Essential Oils Safety

Are all essential oils completely safe to use? Same for herbs, are all herbs completely safe?

In order to be able to understand whether they are safe or not, first of all, you need to understand the concept of toxicity.

What is Toxicity?

According to Merriam-Webster, toxicity refers to the quality, state or relative degree of being poisonous material which can cause harm or death on you, or any other animal or plant (living organism).

The damage may occur in many forms and various levels. Some toxic cause immediate death and some toxic are chronic where you might only realized it after few months or years.

It is Natural, so it must be Safe?

A lot of people think that essential oil is natural, so it must be safe.

Aconite is a natural plant and it is one of the herbs use in Traditional Chinese Medicine, but it is extremely poisonous plant. There are few fatal cases of aconite poisoning reported by drinking the homemade medicated liquor containing aconite.

Therefore, special attention needs to be given.

For the same reason, you might need to have knowledge with essential oils and used it with care.

Why Essential Oils Safety need to be Consider?

The toxicity of essential oils is different from herbs…

  1. Essential oils are fat-soluble and herbs are water-soluble
  2. Essential oils are volatile and high concentration
  3. Essential oils are able to pass across membranes very efficiently due to their lipophilicity.
  4. “Many essential oils are inherently toxic at very low concentrations. Therefore, the highly toxic essential oils are not normally used in aromatherapy” (Maria Lis-Balchin, 2006)

What Might be the Toxicity of Essential Oils?

The following essential oils hazards are listed in Batagalia’s book “The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy”

  • Skin reaction (irritation, sensitisation, phototoxicity)
  • Carcinogenesis
  • Neurotoxicity
  • Hepatotoxicity
  • Hazards during pregnancy

After reading this article, you might hesitate when using your essential oils.

Relax! Just take note “All substances are poisons; it is the dose that makes the poison. The right dose differentiates a poison from a remedy…” ~ Paracelsus (1493 – 1541)

When you begin your aromatherapy journey, always used diluted essential oils with the right dose.




Battaglia, S. (2002). The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy (second edition). Brisbane: The International Centre of Holistic Aromatherapy
Maria Lis-Balchin (2006), Aromatherapy Science: A Guide for Healthcare Professionals, Pharmaceutical Press.

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