Essential Oils & Prescriptions
There are always concerns when you take prescription drugs. You never want to do anything that will counteract or interact with your medications.
It is possible for essential oils to interact with your prescriptions. Each essential oil page on our site has a "Cautions" section with info on how the oil might interact with prescriptions and which prescriptions in particular might be contraindicated completely.
We have seen people use both allopathic drugs and oils together without any adverse effects; but we do not have any personal experience in this area. In almost all cases the user has been able to slowly back off of the allopathic drugs they have been using. Selah Oils can only recommend that the decision to use both together lies solely with the discretion of the user and suggest that you consult your physician for expert guidance.
Because there is little research to solidify the idea of interactions, it is important to be cautious. Selah always recommends that you consult your physician regarding any use of essential oils while on prescription drugs.
According to Shirley & Len Price, "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." (2)
An essential oil has the ability to "reduce the drug's effectiveness, or it could enhance it. The degree of change depends on the amount of essential oil used, the percentage strength, and the method of use". (1) Some medications are only effected if you take the essential oil orally while others can be effected orally or topically.
A Few Specific Scenarios:
Some essential oils will interact with the creation of specific liver enzymes. Lemongrass, lemon myrtle, and lemon-scented tea tree are examples of oils that could potentially interact with key liver enzymes. These enzymes are vital for "clearance of lipid-soluble drugs by making them more water-soluble, so that they can be safely excreted via the kidneys". (1) This means that using specific oils could slow the process time that your body needs to rid itself of the prescription.
Overall ingestion of certain oils should be avoided altogether. Although many believe that any oil may be ingested, there is plenty of research that suggests otherwise. For example, German chamomile should never be ingested while on medications because negative interactions have occurred (3. p.46). German chamomile should also be used with caution topically. It could potentially interact with any of the following types of medication: analgesics, anti arrhythmic, antipsychotic, antidepressants (3. p.47).
There are always questions about whether it is safe to use grapefruit essential oil with certain medications. Grapefruit essential oil is cold-pressed from the rind. Any concerns with medication comes from the JUICE of the fruit. Grapefruit essential oil is "safe to use in aromatherapy for individuals who would need to avoid grapefruit juice" (3. p.63)
Medications and Interactions Chart:
The chart below has information about types of medication and the oils that could interact with them. This is chart is not extensive. Please see the "Catutions" section of each essential oil page for further info on any particular oil and how it might interact with prescriptions.
- Buckle, Jane PhD, RN. Clinical Aromatherapy: Essential Oils in Healthcare. 2015. Page 85.
- Price, Len; Price, Shirley. Aromatherapy for Health Professionals. Elsevier Health Sciences UK. 2011. Page 71.
- Purchon, Nerys and Lora Cantele. The Complete Aromatherapy and Essential Oils Handbook For Everyday Wellness. 2014. Pages 45-47, 51, 63, 76, 84, 92, 94, 111.
- Tisserand, Robert; Young, Rodney, Essential Oil Safety: A Guide for Health Care Professionals. Elsevier Health Sciences UK 2nd Edition. 2014. Page 57-59.
- Harris, Rhiannon. "Drug-Essential Oil Interactions: Risks and Reassurances," Presentation to Alliance of International Aromatherapists, (17 Dec. 2008), Denver, CO.