Essential Oil Safety Tips
Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils to support emotional and physical health. The following tips will help you ensure safe use of essential oils and aromatherapy products:
1. Anyone who might be vulnerable to epileptic seizures, be mindful of essential oils that are potentially convulsant such as: Western Red Cedar, Wormwood, Genipi, Hyssop (ct pinocamphone), Sage, Thuja, Pennyroyal, Buchu, Calamint, Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare), Mugwort, Lanyana, Ho Leaf (ct camphor), Boldo, Wintergreen, Birch, Rosemary, Yarrow, Spanish Lavender (Lavandula stoechas), Feverfew, and Spike Lavender (Lavandula latifolia).
2. Anyone who is pregnant and breastfeeding should use essential oils cautiously. A 1% dilution is recommended and it is a good idea to use essential oils under the guidance of an Aromatherapist or medical professional knowledgeable about essential oils. NOTE: There are about 50 essential oils that are contraindicated during pregnancy and 15 that should be restricted during pregnancy and lactation. Some of the commonly known essential oils contraindicated during pregnancy include: Anice, Birch, Black Seed, Carrot Seed, Cinnamon Bark, Blue Cypress (Callitris intratropica), Fennel, Ho Leaf (Cinnamomum camphora ct. camphor), Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis ct. pinocamphone), Myrrh, Spanish Lavender (Lavandula stoechas), Oregano, Sage (Salvia officinalis, Salvia lavandulifolia), and Wintergreen.
3. Essential oils should be diluted before applying them to the skin. For general use, 5-12 drops of essential oil per 1 oz of carrier is a good guideline to follow for generally non-skin irritable essential oils (there are some essential oils that are considered "hot" and need to be used at a low or very low dilution for skin safety).
4. Anyone considered a child 5 years of age to around 10 -12 years of age, elderly or with serious health conditions and on multiple medications should begin use of aromatherapy products at a low dilution (concentration) of 1% (5-6 drops of essential oil per 1 oz of carrier).
5. Anyone considered a baby or toddler up to 5 years of age have growing immune systems and their other body systems are still growing. It is best to not directly interfere with their growing systems early on with essential oils. Plain, naturally made butters and carrier oils can assist with nudging a young child back to rebalancing his or her health. Diffusing essential oils around the house is a good option as ambient inhalation is generally safe. Make sure the room is well ventilated and diffuse intermittently 10-15 minutes and stopping for an hour.
6. Birch and Wintergreen should not be used on children due to the possible risk of developing Reye's syndrome and its known connection with salicylates.
7. We do not recommend using essential oils or aromatherapy products directly on the fur or skin of small animals. Small animals can have toxic reactions to direct application of essential oils/aromatherapy products being applied to their fur or skin.
8. Do not apply phototoxic essential oils to skin that will be exposed to sunlight or tanning bed rays. Depending on their dilution (concentration level in the carrier or product), these are phototoxic essential oils that should be used with caution and especially avoid sunlight or tanning bed rays within 18 hours of using these oils on areas of the skin that will be exposed and at a higher level of dilution than is listed here: Bergamot (0.4%), Lemon (2%), cold pressed Lime (0.7%), Grapefruit (4%), Bitter Orange (1.25%), Mandarin Leaf (0.17%), Cumin (0.4%), Angelica Root (0.8%), Laurel Leaf Absolute (2%), Rue (0.15%), and Taget (0.01%).
9. Avoid putting essential oils in our around the eyes, the inside of the ears, and other bodily orifices. Remember, oil and water do not mix. If you do get essential oils into your eye, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water, dry your hands, and then put some plain carrier oil on a paper towel and gently wipe your eye. You may need to do this a few times. If irritation persists, seek medical advice.
10. Anyone with asthma, seasonal allergies, or skin allergies should proceed cautiously with essential oils and it is recommended that you work with an Aromatherapist.
11. Anyone who is having or has had cancer treatment should avoid the use of essential oils from one week before to one month after a course of chemotherapy or radiotherapy. It may be possible to use oils through inhalers to help manage nausea and anxiety during treatment. It is recommended that you work with an Aromatherapist and consult your medical doctor about this option.
12. Keep all essential oils and aromatherapy products out of the reach of children and pets. They can be poisonous if ingested/swallowed.
13. Do not ingest essential oils unless you have appropriate medical guidance by a trained and certified Clinical Aromatherapist who understands pharmacodynamics, pharmokinetics, appropriate formulation techniques, and the safety issues related to ingestive routes of application.
This information is based on knowledge I have learned through my studies with Aromahead Institute and Tisserand Institute for Aromatherapy Certification and Essential Oil Safety Certification.