Can You Ingest Essential Oils? Which are Safe?  Which are Not?

Can You Ingest Essential Oils? Which are Safe?  Which are Not?

If you are wondering whether or not you can ingest essential oils, there are some that are safe and some that are not.

There has been some controversy over the internal use of essential oils in recent years. In most cases, the concern comes from people who haven’t thoroughly researched the issue or who have been misinformed by someone else. 



When it is Safe to Ingest Essential Oils:

The National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy strikes a middle ground by recognizing that some essential oils are safe for ingestion as long as users follow their essential oil safety guidelines:

  • Only use pure essential oils that are “authentic and genuine.” Quality counts when you’re inhaling an oil, but it becomes critical for topical and internal use.

  • Only those trained in the internal use of essential oils should prepare oil treatments for ingestion. You can receive this education directly through NAHA and many online aromatherapist certification courses.

Adding to those guidelines, always look for essential oils that are therapeutic or food grade. If you come across food-grade oils, you know that they are made for use in the kitchen and are safe for cooking. Most essential oils don’t carry this label because they are volatile. They will lose their beneficial components and tend to become rancid when exposed to heat or light.

Therapeutic-grade oils are quite easy to find today, but keep in mind that this isn’t a government-issued label. There is no certification or quality inspection that companies must pass before they can use this label for their essential oil products. All manufacturers can call their oils therapeutic if they choose. If you see products labeled as essential oil supplements, the use of the word “supplement” hints that the product may have more oversight by the FDA than other essential oils.

Which Essential Oils are Safe for Ingestion?

If you plan to ingest essential oils, this is a tricky question to answer.  This is because essential oils aren’t monitored by the government and most have not undergone scientific testing to ensure that they are safe for internal use. Even if you find essential oils that are labeled for internal use, it’s a good idea to experiment with a small amount of diluted oil before you consume a larger dose.

The FDA does maintain a list of some essential oils that are generally deemed safe for their “intended use.” This would limit the listed oils to products labeled for internal use, but many are still safe for ingestion when taken in a safe manner and in the right dosage. That is why receiving training in the use of essential oils is helpful.

To give you an idea of some commonly used essential oils that may be safe for ingestion, take a look at these 10 oils that are on that FDA list:

  • Bitter Almond (when free from prussic acid)
  • Lemon Balm
  • Basil
  • Bergamot
  • Chamomile (when taken from the flowers)
  • Wild Cherry Bark
  • Cinnamon (when taken from the leaf or bark)
  • Clary Sage
  • Sweet Fennel
  • Grapefruit

Keep in mind that while these essential oils may be considered safe for ingestion when used properly, they may need to be diluted first. If you have a bad reaction to an oil on your external skin, there’s a good chance that your internal cells will react in much the same way if not worse. Honey is often used to dilute oils for safer consumption. 

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