Essential Oil FAQ & Safety

  • Essential Oils must be properly diluted prior to topical use.

Essential oils should not:

  • be taken internally due to toxicity and irritation to mucous membranes of the mouth, throat & stomach and it is NOT recommended to add essential oils to your drinking water.
  • It is also not recommended to use essential oils internally to treat vaginal yeast infections.
  • Don’t use essential oils for eye issues or add to your mascara. If you accidentally get essential oils in your eyes, Health Canada says First wash your hands, then use a carrier oil, like Olive or Grapeseed oil to flush out the eye. If your eyes continue to sting, seek medical attention!
  • Keep out of reach of children & away from pets

Some essential oils can cause drowsiness. Do not drive a car or operate heavy machinery after using a sedating essential oil or blend.

Know the Latin name, as well as the chem-type of the essential oil that you are using. Depending on the country of origin & the growing conditions, the therapeutic properties & the safety considerations of some oils can be affected, like Rosemary, Basil, Thyme & Hyssop. It’s always important to do your research.

Do not use essential oils or blends near a heat source or an open flame, as some essential oils are flammable.

Essential Oil Dilutions For Topical Use:

Dilute essential oils & blends in a carrier oil, unscented lotion or gel for topical use

For Children ages 2 & up, the Elderly or Pregnant Women: Use an appropriate essential oil at a  .25% – 1% dilution. This would be 1 – 3 drops of essential oil in 30 ml of a carrier oil for a .05% dilution or 6 drops of E.Os in 30 ml of a carrier oil for a 1% dilution

Children over 10 years old & Adults: Use essential oils at a 1% – 2% dilution for everyday use depending on health & skin sensitivity. this would be 6 drops of Essential Oils in 30 ml of  a carrier oil for a 1% dilution (a good dilution for massage oils) & 12 drops of Essential Oils in 30 ml of a carrier oil for a 2% dilution (a good dilution for skin care etc…)

For periodic or short-term use, such as muscular, arthritic or migraine pain: Use an appropriate essential oil at a   3% – 4% dilution. This would be 18 drops of Essential Oils in 30 ml of carrier oil for 3% dilution or 24 drops of Essential Oils in 30 ml of carrier oil for a 4% dilution. Use for up to 3 x per day for max. 2 weeks. If skin irritation develops discontinue use. If pain persists you may want to check in with your healthcare provider and a qualified aromatherapist…

For Potent Essential Oils or Blends: Use a .05% – 1% dilution. This would be 3 drops of essential oil in 30 ml of a  carrier oil for a .05% dilution or 6 drops of E.Os in 30 ml of carrier oil for a 1% dilution

Essential Oil Contraindications:

Essential oils have different properties, as well as different contraindications. There are some essential oils that you need to avoid & some that need to be used with caution if you take medication or have an underlying medical condition, are pregnant or epileptic. Care must also be taken when blending essential oils for children or the elderly.

This is a short list of some of the contraindications:

  • Epilepsy: Avoid Sweet Basil, Sweet Fennel, Hyssop, Rosemary & Sage essential oils.
  • Hypertension: (High Blood Pressure) Avoid Hyssop, Rosemary, all types of Sage, Thyme.
  • Blood thinners (Warfarin): Avoid Wintergreen, Sweet Birch also Clove Bud, Cinnamon Leaf, Bay Laurel & Ginger.
  • Photosensitivity: Avoid the sun & tanning beds or UV rays when using the following essential oils topically. These oils react to exposure to the sun & can cause mild skin coloration, all the way up to a burning of the skin for up to 24 hours after use. These essential oils are Angelica Root, Cumin, Rue, Cinnamon Bark, Verbena, Bergamot, Tangerine, Petitgrain, & expressed Lemon, Lime & Bitter Orange, Expressed or distilled Grapefruit is a slightly lower risk
  • Drowsiness: Avoid Valerian if you are driving a vehicle.
  • Clary Sage: should be avoided when drinking alcohol as it can increase the effects. Also, avoid during pregnancy & lactation.
  • Aspirin Allergy: avoid Wintergreen & Sweet Birch.
  • Pregnancy & Breastfeeding: Do your research before using essential oils in pregnancy. This is a good blog to check out.(Also check with your healthcare professional before use).
  • Infants & Young Children: (under 6 years of age): Do your research before using essential oils with young children. Some to avoid are Sage, Thyme, Wintergreen, Peppermint, Rosemary & Eucalyptus essential oils.


Please use the references below to fully research the properties of the essential oils that you want to use. Essential oils must be diluted before topical use & shouldn’t be ingested.

This information is for interest only & is not meant to diagnose or replace medical advice.


What is Aromatherapy?

canstockphoto22921616The word “Aromatherapy” was coined by the French chemist René-Maurice Gattefossé after he soothed a bad burn with Lavender oil. That one incident started a plant-based practice that has evolved into the complementary modality of today that uses essential oils to improve and balance the body’s physical and emotional health

What Are Essential Oils?

Essential oils are the results of the steam distillation, the cold expression or in some canstockphoto10787674cases, solvent extraction of different types of plant material.(Which includes flowers, leaves,  roots, bark, citrus fruit rind, grasses & resins.) Simply put, it’s what’s left after the process; small amounts of highly concentrated therapeutic goodness, that are very versatile, with many different properties.

What is a Contraindication?

According to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, the medical definition of a contraindication is “Something, like a symptom or condition that makes a particular treatment or procedure inadvisable.

What are the contraindications for Aromatherapy?

Essential Oils are highly concentrated substances that should be used carefully. Even the most beneficial oils can be harmful under certain conditions.  Inappropriate use of essential oils may lead to adverse side effects. Check with your healthcare provider & aromatherapist if you take medication,  are pregnant or have epilepsy or a seizure disorder. Also, use caution when blending essential oils for children and the elderly.

How can you use Essential Oils?

Essential oils can be used for diffusing, inhalation or applied onto the skin for topical use.  And because essential oils are so concentrated, they should always be diluted before topical use.  With essential oils, less is always more.

How is the Sense of Smell & the Emotions connected?

The sense of smell is the only one of the five senses that are linked directly to the limbic part of the brain. This area of the brain includes the:

  • Hippocampus processes our long-term memories as well as our recollection of facts and events. dreamstime_s_31763752
  • Amygdala is involved in processing our basic emotions like joy, fear anger etc, our survival drives for food, water & reproduction and deciding which memories are stored & where.
  • Hypothalamus is considered the hormone control centre of the body, it works with the pituitary gland to stimulate different processes in the body like appetite, sleep cycles, your sex drive, and blood pressure among others.
  • Olfactory bulb which plays an important part in aromatherapy.

What is Inhalation?  How does It Work?

canstockphoto7200634With inhalation, the small essential oil molecules stimulate the “olfactory bulb or the nerves in your nose, which then send a signal to different parts of the limbic brain.

How safe is inhalation?

According to author & aromatherapist, Robert Tisserand ” (inhalation) from a safety standpoint presents a very low risk to most people”.

What conditions would be helped by using inhalation?

The inhalation of essential oils is effective when you are dealing with stress, anxiety, depression, anger, insomnia, PMS, focus, sinus congestion or headaches and allergies.  *** If you have any health concerns it is always a good idea to check in with your healthcare provider.

For Inhalation:

put 2 – 3 drops on a tissue and keep it under your pillow or in your pocket, using it up to 4 times per day as needed. You can also use a personal inhaler or my new favorite, smelling salts.

Inhalation is still the quickest method of absorption in therapeutic aromatherapy.  Topical applications come in second and should be applied to the areas of concern. “Amy Kreydin, The Barefoot Dragonfly.

Is there a correct way to smell Essential Oils?

It is actually best “not” to smell essential oil blends directly from the bottle, at least for the first time. Why? Because the lighter or “top” notes are what you will mainly be smelling, and you will be missing out on the lovely middle, and base notes, and you won’t get the “full effect” of the scent.  It is best to put a drop or 2 on a scent testing strip or you can use an unscented paper towel.  Sniff your tester at 15 – 30 & 60-minute intervals so you can smell the changes to, as well as the depth of the scent.

Why do Essential Oils sometimes smell different from one bottle to the next?

Because essential oils come from plant material, from nature, growing conditions like soil quality and weather conditions can affect the quantity as well as the quality, and yes the scent of your favorite essential oils.

How effective are Essential Oils when used Topically?

When used topically, properly diluted essential oils are very effective. The body will absorb small amounts (Approx 10%) of the essential oils into the bloodstream when these aromatherapy products are applied to the skin, but you also get the benefit of inhalation when you breathe in the fragrant scents from applying these products.

Where’s the best place to apply essential oils products on your body?

Apply your products to your pulse points like your temples, the back, behind your ears, your wrists, inside of your elbows. If you have pain, then apply to the area of concern like your back, or abdomen.
For more info check out my Essential Oils Safety Page

What about applying essential oils to the soles of the feet?

There has been conflicting information about the effectiveness of applying essential oils to the bottom of your feet. Some say that the skin on the bottom of the feet is too thick for the essential oil blend to be readily absorbed. Robert Tisserand explains that approximately 10% of a leave-on product will be absorbed into the bloodstream. If the leave-on product applied to the feet is even less than 10% isn’t this just a gross waste of costly essential oils? Furthermore, regional variation of skin absorption has been studied and the feet routinely come up as the least ideal location. Also, the pores on the bottom of our feet are sweat glands and have “an exterior directed function” so the amount of essential oil absorbed would be insignificant.

How can essential oils be used topically?

When properly diluted essential oils are effective for:

Essential oils can be added in appropriate amounts to unscented or homemade facial cleansers, creams, toners, body butter, lip balms, bath salts & salves. These products would help with different skin types as well as rashes, eczema, and psoriasis.
Use at a .05% – 1% dilution for daily use.

canstockphoto3520502Pain Relief:
For Muscular or arthritic aches & pains as well as headaches & migraines, try adding essential oils to a massage oil or make a roll- on remedy blend, ointment, body butter or bath salts.
For periodic use for specific areas use at a 3% – 5% dilution. For a full body massage use at a 1% dilution.
For children over 2 years old or the elderly, use the appropriate essential oils at a .05% – 1% dilution

canstockphoto17250505Immune System:
During the cold season, try applying essential oil blends to support your immune system when you feel a cold coming on, soothe a sore throat or help you breathe a little easier.
For periodic use, apply at a 2% – 3% dilution.
For children over 2 years old or the elderly, use the appropriate essential oils at a .05% – 1% dilution

If you are experiencing indigestion, gas, heartburn or IBS type symptoms try massaging essential oil blends on your stomach & abdomen.
For periodic use, apply at a 2% – 3% dilution.
For children over 2 years old or the elderly, use the appropriate essential oils at a .05% – 1% dilution

Essential oils can be used in massage or bath oils, bath salts as well as body lotions and butter. These products would be helpful for stress, anxiety, depression, PMS, anger or insomnia.
For a full body massage use at a 1% dilution. For daily use apply at a 1% – 2 % dilution, for periodic use apply at a 2% – 3% dilution. For children over 2 years old or the elderly, use the appropriate essential oils at a .05% – 1% dilution


What is Diffusing?

Diffusing is the method and device that disperses essential oil molecules into the air.

What conditions would be helped by diffusing Essential Oils?

Diffusing is an effective way to use essential oils, and due to their many properties, essential oils would be helpful if you are feeling stress, anxiety, panic, depression, anger, a loss of focus, as well as symptoms of insomnia, PMS, congestion, headaches, and allergies.
*** If you have any of these conditions it is always a good idea to check in with your healthcare provider.

What you should know about Diffusing Essential Oils?

Try 3 – 4 drops of your blend and diffuse for 15 – 30 min, to see how you like the scent, but more importantly, to see how you feel. When using your diffuser, Author Robert Tisserand (2014) says, “Don’t diffuse for long periods of time, 30 – 60 minutes is good”. For younger children & elderly family members, use your diffuser for 15 – 30 minutes, for congestion or sleep issues. For ultrasonic diffusers check the timer setting to find the best one for you, your family, the age of family members and your environment

Methods of Diffusing:

There are a few different ways to diffuse essential oils either in your room or personally. You may want to try:

500_aromasens14K__33346.1429820271.1280.1280 (1)Electric Ultrasonic Diffuser: Inside the water bowl of these diffusers, there is a small metal disc that vibrates by “ultrasonic frequencies,” which breaks up the essential oil and water into a fine, cool mist, that is then dispersed into the air of your room.  *** If you live in an area with a lot of humidity, this type of diffuser may not be your best choice. 

Candle diffuserTea light candle diffuser: uses water & essential oils; gives off scent & ambiance, but it doesn’t cover a large space. It is best to find one that has a large enough bowl. You don’t want to have to keep refilling the bowl with water. ***Never leave a candle unattended


Plug- in Diffusers: are a good way to try diffusing essential oils. In the home, they work well in small areas like bathrooms or hallways.

430_p_carscenter__98566.1414788833.1280.1280Car Diffusers: that plug into the lighter in your car. Both these diffusers use disposable pads that will need to be changed periodically or when you want to change scents.
***Never use a relaxing blend in your car while driving


canstockphoto7839014Reed Diffuser: are used for passive diffusing to scent your environment. These are also easy to use. The reeds absorb the essential oils and then diffuse the scent into your room. You will need to eventually need to replace the reeds when you can’t smell your scent any longer. ***Keep these away from your pets. Aromatherapy Jewelry



20161112_173948Aromatherapy Jewelry: Pendants and bracelets are simple to use. You put a  drop or two of essential oil on the pad inside the necklace. You are able to enjoy the scent throughout your day. You can get refill pads so you can change your scent.

What are Essential Oils Properties?

Essential oil properties are the beneficial qualities of each oil. Some essential oils are relaxing, sedating or they can be stimulating; essential oils can also be antibacterial. The list goes on & on…

For Relaxation, try diffusing: Bergamot, Clary Sage, Cedarwood, Frankincense, Grapefruit, Geranium, Lavender, Lemon, Mandarin, Neroli, Palmarosa, Patchouli, Petitgrain, Roman Chamomile, Sweet Marjoram, Sweet Orange, Tangerine or Vetiver.
Use caution if you are pregnant. When diffusing, these oils can be used for children
age 2 & up.

To Focus on your Day, try diffusing: Spearmint, Spruce or Sweet Orange.
When diffusing, these oils can be used for children age 2 & up.                                           For Adults: Try Eucalyptus Radiata, Lemongrass, Lime, Peppermint, Rosemary or Sweet Basil.  Use caution if you are pregnant, don’t use if epileptic or for children under the age of 6

For Seasonal Allergies & Sinus Congestion, try diffusing: Frankincense, Lavender, Lemon, Roman Chamomile, Rosalina, Spearmint, Black Spruce, Tea Tree or White Pine.
When diffusing, these oils can be used for children age 2 & up.
Don’t use chamomile if you’re allergic to ragweed.                                                                   For Adults: Try Cajeput, Eucalyptus Myrtle, Niaouli, Peppermint, Ravintsara or Rosemary. Use caution if you are pregnant, don’t use if epileptic or for children under the age of 6.

This information is for interest only & is not meant to diagnose
or replace medical advice.


References: Books

  • Battaglia Salvatore. The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy. 2nd edition, The International Centre of Holistic Aromatherapy, Australia, 2003
  • Lawless. Julia. The Encyclopedia of Essential Oils, Thorsons, 2002
  • Tisserand, Robert, & Rodney Young,  Essential Oil Safety, 2nd Edition, Churchill   Livingstone, 2014
Websites: http://www.westcoastaromatherapy.com

Photos are from Canstock photo.  The Limbic brain is from


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