Disclaimer: NEVER put essentials oils directly in or around the eye.
With so much talk about essential oils, and so many people struggling with dry eye disease, we’re not surprised that this topic has come up. First of all, essential oils are powerfully concentrated substances that can have immense benefits for every area of your life. They are effective and simple to use (with a few guidelines), and they can make a big difference in your life when used correctly. However, even though we’re going to discuss the benefits of essential oils for dry eye disease, this does not mean that they go in or around your eyes, unless they are in a special formulation meant to be used near the eyes (although you’ll never find them in eye drops).
Dry eye disease is something that over 30 million Americans suffer from, and this statistic is only increasing. Inflammation plays a big role in this disease, whether you’re suffering from aqueous deficient dry eyes or evaporative dry eyes. Truthfully, many of you out there are suffering from both.
For those with aqueous deficient dry eyes, this simply means that your eyes are not producing a sufficient amount of tears for you. This may be due to aging, eye surgery, an issue with your lacrimal gland (which produces the watery portion of the tears), or due to some medications such as antihistamines, Accutane, hormone replacement, and many others.
Evaporative dry eye disease occurs when the meibomian glands are not producing oil of the correct quality for your tears, and therefore the tears you do have evaporate too quickly. Some culprits include meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD), blepharitis, ocular rosacea, demodex eyelash mites, and medications such as Accutane (which causes the glands to atrophy). These can all disrupt the quality of your tears.
While there are many treatments out there, we believe that healing your body naturally is the best form of treatment. And this all begins with what we put in and on our bodies, as well as what we surround ourselves with. It’s no secret that toxins are lurking everywhere. We are constantly exposed, either directly or indirectly, to toxins.
Toxins in our water, food, air, home, and work are constantly bombarding us whether we know it or not.
When a toxin is intense enough, or you’re exposed to a large dose, it can cause a severe enough reaction in your body that we notice it. Toxins can cause reactions such as vomiting, shaking, skin hives, rashes, allergies, fever, dry eyes, eczema, asthma, trouble breathing, and other forms of inflammation.
But the real problem comes when you are exposed to small amounts of toxins, which don’t cause any acute or immediate reaction, over time and they build up in your system causing problems such as cancer, ADHD, hormonal imbalance, arthritis, and digestive issues. Most people think that these conditions are just a normal part of aging, which couldn’t be further from the truth. Your body wants to be healthy, you just have to help it get there.
All of us are surrounded by stress in our daily lives. When you’re constantly stressed, cortisol increases and can cause a whole host of other issues in the body. Inflammation is a large component of dry eye disease, and cortisol will only exacerbate your dry eye issues.
Lavender has been used for centuries for its unmistakable aroma and vast array of benefits. In the past, the Egyptians and Romans used Lavender for relaxation, sometimes in cooking, and even in perfumes. Its calming and relaxing qualities are likely lavender’s most notable attributes, and this can help reduce inflammation and reduce eye issues.
Our favorite essential oil to use for stress relief and sleep is lavender, and we use it nearly every day. All you need to get started with lavender is a diffuser. You’ll simply put water and a few drops of lavender into your diffuser and let it run! We recommend using this at night while you sleep or any time you’re feeling overwhelmed with anxiety. You can even add a few drops to your pillow or make a lavender pillow spray with water and a few drops of this oil. Lavender is well known to have a calming effect on the body, and so many of us need this when dealing with the stress that comes along with dry eyes.
Simply by drinking water, something we all must do to live, you put yourself in contact with over 150,000 different toxins (including fluoride, arsenic, and chlorine). This does not include the 500,000 other toxins we experience due to foods and other beverages! Yikes…
Water systems in the United States have to pass certain EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) standards in order to be considered “safe.” The problem with this is that the EPA allows an “acceptable” level of most toxins in your water, such as lead, arsenic, metals, antibiotics, and other pharmaceuticals. On top of that, chemicals such as fluoride are added to the water. Even if the EPA is regulating this, they are not always below the acceptable levels. Remember what happened in Flint, Michigan.
Unfortunately bottled water that is stored in plastic containers also contains chemicals that are leaching out from the plastic, which results in toxin contamination as well. So what the heck are you supposed to do? Take control of your water purity yourself.
To easily minimize the toxins you're exposed to in your water, first of all make sure you're drinking filtered water. We love our Berkey Water Filtration System, and we recommend it to everyone. Next, consider adding essential oils such as lemon essential oil. All it takes is one drop to notice the difference. Not only will lemon help flavor your water, but it will also help eliminate some of the toxins present there.
Another great tip for using essential oils is to avoid the use of toxic cleaners in your home. We are constantly using toxins to clean our house, do our laundry, and on our body that we are exposing ourselves to more toxins than we need to. This can contribute to dry eyes!
A very simple fix for replacing your toilet bowl cleaner, kitchen cleaner, bathroom cleaner, shower-head scrubber, window cleaner, and cleaners for pet urine, carpet stains, coffee makers, mopping, and… well you get the idea… Pretty much anything you want to clean can be cleaned with On Guard essential oil (from doTerra).
This company has specific cleaning products made with On Guard, but you can also mix your own formula using the essential oil alone. It is literally that simple. Spray this mixture on kitchen and bathroom countertops, stovetops, backsplashes, toilet surfaces, tile, flooring and almost any smooth surface you wish. Wipe it up with a paper towel or sponge. On Guard can help eliminate dirt, soap scum, sticky spills and hard water and allow your eyes to heal from the toxins you’re normally using to clean.
Tea tree essential oil is a powerhouse for dry eyes, especially for those of you dealing with demodex eyelash mites. Tea tree is known to kill these mites, which often contribute to blepharitis, meibomian gland dysfunction, and ocular rosacea.
Tea tree has antibacterial, antiseptic, and antiviral properties which help you deal with bacteria and other microorganisms that could be contributing to your dry eyes. Especially with this oil, we recommend diluting it in a carrier oil before use anywhere on the face or body (using fractionated coconut oilworks well). You can also purchase products which are already mixed with the proportions you need. A few that may be helpful include the Heyedrate Tea Tree Eye Makeup Removerand the Heyedrate Tea Tree Oil Soap, both of which are super simple to use and very effective.
If you haven’t jumped on the tea tree oil train yet, now is the time! You owe it to your eyes to ensure that you’re keeping them clean and healthy, and tea tree essential oil (as well as the products made from it) can help you in your journey for relief.
The air quality inside your home and workplace tend to be more toxic than the outside air quality. Getting outside, opening your windows to air out your house, and breathing in fresh outdoor air is much better than the toxic air that we have in our home (this may be hard to believe, but it’s true!)
If you have dry eyes, you need to take steps in order to enhance the quality of air inside your home, but know that you cannot stop it all. The construction of your house, your walls, carpet, floors, couches, and beds all contain toxins, so eliminating all the toxins is impossible. However, stressing about it is doing nothing for you either!
Here are a few things you can do to get you started on detoxifying the air inside your home so that you can begin to heal your eyes. First of all, you need to get outside and enjoy the outdoors every single day. Also open your windows and air out your home as much as possible.
Secondly, begin detoxing the air inside your home with essential oils. One of our favorite oils for air purification is peppermint because it will not only help detox, but it will give you a little pick me up as well. Simply place 3-4 drops mixed with water into your diffuser and let it run. This oil aids the liver in detoxification, as the oil diffuses from the lungs into the blood steam. It can also help promote a sense of calm while also giving you energy at the same time.
This essential oil blend supports the body’s natural ability to rid itself of unwanted substances. Zendocrine is a powerful blend of rosemary, cilantro, and juniper Berry, and these are known for detoxifying and supporting a healthy liver and kidneys. In addition to these, tangerine and geranium are included to have purifying effects against unhealthy substances.
How will this help your dry eyes? Zendocrine helps cleanse the body of toxins and free radicals that can slow the body’s systems down, including the healing of your eyes. For those with dry eye syndrome, inflammation plays a large role, and this oil blend can help your body and eyes detox to function more efficiently. Zendocrine can be diffused or used topically, and doTerra does state that it can be used internally as well.
Chamomile is another essential oil that is great for those suffering from dry eyes because it can soothe the body systems and provide calming effects for the skin, body, and mind. If you’re dealing with dry eyes, there are so many symptoms including stress, which often rears its ugly head and can get the best of you. Diffusing chamomile essential oil will help bring a sense of calm to your life and may help decrease the stress response.
We recommend diffusing chamomile at bedtime (if you don’t prefer lavender) or putting it on the soles of your feet for better sleep. You may also consider mixing a few drops into face or body lotion for additional benefits.
In general, essential oils can be diffused into the air, applied topically, and sometimes ingested. Depending on who you ask and from where you source your essential oils, the above uses may or may not apply. Above, we tried to point out the best ways we believe you should use those essential oilsand we understand that not everyone will agree with us. However, we trust in the purity of the products we have selected.
Diffusing or Inhaling
This is an effective and generally safe way to use essential oils. All you’ll need is a diffuser at the most. If you’re diffusing, you’ll fill up the container with water and then place 3-4 drops of essential oil into the diffuser. Turn it on, and you’re ready to go! If you don’t have a diffuser or prefer to inhale the oils instead, you can simply open a bottle and take a deep breath. Alternatively, place a few drops into your palms, rub your palms together, and then take a deep breath from the palms of your hands.
By using essential oils this way, your lungs breathe in the aroma and immediately give you effective soothing for what ails you. As we talked about earlier, lavender is a great one for calming, while peppermint is a favorite for a quick energy boost.
When used correctly, topical application of essential oils can be very effective. However, some of them do need to be diluted with a carrier oil before use on the skin. We like fractionated coconut oilfor this. The most common places to use essential oils topically are on the bottoms of the feet, and on the chest, temples, and other pulse points. Never use essential oils topically near your ears or eyes! Before using topically, it’s best to consult the manufacturer to ensure that topical use is fine.
This is a controversial topic, but we have to mention it because, in some cases, we do believe essential oils can be safe for ingestion. However, you must contact the manufacturer of your selected brand and find out their regulations. Aside from that, some essential oils can be poisonous if ingested, so there really are only a few that we would recommend using in this way (lemon, Zendocrine, and peppermint above).
Essential oils that are dangerous if ingested include arborvitae, birch, cedarwood, cypress, eucalyptus, white fir, and wintergreen. Most of the research on ingestion of essential oils has been done on animals rather than humans, so this often makes it tough. Most state that oils should be ingested in a vegetable capsule or gelatin capsule in order to prevent irritation to the digestive lining. The argument is that irritation of the digestive mucosa can result from not doing so. However, nerve endings are more exposed here, meaning that the outcome you want may come more quickly (and of course, this can be a benefit or a curse, depending on what you ingest).
Do you use essential oils in your home? What benefits have you noticed? Let us know in the comments below!
FAQs about Essential Oils for Dry Eyes
What oil is good for dry eyes?
When discussing essential oils, we need to be careful to differentiate between oil and essential oil. Essential oils are very concentrated and often need to be diluted in a carrier oil to be used on the body. For example, tea tree essential oil can be great for battling demodex eyelash mites (which can contribute to dry eye disease) but you’ll have to dilute it or purchase a product formulated for use on the facial skin and eyelids. For regular oil, omega-3 fatty acids are essential for proper functioning of the meibomian glands of the eyelids. These glands produce oil for your tears, and omega-3 fatty acids will help ensure that the oil you produce is the proper quality and quantity.
What is a natural remedy for dry eyes?
With so many dry eye treatments available, it’s tough to believe that many of them are natural. However, there are so many natural options! First of all, make sure you have a proper eyelid hygiene routine. You can check out Dr. Jenna’s routine here. In addition to this, take a look at your diet and what you’re putting into your body. Read our book, Rethinking Dry Eye Treatment, and dive into a few of the other things you can do to naturally treat your dry eyes.
How can I hydrate my eyes?
While you can use preservative free artificial tears all day long, hydration starts from the inside out. Ensure that you’re drinking half your body weight in ounces of water per day. Said another way, if you weigh 150 pounds, you should be drinking 75 ounces of water per day. This is a general suggestion, so make sure to discuss water intake with your physician.
How do you permanently treat dry eyes?
While there is no cure for dry eye disease, it can be managed well. This begins with eating properly, as a poor diet can contribute to inflammation in the body. Read Rethinking Dry Eye Treatment for tips on diet changes you can make to permanently change your eye health for the better. In addition to this, make sure you have a proper eyelid hygiene routine in place. Click here to see Dr. Jenna’s nightly routine, which includes removing all makeup, washing the face, using a warm compress eye mask, cleansing with hypochlorous acid, and moisturizing.
Does castor oil help dry eye?
Castor oil can be an effective moisturizer for the eyelids and lashes, but make sure to purchase organic, hexane free castor oil. To use, we recommend using it as an eyelid moisturizer after your eyelid cleansing routine. Simply place the castor oil on your clean fingertips and massage into your eyelids and lashes with closed eyes.
Can essential oils damage your eyes?
Yes, essential oils are incredibly powerful and can damage the eyes if they come into contact with them. Undiluted essential oils (and even when diluted) can burn the eyes and cause issues, so it’s best to purchase a product formulated with essential oils but intended for use on the skin of the face and eyelids. Even then, care should be taken not to get the product in your eyes. Examples include the Heyedrate Tea Tree Soap and Heyedrate Tea Tree Foaming Face Wash.
What is the best eye drops for severe dry eyes?
While there are many eye drops available over-the-counter, it’s important to choose the correct type. Using preservative free artificial tears is best because preservatives, such as benzalkonium chloride (BAK), can disrupt already sensitive eyes. Oasis Tears Plus PF is a great option for those suffering from severe dry eyes.