For children over the age of 5, use half the usual adult concentration of essential oil. Where there is the slightest doubt, please seek the advice of a qualified aromatherapist.* Certain oils are best avoided during pregnancy. Always check the Considerations note in the Essential Oil Profiles – chapter 5 for any contra-indications. Generally, use essential oils in the lowest recommended quantities. If in doubt, seek the advice of a qualified aromatherapist.* Nursing mothers should use essential oils in the lowest recommended quantities, as strong aromas can cause sleeplessness and irritability in babies. If in doubt seek the advice of a qualified aromatherapist. Avoid jasmine absolute as it may inhibit milk production.* People with epilepsy are advised to avoid the following oils: fennel, hyssop, rosemary, sage. There is a remote chance that these oils may provoke a seizure in people predisposed to the condition.* Keep essential oils away from varnished surfaces as they may dissolve the coating.* Keep essential oils away from the eyes. Should any seep in, rinse with plenty of water, If this does not work, half-fill an eye bath with sweet almond oil and bathe the eye. Oil is the best medium for diluting essential oils.* Never take essential oils by mouth, rectum (suppository) or vagina (pessary or douche). Although such methods are advocated by French aromatherapy doctors and clinical aromatherapists, unsupervised self-treatment is potentially risky.* Essential oils should always be diluted before applying to skin. However, tea tree and lavender are occasionally applied neat to treat spots, insect bites and minor burns.* Avoid steam inhalations if you suffer from asthma. Concentrated steam may trigger an attack.* Citrus oils, especially bergamot, increase the skin's sensitivity to ultra violet light, so don't use on the skin within 12 hours of exposure to sunlight (or a sunbed) as they can cause unsightly pigmentation. It is possible to obtain a rectified bergamot oil labelled 'Bergamot FCF' (see page 40) which is virtually free of photosensitising agents.* Avoid prolonged use of the same oil (i.e. daily for more than three months) as there is a slight risk of developing a sensitivity to it. Take a two-month break before using the same oil again.* If you suffer from sensitive skin, carry out a 24-hour patch test (page 19) before using any essential oil for the first time (see below). However, if you suffer from eczema, asthma, allergic rhinitis or food allergies, it is essential to seek the advice of a qualified aromatherapist before embarking on treatment with essential oils. It may even be necessary to avoid aromatherapy altogether, and perhaps consult a homoeopath or medical herbalist.* If you are having homoeopathic treatment, do seek the advice of your homoeopath before embarking on aromatherapy. Most strongly aromatic substances have the potential to negate the effects of homoeopathic remedies, though peppermint and eucalyptus are cited as particularly likely to do so.* Never use an essential oil about which you can find little or no information.
Patch Test For Sensitive SkinWhen using essential oils for the first time, it is advisable to carry out a patch test especially if you have sensitive skin or suffer from allergies. Mix 3 drops of the test essential oil in a teaspoonful of your chosen carrier oil (e.g. almond, sunflower). Or, if using a blend of essential oils (as is most common in aromatherapy), you will need to test the mixture as a whole. Rub a little of the oil in the crook of your arm, behind your ear or on the inside of your wrist (supersensitive spots). Leave uncovered and unwashed for 24 hours. If there is no redness or itching, the oil is safe for you to use.
Using this method it's also possible to test three essential oils (or blends) at the same time. But you will need to keep an accurate record of the oils used and where they were applied. For example, one test oil applied to the wrist, another behind the ear and another in the crook of the arm.