Dangers of Aromatherapy: Don’t Be Afraid


Essential oils (E O’s) will tell you when you do something stupid. It just works that way. So don’t be afraid. Open up the bottle take some drops out – and use them.

My early days of aromatherapy were loaded with the don’ts – The two biggies are:

• Don’t use E O’s undiluted directly on the skin

• Don’t take E O’s internally

OK. So there I am, a budding aromatherapist sitting in a class with Dr Daniel Pénöel, the preeminent “doctor” and expert of aromatherapy – who was taking and suggesting internal use of essential oils and pouring copious amounts of essential oils on the back of his volunteer, some of which are in the big caution category of “hot” and irritating oils. OK. So what’s up with that?

– He’s breaking the rules. I was inspired.

To this day, over 20 years later, these “don’ts” are still big players in the aromatherapy rulebook. NAHA, the most enduring aromatherapy organization in the states, does not allow members, according to their membership form, who use E O’s undiluted on the skin or recommend internally. They also don’t allow members who use “Raindrop Therapy” a technique using E O’s named by the multi-level aromatherapy developer Gary Young. By the way, Raindrop Therapy is Young’s refashioned “Live Embalming,” Dr. Pénoël’s name for pouring copious amounts of undiluted oils on the spine. I guess that leaves Dr. Pénoël out of NAHA. Leaves me out as well. Yes, I do, when appropriate, use and recommend E O’s internally and use them directly, undiluted (or “neat”) on the skin. I “don’t” do Raindrop Therapy. Not interested in all that ritualistic stylizing. But, I will do Live Embalming, if not just for the fact that I like to say I use “copious amounts of essential oils.”

There is too much fear being placed with the use of E O’s. Don’t do this, don’t do that, this will hurt you and that will kill you. I don’t think so. One thing the mulit-level aromatherapy world has shown us is that the E O’s don’t abide by the rules. They’ll bite when necessary, but not according to our fears. Use them undiluted – no problem. Take them internally – no problem. But, just smell the beautiful no contraindication essential oil of lavender and break out in a hellacious rash. There are reason’s for this and other types of E O unexpected oddities. E O’s have their own rules. Often inconsistent, hard to define, and individual. This is a topic for another blog.

Nature’s rules, not ours

Point is, nature does not care or abide by our rules. The “irresponsible” use of E O’s by French Aromamedicine and the more recent multi-level armies have proven that. Essential oils are safe and can be used with awareness and respect in any way you want – even if that awareness is not supported by the aromatherapy establishment. When you do something stupid the oils will let you know, like my example of using cinnamon in the bath. I did dilute the cinnamon, just not enough. My parts were screaming, but are functioning quite nicely – no damage. The oils said I did something stupid, there was temporary irritation – I’m fine and won’t do that again.

There are contraindications and what can be called safety concerns when using essential oils – and possible irritation.

Use caution and awareness with essential oils – not fear.


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