December 13, 2018

Are you still on the fence when it comes to using essential oils? You may have heard a lot of good reports about their health benefits. You may have also heard some of the horror stories floating around online. Hearing both sides of the argument can cause you to ask many questions about their effectiveness and potency. Can essential oils make you sick? The short answer is no. But the short answer is also yes. As a general rule, they will not make you sick and can actually offer a wide variety of benefits. However, there are some common mistakes that can turn out to be dangerous.

Most Common Mistakes Made When Using Essential Oils

Using essential oils safely and properly can lead to many health benefits. It’s important to take the time to learn what each oil has to offer and the right way to use it in order to reap the multitude of benefits EOs have to offer. But if they are misused, intentionally or not, they are potent and could be dangerous. Here are some of the most common ways they could become harmful and ways to use them safely.

Don’t Skip Your Research

Many people start using EOs because someone told them how wonderful they are. Someone may have talked about how lavender essential oilhelps them relax or get a good night’s sleep. Maybe a friend explained how they were making their own cleaning products using tea tree oil. Or you overheard someone saying how they used oregano oil to soothe a sore throat. Without researching the right way to use these powerful oils you could put yourself in harm’s way. For instance, if you do not research using oregano, or other essential oils to soothe a sore throat and you apply an oil directly to the skin, you may end up worse than before. These oils must first be diluted. Oregano EO is so potent that without dilution it could make your skin irritated or worsen your pain. Always do your research on the right ways to use oils to achieve the results you desire. Knowledge truly is power.

Overuse of Essential Oils

When you find a good thing, you may think that more is better. But in this case, you can get “too much of a good thing.” Essential oils are highly concentrated. That just means a little bit goes a long way. Using too much of some oils can lead to headaches or other unpleasant side effects. Can essential oils make you sick? Yes – but only if they are not used properly. In most cases, one to three drops of an oil is all that is needed to reap the therapeutic benefits. Some oils are light and volatile like the citrus essential oils. They evaporate faster than some of the other oils and you may need more drops. That’s where research comes in handy. Read a variety of sources to discover proper dilution ratios for the different oils. Generally, a good rule of thumb is one drop of essential oil for every 10 drops of your choice of carrier oil. It’s also important to note that while EOs provide a wonderful natural alternative to synthetic medications, each person can have a different chemical response. Treat oils like you do medication – use only the amount you need to achieve the desired effect.

Forgetting to Check for Sun Sensitivity

Some EOs can cause damage to the skin if you put them on and then are exposed to direct sunlight. One such story circulated recently where a lady got sick with serious burns after using oils. The mistake was that she applied a photosensitive oil before going outside and being exposed to UV rays. Again, research is key to protecting yourself and those you love. Citrus oils are among some of the worst offenders when it comes to sun sensitivity. Here are a few of the oils that should be on your “Stay out of the sun with these oils” list:

  • Bergamot EO
  • Mandarin Leaf EO
  • Lemon EO
  • Lime EO
  • Orange EO
  • Grapefruit EO


Using EOs While Pregnant or Nursing

Some essential oils can affect hormones and other aspects of your health. If you are pregnant or nursing, you’ll want to be careful which ones you use. For instance, applying peppermint EO topically might decrease your milk supply so it should be avoided if you are nursing. Most aromatherapy experts recommend avoiding these oils if you are pregnant or nursing:

  • Sage EO
  • Tarragon EO
  • Wintergreen EO

Using Oils Around Babies and Children

When using oils on children, they need to be more diluted than for adults. It’s safe to consider all oils “hot” when it comes to a topical application for children. Remember oils are potent and children tend to have more sensitive skin. Check with a medical professional first, but lavender, orange, lemon, frankincense, and chamomile are typically safe to use after dilution. But always do a skin test first just to be sure. There have been reports of certain oils causing seizures in children.  The go-to peppermint essential oil contains menthol which can be dangerous for children under six. Wintergreen essential oil can be toxic in large amounts it’s not advisable to use on infants, children, or the elderly. Do your research and use caution when using oils around or on children.

Can essential oils make you sick?

As a general rule, when essential oils are used properly, they are safe and will not make you sick. It’s worth the effort to do solid research to learn the benefits of the different essential oils and the best ways to use them.  Keep oils away from children. Research the different oils before using them. Know their different chemical makeups and potential side effects.


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