Essential Oils are pure, plant-based liquids that hold special powers. They are generally known to be safe BUT there are definitely safety precautions to understand.
This is not a definitive list, and we will go into the subject more in our new book “Essential Oils Have Super Powers®”. Just understand that while Essential Oils are beneficial and natural, there are some cautions!
It is very hard to overdose on Essential Oils when using them topically or by inhaling, and most Essential Oils do not cause side effects like some traditional medicines can. However, we have listed key safety points for you here:
If you have children, PLEASE keep Essential Oils in a locked cabinet or away from easy access. Young children can be fascinated with the look and smell of Essential Oils. If accidental ingestion occurs contact poison control immediately.
Keep Essential Oils away from your eyes! In the event of eye injury from Essential Oil, irrigate eye with a sterile saline solution for 15 minutes. Immediately consult a physician if pain persists after the eye wash.
A good rule of thumb is to never use a pure single Essential Oil undiluted directly on skin, also called using it “neat”. (Single oils are either diffused in a diffuser, or mixed with a carrier oil to be used topically.) Exceptions can be made for lavender and tea tree oils, but only after a small test-patch on your skin.
We like to recommend a small skin patch test prior to every first-time use of an Essential Oil or Essential Oil blend, to be safe (especially if you have sensitive skin.) If any reaction occurs, use plentiful soap and water on the patch area and rinse well. (Reactions are not common.)
Essential Oils are highly flammable; use extreme care around fire.
In general, Essential Oils are NOT ingested. Some oils can be toxic if ingested even in small amounts. They should only be taken internally under the supervision of a licensed medical practitioner (and are rarely done so.)
Babies, pets and elderly (especially those weaker in health) require lower doses of essential oils, half that recommended for a healthy adult.
Asthma and epilepsy patients should avoid fennel, hyssop and rosemary – and in our opinion, asthma sufferers should proceed with caution in general when introducing new Essential Oils into their environment or body. Some could be helpful indeed, but asthma sufferers could be more sensitive and susceptible. Refer to your certified aromatherapist or holistic doctor.
Cancer patients may use mild dilutions of bergamot, chamomile, lavender, ginger and|or frankincense (check with your doctor, aromatherapist or holistic doctor); however, fennel and aniseed in particular should be avoided. While undergoing chemotherapy Essential Oils should avoided unless prescribed by a licensed or certified practitioner.
High blood pressure patients should avoid black pepper, clove, hyssop, peppermint, rosemary, sage and thyme Essential Oils, while Low blood pressure patients should avoid excessive use of lavender oil.
Sufferers of kidney problems should be cautious if they use juniper, sandalwood, or coriander.
Methyl salicylate is the active ingredient in aspirin as well as sweet birch and wintergreen Essential Oil. If you use aspirin for medicinal purposes you should avoid sweet birch or wintergreen due to the risk of overdose.
Clove, Thyme and Oregano Essential Oils should be avoided by people taking anticoagulant medication, with clotting or bleeding disorders, major surgery, childbirth, peptic ulcer or hemophilia. These components “thin” the blood and could cause excessive bleeding.
Angelica, Bergamot and the Citrus Oils (i.e. lemon, orange, tangerine, etc.) are photo-toxic. Do not use these oils in skincare blends topically (shea butter, lotions, serums) if going into the sun. Inhaling or diffusing is no problem for use and being in the sun.
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 possibly be used in low doses ONLY if formulated by a professional aromatherapist or health care provider. In our opinion, to be safe, wait until the third trimester or consult a doctor or certified aromatherapist – or wait until the baby is born.
SPECIAL WARNING FOR CAT OWNERS
Some essential oils can be toxic for cats. Kitties have a very acute sense of smell, and they absorb essential oils fast due to a thin skin layer. Unfortunately, they cannot metabolize certain compounds in certain essential oils and so they could build up in the system. (They are especially susceptible to phenols and ketones.)
We do not recommend using essential oils directly or diluted on your cat. If you are diffusing, be sure to have an open space and a way for the cat to leave the room and get away from diffusing essential oils.
Here are specifics courtesy Annares Natural Health:
A list of some essential oils that are known to be toxic to cats:
• Lemon, Orange, Bergamot and the citrus oils
• Melaleuca (tea tree oil)
• Cinnamon (and cassia)
• Any other oils containing phenols
Examples of oils containing Phenols – Wintergreen, Anise, Birch, Clove, Basil, Tarragon, Fennel, Oregano, Thyme, Mountain Savory, Peppermint, Tea Tree, Calamus, Cinnamon Bark, Citronella, Marjoram, Nutmeg, Eucalyptus citriodora, Parsley, Ylang Ylang. These all contain greater than 8% phenols.
Examples of oils containing Ketones – Western Red Cedar, Idaho Tansy, Marigold, Spearmint, Thuja, Hyssop, Davana, Sage, Dill, Yarrow, Peppermint. All these oils contain greater than 20% ketones.
Example of Oils containing D-Limonene – Grapefruit, Bitter Orange, Orange, Tangerine, Mandarin, Lemon, Celery Seed, Lime, Bergamot, Angelica, Dill, Neroli, Blue Tansy, Citronella and Nutmeg.
Some essential oils that are generally safe around cats:
• Clary Sage Essential Oil
• Elemi Essential Oil
• Frankincense Essential Oil
• Geranium Essential Oil
• Helichrysum Essential Oil
• Idaho Balsam Fir Essential Oil
• Lavender Essential Oil (high grade Bulgarian)
• Roman Chamomile Essential Oil
• Rosemary Essential Oil
• Valerian Essential Oil
Please refer to a vet or certified aromatherapist when using essential oils around or for your pets. Dogs may be able to tolerate essential oils but in small diffusions and if applying, NEVER apply to the nose, ears, anus, genitals or for ingestion.
The official FDA disclaimer: “These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.” Essential oils and aromatherapy, for me, support what the body needs and requires to thrive, and they work at the holistic level of mind-body-spirit.
I fully stand behind the natural wellness properties of essential oils, using them in my daily life. However, the statements on this site are not intended as a substitute for professional healthcare nor meant to diagnose, cure or prevent medical conditions or serious disease.
Every illness or injury requires supervision by a medical doctor, integrative doctor and/or an alternative medicine practitioner such as a certified holistic doctor or certified aromatherapist practitioner.