Safety Guidelines for essential oils

Essential oils are a wonderful addition to daily life. However, some of them are very powerful, and as a result should be used with caution, or in certain cases not at all.

  • Do not use essential oils as replacement treatment for serious medical problems. These products are made available as comforting measures only.
  • Even though essential oils are naturally derived, it is still possible to have an allergy to them. Results and benefits of using essential oils can vary from person to person and are not guaranteed.
  • As a general rule.. Do not apply essential oils undiluted to skin.
  • Rotate or vary the essential oils you use.
  • Do not ingest essential oils.
  • Be careful to not overuse essential oils. You may experience a kind of toxic buildup if you overexpose yourself to essential oils (certain ones in particular). Signs that you need to rest from using essential oils include:
    • headache
    • nausea
    • skin irritation
    • the general feeling that its been too much for you
  • Know your dilutions rates:
    • 1% dilution: 5-6 drops essential oil per ounce of carrier oil (about 30ml)
    • 3% dilution: 15-18 drops essential oil per ounce of carrier oil (this is standard dilution rate)
    • If you have cancer, or are undergoing treatment for cancer, do not use ANY essential oils without first consulting your doctor.

Phototoxic Oils

angelica
bergamot
bitter orange
cumin
grapefruit
lemon
lemon eucalyptus
lemon verbena
mandarin
melissa
ginger
lime

Possible Skin Irritants

basil
ginger
sweet fennel
melissa
lemon
lemongrass
peppermint
cumn
fir needle
lime
parsley seed
pimento leaf
tea tree
thyme

High Blood Pressure

rosemary
sage, common
sage, clary
sage, Spanish
thyme
pine

Epilepsy or Seizures

rosemary
sage, common
sage, clary
sage, Spanish
hyssop
sweet fennel

Avoid with Glaucoma

may chang
thyme
cypress
tarragon
hyssop

Avoid with Prostate Cancer

angelica
thyme
cypress
thyme
hyssop
mastic
wild thyme
fennel
rose geranium
nutmeg
cinnamon
star anise
bay laurel
basil
ho leaf

Avoid with breast cancer or estrogen dependent cancers

cypress
angelica
sage, all
fennel
caraway
ravensara anistata
coriander
cajeput
nutmeg
ho leaf
cinnamon
star anise
aniseed
clove
verbena
melissa
bay laurel
lemongrass

Note: There is differing information available at this time regarding the use of certain essential oils (ones that contain estrogen like compounds) during cancer. Some sources also list lavender and tea tree as oils to avoid, but others do not. Discussion on this topic is beyond the scope of this article, and obviously more clinical studies and further research are needed in this area. If in doubt about using any essential oil during the time you have cancer, DON’T USE IT. You should avoid using phototoxic and skin irritating essential oils during this time as well.

Using essential oils safely in pregnancy

Essential oils generally considered to be safe if all is well AFTER the first trimester in pregnancy:

      • chamomiles- German, Roman and Moroccan
      • citruses- bergamot, grapefruit, tangerine, orange, neroli, mandarin, petigrain
      • frankincense
      • ginger
      • eucalyptus
      • rosewood
      • ylang ylang

Use at half the standard dilution rate as normal. Always use caution when using any essential oil during pregnancy. The above list is based on my research. It was interesting to note that there were some differing opinions about these.

If you have a history of miscarriage, or are at other risk in your pregnancy, save the essential oils for after you have your precious baby. Safety first.

Caution List for essential oil use in pregnancy

      • geranium (may use after the 1st trimester)
      • cypress (may use after 5 months)
      • rose (may use after 6 months)
      • chamomile (may use after 6 months)
      • lavender (use only after 6 months)
      • peppermint (use only after 5 months; do not use when nursing)

Avoid in pregnancy or while nursing:

angelica
camphor
star anise
aniseed
citronella
lovage
nutmeg
oregano
lemongrass
thyme, all
cinnamon
star anise
aniseed
clove
parsley
melissa
bay laurel
mugwart
cedarwood
myrrh
pennyroyal
basil
peppermint
black pepper
birch
galbanum
*sage, all
cassia
cumin
marjoram
basil
hyssop
champa
*jasmine
musk
juniper berry
rosemary
labadanum
lemon balm
savoury
snakeroot
champa
wintergreen
tarragon

*May trigger contractions