Staying Safe with Essential Oils
Each essential oil has its own chemical composition and reason for use, so it is important to speak with a trained aromatherapist, nurse, doctor, physical therapist, massage therapist or pharmacist before applying or using an oil for healing purposes.
A trained professional can recommend and teach how to use each product, giving proper instructions on application or dilution.
Some beauty and household products, such as lotions, make-up, and candles contain products that may appear to be essential oils, but they are really synthetic fragrances.
Like medications, essential oils must be treated with respect. It is important to seek professional advice and to follow instructions carefully.
Using Essential Oils with Caution
Since essential oils cause reactions in the body, not all the oils will benefit everyone. Chemical compounds in essential oils can produce adverse effects when combined with medications. They may reduce the effectiveness of conventional drugs, or they may exacerbate health conditions in the individual.
A person with high blood pressure, for example, should avoid stimulants, such as rosemary. Some compounds, such as fennel, aniseed, and sage act similarly to estrogen, so a person with an estrogen-dependent breast or ovarian tumour should avoid these.
Concentrated products may be poisonous before dilution and should be handled with care. A maximum concentration of 5 percent is recommended.
Some oils produce toxins which can cause damage to the liver, kidneys, and nervous system, especially if taken internally. Swallowing essential oils can be hazardous, and fatal in some cases.
Individuals with any of the following conditions should be extra careful when using aromatherapy:
- An allergy, or allergies
- Hay fever
- Skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis
People with the following conditions must be extremely cautious:
- Hypertension, or high blood pressure
If the oil is to be mixed with a carrier, the individual should tell the aromatherapist or massage therapist about any nut allergies, because carrier oils are often obtained from nuts and seeds.
Aromatherapy can have side effects, but these are normally mild and do not last long.
- Some allergic reactions
Use of aromatherapy by pregnant or nursing mothers has not been proven safe by research, so it is not recommended.
During the first trimester of pregnancy, aromatherapy may pose a risk to the developing fetus. Women who are breastfeeding should avoid peppermint essential oil, as it may be expressed in breast milk.
Essential oils derived from citrus may make the skin more sensitive to ultraviolet light, increasing the risk of sunburn.
Some oils may affect the function of conventional medicines, so people who are using medications of any type should first check with a qualified pharmacist or doctor.
Finally, when storing essential oils, it is important to be aware that light, heat, and oxygen can affect the integrity of the oil. Products should come from a respected and trustworthy source, to be sure of the quality. Following instructions carefully reduces the risk of compromising the user’s health.