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Safety Concerns When Using Essential Oils

Updated on October 6, 2014

Contraindications of Essential Oils

Essential oils are extracted from natural botanical sources, which are identified to contain therapeutic properties that provide natural healing for a wide range of health conditions. So, there shouldn't be any concern on side effects or contraindications when using them in aromatherapy, right? NO.

As an aromatherapy user, it is also your responsibility to build awareness on the essential oils you are using and assessing your own condition. This will help prevent acquisition of side effects that could lead to serious health complications in the long run.

Determining When NOT To Use Essential Oils

Most people who are new to aromatherapy will look into the best essential oils that they can use for a given health concern. While this is essential, you must also look into those that you have to avoid. Essential oils contain natural chemicals that are potent enough to create a reaction on your body when combined with other chemicals from your medications or create complications for your medical condition. Below are some of the basic examples as to when you should use essential oils with extreme caution or avoid it completely.

During Pregnancy

Although certain essential oils are useful for pregnant women, the general advise given by expert aromatherapists is to avoid exposure to essential oils. An obvious reason is that some scents from essential oils are strong enough to induce labor. In another sense, the properties of the essential oils enter into your bloodstream upon inhalation and is capable of crossing the placental barrier, which is harmful for the child and its mother. Exposure to certain essential oils during the first trimester of pregnancy could lead to serious problems such as unstable pregnancy, birth complications, and in some cases, miscarriage.

In cases wherein the use of essential oil is extremely needed, then do not forget to dilute the oil to reduce its potency and strength of the aroma. On the other hand, always seek the professional opinion of your OB-Gyne or aromatherapist so they can recommend which essential oils to avoid and the proper application of essential oil to avoid serious complications on your ongoing pregnancy. Some of the highly known essential oils to avoid for pregnant women include sage, copaiba, palo Santo, Idaho tansy, peppermint, cinnamon, rosemary, clove, and hyssop.

When Taking Certain Drugs

The intake of medications or drugs are a typical component of any modern medical procedure, either to facilitate in the healing process or reduce manifestation of certain symptoms. However, these medications contain synthetic chemicals that could trigger a reaction when present in combination with the natural chemicals of the essential oils. This is a slim possibility though, but it is important to consult with your doctor prior to using essential oils if you are currently taking drugs or medications to avoid interactions. Aside from drugs, a few treatments have been known to counter the effect of essential oils, thus depleting the healing benefits of this natural substance.

A specific drug known as Coumarin is one of few medications identified to create a reaction when combined with certain types of essential oils. Due to its anticoagulant properties, it creates a blood thinning effect that is dangerous to one's health. When you are taking this particular medication, the use of grapefruit essential oil must be avoided at all times.

How To Use Essential Oils To Improve Your Life

When You Have Underactive Thyroid

Essential oils such as myrtle or spearmint are very effective in providing relief against thyroid gland problems. The said essential oils are known to create a regulating effect on the said glands to regulate function and therefore reverse any problem that might occur. So, these are great choices for alternative medicine for anyone with underactive thyroid condition.

But there are also certain precautions you should take when you manifest this condition to avoid worsening it, and yes that even entails using natural medicine such as essential oils. Wintergreen, in particular, is something that aromatherapist experts have identified to be dangerous for anyone with underactive thyroid. While it works as a natural pain reliever, wintergreen essential oil contains a chemical known as salicylate, which produces an interference in the transport of thyroid hormones in your bloodstream due to its anaesthetic effect. Lack or insufficient T4 or thyroid hormones in your blood could further aggravate your thyroid problem.

When You Have Epilepsy

For individuals with epileptic tendencies, there are a number of essential oils you should be wary off. If possible, you must avoid using any of the following essential oils to avoid triggering an epileptic attack:

•    hyssop
•    tarragon
•    basil
•    Idaho tansy
•    rosemary
•    birch
•    sage
•    wintergreen
•    fennel
•    nutmeg, etc.

Always speak with your physician first if you feel like you really had to use any of the above-mentioned essential oils for further guidelines on safety or other recommendations.

Making Aromatherapy Products : Using Essential Oil in Aromatherapy

Tips for Using Essential Oils On Babies or Children

Children and babies are naturally sensitive, thus you need to be extremely careful when choosing alternative forms of medication to avoid causing harsh reactions on their skin or leading to further health complications. In the case of essential oils, you need to limit its use on your baby or child. However, there are certain essential oils that are beneficial to common ailments affecting babies. It is therefore important to identify which essential oils are acceptable for use on children and babies, and which ones must be avoided completely.

Mild essential oils such as lavender, jojoba, and chamomile are safe for use on babies. However, you still have to follow proper application methods and dosage requirements. On the other hand, avoid using basil, cornmint, hyssop, peppermint, or juniper essential oils on them. These are identified to be potent enough to cause irritation and other forms of sensitivities on your child.

Tips for Using Essential Oils On Pre-existing Medical Conditions

There are several medical conditions that are endangered when exposed to certain components or chemicals found in various essential oils. If you have an existing medical condition, make it your own prerogative to understand what are present in an essential oil that might trigger a reaction with any of your existing conditions. Below are some common conditions and what essential oils must be avoided if you have them:

*If you have a low blood pressure, avoid using ylang ylang essential oil as much as you can.
*If you have high blood pressure, refrain exposure with rosemary and sage essential oils.
*Do not apply peppermint essential oil on fresh or open wounds to avoid infection or further complications.
*When you suffer from burnt skin, use lavender instead of lavandin since the latter contains synthetic linalol and linalyl acetate that is possibly dangerous.

Essential Oil DVDs on Amazon


Submit a Comment

  • ruminator profile image


    8 years ago from Big Skies, NM

    Very instructive hub - comprehensive and helpful. Essential oils are very powerful substances and do have to be used with caution, but when used properly, as you say, can really enhance our well-being. I'm going to a workshop in Alamogordo, NM on Sunday if anyone is near there. Will be excellent and samples will be offered.


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