If you’re taking medication and want to embrace essential oils, please understand that sometimes there are essential oils and medication contraindications. If you are taking medication and would like to incorporate essential oils into your lifestyle, please consult with a doctor and/or pharmacist well versed in essential oil use and do plenty of your own research as well.
********* Everything we are discussing in this post is not at all meant to be used for diagnosis, treatment, or cure of any ailment. This is designed as a reference for information only on how some essential oils *may* react with certain medications. That doesn’t mean they will or will not, which is why it is best to consult with a licensed medical professional who understands essential oils and medication… your pharmacist would be a great starting point. This list may not be fully complete. It is solely based on my own personal research on the topic, and based off the most commonly asked questions I personally have had asked.
”Essential oils are known to be active: they gain access to cells by virtue of being fat soluble and are metabolized by the body. As active agents they may react with other drugs present in the body, although there has been no evidence so far that would imply any significant adverse reaction, and essential oils have been used together with allopathic drugs successfully in hospitals.” Price continues: “Until laboratory investigations into possible reactions between essential oils and other drugs have been carried out, it is possible only to surmise what may happen.”
Excerpt from: Aromatherapy for Health Professionals, 4e by Shirley and Len Price
Anything that is applied to your skin or swallowed is metabolized by your body. How that substance reacts within your body determines the nutrition your cells receive. Ideally, this will enable your cells to thrive, but is important to understand some substances can react with others in unexpected and unintentional ways.
Everything we eat, drink, and rub on our skin has a possibility of reacting differently to each other within our bodies, which is precisely why it’s important to be aware of how medicine and essential oils can react with each other. Medication is primarily taken orally, and is processed through our digestive system, including our liver. This determines how quickly we metabolize the medication, and how often that medication should be taken.
When incorporating essential oils to the mix, it is difficult to predict how essential oils will interact with different medications primarily because there aren’t much of anything for studies that explain the how/what/where/when/why of the whole situation. While some oils may enhance medication effects, others could contraindicate them. Some essential oil constituents increase metabolism, which will mess with how quickly your medication is metabolized too. Some oils can slow down metabolism. Either way, altering the amount of time your body metabolizes can change your medication needs. This is why it is critically important to discuss contraindications with a pharmacist or medical doctor who understand and have experience with essential oils (not all doctors do).
Because we talk a lot about Young Living oils on this website, I’ve added a list of blends and supplements to avoid as well. If you’re using a different brand, please be careful of the blends you’re choosing to use to make sure they don’t contain an oil ingredient that could be harmful.
Because grapefruit essential oil and medication concerns are the most frequently asked questions I receive, I thought I’d give it its own little section here. It is well known across the medical community, that the fruit/juice of grapefruit blocks an enzyme found in your intestine’s wall that prevents many different medications from being absorbed. Because of this many people avoid grapefruit essential oil. Keep in mind that grapefruit essential oil is made from the grapefruit’s rind, not from the fruit. The rind is not known for blocking the enzyme in question.
Personally, I still recommend talking with a pharmacist and following your gut instinct. If you’re not comfortable using grapefruit essential oil, please don’t ever feel that you *have* to. There are other oils that can help in the same way as grapefruit that aren’t made with any part of a grapefruit. Please click the button above to see an informative 6-minute video that explains it in detail by a pharmacist with extensive research in essential oils.
A list of medication types with essential oils to avoid:
Anesthesia – Oils high in 1,8 cineole can interfere with anesthesia metabolism. Because of this, it is widely recommended to not use rosemary, eucalyptus, ravintsara, and bay laurel essential oils in any way prior to having anesthesia administered. Yes, this includes both aromatic and topical use. Rhiannon Harris (a clinical aromatherapist) recommends not using them at all within a week prior to surgery to make sure you prevent any unforeseen complications.
Young Living blends to avoid: Breathe Again, Clarity, En-R-Gee, ImmuPower, JuvaFlex, Melrose, Ortho Ease Massage Oil, Ortho Sport Massage Oil, Purification, Raven, RC, Thieves, and Transformation essential oil belnds. Young Living supplements to avoid: ComforTone, Essentialzymes-4, ICP, Inner Defense, and ParaFree supplements.
Anticoagulants/Beta Blockers (Asprin, Coumadin, Heparin, Warfarin…etc) – The constituent Eugenol, which is found in clove, thyme, and oregano, should not be taken internally. You should also avoid using birch and wintergreen oils topically and orally as well.
The same suggestions for people taking anticoagulants should apply to people who have clotting or bleeding issues or hemophilia, and people who are about to undergo or recently underwent: major surgery, childbirth, peptic ulcer… etc…
Young Living vitality blends and to avoid that contain clove, thyme, and oregano include: Longevity, and Thieves Vitality oil blends. Young Living blends containing wintergreen include: Deep Relief, Longevity, Melrose, Ortho Ease and Sport Massage Oils, PanAway, and Raven, oil blends. Young Living supplements to avoid: BLM, Essentialzymes-4, Inner Defense, K&B, Longevity Softgels, OmegaGize, ParaFree, and Rehemogen supplements and the Regenolone cream.
Antidepressants (SSRI/MAOI) – Everything I’ve read suggests to stay away from using clove and nutmeg both in topical and oral applications because of possible blood pressure changes, tremors, or possible confusion.
Oils containing the constituents Farensene and Alpha-Bisabolol, including German chamomile, blue tansy, and yarrow inhibit the metabolizing enzyme CYP2D6 that can enhance the effects of the antidepressants.
Young Living essential oil blends to avoid or use cautiously: Acceptance, Australian Blue, Awaken, Dragon Time, Dream Catcher, EndoFlex, Highest Potential, Mister, Oola Grow, Peace and Calming, Release, SARA, Surrender, and Valor oil blends. Some of Young Living’s skin care also contains German Chamomile, Yarrow: ART Day Activator, ART Night Reconstructor, Prenolone body cream. Supplements to use cautiously or avoid: ComforTone, OmegaGize,
Birth Control Contraceptives – There is limited research available on using essential oils and birth control, but the studies that do exist indicate having no effects on contraceptives. According to Robert Tisserand (an expert in aromatherapy), it is unlikely that aromatherapy has any unwanted effect on oral contraception or hormone replacement therapy, and notes that any research hinting contraindicating effects is nonexistent.
Diabetic Medication – The constituent Citral, which is found in Lemongrass and Lemon Myrtle should be avoided orally. Anise, Star Anise, Cassia, Cinnamon, Dill, Fennel, Geranium, Lemongrass, may Chang, Melissa, Myrtle, Lemon Myrtle, Oregano, Savory, and Tumeric essential oils all have the ability to influence blood sugar levels.
Young Living blends to avoid or use cautiously: Abundance, Acceptance, Awaken, Believe, Brain Power, Breathe Again, Clarity, Christmas Spirit, DiGize, Dragon Time, Dream Catcher, Egyptian Gold, En-R-Gee, Exodus II, EndoFlex, EndoGize, Envision, Forgiveness, Gathering, Gentle Baby, Gratitude, Harmony, Highest Potential, Hope, Humility, Inner Child, Inspiration, Joy, JuvaFlex, Live With Passion, Magnify Your Purpose, Mister, Oola Balance and Grow, Ortho Ease and Sport massage oils, Purification, Relaxation massage oil, Release, SARA, SclarEssence, Slique, Sensation, Thieves, Trauma Life, and White Angelica blends. Supplements to be careful with: Allerzyme, ComforTone, CortiStop, Detoxzyme, Digest & Cleanse, Essentialzyme-4, Estro, FemiGen, ICP, Inner Defense, JuvaPower, JuvaSpice, JuvaTone, K&B, Mineral Essence, Multigreens, ParaFree, Prostate Health, Super C, Super Cal, and Thyromin supplements. Skin care items to use cautiously: ART creme masque, renewal serum, foaming cleanser, and toner, Animal Scents ointment and shampoo, meadow mist deodorant, boswellia wrinkle cream, copaiba-vanilla shampoo and conditioner, Kidscents bath gel and lotion, lavender-rosewood soap, melaleuca-geranium soap, Prenalone body cream, Sensation lotion, and the wolfberry eye cream.
Calcium Channel Blockers (such as high blood pressure medicines… specifically felodipine) – Peppermint may enhance the effects of the medication, when taken orally.
Young Living Blends to avoid: peppermint vitality, DiGize Vitality, and Thieves VitalityYoung Living Supplements to avoid: Allerzyme, BLM, ComforTone, CortiStop, Digest & Cleanse, Essentialzymes-4, Mightyzyme, Mineral Essence, NinXia Nitro, Prostate Health, Slique gum, and Thyromin.
Diuretics – it is wise to avoid Anise because it has antidiuretic qualities to it.
Young Living blends to avoid or use cautiously: Awaken, DiGize, and Dream CatcherYoung Living Supplements to avoid or use cautiously: ComforTone, Detoxozyme, Digest & Cleanse, Essentialzymes-4, ICP, JuvaPower, JuvaSpice, and ParaFree.
Ephedrine (in many diet drugs) – it would be wise to avoid the constituent Eugenol, which is found in clove and nutmeg, because of possible cardiovascular changes.
Young Living Oil Blends to avoid: Abundance, Deep Relief, EndoFlex, En-R-Gee, ImmuPower, Longevity, Magnify Your Purpose, Melrose, PanAway, and Thieves blends.Young Living Supplements to avoid: BLM, Essentialzymes-4, Inner Defense, K&B, Longevity Softgels, Ningxia Nitro, OmegaGize, and ParaFree.
Sedatives (barbiturates, benzodiazepines, anesthetics…etc) – Essential oils high in 1,8 cineole, such as rosemary, eucalyptus, ravintsara, and bay laurel, should be avoided because they instigate faster metabolism rates for these medications. These oils may impact metabolism when applied topically or taken internally.
Young Living blends to avoid: Breathe Again, Clarity, En-R-Gee, ImmuPower, JuvaFlex, Melrose, Ortho Ease Massage Oil, Ortho Sport Massage Oil, Purification, Raven, RC, Thieves, and Transformation essential oil belnds.Young Living supplements to avoid: ComforTone, Essentialzymes-4, ICP, Inner Defense, and ParaFree supplements.
Thyroid medications – Everything I’ve read on essential oils and the thyroid suggests they make great pairs. I’d suggest heading over to YouTube and checking out Dr Haggerton’s thyroid video recording. The only thing I would suggest is avoiding ingesting oils that can trigger increasing metabolism. Definitely talk with your pharmacist or D.O. too, just in case.
Transdermal medications (skin patches) – There are no real oils to avoid, though I wouldn’t recommend placing citrus on or around where you plan to place a patch within the next day or so. You should avoid placing any essential oils or oil-infused products on or around the general area of where the patch is located because they *might* alter the dose you receive by speeding up or slowing down the delivery of the medication.
Harris, Rhiannon. “Drug-Essential Oil Interactions: Risks and Reassurances,” Presentation to Alliance of International Aromatherapists, (17 Dec. 2008), Denver, CO.
Price, Len; Price Shirley (2011-11-11), Aromatherapy for Health Professionals, Elsevier Health Sciences UK, pg 71
Stewart, David Ph.D., D.N.M, The Chemistry of Essential Oils Made Simple, Care publications, 2005, pages 395-396.
Tissarand, Robert; Young, Rodney, Essential Oil Safety: A Guide for Health Care Professionals, Elevier Health Sciences UK 2nd Edition 2014, pages 57-59.
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Feel free to comment below or contact us if something is missing that you have a question about. This is a growing list that I will gladly add to as questions arise.
Please DO NOT ask me specific questions about your specific health ailments or whether or not you can take an oil internally with your prescription. I am not a health professional (more specifically, I am not your health professional), and will only refer you to discuss your situation with your pharmacist. I am only a research analyst who is providing a free reference based on common questions I have researched for my members.
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