• Deborah Casey

Contraindications to the use of Aromatic essential oils

In all holistic therapy approaches health and safety is vitally important. To ensure safety of individuals who wish to utilise aromatherapy here are some conditions that require extra care and attention. They are presented in short brief paragraphs with limited information. More information can be obtained through reading blog posts, enrolling onto our E-learning courses and taking professional study. Always seek your GP’s approval before making any lifestyle changes such as incorporating Aromatherapy essential oils into your daily well-being practices.


Special care is required during pregnancy and a greater dilution of oils is recommended. Specific essential oils are safe for use during pregnancy and it is advised to only use essential oils that are recommended. Seeking the advice of a professional Aromatherapist can be invaluable during this special time. Aromatherapy can be helpful for back pain, swollen ankles and legs, anxiety and nausea during pregnancy, and also during labour and post-partum, but care again is needed during lactation and breastfeeding. Speaking to your G.P., midwife, or obstetrician/gynaecologist about the use of aromatherapy can also help to gain a clear idea of using them during your gestation period.

Caution is advised to avoid all toxic essential oils that can harm both mother and foetus; avoid the use of lavender and chamomile during the first trimester/3 months of pregnancy, avoid application of diluted essential oils to the abdomen and dilute to 0.5% to 1%. Avoid all essential oils that are known as emmenagogue as these induce and increase menstruation.


The surgical procedure may have been laparoscopic or a laparotomy to any area of the body. The healing process will take time. Should an infection of the wound occur, or there are any other problems see your G.P. However a mild saline solution and a 1% dilution of essential oils into a balm can aid the case of infection and inflammation. Care is required to ensure that the chosen essential oils will not inhibit the healing of the wound and application must be gentle to avoid stretching the scar and potentially causing it to rupture and open. Please not that scar tissue may appear healed externally but healing can still be taking place internally, there can be a lack of suppleness and sensation to the skin which can occur in abdominal surgery. However medical staff who are tired from long periods standing on their feet, and the stress of a a demanding job will benefit greatly from Aromatic essential oil massage.

Heart conditions

These generalised contraindications require the potential user of essential oils to seek their G.P’s advice or referral to a specialist practitioner who can assess and advise on the use of essential oils for them. Conditions include Angina Pectoralis, heart attack, heart valve conditions and pace makers.

Respiratory conditions

This is a respiratory condition in which the bronchioles in the lungs go into spasm. This tightens and constricts the breathing apparatus which makes it difficult to breathe. This can become a life endangering state and emergency medical services must be contacted where necessary. Asthmatic occurrences can be triggered by allergies, nervous tension and over exertion. Essential oils with anti-spasmodic qualities are beneficial as they aid relaxation.


Aromatherapy can offer a lot to support and soothe the person who is experiencing cancer and its allopathic treatment; aromatic essential oils especially useful where there is anxiety and in end of life care. Working in a multi-disciplinary manner the Aromatherapist can provide supportive therapy to soothe the mind and soul and the medical team, G.P.’s can ensure that what is provided is with their agreement. In the advanced Diploma level 3 Aromatherapy course palliative care and the use of Aromatherapy is discussed.


Epilepsy is a medical condition that is often treated with medications that can impose some unwelcome side effects. The condition can be distressing for those who have never witnessed seizure activity before. A first aid course can help to build confidence in supporting a person who is experiencing a seizure and obtain the right medical treatment.

Within the world of Aromatherapy the use of essential oils have been avoided as there has been very little information and evidence for safe use. However there is a list of essential oils that are to be avoided as they are known to be contentious even in healthy people and a qualified professional and specialised Aromatherapist will understand this matter and will avoid potentially toxic and dangerous essential oils on that list.

Particular to the person with epilepsy there are some essential oils that are deemed safe for use for others but can prove unhelpful for them. In the research paper, Plant-induced seizures: reappearance of an old problem (2014), by Burkhard, Burkhardt, Haenggeli and Landis, at the Department of Neurology, University Hospital Geneva, Switzerland informs the reader of several plants that are known convulsants, that contain various chemical components that cause issues. The plant oils are noted below but are also not used in standard aromatherapy practice:

Eucalyptus, Fennel, Hyssop, Pennyroyal, Rosemary, Sage, Savin, tansy, Thuja, Turpentine, and Wormwood, other essential oils to avid are Spike Lavender and Camphor.

However there are some essential oils that are said to be favourable to some person's with epilepsy and these are: Neroli essential oi, Lavender essential oil and Frankincense essential oil.

Other contraindications are listed below, please note because something is contra-indicated that it does not mean it can never be used but the professional Aromatherapist will collaborate with the multi disciplinary health team to ensure the most safe therapy option is used.






Varicose veins


Nervous diseases




Pitting Oedema

High blood pressure

Low blood pressure

Skin/nail infections


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