Essential Oil Safety
Essential oil safety is important because essential oil is concentrated. It takes 150 pounds of lavender flowers to make one pound of oil. Never take essential oils internally. Some are toxic if ingested. Always keep essential oils out of the reach of children and pets.
Lavender is sometimes called the mother of essential oils and is one of the safest ones. That is another reason why I love it.
Essential oils can't be used neat or straight from the bottle. They must be diluted. The exceptions to the rule are lavender and tea tree.
Patch test- If you're not sure if you're allergic to an essential oil you should do a patch test. Put a diluted drop on your wrist and if the area gets red or itches then wash it off right away with cold water, and don't use that oil. This is an important part of essential oil safety.
Some oils can cause photosensitivity. (Sunlight and tanning booths) Lavender is not known to do this.
Pregnancy- When pregnant , you should be extra careful about essential oil safety. Use only 1/2 the strength of essential oil, if it is a safe one. Don't use any during the first 3 months. Know your essential oil before using it when you are pregnant, because some should be avoided completely. Better yet, avoid it on the skin if you aren't sure. Lavender is not to be used until after you're past your first 3 months. After that there are no precautions listed.
Lavender does help lower the blood pressure, so you may want to keep this in mind if you have low blood pressure. Most of us like this effect.
Babies-(0 to 12 months) There is different opinions on essential oil safety and babies. Not everyone agrees it should be used on babies. Some say lavender has been used safely on babies for generations in the bath, or a drop on there favorite toy or pillow to relax. Others say 1 drop to 1 tbs. of carrier oils (not mineral or baby oil) rubbed on the tummy helps a fussy baby. Some say don't use it at all. I don't know because I don't have any babies. So I give you this information and the choice is totally up to you. Personally I wouldn't use baby oil on my baby. I know from experience that it's harsher on the skin then the carrier oils. I can use carrier oils, but baby oil bothers my skin.
Babies should not be massaged during the first 6 weeks and for at least a week after vaccinations according to one resource . When rubbing the tummy, go in a circular clockwise movement. For babies under one year use only 1 drop of lavender, rose or chamomile oil diluted in 1 teaspoon of carrier oil for massage or bathing. These are listed as safe for babies, I don't know what else can be used or in what dilutions. This should help as a starting point for you. There are some books on aromatherapy for babies, that will help you get more information about essential oil safety and babies.
1 year to 5 years old- same as above except use 2 drops of lavender per 1 tbs. of carrier oil.
6 to 12 years old- use 1 drop of essential oil per 2 tsp. of carrier oil.
Pregnant- use 1 drop of essential oil per 2 tsp. of carrier oil. Again there is different opinions if essential oil should be used.
Normal adult- 2 to 5 drops of essential oil per tsp. of carrier oil. (1 tsp. = 5 ml)
Elderly- 1/2 strength of adult.
If you have asthma, don't use steam inhalation.
Don't get essential oils in your eyes, if you do then rinse it out right away with plenty of fresh water.
Now after all that scary information, I want you to know that essential oil safety isn't too hard. It's about knowing your oils. I feel very confident using lavender. I've used it for years in my bath, and neat when I feel like I'm coming down with something. I dab neat on small cuts. blemishes, bruises, bites, and even on shingles. I have many allergies (mostly chemical) and I have never had any problem using lavender. This is a great way to try aromatherapy because it's so good for so many things and is so safe!
I almost forgot to give you information on some of the other essential oils that I may have in this site. I'll list any precautions to the best of my ability so that you can decide for yourself if you want to use them. I checked and cross checked several sources for this information to make it as accurate as possible. This information also includes the information from the course I took for nursing credits. I hope it's helpful. Remember that you can be sensitive or allergic to anything, so keep this in mind when using essential oils safely.
Bay Rum - avoid during pregnancy, especially first 3 months. Could possibly irritate sensitive skin.
Bay Laurel- No precautions listed.
Benzoin absolute - Nonirritant, non toxic. Can cause possible sensitization, due to the solvents used.
Bergamot - Should not be used on the skin before going out into the sun or in a sun bed for up to 24 hours. may be irritating to sensitive skin.
Calendula - No precautions found in the literature checked.
Chamomile, Roman and German - Also pretty safe. Only precautions or safety data I can find on this one is it can cause dermatitis in some people. So do a patch test. Also avoid in first 3 months of pregnancy.
Cinnamon leaf can cause sensitivity in some people and should not be used if you're pregnant. Please don't mix this up with cinnamon bark. Cinnamon bark is used for inhalation only.
Citronella Warning-Avoid if pregnant. Also may cause dermatitis. Could irritate skin.
Clary sage - Avoid during pregnancy. Don't use when drinking alcohol, since it can induce a narcotic effect, and exaggerated drunkenness.
Clove - can cause sensitivity in some people and should not be used if you're pregnant.
Eucalyptus- No precautions found in literature checked. Must be diluted.
Fennel, sweet- Avoid when pregnant, and don't use if you are epileptic. Don't use on children under 6 years old. Use in moderation.
Frankincense - no precautions found.
Geranium Rose - Nontoxic, nonirritant, generally nonsensitizing, but may cause contact dermatitis in some hypersensitive people. Especially the bourbon type.
Ginger - could possibly irritate sensitive skin.
Grapefruit - slightly phototoxic. It oxidizes quickly so store in refrigerator.
Jasmine -Nontoxic, nonirritant.
Juniper - Warning - This oil stimulates the uterine muscle and should be avoided in pregnancy. It should not be used if you have kidney disease, it's a nephrotoxic. Don't use it for young children. Use in moderation.
Lemon Myrtle - Could irritate sensitize skin
Lemon Yellow Sweet and Lemon Yellow Dry - Could irritate sensitize skin. May cause sun sensitivity for up to 24 hours.
Lemongrass - Could irritate sensitize skin.
Lime - Generally nontoxic, nonirritant, and nonsensitizing. However the expressed peel oil is phototoxic, but not the steam distilled whole fruit oil. So check which one you are getting.
Manderine, Green or Red - May cause sun sensitivity for up to 24 hours.
Marjoram, Spanish or Sweet - Don't use if pregnant.
Melissa/Lemon Balm, also called Melissa officinalis from the family Laviatae - Use in low dilutions (up to 1%). Narcotic in large doses, causing headaches.
Myrrh -Don't use if pregnant. Don't use in high concentrations.
Myrtle, Red - Safe, nontoxic, nonirritant.
Neroli - Safe, nontoxic, nonirritant.
Nutmeg - Don't use if pregnant or on small children. Large doses shows signs of toxicity. Use in moderation.
Orange Sweet - May cause sun sensitivity for up to 24 hours.
Oregano - May cause sun sensitivity for up to 24 hours. Do not use if pregnant.
Palmarosa - Safe, nontoxic, nonirritant.
Patchouli - Nontoxic, nonirritant, it's overuse can cause insomnia, nervous attacks and loss of appetite.
Pepper, Black - This oil is toxic and a irritant in concentration. Use in low dilutions only. (not more than 1%.)
Pepper, Pink - Safe, nontoxic, nonirritant.
Peppermint - Don't use with homeopathic remedies. Use in low dilution on skin. Could irritate sensitive skin.
Pine, Scotch - Don't use this oil if there are allergic skin conditions. It is a skin irritant in concentration. Use low dilutions only.
Ravensare - Safe, nontoxic, nonirritant.
Rose - Generally considered safe, nontoxic, nonirritant. However it should be avoided during the first 4 months of pregnancy.
Rosemary - Don't use if pregnant. It raises blood pressure, so use with caution if you already have high blood pressure. Don't use this if you are epileptic.
Sandalwood - Safe, nontoxic, nonirritant.
Sage, Spanish - Do not use if pregnant. Use only in moderation. Do not use if you are epileptic.
Sage, Clary - Avoid during pregnancy. Don't use when drinking alcohol, since it can induce a narcotic effect, and exaggerated drunkenness.
Spearmint - Avoid during pregnancy.
Spruce - Safe, nontoxic, nonirritant. If you're allergic to spruce trees you will want to avoid this.
Spruce, Black - Avoid during pregnancy. Could irritate sensitive, delicate skin.
Spikenard - Safe, nontoxic, nonirritant.
Sweet orange - Should not be used on the skin before going out into the sun or in a sun bed for up to 24 hours. may be irritating to sensitive skin.
Tangerine - Should not be used on the skin before going out into the sun or in a sun bed for up to 24 hours. May be irritating to sensitive skin.
Tea tree - Safe, nontoxic, nonirritant.
Thyme, Mild Provence (linalool chemotype) - Avoid during pregnancy. May be irritating to sensitive skin. Avoid if you have high blood pressure.
Valerian - May cause drowsiness. Avoid if you need to stay alert, Don't use and drive or use dangerous equipment.
Vanilla, absolute - Safe, nontoxic, nonirritant.
Vetiver - Safe, nontoxic, nonirritant.
Ylang Ylang - This has a strong odor intensity. Normally said to be nontoxic, nonirritant, but has a few cases of sensitization. The scent can cause headaches or nausea in some people.
I hope this is helpful to you. One of the problems with aromatherapy is there is so much information out there on essential oil safety that doesn't agree with each other. I only put down information I could verify in more than one source. There are aromatherapy books out there for pregnancy, babies, adults and even pets. Check them out and see what meets your needs. Good luck and enjoy. :)