Are Essential Oils Safe?

What are essential oils?

Inside many plants—hidden in roots, seeds, flowers, bark—are concentrated, highly potent chemical compounds. These natural compounds are essential oils.
Essential oils give a plant its scent, protect it from hazardous environmental conditions, and even assist it with pollination, among other important functions and benefits. Essential oils are the essence of a plant, a gift from the earth, distilled and prepared for you to bring the power of nature into your home.

How Do Essential Oils Work?

According to doterra, “ Traditionally, certain essential oil application methods have been preferred or used exclusively. However, as the research surrounding essential oils continues to develop, a greater understanding of application methods is now understood. All application methods are safe when used appropriately, including aromatic, topical, and internal methods. One or multiple application methods can be used for a wide range of emotional and physical wellness applications. They can be used a single oil at a time or in complex blends. “

Here are the methods of Administering Essential oils;

  • Diffusers: Electric, battery, lamp rings
  • Water Therapy: 10-20 drops in a bath or for hydrotherapy in labor or 5-10 drops in a bath (add the essential oils to a carrier oil before adding to the bath to reduce skin sensitivity and enhance therapeutic value).
  • Steam: Especially for inhalation therapy
  • Massage Oil: 30ml carrier oil to 15-30 drops of essential oil (single or total number); For pregnancy the recommendation is 12-20 drops in a 30ml bottle)
  • Room Spritzers: To mix the essential oil in water (15-30 drops in a 30ml bottle of water) – add a small amount of witch hazel or Vodka to disperse the oils in water. This helps mix the oil and water but is not necessary
  • In or on lockets or jewelry
  • With Salts: Good carriers for bath or inhalation remedies, add a small amount of drops to the jar containing table or specialised salts
  • Add 2-5 drops to soaps, shampoos and detergents
  • As a mouthwash with distilled water (15-30 drops per 30ml of water)
  • Aroma stones or cotton balls
  • Added to vaporizers or humidifiers
  • Topical application to the skin provides an efficient means of delivering the therapeutic actions. Essential oils, because of their natural concentration, must be diluted with a carrier or base oil before application. There are two exceptions to this rule, lavender and tea tree essential oils can be applied “neat” or undiluted to the skin.

Essential oil safety - Are Essential Oils Safe? by The Wellness Advocate Co Nz

Safety Guidelines

  1. Always read the labels. Pay attention to any specific warnings on your essential oil packaging and adhere to any recommendations provided by the manufacturer.
  2. Know your strong oils. Some essential oils should always be diluted with fractionated coconut oil before putting them on your skin. Some of these oils include Cassia, Cinnamon Bark, Clove, Oregano, and Thyme. Keep in mind, this is not an exhaustive list, so always pay attention to labels with warnings about strong oils.
  3. Practice safe storage. Make sure to store essential oils out of reach of children. This measure will help prevent accidental ingestion. You’ll also want to keep your oils away from excessive light or heat, as this can alter the chemical properties of an essential oil significantly.


Topical Use

Topical Use of Essential Oils - Are Essential Oils Safe? blog by The Wellness Advocate Co Nz

Essential oils require dilution to prevent skin sensitivity. As a general rule, you should keep concentration levels of essential oils below 5 percent.

Diluting at 1 percent is equivalent to adding 5 drops of essential oil to a tablespoon of carrier oil. Guidelines for safe concentrations vary by age and health condition. Download Dilution Guide 


  • Dilute oils. To minimise skin sensitivity, dilute essential oils using a carrier oil like fractionated coconut oil. The suggested dilution ratio is one drop of essential oil to five drops of carrier oil. Always dilute an oil when using it for the first time, applying it to sensitive skin, or when using essential oils with children. When using oils with a particularly strong chemistry, you will want to dilute one drop of essential oil to ten drops of carrier oil.
  • Most healthy adults will use the 4% dilution for most topical applications. It is recommended pregnant women should use the 2% or lower range of 4% dilutions with children and health compromised adults using a 1% dilution. The number of drops is for 1 oil or a total combination of oils.-
  • Avoid certain areas. Avoid putting oils into your nose, inner ears, eyes, broken skin, or other sensitive areas.
  • Be careful of sun sensitivity. Some essential oils can pose a risk for sun sensitivity, particularly citrus oils. Some of these oils include Bergamot, Green Mandarin, Grapefruit, Lemon, Lime, Tangerine, Wild Orange, and any essential oil blends that contain these oils. Again, this is not an exhaustive list. Before applying an essential oil topically, check the label for any sun sensitivity warnings. Avoid direct sunlight or UV rays for at least 12 hours following the use of these oils on the skin (this includes tanning beds).


Safety for Internal Use

Essential Oil Internal Use - Are Essential Oils Safe? blog by The Wellness Advocate Co Nz

You shouldn’t use essential oils internally unless you’ve undergone advanced training and certification or are acting under the guidance of a trained professional.

Avoid oral ingestion and internal application, such as in the mouth, vagina, or other mucus membranes.

doTERRA has a range of oils (check labels carefully) that have been deemed safe for ‘food flavouring’. The recommendation of use is 1 drop per person, per serve.

When flavpuring drinks with the Essential Oils ensure the vessel is glass (never plastic as the highly volatile aromatic compounds can reduce the integrity of the plastic).


Safety for Aromatherapy

Essential Oil Aromatherapy Use - Are Essential Oils Safe? blog by The Wellness Advocate Co Nz

You can reap the benefits of aromatherapy through inhalation or diffusion. Inhalation is most effective when treating respiratory issues, whereas diffusion is best suited for mood management.

When diffusing oils, use these safety precautions:

Follow proper dilution guidelines.
Make sure you diffuse in a well-ventilated area.
Diffuse intermittently, typically 30 to 60 minutes on, then 30 to 60 minutes off.

⚠️Can you use essential oils during pregnancy?

During pregnancy, it is not uncommon for a woman to be sensitive to essential oils. Due to these sensitivities and all of the changes that occur in the body when pregnant, it would be wise to consult with your doctor before using essential oils during pregnancy.

Even if you’ve used essential oils before without incident, you should still inform your doctor of any essential oils you plan to use during pregnancy. Your doctor knows you, your specific health concerns, and the status of your pregnancy; therefore, he or she should be aware of all essential oil products you plan to use during pregnancy.

Because each pregnancy is different, your doctor is the best resource available for making a treatment plan and determining which essential oils are best to use during pregnancy for each individual. Your doctor can give you a good idea of what to avoid during pregnancy, as well as any other safety measures you should take, based on your personal health and the health of your growing baby.

Avoid Clary Sage and Jasmine during pregnancy as they are known to strengthen contractions and Peppermint while breastfeeding as it can reduce milk supply.


⚠️Can you use essential oils for infants and children?

Each essential oil has a different recommendation for use from newborns to adults. While some oils are safe for applying to skin with proper dilution, others are not. You should always err on the side of caution when it comes to your baby.

Supervise young children. Always supervise essential oil application with your children.
Because children have more delicate skin, it’s a good idea to dilute oils before applying them topically.
Try applying the oil to the bottom of a child’s feet before you try other areas.
In addition to safe storage practices, you can also use Child Resistant Caps to ensure that your children don’t accidentally ingest oils on their own.

Some oils that should never be used with infants include:

  • Idaho tansy
  • Hyssop
  • Sage
  • Clary sage
  • Wintergreen
  • Eucalyptus


Essential Oils Do's and Don'ts - Are Essential Oils Safe to Use? blog by The Wellness Advocate Co Nz
Do’s and Don’ts When Using Essential Oils on Children

  • Don’t use undiluted oils directly on skin.
  • Don’t add undiluted oils to bath water.
  • Don’t swallow oils.
  • Don’t overuse oils.
  • Don’t use peppermint oil on children less than 30 months old.
  • Don’t use oils near a heat source.
  • Don’t use essential oils near the eyes, ears and nose.
  • Do buy oils from a reliable source. “Check the source of the essential oils to avoid oils that might contain contaminants,”. Purity is doTERRA’s first priority when producing essential oils. (Learn more)
  • Do avoid sunlight for some essential oils.
  • Do store oils in a cool dry place..
  • Do apply a patch test first. Before using an oil on your child’s skin, apply on a small area of skin and wait 24 hours to see if there is an adverse reaction before using again.
  • Do consult an expert. If you have any questions about how to use an oil or the dilution ratios to use on your child, reach out to (Amy’s email).

Remember, the use of essential oils should be individualised, each person has unique responses to the oils. Aromatherapy can be an important part of holistic care, but must be used as part of an evidenced-based program.


⚠️Watch Safe Ways to Use Essential Oils Class by Hannah Horton 

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