There is much controversy on the subject of taking essential oils internally so we wanted to address it with facts, not just speculation or fear tactics.
As stated by Aromatic Science dot com, “Internal use is perhaps the most potent method for using essential oils; however, our bodies are also well-equipped and actually accustomed to metabolizing them. Did you know that essential oils are already a well-integrated part of your diet? Many plants that we consume on a regular basis produce small amounts of essential oil. To food, essential oil contributes many health benefits as well as flavoring and aroma properties. when in their concentrated form, essential oils can be used as dietary supplements for more targeted and potent health benefits.”
Following are the ten things you should take into consideration about taking essential oils internally and doing so in a safe manner.
Use oils in cooking or with food
This is one of the most easy and common ways to add essential oils into your diet. They are great to add flavor, just as you would an herb or spice. Be careful though, as essential oils have a much higher concentration than the herbs we buy and add from the store. A little bit goes a very long way. Sometimes even a drop is too much, so it would be better to use a toothpick to carefully add a tiny bit. Homemade ice cream
with a dab of essential oil is one of our families favorites.
Use as an antioxidant
Our bodies come in contact with all sorts of toxins each day. It can be a lot for our bodies to fight off. By adding a few drops of an oil known for its antioxidant effects can go a long way in helping our bodies battle unwanted damage.
Recently, within the past few years, a study was done using lab rats and the effects of a well known pesticide. The rats were divided into four groups. The first group was given just plain olive oil every day for 28 days. The second group were given the pesticide in olive oil and the third group was given the pesticide and marjoram EO in olive oil for the same 28 days. The final group was given just marjoram. They found that the group of rats who had the pesticide given to them exhibited decreased body weight, increased liver enzymes and increased liver weights--all signs of liver damage. However, the group who were given the essential oil with the pesticide had very minor changes to anything. This study suggests that marjoram essential oil helped the body protect itself against the harmful, toxic effects of the pesticide. You can read the full abstract of the study here
Here are a few other essential oils, also known for their antioxidant effect. This is not a complete list, just a few suggestions:
Use as an anxiolytic agent
- Wild Orange
Anxiolytic means something to treat anxiety. This is often used in reference to medication and drugs used for that. But just a couple drops of an Essential Oil (EO) internally on a daily basis, can have a similar effect.
Lavender has a long record of being used for this purpose. Up until recently scientific evidence has been limited to studies that only tested its use topically or aromatically. A recent study was done where they used a suspenseful film clip to create anxiety in the study participants. They then gave them either 2 drops or just over 3 drops or a placebo in a capsule. The lavender oil relieved the mild anxiety and decreased the participants recovery time. Notice that it only took a small amount to help. You can view the complete abstract here
Other EO’s known for their anxiolytic effects:
Use for assisting colicky infants
There is still so much we don’t understand about colic in infants. It is just known as long bouts of crying for no known reason by infants. It can have difficult side effects to deal with, such as failure to feed, postpartum depression in the mother, fatigue, irritability, additional doctor visits and in extreme cases, child abuse. Medical therapies can have side effects and only help symptoms. No effective cure has yet been found.
A recent study was done to examine the effect of fennel essential oil on infantile colic. It was given (less than 1 drop) once a day. The treatment group eliminated colic in 65% of the study participants which was much better than the placebo group at 24%. You can view the full abstract here
EO recognized as safe by FDA
--many essential oils are found on the FDA’s GRAS list (which means Generally Recognized as Safe). Every substance found on this list has a well-documented history of safe use. Ingesting essential oils as a health application and eating them in food are two separate things. However, this list at least gives us general safety guidelines to use for internal use.
EO’s Found on the GRAS list:
High Quality Source
- Black Pepper
- Clary Sage
- Juniper Berry
- Roman Chamomile
- Wild Orange
- Ylang Ylang
-If you are going to take an essential oil internally, you want to be sure it is only the highest quality of essential oil. Dr. Martin Watts, a recognized expert in the field of Aromatherapy and essential oils had concerns about taking essential oils internally. One of those reasons was “...the possibility of pesticide residue and other substances in non-pure oils.” This is very key and one of the reasons that the company you purchase from should do such a thorough job with their testing of each and every bottle of essential oils.
Know Correct Dose
-This is very important. Just because essential oils have so many amazing and therapeutic and safe elements to them, don’t get carried away.
Dr. Watts pointed out “...Toxicity is dose dependent. It is misleading in the extreme to say that because an essential oil contains a known toxic chemical that by default the oil it occurs in is also dangerous. You must know how much is in the oil and how much does it take to cause toxicity. If we always considered such matters we would die from starvation because nearly all natural foods contain chemicals which in isolation are toxic.”
Every essential oil, just like any other thing we might consume, has a toxic dose. Even water becomes toxic if you drink too much at one time. Just because something has a toxic dose does not mean it is toxic at a lower dose. In the case of essential oils (and water and vitamins and many other things) an appropriate amount is very beneficial.
Be aware of how much you are using. Remember that a tiny bit goes a long way. If you are ever unsure, every bottle of oil and every product produced and sold should have safe, printed guidelines on their products. Follow these and you won’t need to worry about taking too much.
Watch for sensitivity
-essential oil sensitivities are not true allergic reactions (essential oils don't contain allergens) so if you find that using them one way creates a sensitive outcome, you can try using it another way. It isn’t uncommon for someone to be a little more sensitive to a certain oil or a certain application method. Use with caution as you figure out how your body best responds.
Carrier Oils and Dilution
-Not every oil needs a carrier oil. Sometimes it can be used “neat” as the term is used. However, especially when you start out and as you are figuring out how your body best reacts to essential oils, dilute or use a carrier oil. Carrier oils play a huge role in helping essential oils to work most effectively. They do more than just dilute hot oils. Essential oils themselves evaporate quickly once they make contact with air. Mixing them with a carrier oil helps to keep this process from happening. That means you are getting more essential oils into your body when you use a carrier oil than when you don’t. Also, as the name implicates, the carrier oil helps carry the essential oil into the body.
Not meant to treat or diagnose
-As wonderful and positive and effective as essential oils are, they are not a cure all or magical answer. They are simply a powerful tool to helping your body work the best that it can. Using essential oils, reading others’ experiences, even receiving ideas about how to use and what to use them for should not replace your medical doctor’s advice or good common sense. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. Trust your instincts. Many have had amazing experiences with their bodies healing and overcoming different ailments through the added use of essential oils. Often these go hand in hand with good nutrition, exercise and avoidance of toxic items. Creating a lifestyle of wellness and health takes time, patience and information. Use it to help you make the most informed decision for you.
Remember that internal use of essential oils can be safe and effective. Use good judgment, your own experiments and safe practices to allow them to bless your life.
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