Essential Oil Safety

General Guidelines for Using Essential Oils Safely


Essential oil safety is an important part of aromatherapy. Essential oils are highly concentrated which makes them potent medicine and so you should use them responsibly.

Below are a few guidelines you should consider to ensure the safe and effective usage of essential oils:

  • Use pure quality essential oils, avoid synthetics

  • Dilute it! Never use oils on your skin in their “neat” (undiluted) form. Always dilute them in a carrier.

    • Most aromatherapy applications use the essential oil in a 2 percent dilution. In other words, 2 drops of essential oil for every 100 drops (1 teaspoon) of carrier oil.

  • A little goes a long way, remember, when using essential oils, less is more.

  • Do a patch test prior to using an essential oil if you suspect you are sensitive to it. Even if you don’t suspect, it’s always a good idea to patch test the oil on your skin first.

    • Dilute 1 drop of essential oil into ¼ teaspoon of carrier oil. Rub the mixture into the crook of your arm or back of your neck. If a reaction occurs, such as redness or irritation, clean off the site and avoid that particular essential oil.

  • Thoroughly wash your hands after handling pure undiluted essential oils

  • If redness, burning, itching or irritation occurs, stop using oils immediately.

  • Keep essential oils away from your mucus membrane areas, including eyes and ears.

  • Do not ingest essential oils. It’s true that some oils are used as food flavorings such as peppermint oil is used in candy, however, unless you are an experienced aromatherapist or have been advised by your medical practitioner, don’t even try it!

  • Keep oils tightly closed and stored in a cool, dark place or in the refrigerator.

  • Keep essential oils out of the reach of children.

  • If you are pregnant, lactating or suffer from epilepsy, hypertension (high blood pressure), have cancer or liver damage, or any other medical condition, only use essential oils under guidance of a qualified aroma practitioner/aroma therapist.

    • Oils to avoid during pregnancy include: bitter almond, basil, clary sage, camphor, clove bud, eucalyptus, hyssop, sweet fennel, juniper berry, marjoram, myrrh, peppermint, rose geranium, rosemary, sage, and thyme.

    • People with epilepsy should avoid eucalyptus, fennel, hyssop, sage, pennyroyal, juniper, tansy, thuja, turpentine, and rosemary, as these oils may cause seizures.

    • People with high blood pressure should avoid rosemary, sage and thyme.

  • Pharmaceutical interaction - Check for any interaction between medication you may be taking and essential oils, since some essential oils can interfere with certain prescription medication.

  • Photosensitization - When using sun sensitive essential oils you should avoid exposure to the sun after application. Some sun sensitive oils include: angelica root, bergamot, cumin, grapefruit, lime, bitter orange, and lemon verbena

  • Not all essential oils are suitable for aromatherapy - Some oils are extremely toxic and should be avoided. Those oils include but are not limited to: arnica, bitter almond, calamus, hyssop, mugwort, pennyroyal, sassafras, narcissus, wormwood, jaborandi, and tansy.

Essential oils and aromatherapy products that contain them offer wonderful therapeutic results. In general, essential oils are safe when used externally and in low concentrations. Stick to aromatherapy products that contain the safest and most gentle essential oils.

Mountain Rose Herbs. A Herbs, Health and Harmony Company. Since 1987


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