Aromatherapy Safety, Cautions & Storage
There are perhaps thousands of essential oils available on the market. Because it is for sale does not necessarily mean it is safe to use. I cannot list all of the essential oils that are not safe to use that are available in the world, so I will just talk about the Plant Essentials range of oils. For a more extensive guide I recommend The Complete Guide To Aromatherapy by Salvatore Battaglia. Generally, the Plant Essentials range has been sculpted to a safe set of oils for home use. The contraindications that are known follow:
ESSENTIAL OILS CONSIDERED TOXIC IN AROMATHERAPY
Use with caution. Cannot be used in dilution of more than 1% as may cause methyl sylicilate poisoning: Wintergreen.
HYPERSENSITIVE, DISEASED OR DAMAGED SKIN
The following essential oils should be used with caution because they can be irritating and sensitising on hypersensitive damaged or disease skin such as infants skin or in conditions of eczema, dermatitis or psoriasis: Citronella, Clove, Lemon Scented Eucalyptus, Lemon Myrtle, Lemongrass, May Chang, Lemon Balm, Thyme.
DO NOT USE ON MUCOUS MEMBRANE FOR PERSONS WITH SENSITIVE SKIN
May irritate the skin when used in bath or massage do not use at all on anyone who is known to have sensitive skin or who is susceptible to skin reactions : Basil, Fennel, Lemongrass, Lemon, Lemon Balm, Peppermint, Thyme.
The following essentials oils should be avoided by persons with epilepsy: Peppermint, Rosemary, Sage, Fennel.
The following essentials oils should be avoided by persons with high blood pressure: Rosemary, Sage.
If the following essential oils have been used topically, do not expose the skin to sunlight or a sunbed for 12 hours minimum: Angelica, Grapefruit, Lemon, Lime.
AVOID DURING PREGNANCY
The following essential oils should be avoided during pregnancy. A few may be used during the last two weeks of pregnancy and during labour such as clary sage and jasmine. Those experiencing more sensitive pregnancies should seek professional advice as to essential oils not listed here: Wintergreen, Basil, Atlas Cedarwood, Clary Sage, Cypress, Jasmine, Juniper, Marjoram, Myrrh, Peppermint, Rosemary, Thyme, Rose.
Use with caution on the skin – may be dermal irritant or skin sensitiser: Cinnamon, Clove, Fennel, Basil, Wintergreen.
Some with asthma may react to: Eucalyptus.
INTERNAL USE OF ESSENTIAL OILS
Never use essential oils internally. Essential oils are far too powerful to be used internally without proper medical prescription. The use of essential oils internally dates back to french doctors utilising essential oils as they would pharmaceuticals. In France doctors who are also trained as aromatherapists, will prescribe essential oils be to be used internally. When they do this, the essential oil is diluted into a carrier oil in a capsule and the patient is supervised by the physician.
The reason we do not recommended use of essential oils internally is not due to the purity of our essential oils. It is due to our ethical opinion that more harm can be done than good when essential oil are used the wrong way or without proper training. I do not use essential oils internally.
FUR BABY WARNING
Cats in particular are sensitive and get sick easily with some essential oils, as their livers are generally not able to process as well as humans. Keep them out of reach and I’d advise not using essential oils on cats in particular. Better safe than sorry.
Essential oils to especially avoid: Peppermint, Basil, Lemon, Lavender, Eucalyptus, Tea Tree, Cinnamon, Wintergreen, Thyme. (note that this list is not all-inclusive)
STORAGE OF ESSENTIAL OILS
Remember to keep your essential oils out of direct sunlight and out of extreme heat and cold. I recommend you keep your essential oils in a box or in a cupboard.