amounts, and it's not uncommon. I've seen it myself a few times. (And yes, it's actually called water intoxication). In the ca of essential oils, depending on the constituents, some can be caustic to our mucous membranes, causing internal burns. People will have varying levels of sensitivity, so it might not burn the first time, or even the tenth time, but it might be that eleventh application in the middle of the night that you or your little one experience the painful cumulative effects of internal use of caustic essential oils. (Which cannot be understated. We are talking about the possibility of second degree burns).
So which oils are mucous membrane and dermal irritants? The lists are a little on the longer side, and you can read what the NAHA has to say on it here. Of these, clove bud is common in teething applications. Clove, as an herb, has many benefits, it's analgesic properties among them. However, essential oil applications are not the same, and cannot be used interchangeably due to their high concentration. So, if you're looking for a teething oil, look for one that uses herbs infused in a carrier oil, rather than one that dilutes essential oils in a carrier oil. There's a big difference. You can also look for teething tinctures - this is when an herb or combination of herbs has steeped in what's called a menstruum - usually alcohol, but not always. These can be rubbed on the gums just the same. Both infused oils and tinctures can bring pain relief for a teething baby - and sleep for the whole family.
I am the mama who is over the moon in love with her family and green living.