Safety and Precautions
Essential oils must not be taken internally unless prescribed by a medically trained and registered aromatherapist no matter how high quality the oils are! This is a very important precaution that is popularly ignored by many companies who promote the use of essential oils irresponsibly. There is a history of internal use of essential oils in some european countries however it is very important to stress that the practitioners in these countries have specific training and are licensed to prescribe for internal use and it is not something that should ever be taken lightly.
Essential oils are extremely concentrated extracts and are almost always used diluted. As with most medicines essential oils will never be tested for safety in pregnancy and advice should be sought if pregnant or breastfeeding. If applying to the skin carry out a patch test first, to see how you react. Every oil has different precautions, find out about the oil before you use it for the first time. When researching the oils you plant to use there are a few useful terms that can helpful to know about.
Toxicity : oils which lead to a harmful effect in the body when used either at too high a level or for too long. Some authors suggest a maximum of 2 weeks use at a time.
Patch test : apply a small amount of oil on the back of your wrist and cover with a plaster and leave for an hour or more. If irritation or redness occurs, bathe the area with cold water. Consider not using the oil or a further patch test at half the concentration.
Sensitisation : some oils may cause a reaction in sensitive individuals or may cause an allergic reaction. It is also sometimes possible to repeated use of an oil to lead to an individual becoming sensitive to specific oils.
Phototoxicity some oils cause the skin to develop increased levels of pigmentation when exposed to sunlight. Avoid using these oils either neat or diluted if going to be exposed to sunlight (includes bergamot except bergapten-free), lemon, lime, orange as well as others).
Babies and Children : Babies (0-1 year), Infants (1 to 5 years) require special precautions and some oils may not be suitable. From 6 to 12 years a lower dilution will normally be recommended.