Essential Oils Internal Use: Is It Safe?

Posted on March 12, 2012 | In Educational
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Written by Becki Andrus

Taking essential oils internally can be a good way to use the oils in certain situations, but it is important to be cautious before you start swallowing the oils down. My goal with this blog post is to help you understand more about why oils should/shouldn’t be used internally, and how to identify oils that are safe for internal use.

Most Essential Oils are NOT Safe for Internal Use

There is a big difference in quality among essential oils brands, and the majority of the essential oils brands suggest that their oils should not be used internally. In fact, it is best to assume that an essential oil should not be used internally, unless the product has been specifically labeled as safe for internal use.

This caution against internal use is typically because of the potential toxicity that could occur from swallowing the oils. When essential oils are extracted, the processing steps are extremely sensitive to many factors including: the type of plant that is used, temperatures, storage equipment, etc. These variations in the production methods can actually alter the makeup of the oil, affecting the chemical constituents that are found in the finished product. And if those constituent levels are altered in certain ways, it could result in an essential oil that could potentially be toxic when swallowed.

Another concern with low-quality oils is the fact that they may be “adulterated,” meaning there are other compounds present in the oil that are not from the original plant source. Some examples of adulterated oils are products that have added fillers, or plant sources that were sprayed with pesticides. Remember that the essential oil extraction concentrates the compounds… so if pesticides were used on the original plant, then it means that those pesticides may in fact be concentrated within the essential oil bottle.

For more information about essential oil quality, read this blog post that I wrote about quality essential oils.

So, Which Brands CAN Be Used Internally?

Sometimes I receive questions such as: “Can I use ____________ essential oil internally?” And my answer is the same whenever I get this question: look for the guidelines that are provided by the brand of essential oils that you are using.

It is always best to follow the guidelines provided by the manufacturing company, and each of the brands will provide guidelines on the best use of their oils. You may even consider contacting the company directly to ask about whether or not you can use a specific essential oil internally.

I realize this is a vague answer, and some people would like to see me post a list of specific brands that can/cannot be used internally. But, there are sooooo many brands of therapeutic grade essential oils out there, and they have differing usage recommendations… making it a huge project to compile all of that information.

Instead of spending so much time trying to compile the information, I have personally chosen to simply use the highest quality of essential oils that I can find. Additionally, I stick to the guidelines that are provided by the manufacturer on both external and internal usage of essential oils.

Can All High Quality Oils Be Used Internally?

Even if you are using high quality essential oils, you shouldn’t automatically assume that every oil can be used internally. There are some essential oils that have been approved by the FDA as “Generally Recognized As Safe for human consumption” (GRAS), including many of the citrus essential oils. There are also other oils that should never be used internally, such as wintergreen.

So, again it is best to refer to the guidelines that are provided by the company and/or a trusted reference book when looking at each individual oil. My favorite reference book for looking up this information is the Modern Essentials book sold by aromatools.com, because it specifically states which essential oil to use and how many drops of oil to use at a time.

Essential Oils Internal Use Options

Once you have determined that it is appropriate to use a specific essential oil internally, there are a few ways the oil can be swallowed:

  • A drop of oil can be put directly into your mouth, I suggest doing this in front of a mirror so that you can avoid dropping in too much at once.
  • The essential oil can be added to a beverage. A good standard is 1 drop of essential oil in 4 oz of water, tea, or any other beverage.
  • Essential oils can also be added to a empty capsule and swallowed down.
  • The taste of the oil can be masked by adding a drop of essential oil to a small amount of honey and swallowing the combo together.

My preference is to put the essential oils into a capsule, mainly because the taste of the oils is not always pleasant. Also, it helps me to be more precise about how much I am swallowing, because I don’t have to worry about the essential oils clinging to the side of the glass… or over-doing it by accidentally dropping too much into my mouth at once.

Remember that essential oils are very concentrated, and MORE is not necessarily BETTER. In fact, it is better to err on the side of using smaller amounts of essential oils at a time, and increase the frequency of use (instead of increasing the amount used each time). Also, it is not necessary to use essential oils internally in order to get the benefits– applying essential oils on the skin is a great way for the body to absorb the oils.

If you have any questions about essential oils, please comment here on this blog post or contact me and I will get back to you as soon as possible!

With love,

Becki :)

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