Using Aromatherapy Safely

There are many benefits from the use of essential oils for Aromatherapy. However, essential oils have a high concentration and must be used with care. Essential oils should be treated as medicines that can be harmful and even poisonous.

Use Aromatherapy references or consult your physician for advice or information concerning your specific therapeutic needs. Also consult your physician or pharmacist to be sure that the essential oil to be used will not conflict with any medication currently being taken.

Allergic Reactions

Some essential oils may cause allergic reactions for different people. Thats why its important to perform a skin test before using oils on large surfaces of your body.

To do the skin test:

    Dilute oil
    Place small amount on skin (inside of elbow)
    Apply bandage
    After 24 hours, check for a reaction

If there is a reaction, you can dilute the oil some more and perform the steps again. However, if the reactions persist, discontinue use. Make sure that you are not allergic to the various plants from which essential oils are extracted.

Use only minimal amounts of essential oils of about one to three drops. Essential oils must be diluted with carrier oil or fixed oils and not applied directly to the skin.

For children, the percentage for dilution is normally 1%, which translates to a tablespoon of carrier oil for every three drops of essential oil and for adults you can use between six and fifteen drops.

The only essential oils which can be used undiluted are Lavender and Tea tree, but some people are sensitive to these oils, too. To remove unwanted oil spills on hands, use cream or vegetable oil to dilute, apply soap, and wash with warm water.

For those who have very sensitive skin, here is a list of oils that may cause you some problems: ylang ylang, yarrow, violet, verbena, vanilla, valerian, turpentine pine, turmeric, tolu balsam, white thyme, tea tree, styrax, pine needle, Peru balsam, orange, mint, mastic, lovage, litsea, lemon balm, lemongrass, lemon, jasmine, hops, ginger, geranium, citronella, chamomile, Virginian cedarwood, cubeba, coriander, cananga, cade, benzoin, bay laurel, and French basil.

Toxic and Hazardous Oils

The following Aromatherapy oils should not be used for a prolonged period of time because of levels of toxicity: valerian, turpentine pine, turmeric, tuberose, white thyme, tarragon, tagetes, Spanish sage, parsley, nutmeg, juniper, hyssop, hops, sweet fennel, eucalyptus, coriander, clove bud, cinnamon, Virginian cedarwood, cassie, cascarilla bark, white camphor, West Indian calamintha, bay laurel, exotic basil, aniseed, star anise, and ajowan.

The hazardous oils include wormwood, wormseed, wintergreen, tonka, red thyme, thuja, tansy, savory, savine, sassafras, santolina, common sage, rue, dwarf pine, pennyroyal, oregano, onion, mustard, mugwort, melilotus, jaborandi, horseradish, bitter fennel, elecampane, deertongue, costus, cinnamon bark, chervil, cassia, camphor, calamus, buchu, broom, boldo, arnica, and bitter almond. They should only be used by experienced professionals.

Precautions for Those with Medical Conditions

• Hypertension – avoid thyme, sage, rosemary, and hyssop

• Epilepsy – avoid sage, rosemary, hyssop, and sweet fennel

• Diabetes – avoid angelica

• Pregnancy – dilute any essential oils used by half; avoid white thyme, tarragon, spearmint, snakeroot, Spanish sage, rosemary, rose, peppermint, parsley, nutmeg, myrrh, marjoram, lovage, labdanum, juniper, hyssop, sweet fennel, cumin, clove, clary sage, citronella, cinnamon leaf, celery seed, cedarwood, calamintha, bay laurel, basil, aniseed, star anise, angelica, and ajowan

Precautions Pertaining to Children

• Adults should apply the oils

• Essential oil blends for children should be half as potent (double the dilution)

• Essential oils rich in menthol shouldnt be used near the throat or neck of children under 30 months of age

• Children are highly susceptible to sensitization

• Gentle oils such as sweet almond and olive can be applied to most children

General Precautions

Remember that most Aromatherapy oils are intended for external use only. You should take them internally only after being prescribed by a qualified Aromatherapist. Herbal teas can be taken internally in moderation.

Some oils can be used in food preparation so follow recipes.
Some essential oils cause sensitivity to light and, therefore, require that you avoid sunlight after use. Some citrus oils can cause abnormal pigmentation of the skin upon exposure to the sun or ultraviolet light source so allow about 12 hours before exposure.

Direct sunlight can cause irritation and skin pigmentation with the following oils: verbena, orange, mandarin, lovage, lime, lemon, grapefruit, ginger, cumin, bergamot, and angelica root.

Other precautionary measures include avoiding contact with eyes and mucus membranes and keep the oils out of reach of children and pets.

General Tips

Trust your senses. Disliking the smell of a particular oil is a good sign that the oil is not right for you and a suitable alternative should be used. As a precautionary measure, always read and follow all label warnings and cautions.

Always use essential oils in suggested amount. Overuse of essential oils can cause headaches, nausea and general feelings of uneasiness. If any of theses symptoms occur, drink plenty of water, get fresh air and take frequent breaks.