Ingesting Essential Oils – A Common Sense Perspective

One of the most often talked about topics in aromatherapy is ingestion. I must say that I’ve used essential oils internally since the very beggining and I never had any problem, neither myself or any person I know.  Since I started my own study and investigation about essential oils and aromatherapy, I found so many different and controversial opinions about this topic, that I irredimably came to the conclussion that it’s all about Common Sense.

Therefore, I have the professional obligation to talk about the safety of essential oil ingestion and some of the reasons why safety in aromatherapy is just as important as safety when working with any chemical, natural or synthetic.  You can check my safety advise here.

 

In the essential oil world, you will find people who will venomously scream (seriously– scream) that you will die if you ingest one drop of essential oil. Another group of people will proclaim that if you ingest 50 drops of essential oils each morning it will help cure your scurvy or whatever disease they are pretending to be knowledgeable doctors about.

So what’s up with the major difference of opinions?

In my investigation I noticed something about these extremists on ingestion of essential oils. They each had an expert who supported their claims so I decided to look into these two professionals who have caused such a divide in the essential oil community.

Different Models of Aromatherapy

I found two major essential oil figures responsable for the different opinions regarding essential oils: Robert Tisserand vs Kurt Schnaubelt.

Traditionally, these two men have been divided into two camps. Tisserand into the English Model of Aromatherapy and Schnaubelt into the French Model of Aromatherapy. Each of these camps were not created by these men (some even dispute that they exist), but rather they have beliefs that can fall into these methodologies.

The English method of aromatherapy is a more conservative method. It mainly uses essential oils for aromatherapy purposes and some highly diluted topical applications. It does not believe ingestion is safe unless supervised by a doctor.

The French method of Aromatherapy believes periodic ingestion of essential oils is as safe as diffusing and topical applications if you are using high-quality essential oils and you are educated about how to use essential oils safely.

So, educate yourself! Read books by these two great men and see what makes sense to you. Perhaps you’ll find they aren’t so different as many people make them out to be.

I believe that neither are wrong if you are educated– but your own personal knowledge about the subjects are important for you to determine what is right for you and to wade through all the BS online.

Recommended Reading:

  1. The Healing Intelligence of Essential Oils: The Science of Advanced Aromatherapy by Kurt Schnaubelt (Find it here)
  2. Essential Oil Safety: A Guide for Health Care Professionals by Robert Tisserand (find it here)
I’m going to tell you to not trust everything you read online. Educate yourself– some of us bloggers are out for money, views, or controversy rather than to promote what’s best for you. Others of us are misled or have views which may not be correct. I am sure that I have made mistakes, too, so please– do your own research! 

Quality of Essential Oil

Both Schnaubelt and Tisserand have said that the quality of essential oils are important, but yet it’s very difficult to know that you are using quality essential oils.

Regulations are very poor in Europe for essential oils. You could make a bottle of fragrance and put a label on it that says that it’s organic, pure and comes from the butts of unicorns if you wanted to. 

If you are concerned about finding a reputable company, then I recommend calling different essential oil companies to see if they will answer your questions such as…

  1. Do they grow their own products or if they purchase it from suppliers?
  2. If they purchase it, how can they guarantee that it’s organic? If they grow it, how do they manage pest control?
  3. Do they distil their own products? 
  4. What is in place to let you know, as the consumer, that these products are safe and pure? 
  5. Can you visit the farm or distillery? 
  6. Do they have essential oils that are safe for ingestion?

But if that doesn’t interest you– there is an easy way for the average person to determine if something is of low-quality and I think you already know how to do this!

I don’t know about you, but I know buying organic produce and fresh flowers are expensive. It takes 75 lemons to make one 15 ml bottle of essential oil. How much does it cost you to buy even 50 lemons? If the answer is £4 then you may be okay buying cheap essential oils.

And then there is the factor of how much “juice” something gives out. Beans, for example, tend to give less oils than leaves, flowers or an entire plant. That’s why you rarely see a vanilla bean essential oil– it’s simply too expensive to make for anyone to actually want to buy it.

That’s also why Rose, Frankincense, and Sandalwood are typically so costly– the bulk of product required to make a bottle is substantial. If you find a 15 ml bottle of Frankincense for under £30– beware of that company. And that’s the cheapest one of the three!

So the next time you are at your local health food store and you look at their essential oils and you see a bottle of Vanilla Essential Oils for £7, Rose Essential Oil for £10, Frankincense for £8, and Sandalwood £12. Just think about what that means.

This is why, I believe, the English method has gotten so popular. You can’t trust most essential oil companies to be safe while regulations are so poor.

“Pure essential oils are expensive. Often one thousand pounds of plant are needed to produce one pound of essence…if every oil in a line carries the same price tag, this is a sure sign of large-scale homogenization and adulteration for the production of sheer fragrance oils as opposed to essential oils.” ~Dr. Kurt Schnaubelt, Director of the Pacific Institute of Aromatherapy

If you are interested in what brand I use, you can find more information here: Find Quality Essential Oils.

Quantity Ingested

I have found some crazy comments in Facebook, the most scary one about a lady who ingests 50-75 drops of essential oils daily for health reasons. Let’s be honest: She’s putting stress on her liver.

Consider how concentrated essential oils are! You need one pound of peppermint to make a 15 ml bottle of Peppermint Essential Oil. So how much peppermint is in each drop? Let’s do some math

1 x 15ml Peppermint takes 1 pound of peppermint plant material.
There are 300 drops in a 15 ml bottle so 1 drop of peppermint oil = to 0.05 oz or 1.5 gm of peppermint plant.
1 drop of peppermint oil is = to 28 cups of peppermint tea!

So the lady taking 10 drops of peppermint in her daily pill– does she really need 280 cups of peppermint tea every single day? Even Kurt Schnaubelt says that “generally 1 drop is enough when ingesting essential oils”.  Less is more, folks!

But what about the many examples where people have gone into the hospital and become very sick or even died from ingesting essential oil? What we do NOT know is the quality of essential oil consumed, but we do know the quantity in many of these cases. Often, they are extremely large amounts consumed at one time.

For instance, both Eucalyptus and Pennyroyal essential oils, for example, have been fatal in 1-oz doses.

But let’s put that in perspective. An ounce is about 600 drops of essential oil. Can you imagine drinking 600 drops of essential oil?! That’s two 15-ml bottles of essential oils in one sitting. Not me. Nooooo, thank you.

My Conclussion About Ingesting Essential Oils.

Both sides can be right sometimes.

I do not think that those who follow Tisserand are wrong in being worried about consuming essential oil. Everyone is rightly concerned about the poor quality of many modern essential oils. But even Tisserand said that essential oil ingestion can be safe for certain situations under the supervision of a doctor.

On Tisserand’s facebook page, he says:

“Let the record state – I am not against essential oil ingestion. But putting them on or under your tongue, or taking them in water, is high risk and… they more herbal medicines than daily food supplements.”

Kurt Schnaubelt also agrees with Tisserand about the importance of moderation, education,  and finding quality essential oils when ingesting these natural products. Although he differs in his belief from Tisserand about doctors. He believes ingestion can be safe for the new user if they are responsible about usage and use high-quality essential oils.

As I did my research, I found that these men had more in common than not. Their followers often missed the mark by overzealously following an extreme method and frightening new users rather than educating them. And that’s not what we should want to do! Our goal should be to help people find a better way– not stop them because we are being overzealous. Let’s lead them to education instead so they can be successful with their goals.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How Do I Decide To Take Essential Oils Internally?
A: I don’t take them internally for no reason, but I’m not scared of using them internally either. If I feel that I would benefit from the ingesting essential oils– then I take them without hesitation.

Q: Do I Take Essential Oils Internally Daily To Maintain Health and Wellness?
A: No. Just as with herbs– I take them internally when I need them or for a particular function. However, I drink NingXia Red, use aromatherapy (aka diffuse), and use essential oils topically daily to help maintain my health and happiness.

Q: What Brand Do I Use and Why?
A: I use Young Living Essential Oils  because they are the only brand who has the Seed to Seal Quality Commitment. In fact, I felt in love with these oils so much that now I work with them. You can find out more about them here: Find Quality Essential Oil.

Q: Do I Cook With Essential Oils?
A: If I’m missing a herb or flavor that I need for a recipe– I will add a couple of drops into the batter, sauce or soup.

Q: Do I Flavor Water With Essential Oils?
A: I personally do not use essential oils for flavor- I use them for function. For instance, if I want to maintain my immune system, I will add a drop of lemon to my morning water or fennel to my afternoon tea. But I don’t do this daily. 

Q: What Ways Do I Ingest Essential Oils When I Feel I Need Them?
A: I add a drop of essential oil to water, tea, a spoonful of honey or even with a something like a Hot Toddy. The French method prefers to make a pill which consists of carrier oil (coconut oil, olive oil) and essential oils to take with food. You can watch this video for more information.

Q: Can A Child Have Essential Oils Internally? 
A: A lot of things are based on weight when it comes to children. My daughters are aged 10 and 12, and weight almost like me. Therefore, I avoid the ingestion (which I would use instead of antibiotics) and rather enjoy the benefits from the topic use. There is nothing like creating a moment of intimacy to give my daughters a gentle massage  with all my love and healing intentions — I recommend to seek the advice of a holistic health care provider before giving any esencial oils internally to a child.

Reference
Schnaubelt, Kurt, Ph.D. The Healing Intelligence of Essential Oils, Healing Arts Press, 2011
Stewart, David PhD., D.V.M., The Chemistry of Essential Oils
Tisserand, Robert, Challenges Facing Essential Oil Therapy: Proof of Safety
Essential Oil Desk Reference, Essential Science Publishing, Fourth Edition 2009

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