A common question I’m often asked is…how safe is it to ingest essential oils? While it is well known that there are plenty of ways to enjoy the benefits of essential oils – diffusion, direct inhalation, topical application – when it comes to taking them orally, there is a lot of confusion.
It is important to recognize that essential oils are a natural treatment for a number of conditions and for everyday general wellbeing. However, they are extremely powerful, highly concentrated plant products that should be used safely with proper education.
Take the time to understand the right way to use them, particularly when it comes to ingestion, and if you have any questions, seek professional advice.
There is a great deal of advice around about whether internal use of essential oils is safe. Below are the important things you need to know in considering whether to use them internally.
Why Would You Ingest Essential Oils?
We know that essential oils are highly effective in positively altering moods, alleviating physical conditions like skin problems and congestion from colds. And that’s all through diffusion methods, direct inhalation or topical application.
So why would you even want to ingest essential oils in the first place?
Some studies support the effective oral use of essential oils to treat certain conditions e.g. irritable bowel syndrome, indigestion.
Others swear by ingestion for ongoing health maintenance and a general feeling of positivity and wellbeing. The idea is that a more direct use of the oils increases results and can enhance the benefits achieved through other methods.
What oils can I use?
Not all essential oils are safe to ingest and in fact, some could be extremely dangerous if taken. So again, it is important to do your homework and consult a professional before taking essential oils.
Here is a list of those that have been ‘Generally Recognized as Safe’ (GRAS) by the FDA. This list is updated from time to time so always check. But remember, these are oils that have been graded as safe to use in food, not necessarily taken on their own.
The quality of any oil to be ingested is important. They should be 100% pure, preferably organic, with no fillers or additives and come from a reputable, well know supplier.
Some examples of essential oils for internal use are:
Peppermint oil has for a long time been a favourite as a calming and soothing scent but can also be used to effectively treat nausea and indigestion, and to help sufferers of irritable bowel syndrome.
The vitamin content of lemon essential oil is helpful when treating colds or just for general immune system strengthening. Ingesting essential oils stimulates your white blood cells which increases your ability to fight off disease and can also improve your circulation.
Ingesting grapefruit oil has powerful disinfecting effects which can treat colon, stomach and kidney infections. For those recovering from illness or struggling with weight gain, grapefruit oil can help stimulate the appetite.
How do I ingest essential oils?
Wondering how to ingest essential oils safely? Essential oils are very powerful in very small amounts—the less is more rule definitely applies when it comes to any way of enjoying essential oils, but especially when it comes to ingestion.
A few drops to a large glass of water is one technique used for taking essential oils. However, essential oils don’t dissolve in water and will float on the surface. As a result, they can aggravate the stomach when taken this way.
Another way of ingesting essential oils is by putting them into a capsule.
Are essential oils safe for children to ingest?
Short answer? No. Never give essential oils to children or babies as their bodies and immune systems are undeveloped and they will not benefit from the effects of treatments in the same way that you will. Diffusing essential oils into the air with an ultrasonic humidifier is a safe way of alleviating your children’s colds and helping them get a restful night’s sleep.
Is it safe when I’m pregnant?
It’s really important to know that there many types that you can’t use during this time. While they might be safe for you, by ingesting them your growing baby will receive them too. Like with anything you eat or drink during this more vulnerable part of your life, check with your doctor to make sure they’re safe for you and for baby.
Ultimately when it comes to ingestion or any of the other ways of using essential oils, it is really important that you exercise caution and common sense. The reason essential oils are so effective is because in their purest form they are extremely strong. If you’re new to essential oils, make sure you read up on the type you intend to use, or consult a professional.
Some essential oils can be safely ingested but before you do, be confident that you are using a tried and tested, high quality product.
Also make sure that it will not conflict with any conditions you have—such as gallbladder disease or heartburn—or with any medications you are currently taking. Remember to tell your doctor if you begin ingesting essential oils so they don’t prescribe anything that might conflict with it.
Ultimately, when answering the question ‘can you ingest essential oils?’ the best and safest way to ingest essential oils is under the direction and supervision of a qualified and certified herbalist, doctor or aromatherapist.