Risks of aromatherapy (6)

Aromatherapy appears to be safe if you use the oils in the right way. But it’s important to handle essential oils carefully and always dilute them according to the instructions on the bottle or leaflet. Keep them out of the reach of children and pets because they can be toxic if you swallow them.

In general, you can’t use any neat essential oil on your skin, although most people can safely use lavender and tea tree oil – ask your aromatherapist which ones you can use. It’s also important not to swallow oils or put them inside your body, such as in your eye, or inside your nostril or ear.

Some essential oils can have side-effects. These are the unwanted but mostly temporary effects that you may get after having aromatherapy (feeling sick, headache).

When oils are applied to the skin, side effects may include allergic reactions, skin irritation and sun sensitivity. In addition, further research is needed to determine how essential oils might affect children and how the oils might affect women who are pregnant or breast-feeding, as well as how the oils might interact with medications and other treatments.

Some essential oils may either reduce or enhance the effects of certain conventional medicines. For example, they can affect antibiotics, antihistamines and sedatives. If you’re taking any medicine, let your aromatherapist know. You might also wish to talk to your pharmacist. Remember that aromatherapy is a complementary therapy, so don’t use it instead of any medical treatment you might need.