Is it safe to breathe essential oils?

The answer is yes, it's safe, but even more than that, inhaling essential oils may be good for you. Inhaling essential oils is not only pleasant because of their magnificent aromas and scents that they release, but it can also positively affect your mental and physical well-being. As a general rule, if all you can smell is essential oil, your area is not well ventilated. In such cases, you risk irritating the respiratory system.

Inhaling essential oils that diffuse is safe for most people. However, some people may react to vapors and have an asthma attack. Inhaling essential oils can cause a serious lung infection known as pneumonitis in some people. As a general rule, it's a good idea not to add more than five to six drops of essential oil to the diffuser at a time.

Some essential oils, which are absorbed into the body through aromatherapy, can cause an adverse reaction when used with other medications or supplements. You may accidentally drop a diffuser in the bathtub with you or if it comes into contact with water it could cause a safety problem. Irritation is characterized by fast-onset redness and pain on skin exposed to essential oil. There is some preliminary research, largely funded by companies selling herbal infused pet products, that suggests that essential oils may have some health benefits for pets.

Safety guidelines recommend waiting a full 24 hours after using photosensitizing oils before going to a tanning salon or spending time in direct sunlight. If you are interested in using essential oils during pregnancy, talk to your healthcare provider and midwife before using them. Romy Block, a certified endocrinologist and co-founder of Vous Vitamin, says essential oils can act as endocrine disruptors, meaning they interfere with the natural production of hormones. To ensure safety, place all essential oils in a lockable case and store them in a cupboard out of reach.

According to Melanie Carver, vice president of community health services at the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, the evidence that essential oils could help asthma simply doesn't exist. If you're interested in trying complementary therapies, you can opt for something like meditation and conscious breathing techniques, Carver suggests. Essential oils have a shelf life, but there are plenty of ways to ensure they stay potent and fresh. Food and Drug Administration's Generally Recognized Safe (GRAS) list for oils that can be used in minimum quantities for cooking.

As mentioned above, it is important to note that most essential oils cannot be applied directly to the skin (without diluting them). Pregnant women and people who have hormone-related medical conditions, such as diabetes, should talk to their doctors before using essential oils topically or with a diffuser. Topical use of essential oils may cause skin allergy symptoms, such as redness, hives, itching, and swelling of the skin.