I see a lot of conflicting information on the internet about essential oils.
Are essential oils safe to ingest?
Well, Yes and No. Clear as mud? I’ll explain.
There are two major methods of using essential oils in the United States. They are known as the British Method and the French Method. (Want more in-depth info? Read the full article) The British Method is the most commonly practiced in the US, and its practitioners PASSIONATELY preach against ingesting essential oils or using them undiluted. And with good reason.
- There are some essential oils which, regardless of quality are not appropriate to use internally based on their plant origin. No matter what the quality of these oils, they should not be used internally. EVER. And if the label of a specific brand of essential oil says not to use it internally, then do not ever use that oil internally, even if other brands label that species as a dietary supplement.
- Not all essential oils are created equally. At present, there are no labeling laws to restrict the usage of terms such as wild-crafted, therapeutic grade, medical grade, 100% pure, etc. So seeing those terms is not an indication on its own that you are buying a safe or quality product.
- Improperly distilled oils, oils distilled with chemicals as part of the process, or oils with synthetic additives/unlisted oils can potentially have negative effects.
I can say with 100% conviction if you are at all unsure about the quality of the essential oil you are using, then please, err on the side of caution and do not put them on or in your body.
I have personally had a negative experience with an oil brand commonly available at health food stores. It occurred even when the oil was properly diluted. So, be picky when selecting oils to use with your family, and be even pickier when choosing essential oils to safely use, in moderation, internally.
The Flip Side
So how do I know whether ingesting essential oils is ok?
I read the labels.
For example, each bottle of essential oil should have directions for some of the methods that you could use with the oil. It is good to make sure that you are aware of what those directions say.
I consult reliable, method-specific, reference books.
I cannot stress how important it is to have a reference book you can trust to give solid guidance about the oils you are using. Please understand that I personally use the oils in the ways that I do because I have done research to find a brand that I trust to put quality and authenticity as its highest priority. I wouldn’t be ingesting essential oils if I weren’t confident in what I have.
Many other companies advertise that their oils are “therapeutic grade” or “medical grade” or some other official sounding label, but since labeling is un-regulated, those terms are not as truthful or helpful as HOW the oil was grown and distilled.
Where do I find good quality reference guides?
Here are a few of my favorite places to buy essential oil books. I’ve bought many different guides from them and love using them all the time!
I use common sense.
When a book recommends internal ingestion of 2 drops, I don’t take 20, and so on. If an oil does is not appropriate for ingestion, I don’t ingest it. And anytime I use an oil in any way I make sure to be observant and adjust as needed. Most of the time, for most uses (diffusing excepted) the recommended amount of essential oil is ONE to THREE drops.
More is not better.
What about social media?
Please don’t go on Pinterest or Facebook looking for advice about how much oil to take or which oil to choose for a particular concern. That is a recipe for trouble because anyone can post any quality of information on the internet, and there is really no way to vouch for the reliability of that information.
I have nothing against swapping oil successes with a friend, but asking for a friend to tell you what to take is a bad idea.
Her body is completely different than yours, and unless your friend has authored a comprehensive aromatherapy book, you’ll get much better advice from a quality reference. It actually takes less time to look it up than post on social media and wait for an answer.
I cannot stress enough to you that a reference book will be your best friend of objective information about how to best and most safely use essential oils internally.
So are essential oils safe to ingest?
They could be! You need to consider your source of oils, the needs you are looking to address, and the advice of your reference materials. Then you’ll know whether you can safely use essential oils internally.
Hopefully, that helps to explain the seeming conflict in information. I cannot stress this enough, to be comfortable with using essential oils, PLEASE do your research. Cut through the marketing hype and really dig into the background information.
Who’s the expert in you?
Ultimately, you’re the person who knows the most about your body. You are the only person who knows how you feel, who knows how your body reacts, and with some simple reading and observation, you will know whether using essential oils internally is the right choice for you.
Trust yourself and listen to the cues your body is giving you.
But what if I am still not ready?
Do you know what? If you don’t want to use essential oils internally, it is ok! There isn’t an essential oil merit badge for doing things you don’t feel comfortable doing. You can get wonderful results with just topical and aromatic uses, too! If ingesting essential oils isn’t your thing, then that is ok. It is just another helpful option for others who would like to.
After all, you are on this journey for your health, and you are the only person you need to impress!