Are Essential Oils Safe [What Essential Oils Can Be Toxic]?
How do I know I use essential oils safely? If there were a quick reference guide or a simple printable essential oils chart to answer every question, right?
Let me show you an easy and useful approach to navigate through all the confusing, unclear or even contradictory information out there. The approach that respects both science as well as experience of common users.
Its result is The Quick Guide to Using Essential Oils Safely. The chart lists daily situations and medical conditions when particular essential oils are contraindicated which is a good starting point for your further research when needed.
Essential Oil Recipes
We love to use them but are essential oils safe? Imagine you are holding a plant in one hand and a bottle of essential oil in the other. Did you know that essential oil in a bottle is up to 100 times more concentrated than the one contained in a plant?
Surprised? Quite a strength, right? That is why we value essential oils. That is why they are so effective. And why we love to use them in our DIY skin care, in a bath or as home remedies. But we are responsible for getting as much information we need for using essential oils safely.
Whom To Rely on for Information?
It’s tricky. The Alliance of International Aromatherapists provided a list of highly toxic essential oils that are not considered safe. But you can still get some of them at reputable essential oil companies like dōTERRA or Young Living and some of them even recommend ingesting these essential oils.
The most reliable source of information is definitely Robert Tisserand – with his scientific and honest approach – and his book Essential Oil Safety. But you can still find contradictory information even by such a renowned expert as Robert Tisserand for example when it comes to essential oils for high blood pressure.
So Are Essential Oils Actually Safe?
As it is mostly the case with essential oils you can find lots of conflicting or unclear information on using essential oils safely. Some promote the approach that unless it’s been proven by scientifical studies there is no reason to consider some of them or with particular health conditions unsafe.
The problem is there is simply not enough scientific evidence to prove the effects of every essential oil on people with every health issue and certainly not in the long term.
And keeping in mind that essential oils are very strong concentrated essences with powerful effects on our mind and body I find it useful to take into account testimonies and experience of respectable aromatherapists as well so we can make informed and responsible decisions for ourselves.
Essential Oils To Avoid During Pregnancy
There are no essential oils safe for pregnancy in my opinion. The National Association for Hollistic Aromatherapy admits it’s “a controversial topic and one that is yet to be fully understood”.
And The Alliance of International Aromatherapists agrees that “there are differing opinions regarding the use of essential oils during pregnancy, labor and delivery”. And advises to “avoid using any essential oil when safety issues are uncertain“.
Are Essential Oils Safe for Babies?
The same as for pregnant women applies to breastfeeding women, babies and children. The reasons are still the same:
- Essential oils are highly concentrated powerful plant essences.
- They quickly travel via our skin or lungs to our bloodstream and all the organs including our brain.
- There is not enough scientifical studies to prove the absolute safety of essential oils for pregnant and breastfeeding women and children in the long run.
So if you are looking for an essential oil for teething for example I suggest you turn to different alternative. And that applies to diffusing essential oils as well.
Dr. Josh Axe warns that you “do not diffuse oils around newborns, babies, young children, pregnant or nursing women, or pets unless you are sure they are safe”.
Ingesting Essential Oils
Researching essential oil safety I was shocked to find so many essential oil recipes for oral use. Even those including the highly toxic EOs. Taking into account the great strength of these concentrated natural substances it is clear that it’s very dangerous to just go and try one of these recipes.
The Alliance of International Aromatherapists does not advise internal use “(oral, vaginal or rectal) of essential oils unless recommended by a health care practitioner trained at an appropriate clinical level”.
What Actually Are Essential Oils?
Essential oil is the essence of a plant — containing all its concentrated strength, fragrance and healing properties — extracted from a plant by distillation.
And it has an extremely rapid effect on our mind and body: Essential oils are soluble in fat which makes it easy for them to travel fast through our skin to the bloodstream and then to our organs including the brain.
Essential Oil Benefits
Using them moderately and with care essential oils can improve our physical as well as emotional well-being. They are valuable ingredients of DIY and natural skin care.
Essential oils benefit skin with acne, sensitive and mature skin. They can soothe our anxiety, boost energy, improve concentration and fight off cold. There are many reasons to use essential oils but we can only profit from them if we are using essential oils safely.
Reputable Essential Oil Companies
How do you make sure you purchase good quality pure essential oil? The essential oil companies to avoid are usually scarce with information on their products.
How To Dilute Essential Oils
Diluting essential oils is one of the most important safety rules. You can find advice to use essential oils undiluted in some cases. Such as placing a few drops in your palms for direct inhalation.
Knowing how strong essential oils are there is no reason to do that and risk skin irritation or developing an allergy. Even 1 drop of essential oil diluted in 5 ml of carrier oil – which makes for less than 1% dilution – is effective.
1% dilution is appropriate for daily DIY facial skin care and 3% dilution can be used for occasional body massage. You will come across many suggestions on how to dilute essential oils for different uses which range from 1–25% dilution. However I do not recommend using stronger dilution than 3% unless advised by a health care professional.
The Quick Guide to Using Essential Oils Safely
When you are on a medication always consult using essential oils with your doctor. In The Quick Guide to Using Essential Oils Safely I outline a few common situations in our daily lives and a few health conditions when particular essential oils are contraindicated.
The purpose of The Quick Guide to Using Essential Oils Safely is to give you a rough idea on what to watch out for and to give you a starting point for your independent research when needed.
Essential Oils Safe for Skin: Photosensitivity & Sensitive Skin
Essential oils have great healing effects on our skin and they can improve numerous skin conditions such as oily skin and acne, dry and sensitive skin. But there is a few exceptions we need to be aware of.
The first one is photosensitivity of certain essential oils that cause burning of the skin in the sun. These oils should be avoided at least 12 hours before sun exposure.
Thankfully nature is so rich in its variety that when needed you can easily find an alternative to your favorite essential oil among those that are not photosensitive.
Several essential oils are also not recommended for people with sensitive skin as they tend to cause skin irritation more often than others. And it’s always a good idea to perform a skin patch test and try an essential oil on a small area of skin first.
Essential Oils in Bath
To use essential oils safely in bath we need to dilute them in carrier oil first. Simply adding a few drops directly in your bath is not a good idea. Being soluble in fat the droplets of essential oil do not mix with water. They stay floating on the surface and could cause skin irritation.
And there is a few essential oils that irritate mucous membrane and you want to avoid adding them in your bath as they may dry up your eyes, nose and mouth.
The Effects of Essential Oils on Our Mind and Concentration
As well as on our skin essential oils have powerful effects on our mind having direct access to our brain via the highway of our bloodstream.
There are essential oils that are effective for better concentration and more energy. Some people even try to use essential oils for treating ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder).
Other essential oils on the other hand tend to have the opposite effect and they are best to avoid when driving as they can calm you to the point of being sleepy, slow down your reactions or make you dreamy, distracted and unfocused.
Suffering from seizure disorder or epilepsy you want to avoid essential oils that have a psychotropic and convulsant effect as they can trigger seizures. However all essential oils have an effect on our brain and as with any medical condition I advise to consult a health care professional on using essential oils safely.
Essential Oils Safe for High Blood Pressure
People are looking for essential oils for high blood pressure to improve their condition and lower their blood pressure. And it’s equally important to be aware of the essential oils that tend to raise blood pressure so you can avoid using them for example in your DIY skin care or in bath.
Natural Blood Thinners
When you are on blood thinners as well as any other medication it’s sensible again to consult a health care practitioner on using essential oils. Quite a number of them works as natural blood thinners and are therefore contraindicated in this case.
Essential Oils for Kidney Stones?
Essential oils are frequently used as home remedies. But if you are looking for a natural way to treat kidney pain or kidney infection avoid essential oils that are contraindicated in the case of impaired kidney function.
Impaired Liver Function
Experience of reputable aromatherapists shows that some essential oils are best avoided in the case of impaired liver function as well. Again, the only sensible option is to consult your doctor.
Use Essential Oils Safely and for Your Benefits
For your convenience and quick reference see The Quick Guide to Using Essential Oils Safely listing common situations and health conditions when some essential oils are contraindicated.
The purpose of the essential oils guide chart is to encourage your own independent research for all the information you need to make responsible decisions and enjoy the benefits of essential oils.