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Essential Oil Cautions


Cautions and Contra-indication to Aromatherapy

Essential oils have many beneficial qualities that can help a lot of today’s minor irritable conditions brought on by general stress and lethargy. There are however some conditions that could become aggravated with the use of aromatherapy.


Use the essential oils in half the usual stated amount.

The question of aromatherapy during pregnancy is a contentious issue however there is no evidence to suggest that pregnant women have been harmed by the application of essential oils. Pregnancy is a contra-indication however during the first 3 months of gestation. It is important to remember that the skin becomes more permeable and sensitive during pregnancy, so always use essential oils in low strength. Performing a massage should be geared towards treating the baby along with the mother.

Breast Feeding Mums

Essential oils applied to the skin can find their way into the bloodstream and other body fluids, including breast milk. Avoid using essential oils whilst breastfeeding. Jasmine markedly decreases the flow of breast milk.

Babies, infants and children and elderly

Babies, infants and children require smaller amounts of the oils than adults to achieve effective results.

Babies 0-12 months 1 drop diluted in 15ml of carrier.

Infants 1-6 years 1-3 drops in 15ml carrier.

Children 7-12 years use as for adults but half the number of drops.

Children 12+ years use as directed for adults.

Elderly use as for adults but half the number of drops.


Keep essential oils away from the eyes. Should an accident occur, wash the eyes with plenty of water and seek medical advice.

Sensitivity and allergies

Occasionally a person’s skin may be sensitive to a particular oil causing irritation. It will generally disappear within the hour. Plain sweet almond oil, smoothed onto the affected part, will help the irritation to subside. Sometimes women find skin sensitivity increases just before their period, or at ovulation. This is due to hormonal changes in the body.

If sensitivity occurs, refrain from using the particular oil for 10 days. Then, if you wish to use it again, dilute to one quarter of the original amount, and test on a small area of the skin. If no reaction occurs, you can continue using the oil in the diluted amount.

Homeopathic medication

If receiving homeopathic treatment, consult your homeopath, and avoid using: black pepper, camphor, eucalyptus and peppermint. They may nullify the homeopathic preparations.


Aromatherapy massage can only affect the use of medication if it is used in great quantity, if the massage therapist is concerned about any adverse reactions; a letter to the doctor is advised. Having gained agreement from the doctor to combine aromatherapy with conventional treatment, keep to low-strength use of essential oils.

Varicose veins

Some aromatherapy oils contain qualities that strengthen the walls of veins, the area itself should not be worked but working above the area raised can be beneficial, always remembering to work in the direction of venous return.

Thrombosis and embolisms

These conditions are always a contra indication to massage. The thrombosis could if massaged cause a blood clot to become mobile, and the embolism, if massaged, could travel further around the body. Both are life-threatening problems.


There is a slight chance that oils such as sage, rosemary, fennel and hyssop may provoke seizures in epileptics; however any oil with a high odour intensity can bring on an epileptic fit. It is sensible for epileptics to avoid inhaling any undiluted essential oil. On the positive side there is no single reported case of anyone having suffered an epileptic seizure as a result of using essential oils in the correct dilutions.

Liver or spinal cancer

These diseases are definite contra-indications to massage. There are some oils that help detoxify the liver but these should be used in small dilutions.

Skin infections

This is a contra-indication to massage but oils can be used in a poultice to dress the affected area. Also the oils can be used in the bath, or applied as a facemask in the case of acne simplex

Post operative patients

Massage should not be performed directly on the area for 6 weeks after surgery, a poultice can help the area to heal quickly and help in the prevention of scarring.


Remember: these are highly concentrated plant essences. Never drink them. Watch for allergic reaction if you’re prone to these, and ensure that pets and children don’t have access to them.

The only real dangers in aromatherapy are from certain essential oils. Sage is a common culinary seasoning, yet the oil contains the toxic substance thujone. Mugwort, fennel, marjoram, pennyroyal, rue and some other essential oils have been determined to be dangerous, so don’t use them.



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