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Thoughts on Essential Oil Safety

Essential oils seem to be one of the hot topics of conversation these days. They have been suggested to naturally treat any ailment under the sun, from anxiety to warts. There are a growing number of companies who manufacture these oils. Two of the common names are Dōterra and Young Living, both multi-level marketing companies, but there are a plethora of high-quality, organic oils out there to choose from. The efficacy of essential oils is strongly proven and not usually questioned, however, people also tend to believe that since it is a naturally occurring substance, it must be safe to use. While many of the popular oils, like lavender, have no documented side-effects like adverse skin reactions or toxicity, some others have significant toxicity considerations and drug interactions that need to be considered before starting an aromatherapy program. There are also suggested dosage levels for infants that need to be considered, along with exposure to animals. Here are a few essential oil safety considerations: - Common reactions and interactions have been reported when taking MAO inhibitors, acetomenaphen, SSRIs, anti-diabetic drugs, and diuretics.

- Cats are very susceptible to essential oil toxicity. - Many essential oil molecules are lipid and water-soluble, so can eventually enter the blood stream, though long term accumulation is not likely. - Oils should only very cautiously be used “neat” or undiluted, directly on the skin. - Essential oils should never be used on a premature infant. - For topical use on a 0-3 month old, only one drop of essential oil should be used per one ounce of carrier oil (.1% concentration). - For topical use on a 3-24 month old and a 2-6 year old, only 2.5 drops per ounce of carrier oil (.25% concentration) and 10 drops per ounce of carrier oil (1% concentration) is recommended, respectively. - 1 mL of essential oil is equal to 20-40 drops and .15 mL is equivalent to 3-6 drops of essential oil. - During pregnancy and lactation, these common oils should be restricted:


Lemon Balm,


Melissa, Tea Tree (lemon-scented),

Thyme (lemon), and

Verbena (lemon) - Aromatherapy is unlikely to have any adverse effects on birth control pills or HRT.

While generally safe and non-toxic, I urge you to do your due diligence when starting any new healthcare regimen, especially when deciding to incorporate essential oils into your life. Talk to your pharmacist, prescribing physician, reference “Essential Oil Safety” by Tisserand, or at the very least, do an internet search. In future posts, I’ll discuss some of the most common essential oils, any toxicity or dosage considerations, uses, and health benefits.



Tisserand, Robert and Rodney Young. Essential Oil Safety: A Guide for Health Care Professionals. Second Edition. Churchill Livingston Elsevier, 2014.


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Holly Horikawa PT, DPT, CLT

Owner and Founder

Dr. Horikawa received her Doctorate in physical therapy from Duke University in 2005 and founded Lokahi Physical Therapy & Wellness in 2013.

R.A. Sovilla

Patient Advocate

R.A. Sovilla suffered with pelvic pain due to endometriosis for over a decade. She is currently living pain-free post surgery and co-leads the OC Chronic Pelvic Pain Support Group with Dr. Horikawa.

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