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28 March 2022 / Laura Garvin Gomez

Can you ingest essential oils?

There’s a lot of debate about this method of applying essential oils.

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Woman putting dropper up to mouth.

There are many ways to use essential oils, but one in particular is often contested.

Essential oils can be used in massage, in diffusers, in cleaning, in crafting, and in a whole host of other ways. Some people even recommend taking essential oils internally.

Among a certain group of aromatherapy enthusiasts, essential oils can be added to recipes, drunk with water, or even placed under the tongue. However, this isn’t always safe to do and can sometimes be very harmful to our bodies. 

Read on to learn why we don’t generally recommend ingesting essential oils. 

Why do people take essential oils internally?

There are many reasons why you might be tempted to take essential oils internally. People sometimes take essential oils internally to help soothe the gut or calm digestive troubles such as IBS.

Some essential oils have antioxidant properties which people believe can be accessed by consuming essential oils, and they are also sometimes used to flavour food. This usually applies to more potent flavours such as peppermint or lemon.

To others, ingesting essential oils is simply regarded as the most direct way to receive the benefits of the botanical - but all of these theories can be misguided. 

 

Can you ingest essential oils?

Since essential oils are natural products, many people are under the impression that they couldn’t possibly be harmful to ingest.

In fact, in some cases, the question "can you eat essential oils" doesn't even cross the minds of those who have learned to swear by aromatherapy.

But the truth of the matter is, essential oils are never recommended for internal consumption.

Essential oils are highly potent and can have serious side effects when ingested, including potentially irritating our organs and permanently affecting our digestive lining.

Even in small doses, they can disagree with us in unpleasant ways and ultimately leave us worse off than we were to begin with. 

Those of us that frequently apply essential oils to our skin or hair know how dangerous they can be without proper dilution with a carrier oil first. Now imagine this same effect on your internal functions - yikes!

Certain essential oils like  and  have also been known to interact negatively with medications, leading to dangerous results that we may have otherwise been unaware of. 

It’s also important to keep in mind that essential oils are natural products that can vary in a number of ways from batch to batch - even when they are pure and of good quality.

This can cause them to vary in their effects, which can mean that when we ingest them their impact on our bodies can’t always be predicted.

    Dropper with Oil

    Are there essential oils you can ingest?

    While the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) lists certain oils that are "Generally Recognised As Safe", they don't actually regulate them, and ingesting them could still lead to far more problems that it would solve in spite of this claim. 

    If you really want to take essential oils internally then the best way to keep yourself safe is to stick to food grade oils. This means that you should be on the lookout for specific oils that are certified as safe to take internally.

    You should also always consult a medical professional before deciding to take oils internally. Even after you have taken these precautions, you should still always work with very small doses as essential oils are very strong.

    Regardless of how many times you may have taken food grade essential oils in the past, it is very easy to go over-board and cause harm, so be wary of how much you're ingesting over any given period of time.

    What are the alternatives to ingesting essential oils?

    There are plenty of ways to experience the benefits of essential oils without needing to ingest them.

    You can experience their gut-soothing, antioxidant benefits by combining them with a carrier oil and applying topically, or you can do what people have been doing for thousands of years and inhale the oils to feel their effects.

    If you’re looking for a potent lemon or peppermint flavour, try looking for cooking oils formulated specifically for use in food.

     

    There’s a great deal of misinformation out there about ingesting essential oils, but we’re of the opinion that it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

    Make sure you fully research every essential oil you use to understand its benefits and limitations, and always consult a professional if you are unsure.

    Shop our complete essential oil range here.

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