Essential Oils Safety Quick Reference

Essential Oil Safety Quick Reference

This is just a quick post to announce my new Essential Oils Safety Quick Reference, which you can download for free!

This is essential information for anyone considering using essential oils for whatever purpose you have in mind.

Eighteen pages of safety information about essential oils. Don’t start using essential oils without referring to this safety reference first.

Download it here.

Aromatherapy is an art as well as a science

Introduction to Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy is an art as well as a science

Aromatherapy is an art as well as a science

“A sound mind in a sound body” (Latin: Mens sana in corpore sano) is a quotation from the writings of Juvenal dating back to the first century AD and speaks of the harmony and relationship of mind to body and vice versa.

A person’s state of mind isn’t only about thoughts and emotions but affects physical condition and function. This concept forms the whole basis of alternative medicine, (often called “holistic medicine” because it relates to the whole person, not just the physical) including aromatherapy.

Aromatherapy is a form of alternative medicine that makes use of fragrant plant materials called essential oils, along with other aromatic compounds. The purpose of this therapy is to positively affect a person’s mind, mood, cognitive function or physical health leading to an improved level of wellness. This occurs partly due to the influence of aroma on the brain, particularly in the limbic system via the olfactory system, and partly through direct pharmacological effects by absorption. To benefit from this, a simple guide to aromatherapy should be followed.

Essential oils are used in aromatherapy for their therapeutic effects in many conditions such as for fungal skin irritations, lowering of cholesterol and blood sugar level, thinning the blood and so much more.

Although some medical authorities doubt the effectiveness of essential oils in alleviating medical conditions, the effects of aromatherapy are well known to be beneficial by many others. This is the reason why more and more people are gaining an interest in aromatherapy.

Learning aromatherapy starts with how it’s done

There are many methods including aerial diffusion, direct inhalation, and topical applications by various means.

  • Aerial diffusion can be used for environmental fragrancing, aerial disinfection, to aid respiratory disorders and as a mood changer.
  • Direct inhalation is mainly used to promote respiratory relief via respiratory disinfection, decongestion and expectoration.
  • Topical application methods include general massage, baths, compresses and poultices, and the preparation of blends, creams and ointments for therapeutic skin care.

Aromatherapy materials

You’ve probably heard of essential oils, but there are other materials which can be employed in aromatherapy. The essential oil is just the most well known, though other substances known as absolutes and concretes as well as some gums and resins which are also used. All these are extracted from plants via steam distillation, expression or solvent extraction.

It’s important when buying essential oil to use a reputable supplier and to check that what you are buying is 100% pure essential oil (or whatever type of product you are purchasing).

Carrier oils are used to dilute neat essential oils for topical use, and there are quite a number to choose from, though the most popular, probably, are sweet almond oil, light olive oil (particularly for skin and hair care blends), grapeseed oil (cheap and cheerful, but short-lived) and sunflower seed oil (better for aromatherapy than for frying, as you don’t get trans fats with aromatherapy). There are also carrier additives for various purposes.

Undiluted oils are sometimes used for direct inhalation or added to bath water, while blended ones are used for topical purposes eg. on the skin.

Things to be aware of

Although it’s not something everyone is aware of, essential oils are “not just a pretty smell”, but are medicinally active, and so you need to follow a few basic precautions:

  1. Most importantly, essential oils should never be taken internally, even though you may see this recommended elsewhere. Essential oils are highly concentrated and can cause permanent damage if used in this way, even if you think you have diluted them. Be safe and use them as intended, in massage blends and diffusers, and keep them out of the reach of children at all times.
  2. Bear in mind that the term “essential oil” has been misappropriated by certain suppliers (dating back to the old hippy era, when the term was synonymous with “perfume oil” in many people’s minds). So take care to look for a reputable supplier such as my shop which sells only 100% pure essential oils and blends, unadulterated with chemicals and other things. Blends are sold for your convenience, and in the case of the most expensive oils make them more affordable.
  3. Remember that most essential oils should not be used on the skin without diluting them first with a suitable carrier oil. You need a mixing bottle, to which you add the carrier oil first, and then the correct number of drops of essential oil to make a safe and useful blend of the oil/s you are using. There are a few oils that can be used neat, but even in these cases, it’s best to do a patch test first, to check that you don’t get a bad reaction.
  4. Check out the properties, recommendations and contra-indications before using any essential oil. Some are safe for use during pregnancy, but most are not. Some should not be used on children below a certain age or by people suffering from certain conditions or using certain medication. And St John’s Wort and most citrus oils are phototoxic, so should not be used on skin which will be exposed to the sun or tanning equipment in the following 48 hours. You need to know these things before you use it.
  5. Don’t buy more of any particular oil than you can use within a year (for some oils, only 6 months), either of essential oils or carrier oils. You may well find that a good sniff of your purchase more than a year later is less pleasant than you expected. The only solution at this point is to throw them away, so it’s best to buy what you need and no more.

Finally, be aware that essential oils may need particular precautions . For example, Find out the precautions for the oil/s you are considering and take these into account before you use them.

Essential Oil Safety Tips

sEssential oils are powerful gifts of nature

Essential oils are powerful gifts of nature

Essential oils are powerful gifts of nature. If used properly, they can improve your mood and overall health. Generally speaking, essential oils can be applied to the skin after dilution with a carrier oil or inhaled. Among all its applications, aromatic use in a burner or electric diffuser is the safest. That being said, purity is one of the biggest factors that ensures how safe an essential oil is.

Although essential oils are generally safe to use, I advise you take some safety precautions before using them – especially if you are new to them.

Common safety practices

  • First off, keep essential oil bottles tightly closed and away from children and pets. The bottles should be stored in a cool place, away from direct sunlight.
  • Never put essential oils directly in the eyes, ears or nose. No matter what you may read elsewhere, never swallow them, even if you’ve diluted them.
  • It is also important to test an essential oil by using a patch test (diluted as normal) to identify possible irritants before applying it to your body. If there is any reaction within 24 hours, wash the affected area with soap and water immediately. Of course, that is a clear sign that the oil does not suit you. Either throw it away or give it to a friend.
  • Take the time to read the information about each oil before using it. Most importantly, take note of the warnings in each oil’s description, where present.
  • Use them before their expiration date. This is because essential oils, especially citrus-based oils, are susceptible to oxidation.
  • Last but not least, choose a high quality essential oil from an honest seller. Impure essential oils and “fragrance oils” contain substances that might cause a reaction, a rash or worse. For further information on this, read my post Essential Oil vs Fragrance Oil.
  • Essential Oils in Pregnancy

Most essential oils are not safe during pregnancy or nursing. Many have hormonal effects which can adversely affect your baby and cause severe health complications.

A case in point is peppermint essential oil. This essential oil is usually safe, but not suitable During pregnancy – and even after the birth may decrease milk supply while nursing (unless, of course, this is what you want). Check the information and don’t take the risk of using an essential oil that isn’t suitable for you if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Essential Oils and Children

Not all types of essential oils are suitable for children. And even where you do use them, make sure to dilute them prior to use.

Internal use

Internal use of essential oils is risky. I would advise you to avoid ingesting any essential oil altogether, whatever you may read elsewhere, except under professional supervision. There are horror stories of people who have scarred their oesaphagous (gullet) because they swallowed essential oils – even though they were mixed with water. Don’t do it. Just don’t.

Topical use

Different people react differently to essential oils. Dilute the oil with a good quality carrier oil to help prevent toxic reactions and do a patch test before using an oil you haven’t used before on a large area.

Essential Oils and Photosensitivity

Most citrus-based essential oils are photo-sensitising, as are some other oils such as St John’s wort. It is advisable not to use tanning beds or sunbathe within 48 hours of using these oils. Otherwise, you will almost certainly experience burning.

These simple safety measures can ensure the appropriate usage of essential oils, as well as providing maximum benefits to your health.

If you are looking for essential oils online, I offer a wide range of pure and unadulterated essential oils in Frann’s Alt.Health’s online shop.

Don’t try these at home – essential oils you should avoid

Not all essential oils are suitable for home use

Not all essential oils are suitable for home use

Originally published on Guide to Aromatherapy

Not all essential oils are beneficial. There are some essential oils you should avoid completely.

As I’ve said before, you should never use anything except 100% pure essential oils, and definitely not “fragrance oils”, for safety’s sake if for no other reason. Almost all essential oils will also need to be diluted with an appropriate carrier oil as well, which also reduces any chance of problems.

Of course, anything can cause an allergic reaction if you’re sensitive, so please be careful the first time you use any essential oil, especially if you already suffer from allergies of any kind.

There are some oils you should never use under any circumstances (most of these are used in manufacturing), and others that should be left to professionals. So just below this paragraph is a list of the ones you should never use. Further down is a list of the oils that should only be used by qualified aromatherapists.

For safety’s sake essential oils should never be taken internally, even though you may see this recommended elsewhere. Essential oils are highly concentrated and can cause permanent damage if used in this way, even if you think you have diluted them. Be safe and use them as intended, in massage blends and diffusers, and keep them out of the reach of children at all times.

NB: Some oils may be sold under different common names. Check the latin name. If you have any doubt, just don’t buy!

Essential oils that should never be used at home at all

Common Name Latin name
Almond, Bitter Prunus dulcis var. armara
Armoise Artemisia vulgaris
Arnica Arnica montana
Birch, Sweet Betula lenta
Boldo Peumus boldus
Broom, Spanish Spartium junceum
Calamus (Sweet Flag) Acorus calamus var. angustatus
Camphor, Brown and Yellow Cinnamomum camphora
Cassia Cinnamomum cassia
Chervil Anthriscus cerefolium
Cinnamon bark Cinnamomum zeylanicum
Deertongue Carphephorus odoratissimus
Elecampane Inula helenium
Fennel, Bitter Foeniculum vulgare var. amara
Horseradish Armoracia rusticana
Jaborandi Pilocarpus jaborandi
Mustard Brassica nigra
Nettle, Stinging Urtica dioica
Nutmeg Myristica fragrans
Oregano, Common Origanum vulgare
Oregano, Spanish Origanum capitatus
Parsley herb Petroselinum sativum
Pennyroyal, American Hedeoma pulegioides
Pennyroyal, European Mentha pulegium
Pine, Dwarf Pinus inugo var pumillio
Rue Ruta graveolens
Sage Salvia officinalis
St John’s Wort Hypericum perforatum
Sassafras Sassafras albidum
Sassafras, Brazilian Ocotea pretiosa
Savine Juniperus sabina
Savory, Summer Satureja hortensis
Savory, Winter Satureja montaha
Southernwood Artemisia abrotanum
Tansy Tanacetum vulgare
Thuja Thuja spp
Tonka Dipteryx odorata
Wintergreen Gaultheria procumbens
Wormseed Chenopodium ambrosioides var anthelminticum
Wormwood Artemisia absinthium

Essential oils that should only be used on the instructions of a qualified aromatherapist

Common Name Latin name
Aniseed (Anise) Pimpinella anisum
Caraway Carum carvi
Garlic Allium sativum
Melilotus Melilotus officinalis
Nasturtium Tropaeolum majus
Tarragon Artemisia dracunculus
Thyme, Red Thymus vulgaris