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  • nikole sariotis

Essential Oil Safety


I remember hearing the delivery truck pull up in front of the house.

Waiting in anticipation, I wondered if it were for me.


Then, the doorbell rang.

It was here!


I opened the door, picked up the surprisingly weighted box, pulled it in inside and immediately began to unpack the contents.

I was full of excitement. Finally, a resource of my very own. One which would offer me vast insight into a world I had become so curious. The shiny, bold, black and yellow cover distinctly reminded me of my alma mater. Fittingly enough, because as I cracked it open I quickly realized school was back in session.

I thumbed through the 780 pages. This Second Edition of Essential Oil Safety was certainly one heck of a publication. I found it to be nothing short of a comprehensive. It was clearly a labor of love, one which had been set in motion by Robert Tisserand long before I was born.

He first published in 1985 with The Essential Oil Safety Data Manual, largely compiling reports from the Research Institute for Fragrance Materials (RIFM).


Then, ten years later he delivered the First Edition to fill the gaps being created by the uptick of the decade's popular interest in aromatherapy.


As described in his First Edition preface, "publications in that time did not seem to be concerned specifically with essential oil toxicity nor did they offer much detail on the matter beyond generalized possible adverse effects (Tisserand & Young, 2012)." It is clear he sought to offer information that thoroughly outlined the hazards of essential oils so that aromatherapy could advance in its practice and essential oil product development could flourish with the minimization of risk.

Tisserand continues to call attention to some things that so many of us generally question. Growing topics like governing bodies, package labeling, and fact over fiction. All of these spark conversation in the circles of moms I know.


I personally like his approach because it allows me to have a full vantage point of my resources and gives me the confidence necessary to use my essential oils safely with my family. He does this by presenting all the facts. And, I like facts.


I also trust my own ability to reason and understand information beyond what is presented to me. However, I am not a doctor, which is why in some cases I've consulted my health care professionals over specific uses.

One thing I've come to learn during my study of the production of essential oils, is there are vast differences among regulations in aromatherapy, as well as the varying guidelines among the fragrance and flavor industries. This leaves a lot of grey area.


Although there is one significant point I like that Tisserand makes and it's that "understanding safety is not primarily about knowing legal or institutional guidelines, but about understanding the biological activity of essential oils and their constituents (Tisserand & Young 2012)."


This Essential Oil Safety resource is Tisserand's latest compilation of information. It has been refined and also expanded to hone in on the chemistry and pharmacology of essential oils as well. Opening the doors of science.


Thus it brings to life a Rolodex of 400 essential oil profiles. It is clearly extensive, and obviously not a read for everybody. Although, I do believe it is a true gift to all of us. Especially a gift those of us who know there is a better way for us than traditional paths carved by our loved ones.

It is not that essential oils are a new or even a fad. It is evident they've come into popularity, but "for centuries aromatic plants and the infusions created with them have been employed for their benefits in both medicines and cosmetics. In fact, the actual use of distilled oils dates back specifically to the 10th century when distillation, as we know it today, was developed (Forbes, 1970)."