How Essential Oils Can Cause You Serious Harm

March 9, 2023

Essential oils have been around for a very long time, but recently they have been trending on social media feeds. Often bloggers, companies and even family and friends are recommending different brands of essential oils, claiming they are the solution to all that troubles us. Even though essential oils are mostly natural and they do have certain health benefits it does not mean that they do not have unsafe components. Here are a few key points to keep in mind before using essential oils.

Skin Discoloration, Swelling, Burning, And Sores

A few essential oils can cause burning when exposed to ultra-violet (UV) lighting. So, before laying out in the sun at the beach or heading to a tanning salon, it is important to ensure that you wait at least 12 hours once a photosensitizing oil has been applied to the skin. Depending on the oil and length of exposure to the sun, skin reactions from certain oils can range from mild discoloration to severe swelling and blistering burns.

Essential oils that may cause sun sensitivity include, but aren't limited to; grapefruit, lemon & lime, cumin, and bergamot essential oils.

Keep reading to discover how dangerous essential oils can be for pregnant women and babies.

Danger To Babies And Pregnant Women

It is imperative that pregnant woman and mother’s who are breastfeeding use essential oils with caution. When they are used, essential oils should be heavily diluted with either water or a carrier oil, like coconut oil, jojoba oil or avocado oil. However, Rosemary and Lavender should never be used under any circumstance on pregnant women or babies under one year of age, even when diluted. It is best to stay safe and use products that are made specifically for infants and pregnant women instead of taking the risk. Essential oils should be treated like any medicine and kept out of reach of children of all ages. It is recommended that infants and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding avoid the following oils, among many others: Sage, basil, tarragon, wintergreen, and parsley seed.

Keep reading to learn other ways that essential oils can cause you serious harm.

Skin Irritation And Itching

There are many oils that can irritate the skin when applied undiluted. For example, a drop of peppermint oil on the back of the neck or the temples can help alleviate a headache, migraine or even nausea. However, it can also cause skin irritation, burning and itching when applied undiluted. To avoid irritation of the skin, it is best to test a small spot on the skin before applying the oil, even when it is diluted with a carrier oil or water. It is very important not to assume that every essential oil is safe to apply directly on the skin. These are just a few of the oils that can cause skin irritation and itching: lemongrass, peppermint, citronella and bay essential oil.

Danger To Pets

Essential oils aren't typically safe for pets unless recommended and consulted by a specialist. The active chemical compounds found in some essential oils can be very toxic to most animals. It is crucial that essential oil products are only used under the supervision of a vet. Essential oils should not be left out to ensure that pets do not inhale or consume any of them directly.

Essential oils to avoid using around dogs include anise, clove, garlic, horseradish, juniper, thyme, wintergreen, and yarrow. They can trigger allergies, skin sensitivities, and can interfere with the dog’s natural body processes.

Dangerous Interactions With Pre-Existing Conditions

People with pre-existing health problems can suffer some side effects from just inhaling certain oils. It is suggested that those with pre-existing health conditions like asthma or heart problems do not use essential oils unless working with a trained and experienced Aromatherapist. Being a certified Aromatherapist involves 200 or more hours of classes and training as well as studying chemistry and drug interactions. In fact, Aromatherapists have a code of ethics to follow. They are prohibited from telling their patients to ingest an essential oil without diluting it and studying their health history in detail. This is why it is critical to not take just anyone’s recommendation.

Illness Or Death When Swallowed

Only long-term and devoted essential oil supporters take essential oils orally. In other words, this is definitely not something a basic essential oil fan should do. The practice of consuming essential oils was designed to be done under the care of an aromatherapist trained in that particular form of therapy. Doing so is so dangerous that certain toxic oils can even cause miscarriages when swallowed. Additionally, oils like pennyroyal and wintergreen are extremely poisonous if swallowed and can cause death. Other oils can become extremely irritating if they have gone past their shelf life. So, skip the oral use of oils unless you're using oils under the supervision of a trained medical professional.

Do Not Use Photosensitive Essential Oils In Direct Sunlight Or UV Light

Photosensitive essential oils, also known as phototoxic oils, that contain furocoumarins can cause severe burns and increase the risk of developing skin cancer when exposed to direct sunlight or UV light. The burns are caused by applying the photosensitive oils to skin before getting exposed to UV light.

If uncertain about whether the essential oils being used contain furocoumarins, stay safe by avoiding direct sunlight and UV light after applying it. Some essential oils that contain them include angelica root, bergamot, grapefruit, cold-pressed lemon, cold-pressed lime, mandarin leaf, bitter orange, and rue. Essential oils that are safe to use in the sun include steam distilled bergamot, steam distilled lemon, steam distilled lime, cold-pressed mandarin, cold-pressed sweet orange, and cold-pressed tangerine.

Do Not Use Essential Oils That Come In Plastic Containers

Essential oils should never be stored in plastic bottles or containers, as they can eat through plastics when they are undiluted. Over time even diluted oils can degrade plastics over time. This also means that essential oils should not be applied to plastic surfaces in the house.

When stored in plastic, essential oil will break down the plastic which destroys the oil and often causes it to leak. However, the quick solution to this issue is to use or reuse glass jars, spray bottles, and containers. Luckily, essential oils come in glass containers.

MORE FROM HealthPrep