Essential Oil Safety





Essential oils are extremely powerful natural compounds that, like any health product, must be used in a safe manner. The Essential Oil Safety book by Robert Tisserand and Robert Young is a fantastic book that is based solely on scientific test results. We love this book because it filters out information that has no scientific backing. It covers everything from essential oil safety for specific conditions to how to support a specific condition with essential oil use (e.g. which oils help asthma). We decided to summarize the safety aspect of this book in a manner that makes it simple for anyone to use. We recommend this book to anyone interested in the science behind essential oils. 

General

Restricted Use

Similar to certain medications, some oils are extremely beneficial short term but can be toxic long-term. For this reason, oils like Oregano, Thyme and Cinnamon Bark should not be used for more than 10 consecutive days.  

Phototoxic

Most citrus oils are phototoxic. We recommend avoiding topical application or making sure to apply sunscreen before going in the sun when using such oils.

Storage Safety

Essential oils that are low in antioxidants are susceptible to oxidation (change in composition). Citrus oils fall in this category and must be stored as follows to prevent oxidation:
• Keep refrigerated if not being used up quickly.
• Keep caps on bottles.
• Keep in amber bottles out of direct sunlight.

Overdose Symptoms

Similar to supplements, drinking a whole essential oil bottle can be fatal. For this reason, bottles should have a piece that allows drops to pass one at a time especially if there are children in the house. We have listed the following overdose signs and recommend calling 911 in case of emergency: 
• Convulsions 
• Vomiting 
• Rapid Breathing

Infants and Children

Aromatic

  • Diffusing is the safest method of administration (highly diluted).
  • Never allow children to inhale undiluted essential oils (connects to the Central Nervous System and can be fatal).

Topical

  • Avoid topical use on children until the age of 3 months after the expected due date (skin is too thin).
  • Always dilute with a carrier oil (e.g. coconut oil) before applying topically.
  • You may choose to apply oils in the morning for younger children as the skin is absorbs less than in the evening and at night. 
  • Always pre-dilute essential oils in a carrier oil before adding them to the bath.
  • Never add essential oils directly into a child’s nose as it could be fatal (connects directly to the Central Nervous System).
  • Avoid applying the following list of oils on or inside the nose as they can lead to respiratory distress when applied in this manner (these oils have menthol or 1,8-cineole constituents ≥ 50%). These oils have been proven safe elsewhere on the body topically and through diffusing which is heavily diluted.
Avoid Topical Use in Proximity to the Nose

Cajuput

Cardamon*

Eucalyptus*

Ho Leaf*

Marjoram*

Niaouli/Melaleuca/Tea Tree*

Peppermint*

Rosemary*

Sage

*Found in doTERRA product(s).

Internal

  • Never allow children to ingest oils.

Pregnancy and Lactation

The maximum safe dosage of essential oils is determined by the weight of the individual. Toxic amounts can lead to organ failure and other issues. Consequently, because the fetus is so tiny, we recommend that the mother use oils in amounts that are safe for babies. We therefore recommend sticking to diffusing and topical use as much as possible. We recommend against internal use unless the oil has been heavily diluted in water and is one of the safer oils (e.g. lemon, peppermint, ginger and caraway seed). Some oils are even more prone to toxicity issues (e.g. oregano) and they should be avoided completely. 

Pregnancy & Lactation

The following table lists oils that should be avoided during pregnancy and lactation until 3 months after the expected due date. Once the baby has reached this date, these oils can be used in heavily diluted amounts. We also recommend against applying peppermint topically to the breast area as it may hinder milk supply.

Avoid All Use Avoid Internal Use (Use Sparingly)

Anise (Regular*, Star)

Araucaria

Artemisia Vestita

Atractylis

Birch (Sweet)

Black Seed

Buchu

Calamint

Carrot Seed

Cassia*

Chaste Tree

Cinnamon Bark*

Costus

Cypress (Blue)

Dill (Seed*)

Fennel (Bitter, Sweet*)

Feverflew

Genipi

Hibawood

Ho Leaf*

Hyssop

Lanyana

Lavender (Spanish)

Mugwort

Myrrh*

Myrtle (Aniseed)

Oregano*

Parsley (Leaf, Seed)

Pennyroyal

Rue

Sage (Dalmation, Spanish)

Savin

Tansy

Thuja

Western Red Cedar

Wintergreen*

Yarrow

Zedoary

Basil (Lemon)

Champaca (Orange)

Frankincense (Papyrifera)

Lemon Balm (Australian)

Lemon (Leaf)

Lemongrass*

May Chang

Melissa*

Myrtle (Honey, Lemon)

Nasturtium

Tea Tree (Lemon)

Thyme (Lemon)

Verbena (Lemon)

*Found in doTERRA product(s).

Childbirth

The following table lists essential oils that should be avoided from 1 week prior to 1 week after childbirth. These oils affect platelet levels and could lead to fatal hemorrhaging.

Avoid All Use Avoid Internal Use

Birch

Garlic

Onion

Wintergreen*

Ajowan

Anise (Regular*, Star)

Aruacaria

Atractylis

Basil (All*)

Bay (West Indian)

Bee Balm (Lemon)

Cassia*

Chervil

Cinnamon (Bark*, Leaf)

Clove (Bud*, Leaf, Stem)

Fennel (Bitter, Sweet*)

Lavandin*

Leek

Marigold (Mexican)

Marjoram (Wild)

Myrtle (Aniseed)

Oregano (Regular*, Mexican)

Patchouli*

Pimento (Berry, Leaf)

Ravensara (Bark)

Savory

Tarragon

Tejpat

Thyme (All*)

*Found in doTERRA product(s).

Elderly

As the elderly age, their skin thins allowing them to absorb a higher concentration of whatever product is applied. For this reason, essential oils should be diluted in a carrier oil when applied topically on the elderly.

Condition-Related Conflicts

The following table lists essential oil conflicts for specific medical conditions or for specific medication families. Most conflicts are with internal use only. For this reason, if you are unsure exactly what each of your medications is for, we recommend sticking to aromatic and topical applications only. 

Condition Reason for Incompatibility Avoid All Use Avoid Internal Use

ADHD Medications (Ephedrine, Amphetamine)

The listed EOs (Essential Oils) may interact with ADHD medication causing hypertension, tachycardia and arrhythmias.

None

Basil (Tenuiflorum, Gratissimum)

Bay (West Indian)

Betel

Cinnamon Leaf

Clove (Bud*, Leaf, Stem)

Parsleyseed 

Parsnip

Pimento (Berry, Leaf)

Sweet Vernalgrass

Tejpat

Analgesics - Non-Opioid (Acetaminophen)

The listed EOs could cause liver failure when taken with non-opioid analgesics.

None

Birch Tar

Buchu

Calamint (Lesser)

Pennyroyal

Analgesics - Opioid (Demerol, Meperidine)

The listed EOs may cause agitation, delirium, headache, convulsions, and/or hyperthermia when taking opioid analgesics.

 

None

Basil (Tenuiflorum, Gratissimum)

Bay (West Indian)

Betel

Cinnamon Leaf

Clove (Bud*, Leaf, Stem)

Parsleyseed 

Parsnip

Pimento (Berry, Leaf)

Sweet Vernalgrass

Tejpat

Antidepressants (MAOIs, SSRIs)

MAOIs: The listed EOs inhibit MAO enzymes which could affect blood pressure and cause tremors, confusion, etc.

 

SSRIs: The listed EOs raise serotonin levels which could lead to overdose symptoms if taking antidepressants.

None

Basil (Tenuiflorum, Gratissimum)

Bay (West Indian)

Betel

Cinnamon Leaf

Clove (Bud*, Leaf, Stem)

Parsleyseed 

Parsnip

Pimento (Berry, Leaf)

Sweet Vernalgrass

Tejpat

Bleeding-Related Conditions:

- Blood Thinners/Anticoagulants (Aspirin, Coumadin)

- Thrombocytopenia (Decreased Platelet Count)

- Hemophilia

- Hypertensive or Diabetic Retinopathy

- Internal Bleeding

- Liver Impairment

- Renal Impairment

- Peptic Ulcer

- Vasculitis

 

The listed EOs may cause fatal hemorrhaging in people with bleeding-related conditions.

Birch

Garlic

Onion

Wintergreen*

Ajowan

Anise (Regular*, Star)

Aruacaria

Atractylis

Basil (All*)

Bay (West Indian)

Bee Balm (Lemon)

Cassia*

Chervil

Cinnamon (Bark*, Leaf)

Clove (Bud*, Leaf, Stem)

Fennel (Bitter, Sweet*)

Lavandin*

Leek

Marigold (Mexican)

Marjoram (Wild)

Myrtle (Aniseed)

Oregano (Regular*, Mexican)

Patchouli*

Pimento (Berry, Leaf)

Ravensara (Bark)

Savory

Tarragon

Tejpat

Thyme (All*)

Blood Pressure Medications

No studies have shown incompatibilities.

None

None

Cancer Treatments (Chemotherapy, Radiotherapy, Immunotherapy)

* Avoid all use from 1 week before to 1 month after any cancer treatments as essential oils may protect the cancer cells.

EOs may inhibit treatment by protecting cancer cells.

All*

All

Cholestasis

* Flow of bile is severely obstructed possibly from gallstones or a tumor.

The listed EOs can lead to bile salts, fats and bilirubin accumulation in the blood of people with cholestasis. None

Basil (Lemon)

Cananga

Carrot Seed

Citronella (Javanese, Sri Lankan)

Clary Sage*

Combava Fruits

Coriander (Seed*)

Cornmint

Eucalyptus Macarthurii

Geranium*

Jamrosa

Lavandin Grosso

Lavender Absolute*

Lemon (Leaf)

Lemon Balm (Australian)

Lemongrass (East Indian*, West Indian)

Linaloe Wood

Melissa*

Mint (Bergamot)

Myrtle (Regular Honey)

Neroli

Orange (Leaf, Flower)

Peppermint*

Pine (Ponderosa)

Rose* (Damask)

Skimmia

Snakeroot

Thyme (All*)

Palmarosa

Western Red Cedar

Ylang-Ylang*

Diabetes Medications

The listed EOs may affect blood glucose levels. None

Anise (Regular*, Star)

Basil (Lemon)

Black Seed

Cassia*

Cinnamon (Bark*)

Dill*

Fennel (Bitter, Sweet*)

Fenugreek

Geranium*

Lemon (Leaf)

Lemongrass*

May Chang

Melissa*

Myrtle (All)

Tea Tree (Lemon)

Turmeric

Verbena (Lemon)

Diuretic Medications (Bendrofluazide, Frusemide, Spironolactone) The listed EOs are antidiuretic and counteract the effects of diuretic drugs. None Anise*

G6PD Deficiency

*Those that cannot take the following:

- Antimalarials

- Aspirin

- Chloramphenicol

- Streptomycin

- Sulfonamides

The listed EOs may cause liver failure in people with G6PD deficiencies.

None

Basil (Lemon)

Cornmint 

Peppermint*

Porphyria EOs taken internally may trigger porphyria symptoms. None All*
Liver Diseases (e.g. Cirrhosis, Hepatitis, Alcoholism) The listed EOs increase the chance of liver failure in individuals with liver disease. None

Birch

Budhu

Calamint

Pennyroyal

Surgery (Major)

* Avoid 1 week before to 1 week after major surgery.

The listed EOs increase the chance of fatal hemorrhaging during surgery.

Birch

Garlic

Onion

Wintergreen*

Ajowan

Anise (Regular*, Star)

Aruacaria

Atractylis

Basil (All*)

Bay (West Indian)

Bee Balm (Lemon)

Cassia*

Chervil

Cinnamon (Bark*, Leaf)

Clove (Bud*, Leaf, Stem)

Fennel (Bitter, Sweet*)

Lavandin*

Leek

Marigold (Mexican)

Marjoram (Wild)

Myrtle (Aniseed)

Oregano (Regular*, Mexican)

Patchouli*

Pimento (Berry, Leaf)

Ravensara (Bark)

Savory

Tarragon

Tejpat

Thyme (All*)

Topical Prescription Products:

- Creams

- Hormone Patches

- Nicotine Patches

Topical use of EOs may drive a higher dosage into the body causing an overdose of the medication. Avoid Topical Use* None

Transplants (Organ or Tissue)

* Avoid all use from 1 week before to 1 month after any transplants

For various medical reasons, EOs should be completely avoided around any transplant surgeries. All* All*

*Found in doTERRA product(s). 

Individual Medication Conflicts

The following table lists individual medications and their essential oil contraindications. They are contraindicated because the essential oil will either induce (possible medication overdose) or inhibit (possible medication underdose) the enzyme required to metabolize the medication.  

Note: Medications may fall under multiple categories therefore make sure to check all enzyme categories (e.g. Acetaminophen is metabolized by both enzymes CYP1A2 & CYP2E1).

Medications Enzyme Avoid All Use Avoid Internal Use

Acetaminophen (Tylenol, Paracetamol)

Aleve (Naproxen)

Anafranil (Clomipramine)

Azilect (Rasagiline)

Caffeine

Clozaril (Clozapine)

Cognex (Tacrine)

Coumadin (Warfarin)

Dyrenium (Triamterene)

Elavil (Amitriptyline)

Estradiol

Eulexin (Flutamide)

Faverin (Fluvoxamine, Fevarin, Floxyfral, Dumyrox, Luvox)

Frova (Frovatriptan)

Haldol (Haloperidol)

Lotronex (Alosetron)

Nolvadex (Tamoxifen)

Mexitil (Mexiletine)

Phenacetin (Acetophenetidin)

Propranolol

Remeron (Mirtazapine)

Ropinirole (Requip, Repreve, Ronirol, Adartrel)

Rozerem (Ramelteon)

Theophylline

Tofranil (Imipramine, Melipramine)

Valium (Diazepam)

Verapamil

Zanaflex (Tizanidine, Sirdalud, Relentus)

Zofran (Ondansetron)

Zomig (Zolmitriptan)

ZYFLO (Zileuton)

CYP1A2

Camphor (Brown)

Sassafras

Betel

Camphor (Yellow)

Chamomile (Blue*)

Mugwort (Great)

Tansy (Blue*)

Yarrow

Estradiole

Fluothane (Halothane)

Losigamone

Methoxyflurane (Penthrane)

Nicotine

SM-12502 (PAF)

CYP1B1 None None

Alfenta (Alfentanil)

Cyclophosphamide (Cytophosphane)

Depakote (Valproate)

Diprivan (Propofol)

Methadone (Dolophine)

Nicotine

Nolvadex (Tamoxifen)

Sustiva (Efavirenz)

Viramune (Nervirapine)

Wellbutrin (Buproprion, Zyban)

CYP2B6

Lemongrass*

May Chang

Myrtle (Honey, Lemon)

Tea Tree (Lemon)

Basil (Lemon)

Bergamot (Wild)

Citronella

Finger Root

Geranium*

Jamrosa

Lemon Balm (Australian)

Lemon (Leaf)

Melissa*

Palmarosa

Thyme (Geraniol, Lemon)

Verbena (Lemon)

Aleve (Naproxen)

Aprovel (Irbesartan, Karvea, Avapro)

Avandia (Rosiglitazone)

Coumadin (Warfarin)

Cozaar (Losartan)

Demadex (Torasemide, Diuver, Examide)

Diclofenac

Dilantin (Phenytoin)

Elavil (Amitriptyline)

Glibenclamide (Glyburide)

Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin)

Lamisil (Terbinafine)

Lescol (Fluvastatin, Canef, Vastin)

Nolvadex (Tamoxifen)

Piroxicam (Feldene)

Prozac (Fluoxetine)

Starlix (Nateglinide)

Tolbutamide

Viagra (Sildenafil)

CYP2C9 None Chamomile (Blue*)

Alprenolol (Alfeprol, Alpheprol, Alprenololum)

Amphetamine

Anafranil (Clomipramine)

Aricept (Donezepil)

Chlorpheniramine (Chlorphenamine)

Codeine

Coreg (Carvedilol)

Elavil (Amitriptyline)

Faverin (Fluvoxamine, Fevarin, Floxyfral, Dumyrox, Luvox)

Haldol (Haloperidol)

Lidofainen

Mellaril (Thioridazine, Melleril)

Metoclopramide

Mexitil (Mexiletine)

Nolvadex (Tamoxifen)

Paxil (Paroxetine)

Phenacetin (Acetophenetidin)

Promethazine

Propranolol

Prozac (Fluoxetine)

Sparteine

Tofranil (Imipramine, Melipramine)

Tropisetron (Navoban, Setrovel)

Zofran (Ondansetron)

CYP2D6

Balsam Poplar

Chamomile (Blue*)

Mugwort (Great)

Sage (Wild Mountaint)

Tansy (Blue*)

Yarrow

Chaste Tree

Cypress (Blue)

Jasmine (Sambac)

Sandalwood (W. Australian)

Acetaminophen (Tylenol, Paracetamol)

Fluothane (Halothane)

Methoxyflurane (Penthrane)

Theophylline

CYP2E1

Betel

Camphor (Brown, Yellow)

Sassafras

Ho Leaf (Camphor*)

Adalat (Nifedipine)

Adriamycin (Doxurubicin)

Alfenta (Alfentanil)

Amiodarone

Anafranil (Clomipramine)

Aricept (Donezepil)

Buspar (Buspirone)

Caffeine

Celexa (Citalopram)

Chlorpheniramine (Chlorphenamine)

Cocaine

Codeine

Coreg (Carvedilol)

Cortef (Hydrocortisone)

Cozaar (Losartan)

Cyclosporine (Ciclosporin)

Cytophosphane (Cyclophosphamide)

Dexamethasone

Diltiazem

Elavil (Amitriptyline)

Estradiol

Ethinyl Estradiol

Felodipine

Fentanyl (Fentanil)

Glibenclamide (Glyburide)

Halcion (Trizolam)

Haldol (Haloperidol)

Hismanal (Astemizole)

Itraconazole

Ketoconazole

Leurocristine (Vincristine)

Lidocaine (Xylocaine, Lignocaine)

Lipitor (Atorvastatin)

Methadone (Dolophine)

Mevacor (Lovastatin)

Motilium (Domperidone)

Nicardipine (Cardene)

Nitrendipine

Nolvadex (Tamoxifen)

Pletal (Cilostazol)

Prednisolone (Millipred DP)

Prepulsid (Cisapride)

Primozide

Prograf (Tacrolimus, Fujimycin, Advagraf, Protopic)

Propranolol

Pulmicort (Budenoside)

Quinidine

Remeron (Mirtazapine)

Seldane (Terfenadine)

Sonata (Zaleplon, Starnoc, Andante)

Tofranil (Imipramine, Melipramine) 

Valium (Diazepam)

Verapamil

Versed (Midazolam)

Viagra (Sildenafil)

Vinblastine

Viramune (Nervirapine)

Zimovane (Zopiclone, Imovane) 

Zocor (Simvastatin)

Zofran (Ondansetron)

Zoloft (Sertraline)

CYP3A4 None

Chamomile (Blue*)

Mugwort

Sassafras

Tansy (Blue*)

Yarrow 

*Found in doTERRA product(s).

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