Essential Oils for Aromatherapy – The Benefits and Risks You Should Know


Essential oils are popular among many individuals today including myself.  There are studies that have shown that essential oils for aromatherapy can have a positive effect on reducing stress and anxiety if used properly.  I jumped on the bandwagon a few years back with diffusing essential oils as I’m sure many of you have as well, but to my surprise, these oils can be very harmful if not used properly and with caution.

You see I had no idea of the risks that these oils pose and that oils should be researched carefully before use. I naturally assumed that if they were on the market that they were safe, that was pure ignorance on my part.   Knowing what I know now, I was very lucky that I hadn’t had any negative effects using the oils without researching them first.


  •  One Canadian woman infused her water with citrus oils and lathered her skin with lavender oil as she was informed that this would help reduce stress, to her surprise she ended up with a rash on her forearms which then lead to raised welts across her abdominal area and the back of her neck, her eyes became swollen and blisters appeared on her face, turns out she had a severe toxic reaction to the essential oils.  You can read more about this particular case on WebMD by clicking here.
  •  Other side effects that have been reported as a result of misuse of essential oils are rashes, respiratory issues, allergic reactions and chemical burns Essential oil for Aromatherapy

I diffuse essential oils, I don’t put the oils directly on my skin or ingest them, and after some of the stories I encountered, I’m very thankful I don’t or hadn’t in the past having not done the research on how to properly dilute the oils first.  You see, during my research, I read many horrible stories about devastating effects that some people had using essential oils without having diluted them with carrier oils, which I hadn’t even heard of until my research.

Essential oils are liquids derived from plants, flowers, and fruits and are very potent and can cause toxicity and irritation if ingested or applied directly to the skin without having been diluted with a carrier oil first.  It’s imperative that we research these oils and use them according to the instructions and when in doubt speak with an aromatherapist.

Carrier oils are vegetable oils such as coconut oil or avocado oil that has been derived from the seeds, kernels or nuts of a plant.  Carrier oils are used to dilute essential oils so that they can be applied to the skin without side effects.

You might think that after having researched the risks of essential oils, I might be inclined to feel that it’s just not worth continuing the use of them, however, that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

My experiences with essential oils have been extremely positive.  Now that I am more aware of the risks and the importance of using them following the guidelines set out for their use (guidelines vary for each oil) I will continue using them keeping in mind that not all oils are intended for use of ingestion, diffusing and applying to the skin and it’s imperative that we know about the oils we are using.

My experience with essential oil aromatherapy has helped calm my anxiety and stress, soothe my mind, body, and soul, and rest assured I won’t be giving up my diffuser or essential oils anytime soon.

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There are many benefits to diffusing oils, they can help improve sleep, increase energy, reduce stress and anxiety and can boost memory and concentration to name a few benefits that they can provide.

When oils are diffused it releases a small number of particles into the air which can leave an absolutely amazing aroma that soothes the body, mind, and soul.

Most oils are safe to inhale and all it takes is a very small amount of oils (3-5 drops) dropped into the diffuser with water in order to obtain the effects.  It’s considered a safe method and poses a lower level of risk, however, please research the oils that are being used.

You can now even enjoy the benefits of essential oils while on the road.  Portable diffusers are becoming a huge hit and I even had to get in on the action.  I tried my fist portable diffuser about a month ago and I love it.

Nebulizing diffusers are also becoming a hit.  I was surprised to learn that this diffuser doesn’t require water or heat, makes no noise and is extremely safe to use.  This diffuser created by Organic Aromas is absolutely top-notch, click on the banner below to learn more about nebulizing diffusers.

Raindrop Nebulizing Diffuser

Caution: Oils should never be diffused around newborns, small children, pets or nursing women unless thorough research has been completed and it’s been considered safe



Throughout my research, it was abundantly clear that there were specific oils targeted to reduce anxiety and stress and I have listed them for you below

1. Lavender Essential Oil – one of the most common oils used for relaxation (definitely a favorite of mine)

It restores the nervous system by lowering heart rate and blood pressure.  It’s also known to calm anxieties, restlessness and improve sleep

2. Melissa Essential Oil (also known as Lemon Balm)

Calms the mind and boosts immunity, strengthens the nervous system and can act as an antidepressant and release feeling s of worry and sadness

3. Jasmine Essential Oil – this oil is used in most of Asia as a natural anxiety, stress, depression and insomnia remedy.  It acts as a natural sedative and has stimulating effects on the brain improving mood and energy levels

4. Rose Essential Oil –  it’s extracted from rose petals and soothes emotions, headaches and balances hormones.  This oil is also known to strengthen the heart in periods of depression, grief, or high stress

5. Bergamot Essential Oil – is produced from the aromatic citrus fruit (which has a distinctive and pleasant smell).  This oil is used in Chinese medicine to enhance the flow of energy, fight bacterial infections and support the digestive system.  It’s said to be an effective antidepressant due to its mood-enhancing qualities promoting feelings of joy and happiness

6. Ylang Ylang Essential Oil –  is extracted from the Indonesian Cananga Tree and promotes feelings of joy and comfort.  In addition, it improves mood and promotes relaxation.  Inhaling ylang ylang can release negative emotions reducing stress and anxiety (another favorite of mine)

7. German Chamomile Essential Oil – a flowering herb that looks similar to a daisy.  It promotes inner calmness, reduces anxiety and calms the nervous systemEssential Oils for Aromatherapy - Image

8. Basil Essential Oil – is known as one of the best essential oils to reduce anxiety and enhance mood.  It acts as a natural stimulant promoting peace and clarity of the mind

9. Clary Sage Essential Oil – a very distinctive smell that not everyone grows a liking to, it’s recommended to blend with another scent to lessen the distinctive smell but get the full effects.  This scent acts as an antidepressant by promoting feelings of well-being and inner peace and decreasing stress

10. Neroli Essential Oil – is derived from the citrus fruit of the same name.  Egyptian priests used neroli oil to heal their bodies, minds, and souls.  It’s said to reduce stress and anxiety and enhances mood by reducing feelings of anger, irritability, and worry

Essential oils can be applied to your skin, inhaled or diffused, some oils can also be ingested however there are different methods of application that are most appropriate for each essential oil and it is important that the time is taken to research and buy high-quality oils in order to use these products safely.


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1. Bergamot – although this oil is mentioned as an anxiety-reducing oil, when applying it to the skin it can make it very sensitive to sunlight.  It is recommended that if using this oil on your skin (after it’s been diluted of course) that you avoid sunlight for 12 hours

2. Clary Sage oil – another oil mentioned to reduce anxiety and calming.  This oil is known to induce contractions in pregnant women, therefore, this is an oil that pregnant women should not use

3. Peppermint – we often use this oil to soothe our stomach and help with headaches however this oil should never be used on infants or young children as it can cause life-threatening breathing problems

4. Eucalyptus – this oil is known to counteract medications taken for seizures, narcolepsy, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, therefore, making the medications less effective.  It’s also known to bring on asthma attacks.  If you are using medications for these or any other particular reasons ensure to research the effects it could have on medications you are currently using.

5. Cinnamon Bark – this oil is commonly used in shampoo and lotions.  It has been known to irritate the skin and have negative effects on people who suffer from allergies.  This oil should be avoided if you suffer from seasonal allergies.

While these oils may, in fact, harm you if not used properly, they also have many benefits to them that can be enjoyed if used sensibly.


What we need to keep in mind is that essential oils are extremely concentrated and it only takes a very small amount to experience negative effects if not used properly.

Essential oils must be used with care and it’s imperative that labels are read to ensure that proper guidelines are being followed for each particular oil.  Study up on the risks and benefits of each oil as each oil will differ in terms of guidelines and proper use.

Consult a licensed aromatherapist not just the distributor of the essential oil company in order to obtain proper information if clarification is required on the oils you are using.

Essential oils can provide an  array of benefits, it’s up to each of us to use them responsibility.

If you would like help finding a registered aromatherapist near you, click here

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Let me know what your thoughts are on essential oils, and if you use them what purpose are you using them for?  Is it stress, pain, anxiety??  I’d love to hear what your thoughts are on whether you’d be willing to try essential oils if you have never done so before.

18 thoughts on “Essential Oils for Aromatherapy – The Benefits and Risks You Should Know”

  1. Hi Tracy,
    Thank you for writing this great article. I’ve just finished reading it, and it couldn’t have come at a more timely manner for me.

    I had no idea that there were risks associated with the use of oils, and I would probably have put some on my skin if I hadn’t read this first. I just assumed that if you could buy them, they were safe.

    It goes to show that you should always do a bit of homework before trying something new!

    Best wishes,

    • Hi Judy

      I’m glad you found this article helpful. I use essential oils for managing stress and anxiety myself and will definitely be more diligent ensuring I research the oils before using them. I use my oil diffuser daily and couldn’t imagine my day without it now, with the many benefits these oils offer, it’s certainly worth taking the time to research them to ensure they’re used properly.

      Thanks again for the response


  2. Thank you for some solid information on these oils. I’ve come across a number of people who constantly tell me how great these oils are which is fine; I simply appreciate you taking the time to talk about the potential risk of using them.

    Thanks again!

    • Hi Rasheed

      You’re more than welcome and I’m glad you found the article useful. While essential oils can have amazing benefits to them, there’s the risks that should always be considered too. I recommend essential oils for anyone suffering from anxiety, depression or stress and studies have shown that it does have positive effects in reducing symptoms associated with these however I’m also making it a priority to advise people that research should be done on these oils before use as not all oils are intended for all purposes and there are potential side effects if not used as per their guidelines.

      Thanks again for taking the time to comment, much appreciated.


  3. Hi, Tracy
    I am new to essential oils and there are only a few that I am using at the moment. Teatree to clean around the house, Bulgarian rose oil for comfort and pleasure and occasional frankincense around the house too.
    You are one of the very few people who has made an effort to warn us about the use of essential oils, as they are very concentrated and strong.
    I am looking forward to learning more from you!
    Thank you!

    • Hi Ivelina

      I’m glad you found the information useful. I love my essential oils, for me the benefits are so relaxing that I couldn’t imagine my day without them. I am now more cautious about the risks ensuring that I know the guidelines associated with each particular oil I’m using.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment.

      All the best to you.

  4. Hi, this is wonderful information. I have always been afraid of using essential oils because I thought they were just a hype and didn’t want to risk getting a bad reaction. You explained it very well. I do have a bad reaction with some products that have lavender. Not all of them but some do cause my eyes to burn and my skin to turn red and therefore, I’ll probably avoid using the lavender one but now I’m curious and would love to try a different one to help reduce anxiety. I will avoid those that are on your watch out for list just to be careful. Thank you again for the wonderful information.

    • Hi Sandy

      Yes, I would recommend that you avoid the ones that you feel might have an impact on you and your sensitivities however I do encourage you and anyone suffering from anxiety to try the aromatherapy with essential oils, the benefits have been phenomenal for me.
      Again be sure to read up on the guidelines and proper use for the oils you decide to try.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment


  5. Hi
    I did not know there were so many other oils, other then lavender that can help reduce stress. I like the cent of lavender, however, I discovered that no two scents of lavender are alike. I am glad there are other options.

    • Hi Darlene

      Many essential oils have a positive effect on reducing anxiety, I tend to use a variety of them but found that lavender is the most effective for me. I also plan to try basil oil as it’s been said that it’s one of the best oils for reducing anxiety symptoms. Keep me posted if you venture out and try some new oils. I’d love to hear how they worked for you.

  6. Thanks for the wonderful information you have provided here. I personally use essential oils, and thankfully I did do my research before doing anything too crazy. I mostly use them for headaches, nausea, and cramps but I’ll also occasionally use some for relaxation or just to make the apartment smell good. I love essential oils and the many benefits that can come from using them.

    • Hi Kelsey
      I’m glad to hear that you research the oils before using them. I too use them in my home to help with creating a peaceful relaxing environment. I find that the peppermint oil tends to help with my headaches and nausea.

      Thanks for the comment


  7. I also have the assumption that as long as the essential oil is in the market, then they should have passed the relevant tests required and hence, should be safe. I am really glad that I came across this post before anything negative happens to me or my family members. I have just started diffusing essential oil last night to help me to sleep better as I am a super light sleeper. I am going to check the label and do some research on the essential oil which I had bought. I hope that it is safe to use.

    I really appreciate you giving details on what essential oils to watch out for. It is really helpful for someone like me, who is new in this area.

    • Hi Lynn

      Thank you for your comment, I’m glad you found it helpful. I found myself in the same situation you are in but as long as you’re researching your oils and using them within their guidelinesthe benefits are absolutely amazing.

      Thanks for the comment


  8. Hello Tracy,
    First, I would like to thank you for the effort you have made to come up with this interesting post and valuable pieces of information about all different kind of essential oils.
    But my question Tracy if these essentials oils can help improve sleep, increase energy and reduce stress and anxiety, don’t you think the use of oils may have side effects on our body in future or no?
    I am just wondering.
    Thank you again.

    • Hi Omar

      Thank you for your comment. In my opinion, and by no means am I a trained aromatherapist or a medical professional, like anything too much of a good thing may have side effects. For an example, inhaling essential oils through a diffuser for long periods of time may cause headaches and if not handled properly may have implications. There are no studies that I have found that have indicated long term side affects but I strongly encourage researching the oils before using them or reach out to a trained aromatherapist for some quality advice.
      I’m not a fan of ingesting oils or applying them to my skin, my method of use is strictly inhaling them using a diffuser.

      I hope that I have satisfied your inquiry.




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