Aromatherapy Precautionary Tales

I will be mentioning aromatherapy and essential oils frequently in my posts. I decided it would make life far more easy to have all the precautions in one blog post to refer back to, rather than repeat myself over the topic. And less boring for anyone reading!

These oils are known to increase Photosensitivity, meaning your skin is more susceptible to burning in sunlight: 

  • Bergamot, cold pressed lime, cold pressed bitter orange, angelica, cold pressed grapefruit, cold pressed or distilled lemon, distilled lime, cold pressed sweet orange, cold pressed tangerine.
  • as you can see, these are mostly citrus oils. All citrus oils should be cold pressed or distilled to retain their active, beneficial constituents.

If you’re vulnerable to seizures, or have a strong family history of, avoid these oils:

  • Fennel, hyssop, camphor, spike lavender, rosemary, common sage, tansy, Thuja, wormwood.
  • also note, that most of the above oils are not used in aromatherapy because of their toxicity. The ones that are, should also be avoided during fevers.
  • Evening Primrose Oil should not be taken internally by people who experience seizures, either.

If you are pregnant or lactating, avoid the following oils:

  • Pennyroyal, rue, mugwort, sage, tansy, Thuja, wormwood, mustard, horseradish, wormseed, aniseed, fennel, basil, clove, hyssop, thyme, wintergreen, cedarwood,  clary sage, jasmine, juniper, marjoram, myrrh, peppermint, rose, rosemary. 
  • The reasons for their avoidance is that they are either toxic ones that will harm the mother and baby, or they are oils which stimulate menses, and may be abortive in early stages.

Avoid if you have high blood pressure:

  • Hyssop, rosemary, sage, thyme. 

Do not use these oils on the skin:

  • Cinnamon, cassia, clove, fennel, oregano, pine. 

General precautions:

  • Do not use peppermint oil if you have had heart surgery of any kind.
  • Do not take essential oils internally. I know this seems to be a trend in some places, but EO’s can seriously damage the liver and kidneys if you use them in unsafe ways. Please get a fully qualified Aromatherapists advice about this before you try it (fully qual means a year or two of study, at a certified level, not a weekend or online workshop). It is also against the law to prescribe them internally in Australia. I use ONE DROP of lavender, orange, or peppermint in the chocolate I make, which is shared between many people, and not consumed at one sitting.
  • They should not be used undiluted on the skin, as they can cause reactions. The exception is lavender or tea tree in emergency situations, such as burns (lavender) bites and stings (both) or carefully applied to a coldsore with a cotton tip (tea tree).
  • Do not let oils get into contact with your eyes. Wash your  hands after every use to avoid this.
  • Asthma is safe with aromatherapy, but do not use them as a steam. Stick to oil burners, diffusers, and topical applications.
  • If used in excess, EOs will irritate your skin, cause headaches, nausea and a general feeling of unease.
  • Do not use EO’s on infants under two. Using an oil burner or diffuser is a safer option as there is no direct contact to their skin and therefore kidney’s and liver.
  • For children 2-6 years, do not exceed a 1% dilution on their skin.

Dosage and dilutions:

  • EOs are generally diluted in a base oil for massage treatments. You can do this at home by making a solution that is no higher than 3% for adults, and 1% for children.
  • 1ml of EO = 20 drops roughly from a stock bottle.
  • According to Salvatore Battaglia, in his book The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy; An easy way to work out the percentage required, is to measure the base oil in millilitres, and then add half that number of drops in EOs.
  • e.g.= to a 50 ml bottle of base oil, add 25 drops of EO, this = roughly a 2.5% dilution.
  • Blend your desired oils in the bottle first, so that they are combined, then pour in the base oil.
  • For children 6-12 years, use half the dosage for adults.
  • You can add EO to your body moisturisers and hair care products following this method too.  Be careful to blend well, and to not exceed a 3% dilution.

IMG_3561If you are interested in learning more about Aromatherapy, I find these two books are my favourite for referencing, and I used them as my text books when I was studying:

  • Battaglia, Salvatore. ‘The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy’. Publisher; The Perfect Potion. 1995.
  • Chidell, Lisa. ‘Aromatherapy, a definitive guide to essential oils’. Hodder & Stoughton. 1992.

Battaglia’s book is very concise, and a great one to consider if you want to have a lot of information on hand. The classic aromatherapist companion ‘The Fragrant Pharmacy’ by Valerie Ann Worwood,  is another book you might like to look into. Chidell’s is a fantastic pocket reference guide, loaded with short and sweet info to help you get started using your essential oils right away!

Yours in smelly aromatherapy goodness, Sami Lou x0x

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