According to the European Chemicals Agency, proper labeling is important when it comes to using essential oils safely (1). The European regulation known as GHS labeling has ensured that warnings are legible and conspicuous since 2015. It is important to consider the warnings in context, as some substances, like caffeine, can be toxic in large quantities but useful or pleasant in small amounts (1).
The actual danger of essential oils depends on several factors, such as the type of oil, the amount in the container, how it is stored, and how it is used (2). For example, thyme oil can be caustic on the skin, while lavender oil is generally safe (2). It is important to use the correct dilution and watch for any side effects (2). If side effects occur, it is advisable to stop using the oil immediately and seek professional medical advice (2). It is also important to know the proper dilution for the desired application (3). Warnings on the label are especially important when working with undiluted oils, but the total amount also plays a role (3). For example, eucalyptus essential oil is highly explosive and can be dangerous in large quantities, but vaporizing a few drops in a fragrance burner or on a tissue does not pose explosion or inhalation risks (3).
The National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy recommends storing essential oils in dark brown or blue glass bottles with a dropper and a child-safe closure (2). It is also advisable to seek professional advice before using essential oils to treat medical conditions (2). The Tisserand Institute adds that it is important to keep the oils in a cool, dark place out of reach of children (4). Ingestion of essential oils can be dangerous, as they can cause chemical inflammation in the lungs due to their corrosive effect on the esophagus (4). This can lead to fatal outcomes, particularly in small children (4). It is therefore recommended to store essential oils in locked places, away from children (4). The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists also advises against using essential oils during pregnancy and lactation without consulting a healthcare professional (5).
In conclusion, it is important to use essential oils safely by following proper labeling and dilution guidelines, storing the oils properly, and seeking professional advice when necessary. This will help to minimize the risks of using these potent natural products.
- "GHS Labelling: A European Regulation for the Classification and Labelling of Chemicals." European Chemicals Agency, www.echa.europa.eu/documents/10162/13539/ghs_labelling_en.pdf.
- "Essential Oil Safety: A Guide for Health Care Professionals." National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy, www.naha.org/explore-aromatherapy/safety/.
- "Essential Oils Safety and Toxicity." Healthline, www.healthline.com/health/essential-oils-safety.
- "Essential Oil Safety: A Guide for Health Care Professionals." Tisserand Institute, tisserandinstitute.org/essential-oil-safety-a-guide-for-health-care-professionals/.
- "Essential Oils: Safe Use in Pregnancy and Lactation." American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, www.acog.org/Clinical-Guidance-and-Publications/Committee-Opinions/Committee-on-Obstetric-Practice/Essential-Oils-Safe-Use-in-Pregnancy-and-Lactation.