General Safety and Caution while using Essential Oils

The following suggested precautions are not a complete safety reference for essential oils. If you have any questions, please consult your physician or a trained aromatherapist.

  • A safe rule of thumb is to never use an essential oil undiluted directly on skin, or neat.  Exceptions can be made for lavender and tea tree oils, but only after careful experimentation with test-patches.  Some persons might be hyper-sensitive even to lavender and tea tree, the two gentlest essential oils in aromatherapy.
  • A skin patch test should be administered prior to every first-time use of essential oil.
  • Essential oils should only be taken internally under the supervision of a licensed medical practitioner.
  • Essential oils are highly flammable; use extreme care around fire. 
  • In the event of eye injury from essential oil, irrigate eye with a sterile, isotonic, saline solution for 15 minutes. Immediately consult a physician if pain persists after the eye wash. 
  • Keep essential oils in a locked cabinet, away from children.
  • Asthma and epilepsy patients should avoid fennel, hyssop and rosemary.
  • Babies and elderly persons require lower doses of essential oils, half that recommended for an healthy adult. Peppermint and eucalyptus have been known to cause respiratory problems with these age groups. Lavender and neroli, despite their gentle nature, can be tolerated only in minute amounts (1 drop in bath water and 1/2 drop per ounce of carrier oil.)
  • Cancer patients may use mild dilutions of bergamot, chamomile, lavender, ginger and frankincense; fennel and aniseed in particular should be avoided.  
  • Persons undergoing chemotherapy should avoid using essential oils.
  • High blood pressure patients should avoid essential oils of black pepper, clove, hyssop, peppermint, rosemary, sage and thyme.
  • Low blood pressure patients should avoid excessive use of lavender oil.
  • Persons allergic to nuts cannot use sweet almond or peanut carrier oils. Safer alternatives are sunflower, canola (non-GM) and safflower oils.
  • Pregnant women should avoid essential oils before the 18th week of pregnancy, especially in cases of prior miscarriage. In the second trimester, essential oils may be used in low doses formulated by a professional aromatherapist or health care provider.

Additionally:

Essential oils do not suit everyone. They stimulate hormones in the body to alter, which may create damaging effects on some people.

The main people to have concerns are:

1. Diabetes sufferers

2. Epilepsy patients

3. Pregnant women

4. Breast feeding women

Diabetes

Essential oils containing a high level of ketone could be kept to a minimum , especially if the person has severe diabetes. Most oils, apart from angelica oil is safe to use. Dill and fennel are helpful to the patients since they help balance the pancreas.

Oils high in ketones are:

  • Peppermint
  • Rosemary (camphor / vebenone)
  • Sage
  • Spearmint
  • Spike Lavender
  • Turmeric
  • Valerian (Root)
  • Vetiver

Epilepsy 


Epilepsy and schizophrenia patients should avoid Neuro-toxic oils such as Rosemary, fennel, sage, eucalyptus, hyssop, camphor and spike lavender.

Pregnant Women

Essential oils are dangerous to pregnant woman. In the first 16 weeks , pregnant woman should avoid  ALL oils.  Angelica, Black Pepper, Clove, Cypress, Eucalyptus, Ginger, Helichrysum, Marjoram, Myrrh, Nutmeg, Oregano, Peppermint, Roman Chamomile, Basil, Cassia, Cinnamon bark, Clary Sage, Lemongrass, Rosemary, Thyme, Vetiver, Wintergreen, White Fir should be avoided for the rest of the pregnancy.

Breastfeeding women

The essential oils taste may discourage the baby from breast-feeding. In this case, one could stop using the oils and see if the baby get backs to feeding.

However, some oils are found to be useful to the mum. For instance, Carrot Seed Oil enhances milk flow, geranium soothes engorged breasts and Marigold heals cracked nipples. All others should be used with care.