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Aromatherapy Essential Oil Safety:
Which Oils to Avoid and When

Essential Oil

Not all oils are good oils — some should be avoided at certain times and others should be handled with care. Here are a few safety tips on the use of aromatherapy oils.

Never put undiluted essential oil on your skin. Always dilute essential oils in a carrier oil such as almond or baby oil. If you make your own oils by infusing plant matter in carrier oil, the resulting oil will be weak enough to use on the skin.

Do not use these oils when pregnant; bitter almond, basil, clary sage, camphor, clove bud, eucalyptus, hyssop, sweet fennel, juniper berry, marjoram, myrrh, peppermint, rose geranium, rosemary, sage, and thyme. Always check on the safety of any aromatic oil during pregnancy.

If planning to work with an oil you haven’t used before, do a small skin test on the inside of your arm. Avoid if there is irritation.

People with epilepsy should avoid eucalyptus, fennel, hyssop, sage, pennyroyal, juniper, tansy, thuja, turpentine, and rosemary, as these oils may cause seizures.

People with high blood pressure should avoid rosemary, sage and thyme.

Do not ingest essential oils or bring into contact with eyes.

Do not apply any product with citrus oils to your skin if you are going out in the sun. The essential citrus oils can cause burning and reddening of the skin.

Observe strict safety precautions when using an oil burner. Never leave an oil burner unattended and never go to bed or go out without first extinguishing the oil burner. Do not place oil burners near moving curtains or anything flammable. Make sure you place your oil burner in a larger ceramic container with a little water on the bottom so it is contained if it gets knocked over. Never burn pure oil in the oil burner — put water in the reservoir and add a few drops of oil to the water.

Keep oils stored in a cool, dark place or in the fridge.

Some oils are very toxic and should not be used at all, yet are still sold over the internet. Never buy wormwood or sassafras, even though they are still offered for sale. Always check the safety of any oil product before you buy it.

For the most part, you can use commonly available essential oils such as lavender with confidence. Some oils, such as thyme, may cause irritation and should be tested first. Always follow the directions given in recipes and avoid recipes with ‘way out’ or obscure ingredients.

The great benefit with aromatherapy is that most of the most useful and therapeutic herbs are the ones that smell good — so it isn’t too hard to avoid the ones that smell bad and may be toxic!

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