Essential Oils Blog

Can Essential Oils Be Ingested?

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Can essential oils be ingested? Yes? No? Sometimes? Maybe? Yep, that about sums it up. You are probably getting a different answer everywhere you look. You will find people who are adamant for ingesting essential oils and people who are equally as adamant that you should not ingest essential oils. Who is right? Who should you listen to? I am going to be discussing what an essential oil is and why there might be concern when ingesting essential oils. This will be basic “101” information on essential oils. There is so much more I could discuss but I want everyone to get a basic understanding first. I want to create a discussion where people can learn and hopefully get some answers. This is my own opinion, formed from my own research and education.

First, let’s be clear that there is a difference between the use of essential oils as food flavorings and their use for health purposes. Essential oils naturally occur in many food items such as nuts, fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices. So we all consume tiny amounts of essential oil in our food. Some are also added as flavorings in candy, ice cream, pickles, etc., but the essential oil in food constitutes much less than 1% and is equivalent to about one drop of essential oil per day. The essential oil is completely mixed and blended into the food. Taking essential oils in or as a dietary supplement (or a medicine) involves very much larger quantities, and therefore brings in safety issues that do not apply to normal food use. More on that later.

-What is an essential oil?-

An essential oil is a concentrated hydrophobic liquid, from a single botanical source consisting of volatile aroma compounds. These botanical sources are made up of genus and species (e.g. Eucalyptus globulus). This name tells us exactly which plant the oil comes from. Essential oils are composed of dozens of naturally-occurring chemical constituents. Each oil has a unique mix of constituents, although some constituents occur in many essential oils. Linalool, for example, is one of the major constituents of lavender oil and coriander oil, but it is a minor constituent of about 200 other essential oils.

Essential oils have one, two or occasionally three major constituents (about 20-90% of the oil), a few minor constituents (1-19%,) and many, many trace constituents (less than 1%). Sometimes minor or trace constituents still can have a significant effect on the body but most of the effects of an essential oil are attributed to its major constituents. These effects are now being revealed by published scientific research. Some plants of the same species can have major differences in constituents. These are called ‘chemotypes’ and are named after the largest constituent in the plant. Rosemary oil, for example, may be a pinene chemotype, a cineole chemotype, or a camphor chemotype. The majority of commercially available essential oils don’t have these variations however, most of the effects of an essential oil are attributed to its major constituents.

To fully understand the therapeutic action and any safety issues associated with a particular oil, you need to know the botanical name and (if applicable) the chemotype. If you do not know the botanical name of the essential oil or the chemotype, how can you know what is the safest way to use that oil? This is one of the reasons it is very important for Plant Therapy to list all of this information on our website. It is the first step to helping our customers become educated in the essential oils they are using.

-Safety issues-

We have established that an essential oil is made up of many different constituents, so let’s go on to discuss why essential oils might not be safe to ingest. Robert Tisserand’s Essential Oil Safety book states”

Contact with potentially harmful substances is unavoidable. They are found in food, water, air, cleaning products, medications and toiletries, and are encountered both in the workplace and in the home. Among the ‘poisons’ found in commonly consumed foods are cyanogenetic glycosides (cyanide precursors) in apple seeds and almonds, teratogenic alkaloids in green potatoes, allyl isothiocanate in cabbage and broccoli, and acetaldehyde, a carcinogen found in most fruits and many vegetables. The quantities of such toxic substances to which we are exposed, do not normally represent a hazard because they are efficiently handled by the body’s detoxification and other defense mechanisms.”
However, if you were to get these ‘poisons’ at a larger dose, they could become very toxic. The same is true with essential oils.

There are some constituents in essential oils that can be toxic, irritating and sensitizing if the essential oil is used in large enough doses. Just because an essential oil is 100% pure and natural, does not mean that it cannot harm you. Harm from an essential oil is not always due to impurities or adulterations; more often it’s simply about the constituents it contains. This is not about purity; it’s about safety. For example, a teaspoon of Eucalyptus oil or Wintergreen oil, even if 100% pure, can be fatal to a child. An essential oil being harmful is not always due to impurities and adulterations but the constituents themselves. I realize that most people do not take essential oils in these large doses, but it is important to know what you are dealing with if you do decide to take essential oils internally.

Another concern is the possible interaction between certain essential oils and certain medications (drug interactions). For example, there has been at least one case of interaction from the external use of Blue Chamomile oil and another from Peppermint oil. Essential Oil Safety [1] explains potential risks and why Blue Chamomile and Lemongrass oils might present the greatest risk of drug interaction. There are many known and studied interactions but there are also some that are less known and less studied. One of the known interactions is between essential oils containing methyl salicylate (Wintergreen & Sweet Birch) and blood-thinning medications. This combination can cause the blood to thin too much, leading to internal bleeding and bruising. This is one of the concerns I have when recommending the ingestion of essential oils. The reason for this post is not to go into all the possible likely drug interactions, but it is to make the consumer aware that these interactions do exist.

Then there are concerns with irritation when using essential oils. Tea Tree and Lavender are both well known and greatly used essential oils. There are more cases of adverse skin reactions from Tea Tree than Lavender. This may be because Tea Tree does not have a long shelf life, and when it oxidizes (undergoes chemical changes), it becomes more skin reactive. Cinnamon Bark, Clove, Ylang-Ylang and Lemongrass are examples of essential oils that present a moderate risk of adverse skin reaction, especially if used undiluted. Again, this is not about purity. It’s simply about safety and the natural constituents of the essential oils.

Most of the constituents that make up essential oils affect the body one way or another. How they affect the body is what published scientific research is starting to make known to us.  Some people believe that too much essential oil taken internally can have side effects on the liver. The liver has to process everything we put in or bodies, including essential oil constituents, so giving it extra work to do may cause problems. There is some debate about this, as we don’t know enough about how much of which essential oils may be safe or unsafe in terms of the liver but it is very important to keep in mind that essential oils do have an effect on the liver.

These risks generally increase when dealing with young children, elderly people and pregnant women. In fact, certain essential oils should be avoided altogether in pregnancy. There are various reasons for this, but the main one is to ensure that the development of the fetus is not adversely affected. And as I mentioned already, some essential oils should not be taken with specific medications.

This is why Plant Therapy’s official stance is to not ingest essential oils unless under the supervision of a medical doctor or an aromatherapy practitioner. It is not that we don’t recommend ingesting essential oils, it is just that there is so much information that needs to be taken into consideration before ingesting essential oils. There can be a time and place for oral use of essential oils but you need to make sure you are educated on the whole parts of essential oils. That is where Plant Therapy wants to help. We want to help our customers become educated in everything they need to know about essential oils so that they can make the best educated decision for themselves and their family.

-Essential oils and dietary supplement regulations-

Why is it that some companies recommend, and even encourage, the ingestion of essential oils? Recently it has come to my attention that some companies label the essential oils that can be taken internally as essential oil supplements. If you have a bottle with a supplemental fact label on it, see if that is how the essential oil is labeled. As I have studied more on supplements, and the role that the FDA has in this, the more I realize that essential oils and essential oil supplements are not always the same thing.

The FDA plays no part in the grading or safety uses of essential oils. “Therapeutic grade” is simply a made-up term in the essential oil industry. The FDA does have a list of herbs, including some essential oils, which are [2] “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) for use as food items as a very small percentage for flavor only and not nutrition; (i.e. food additives) but that is as far as it goes. This is a food grade standard for food flavoring and not a standard for taking essential oils internally for medicinal purposes. . [3] “The FEMA Expert Panel only evaluates substances for GRAS status that are used to formulate flavors to be added to foods. The Expert Panel does not evaluate food ingredients with functions other than flavoring nor does it evaluate flavorings for use in products other than food.”  For example, note these FDA statements concerning GRAS listed substances [2]:

-The quantity of a substance added to food does not exceed the amount reasonably required to accomplish its intended physical, nutritional, or other technical effect in food.

-The inclusion of substances in the list of nutrients does not constitute a finding on the part of the Department that the substance is useful as a supplement to the diet for humans.

So, the GRAS status is granted to substances that are intended for use as food flavorings and therefore is not intended to apply to essential oils used as medicines, or to essential oils taken alone. The FDA doesn’t give recommended doses or is even clear about which substances on the GRAS list are essential or herbs. Again, this is a food grade standard and not a standard for taking essential oils internally for medicinal purposes.

The FDA does play a role in dietary supplements however. This includes essential oil supplements. Here is what is says on the FDA’s website:

Manufacturers and distributors do not need FDA approval to sell their dietary supplements. [4]

Any claims made for dietary supplements are subject to some comprehensive FDA guidelines, although those guidelines are somewhat minute.

By law (DSHEA), the manufacturer is responsible for ensuring that its dietary supplement products are safe before they are marketed. Unlike drug products that must be proven safe and effective for their intended use before marketing, there are no provisions in the law for FDA to “approve” dietary supplements for safety or effectiveness before they reach the consumer. Under DSHEA, once the product is marketed, FDA has the responsibility for showing that a dietary supplement is “unsafe,” before it can take action to restrict the product’s use or removal from the marketplace. However, manufacturers and distributors of dietary supplements must record, investigate and forward to FDA any reports they receive of serious adverse events associated with the use of their products that are reported to them directly. [4]

It is important to note that even though dietary supplements are allowed to be marked with dietary claims, they are not allowed to be marked with medical claims. They are not allowed to be marked for the treatment or prevention of medical issues because they have not been substantially proven.

There is no provision under any law or regulation that FDA enforces that requires a firm to disclose to FDA or consumers the information they have about the safety or purported benefits of their dietary supplement products. Likewise, there is no prohibition against them making this information available either to FDA or to their customers. It is up to each firm to set its own policy on disclosure of such information. [4]

Other than the manufacturer’s responsibility to ensure safety, there are no rules that limit a serving size or the amount of a nutrient in any form of dietary supplements. This decision is made by the manufacturer and does not require FDA review or approval. [4]

As you can see, the FDA’s part in supplements is very limited, especially if no claims are made for the product. In terms of safety they will only take action if the manufacturers or distributors report on “serious adverse events associated with the use of their product that are reported to them directly.” This is why I think educating yourselves is important. This is why I think your own research is important. And this is why I think the help of a clinical aromatherapist or medical doctor is important before taking essential oils internally.

-Labeling-

For something to be labeled as an essential oil supplement it has to have a supplemental fact label on the bottle or product.  There is no regulation of what it has to say unless the FDA has to step in because of reports. The oils that the companies recommend for ingesting, do or at least should, have these supplemental fact labels. Let’s take for example, one company’s label for Cinnamon Bark. On the label it states to take “1 drop with 4 drops of V6 or olive oil. Put in a capsule and take one daily or as directed by a health professional.” According to the recently published Essential Oil Safety [1], there are several risks associated with Cinnamon Bark oil, including: drug interactions, blood-thinning, embryotoxicity, skin sensitization and mucous membrane irritation. Again, educating yourself is very important. For recommendations on internal use of essential oils see [Box].

The FDA does require that any claim made by a manufacturer for altering body function, such as “anti-inflammatory” is backed up by clinical (i.e. human) evidence showing that the supplement, as taken, has the claimed effect. This information would need to be on the product label for it to be regulated by the FDA. For example, if a company lists that a product is anti-inflammatory on their website but not on the dietary fact label, then those two claims are not regulated by the same FDA requirements or regulations. The FDA will regulate the supplement label. It is required that if a dietary supplement claim is made on a supplement label, that the company has [5] substantiating evidence to back the claim up.

-In conclusion-

There are a lot of things to consider when thinking about whether or not you should ingest essential oils. Remember, that adverse effects are not always immediate or obvious. Unlike an allergic or irritant reaction, liver toxicity, fetal damage or cancer formation will not be noticed at the time they are happening. Please don’t assume that just because you have not seen any side effects that it doesn’t mean someone else might not. In setting general safety guidelines, risk to the general population has to be minimized.

Continue to do your own research and educate yourself. Essential oils are wonderful natural tools, if used correctly. But just like anything else, too much of a good thing can become a bad thing. Learn as much as you can about the essential oil you are using. A good start is knowing the botanical name that, in and of itself, will tell you exactly what plant that essential oil came from. Then you can learn more about the safety concerns about that plant and more specifically, that exact essential oil.

This is just the beginning of information. I do not expect you to agree with everything I have said. Some of this is factual and some is my own opinion based on my own research and education. I would love feedback but ask that you please be respectful. Any comment that is derogatory in any way will be erased. I do not mind if you disagree, but please give a simple reason why. I truly want to educate people on essential oils and I am simply doing that the best way I know how. Please share your thoughts with me. If you have any questions that you do not wish to share on this post, you can email me directly at retha@planttherapy.com. Thank you!

References

[1] Tisserand R, & Young R 2013 Essential Oil Safety, 2nd edition. Churchill Livingstone, Edinburgh

[2] http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/cfrsearch.cfm?cfrpart=182&showfr=1&subpartnode=21%3A3.0.1.1.13.1

[3] http://www.femaflavor.org/gras

[4] http://www.fda.gov/Food/DietarySupplements/QADietarySupplements/default.htm

[5] http://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/GuidanceDocumentsRegulatoryInformation/DietarySupplements/ucm073200.htm

Box

-If you choose to take essential oils internally, please do so when needed and not on a daily basis. Also remember that dilution is very important. You only need 1-2 drops in a capsule full of an edible carrier oil. Please do not take essential oils multiple times a day by dropping the oil directly into a glass of water. The oils do not mix with the water and can cause burning and irritation to the very sensitive mucous membranes. Over time, this has been known to cause rashes and extreme irritation. The best and most effective way to take essential oils internally is under the supervision of a medical doctor or an aromatherapy practitioner who is qualified in internal use of essential oils.

-Alliance of International Aromatherapists – “does not endorse internal therapeutic use (oral, vaginal or rectal) of essential oils unless recommended by a health care practitioner trained at an appropriate clinical level. An appropriate level of training must include chemistry, anatomy, diagnostics, physiology, formulation guidelines and safety issues regarding each specific internal route (oral, vaginal or rectal).” – http://www.alliance-aromatherapists.org/aromatherapy/aromatherapy-safety/

-National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy – “Do not take essential oils internally without appropriate clinical education and understanding of the safety issues involved in doing so.” – http://www.naha.org/explore-aromatherapy/safety/naha-safety-statements

-Aromatherapy Trade Council (ATC) – “Never take essential oils internally, unless under the guidance of a qualified aromatherapist who has received the necessary training in this very specialized mode of administration. Most aromatherapists have not had this training, so be sure to check this out first.

You may read articles in magazines and books extolling the virtues of taking essential oils internally, but you should absolutely never attempt this without expert guidance.

http://www.a-t-c.org.uk/safety-matters/essential-oil-safety/

*This post was written by Retha Nesmith. Retha is the marketing manager for Plant Therapy essential oils. She is also a certified aromatherapist. Do you have questions? Please email our Certified Aromatherapists at aromatherapist@planttherapy.com, or you can email Retha directly at retha@planttherapy.com.

**This post was looked over and endorsed by:

Sylla Sheppard-Hanger

Robert Tisserand  – Essential Oil Safety

Sue Sawhill Apito

138 thoughts on “Can Essential Oils Be Ingested?”

    1. Great article! And for those seeking ingestible supplements–do some research on the actual herb. I’ve had some good success w herbs (especially the infection formula by dr. christopher sold by amazon). Another great resource has been mountainroseherbs.com

  1. Thank you! As an RN and clinical aromatherapist for the past 20 years, this was an excellent post on the safety of ingesting essential oils. Personally I will sometimes use 1 drop of basil, Rosemary, Ginger, citrus oils etc., in stews or soups, or cakes etc., for flavoring, however, the oils are greatly diluted by the fats and oils in the recipe. I have never, nor would ever recommend taking oils internally in any other way than a very restricted and subtle use in cooking. 2-3 drops in a small capsule of vegetable oil is still a VERY strong mix and not recommended. Essential oils generally work best at a very subtle level, and to use them at this strength is just not necessary. I have long thought that this trend is just a ploy that some companies use to get you to use more oil, and therefore need to buy more oil. If people have any sense they will notice that most of the recommendations for ingestion come from Multi Level Marketing companies, who also sell their oils at completely exorbitant prices in order to make a vast profit. You have my respect and continued custom Plant Therapy, I love your oils and can recommend them wholeheartedly! I was trained as an aromatherapist in England by Carole Preen, who is on the government board working towards legislation for training in the UK.

    1. Lynda, I concur! Less IS more. I was given a “MLM” sample of lemon, lavender, and peppermint. Within one week, the lemon bottle was half gone. I’ve tried another brand, and their “drops” are much smaller! Drip vs drop… it makes a big difference. It seemed really about the sales and volume of use with the MLM oils. (Just my experience…) Also, I’m not sure how healthy or safe it is to be using anything for prevention (aside from diffusing it).

      1. Some oils are thinner than oils. Some companies use the same orafices/bottles with their Lemon essential oil as they would with their Patchouli essential oil. If the opening was any smaller, heavy note oils may have a difficult time coming out. Just something to think about.

  2. Excellent article Retha. I like that it was not a sales pitch for your oils. While you are the #1 company that I go to, it was truly “just the facts ma’am.” I hate when you are trying to learn about something and you read an entire article and then realize at the end they are just trying to sell you their product. In my mind, it negates everything they have just said. This article was unbiased, you did not malign any other oil companies, and you just educated the public. EXCELLENT job! Just ONE MORE reason I love you guys (this list is getting bigger and bigger).

    And Lynda Mortensen, thank you for your comment. Its nice to hear that a licensed Aroma therapist recommends Plant Therapy oils since I use them almost exclusively.

  3. Excellent!! Thank you so much for this obviously we’ll researched info! I will be roasting this on my crunchy mama group and EO page on FB for sure!

  4. my thoughts? There is a difference between daily use as a “supplement’ and acute use for a specific situation. For instance I will take a digestive blend occasionally for those types of issues or a immunity blend and/or oregano oil if I feel something coming on. I do find that one time is quite effective and no need to take a bunch daily like some recommend. Or worse take them “just in case” because its flu season even without any symptoms. I also add a carrier oil to the capsules which isn’t the usual MLM protocol. Probably a middle ground in my case. And I’d like to add that people with chronic conditions really have a dilemma whatever they choose unless they find a completely drug free treatment(whether those drugs be natural or pharmaceutical). If you have endless relenting pain, you are probably going to be taking in something that may harm you in other ways. best to choose the least harmful.

    1. I completely agree. I tried very hard to make this post about education and not anti-ingesting essential oils. There are these safety concerns and that is what everyone needs to consider. I love that we get to make our own decisions and that essential oils are not being regulated by the FDA. I just hope everyone recognizes these safety concerns and does some research of their own before ingesting essential oils. A lot of people have success with ingesting essential oils, but there are a lot that have been harmed including myself years and years ago.

  5. Awesome article! One of the most practical, open-minded, down-to-earth, well thought out and researched article I have read on the subject. Great work! Thanks.

    I am reposting on my Facebook page, as well as our web site.

  6. Reblogged this on I'm a crunchy scientist mommy and commented:
    I’ve been learning about EOs and two well marketed brands have suggested ingesting EOs is not only not a big deal, but is a good idea. I’ve been really cautious and am not ok with it. I also think that it’s really clever marketing (in other words, half truths) that EOs are “certified therapeutic” vs. “100% pure” EOs.

    “The FDA plays no part in the grading or safety uses of essential oils. “Therapeutic grade” is simply a made-up term in the essential oil industry. The FDA does have a list of herbs, including some essential oils, which are [2] “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) for use as food items as a very small percentage for flavor only and not nutrition; (i.e. food additives) but that is as far as it goes. This is a food grade standard for food flavoring and not a standard for taking essential oils internally for medicinal purposes”

  7. I love it. This is such a hot topic in the Essential Oil world. I personally have ingested a lot of different oils and have had no adverse reactions except for some funky burps!! At first I thought, “If I can eat a lemon I can eat lemon oil.” And while this is true for some oils it is not the case for all oils.

    Of course there are some oils that should never be ingested like wintergreen but do you find that some oils consistently produce adverse results like heartburn or sour stomach or does it depend on the individual? Just wanting to know your thoughts.

  8. As a newbie to the EO world I was really happy to find your blog on ingesting EO’s. Thank you, as it was very informative and I learned a lot. I have purchased oils from a company that recommends ingestion of several of their oils, but have read on quite a few different sites that it is not recommended. Thanks for helping me understand the importance of knowing what you are using and how to use it!!

  9. I’ve just gotten into the EOs I used them after I went through chemo from cancer. They helped me get back to health very fast. Many oils as far as I have learned are not pure. I have used my mostly through the soles of my feet, behind ears, on chest and neck with a carrier oil. I have taken many orally, without problems. Too many “cheap ones are not pure” and cause lasting problems. Best to all and keep on researching. God bless

  10. Liked your in depth article very much. I wonder, though, if an essential oil shouldn’t be “ingested”, then it shouldn’t be applied to the skin since the skin is our largest organ. I’m looking forward to comparing your oils (which I am due to receive today) to Young Living. I’m not fond of MLM’s but fell for their “purity” marketing.

    1. And wanted to add that just because the FDA “approves” something, doesn’t give me peace of mind, they approve all kinds of drugs that kill thousands of people, i.e. Vioxx.

    2. Nancy, it is not that they should never be ingested but that it needs to be done correctly and under the guidance of someone who is educated in the possible interactions and concerns. Also when you ingest an essential oil you get 100% of that oil at the exact time. When you apply an oil topically, you are getting approximately only 5% of that oil and over a period of time so the two can not normally be compared. There are a few times when an oil needs to be ingested to help. This has only happened to me once in my life, many, many years ago, and because I was told to ingest more than I should have, the oils did way more damage then help. That is why education and knowledge is really important when ingesting oils. If you email me at retha@planttherapy.com I can send you a little bit more information.

  11. I went to an essential oils party last week where they had everyone put a bit of water in a cup, then put in a drop, then fill the rest of the glass. I am 27 weeks pregnant, and wondered if it was ok. Since one of the ladies leading the class was pregnant, I assumed (which I regret now) that it would be fine, and she must know. I should never assume! I believe the EO I used was grapefruit. I am now completely panicking that I could have harmed my baby. What are your thoughts? I will never again do something like that again without thoroughly researching it first!

    1. Kay there is no need to be concerned. Grapefruit is a safe oil to use while pregnant and most all side effects, unless you were to have an allergic reaction, come with a continue use of internal or a large amount of essential oil internally. With a drop or two once in a glass of water you will be just fine! If you have more questions about it please email me at retha@planttherapy.com. Thanks!

      1. Related thought: Avoid any form of grapefruit if you are on blood thinners to prevent blood clots. Discuss with your doctor.

  12. Sorry, ignore my last sentence on my last comment! Can you tell me how I can be assured that Plant Therapy’s EO’s are 100% pure? It seems everything I read on EO’s says that most companies claim this but actually aren’t. What kind of testing do your oils go through, and can you provide reports?

    1. Plant Therapy works with a world renowned essential oil expert who tests each batch of oil in house. Once those oils have passed the first test we send each batch to a third party laboratory that using GC/MS testing. Every batch of Plant Therapy’s oils are tested both ways. We only offer oils that are 100% pure free from any additives, chemicals or pesticides. We also will shortly be posting all test results on our website so our customers can have access to those. Let me know if you have any other questions.

  13. I feel no need to ingest oils. We use various Plant Therapy oils for headache, pains, skin irritations, and my five year old loves applying Calming the Child roll on before bed. I am always on high alert with any MLM company and was no different with EOs. Don’t remember how I came across Plant Therapy, Amazon I think? But I have been so pleased with the product, and if I did feel I wanted to ingest, I wouldn’t be the least big nervous about using Plant Therapy quality oils to do so. Unfortunately, I cannot convince my friends that they do not need to pay $75 for a bottle of EO because the particular MLM company has done such an amazing job marketing that they have EO users in fear for their life if they don’t use THEIR product. I’m still working on them, because I am not only impressed with the quality of Plant Therapy oils but also your business practice.

  14. Reblogged this on First World Problems and commented:
    Just a note about the safety of taking Essential Oils internally. Personally it is something I do on occasion and I definitely think you need to research each oil individually, not from one source, but from many many sources! You also need to check for any interactions with medication you may be taking. Remember (and this goes for ANYTHING!) Just because it’s natural does NOT mean it’s safe!

    -JS

    1. It is important to do research. It’s also important that you understand the safety considerations and are under someone educated and qualified to know all the safety considerations. Sometimes essential oils can be taken internally but it is not about brand or purity but simply about safety.

  15. I use Tisserand pure lavender oil on a hankie & leave it at the top of my sons pillow to help him get a good nights sleep. However, this morning my toddler got a hold of the bottle (we have no idea how) and when my hubby found him he had it everywhere, all over his top, his baby brother’s top, the couch & the floor. We asked him if he had drank any and he says no it’s not nice so he must have tried some. Initially he said he gave it to his brother then changed it to poured it over his head, which would explain the oil on his top. I have given them both a drink of milk just in case they have ingested any but is there anything else I should be doing? i’m orried sick.

    1. I would just bath them both but you are probably fine. You can call poison control but milk was a good choice of liquids to dilute the oil if they did ingest some. If they drank a lot you probably would know because they most likely would have freaked.

  16. Wonderful information! Thank you for taking the time to educate and inform. I do have a question. My daughter-in-law had severe allergies. She’d been to half a dozen doctors and tried several medications. Nothing worked and spring/summer was a disaster for my son and her. They were literally captives to the house, and even then the allergies were bad. Someone suggested an ingested capsule blend of lemon, lavender and peppermint (in pre-measured, bottled form) and it has been an absolute miracle! She can now be outside without any problems. But I’m wondering about potential long term effects. I know it would be your opinion, but I’d really like to know your thoughts.
    Thank you!

  17. Thank you for this important article. As a new to oils person, having attended a sales party where ingesting was promoted, I asked the hostess how much was safe and how to know the amounts. She said,”good question” and did not have a clue. So I did not buy but came home and bought several books on oils, aromatherapy, etc. And started searching the web for info…. and found your site. This post has the instruction I was seeking. Thanks for concise info, no pitch presentation. I want to increase my health not ruin it.

  18. I’m very pleased to uncover this web site.

    I want to to thank you for your time due to this wonderful read!!
    I definitely liked every bit of it and I have you book-marked to see new stuff in your blog.

  19. Hi there. I gave my 11 week old baby about 4 drops of lavender oil in his mouth mistaking it for Retina probiotic drops. He didn’t cry or fuss but smelled lavender on him all day and when he burbed. I hope I didn’t cause damage. Please just tell me he is going to be ok

    1. I am sure that since this was a 1 time thing, he will be fine. Watch the child and if you have any concerns please seek medical attention.

  20. If they shouldn’t be ingested (which we have our internal organs to process anything ingested) then how is it safe to put on our skin (which absorbs up to 60% of what we put on it) or in the air through a diffuser? I just purchased the starter kit and now I’m not sure I want to use it….

    1. It’s not that they SHOULDN’T be ingested under any circumstances, but rather daily casual consumption is frowned upon. If you do choose to ingest your essential oils you need to be working with someone (a certified aromatherapist) who knows your medical history and is able to provide guidance on how much and how long you should do so! Topical applications are absorbed slower into the bloodstream, not all at once as in ingestion. Inhalation is another excellent route and is the most recommended way to use essential oils.

  21. I recently purchased your blend that is similar to thieves oil. I have been using a drop on my toothbrush with my toothpaste do you think that is safe?

    1. Since you’re brushing your teeth and this is normally something you are spitting out – I would think it would be fine!

  22. I know you say that EO’s should not be taken on a daily basis. What if you have a chronic condition such as arthritis and you are helped by, say, Frankincense? You don’t have the ability to see a doctor and no access to an aromatherapist. Seriously. I know a girl with serious arthritis. She has seen doctors for years (maybe 20 years or more). NONE of them have helped her even remotely. NONE. Then she discovers ONE thing that helps her (HUGE relief for her) … but she has to use it on a daily basis. NOW she is scared because of the “don’t ingest anything on a daily basis” line. Try walking a mile in HER shoes. Her husband has no job, she has three children under the age of 4, they will have no home to live in in 3 months. She is in terrible pain that no doctor has been able to help her with. Her goal is to be totally free from medication that has done nothing but harm her. This young woman watched her mother die of Chrohns disease. She is scared. She finally finds something that is helping her…and now is being told not to “take anything on a daily basis”. What would your suggestion be?

    1. My suggestion would be to keep the dilution low 1% – 2% and then daily use isn’t a concern. You can also find other oils to rotate every few months if there is a concern of sensitization! I also recommend using essential oils topically, rather than ingesting them. She may actually find more relief from a proper dilution and topical use!

  23. One more brief comment re: the above . My understanding of the use of EO’s is that they can actually help your body to repair damage done on a cellular level. E0’s don’t have to be used forever… but many times for an extended period of time…then lessened…and many times eventually ceased all together. I’ve SEEN that over and over again. Sorry. I know I come across very emotional. I’ve just dealt with so many medical issues that have yet to be helped. So far…E0’s are the only thing that’s been providing relief…all though I really do like what you say. I am just hesitant about listening to people who have a black and white answer to everything. It makes me want to “throw the baby out with the bath water” and I know that wouldn’t be a good idea.

    1. It is true that essential oils can mitigate symptoms and allow your body to properly do it’s job. However, it’s important to note that essential oils are not “cure alls”. Essential oils do not “repair” damage. Only your body can do that. Essential oils are able to support body functions (like assist in boosting immune function, or reducing inflammation) this creates an environment that allow the body to function better. This may result in healing.

  24. What I really would like to figure out is what is the difference between taking for example the herb peppermint for digestion and taking a drop of peppermint essential oil? It seems what is happening with that famous MLM company is that they are describing internal uses of certain essential oils that are very similar to the uses of how you would use the straight herb. Now I know of course they are going to have similar actions but what I can’t wrap my head around is the constituents and their actions as a whole herb verses an essential oil.
    What is chemically different? How are the concentrated constituents in the essential oil acting on the body when it is not in its full plant form? And is it better to take the herb in full plant form with all of its other herbs compounds or is it better to be ingesting just the essential oil constituents?
    Can you recommend a good book explaining this as well as help my understand the difference in chemistry and affect on essential oil constituents in the body?

    1. The actions of a WHOLE food is always better than a refined version (essential oil, in this case). This is especially true for internal usage. There are many fantastic books, Essential Oil Safety by Robert Tisserand The Essential Oil Handbook by Jennie Harding The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy by Salvatore Battaglia. You can also find many awesome online herbal schools which can give you better insight into herbal preparations. Thanks for your questions.

  25. What are your thoughts on making honey cough drops with a few drops of essential oils? I know you talked about adding essential oils to cooking, I’m just curious about these. It would be more diluted than a vegetable capsule because it is a few drops for the whole batch of cough drops. I’ve been wanting to try these.

  26. Is there a difference between taking an essential oil internally and putting it on the roof of your mouth. For instance I’ve heard so many people use frankincense and press it into the roof of their mouth. Is this considered internal or topical? What would the benefit be between these kind of applications? Thank you!

    1. That is on the line of ingestion. Use of essential oils in toothpastes, gargles and mouthwashes are typically spit out. This is not, so I suppose it qualifies as ingestion. I do not find it necessary to use essential oils in the mouth for this reason.

  27. would residues from pesticides show up in your testing? Also, my mother takes oregano oil in capsules – not sure how often. I am going to show her this article, but any idea what damage could occur from regular use of oregano as a supplement??? I’m kinda scared for her.

  28. Oregano oils is very powerful with antibiotic properties and should not be taken internally for extended periods of time, should not exceed 10 days. Or you kill the good bugs in your gut! This is what I have learned. Correct me if I am wrong. I prefer to dilute heavily and apply to feet or spine when very sick. I have taken internally in a capsule for 2-3 days and only 1-2 drops if I have the flu or flu like symptoms. Not for maintenance use.

    1. Sam we do believe that essential oils can be taken internally if under the supervision of someone who is qualified in administering these oils. I personally have taken Oregano internally. Once, many, many years ago when I wasn’t under the direction of someone qualified to administer the oil and it made me very sick. In fact my stomach burned and then I vomited. As an adult I have taken it one other time but this time it was under the direction of someone qualified and they actually knew what they were doing. I am now a certified aromatherapist and prefer to diffuse the oils most often and then my second choice is to apply them topically. 99% of the time you can get the same results with applying them topically and inhaling them so I don’t often see any reason to ingest the oils.

      -Retha

  29. A lot of great information here. I have just recently started using the oils and they do work for me. I will read the books suggested because there is more to this than I relized. I do enjoy them, it’s like a whole new world opened for me.

  30. Hi… Thanks for the information you shared. I hope you can help me on this one. I am very interested in making my own essential oil for my personal use. I’m a little bit sceptical on those advertised oils. I am just curious if there will be a negative effect if these following plant’s oils is used externally and internally. I am currently doing my own research about the following plants, their benefits and potential hazards.
    -aloe vera
    -moringa oleifera
    -corchorus

  31. Great article and wonderful information regarding the question, Can EO’s be ingested? The article and great comments have helped me feel like I can make more of an informed decision. I also did not know you should dilute the oils even in a capsule. I have ingested oregano and theives blend on occassion at a start of a cold, but did not dilute them. Glad to know the great/similiar benefits of topical use or difussing. I have only been using oils for about 3-4 months and have tried plant therapy as well as 2 other leading brands (YL and DoT). Becuase of Plant Therapy’s opinion about not ingesting the other EO sale distributers have made me feel it is becuase PT is not quality “true oil”. IT has been hard to convince friends I like PT…..their response even is if they recommend not to ingest it must not be a good company. I have impressed with yout oils, your company’s information, and will continue to be a strong advocate. One question I do have though is what is the difference between your ORGANIC oils and other standard oils?

    1. Thank you Marcy! The only difference between our Organic and regular oils is that the organic oils are certified through the USDA. Not all farmers and distillers want to have to pay the fee to have their crops and distilleries certified through the USDA.

    2. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences. I have the personal opinion that Plant Therapy is a better company because they are urging us to use the powerful oils carefully and with respect. They are taking the time to educate us instead of letting us make mistakes before we learn better!

    3. I started out with DoT, even signed up to get the discount. I think the MLM companies are more about growing the business. I have switched to PT exclusively. I was able to tour their plant a few months ago and they are committed to quality.

  32. What a wonderful article! I actually have four bottles of lavender sitting on my counter right now and yours is the only one that compares to the “big box” name. I am so happy to read you article about not ingesting the oils, as 1. EO are such a powerful tool and harmful as you stated 2. I’ve been to many conventions and have learned a lot. But it scares the heck out of me to hear “oh you just put in as many drops as you want but start with like 10” these are brand new oil users you are telling this to! And some that want to lose weight, in today’s world you had better believe as many drops that can go into a capsule will be going in. So sad. I will be purchasing more of your oils in the future and wanted to thank you for such a well written article!

  33. Thank you for the information. A friend recently told me about “Young Living” essential oils and the benefit of taking them orally. Is this safe? I would love your thoughts. You can email me privately as well.

    1. We do not advocate the routine, unnecessary ingestion that some other companies do. If you choose to ingest essential oils, it should be with the guidance of a qualified practitioner and for a short period of time.

  34. Thank you for that informative article. In reference to your Candida Blend. How is it best to use it? I have a diffuser and nebulizer, but I wasn’t sure how to best use it. Thank you!

  35. I am new to EOs. Thanks for this article. I have a coworker who just got into one of the other companies and started singing the praises of EOs. I just stumbled across Plant Therapy on Amazon. and got the synergy kit. I came home from work on day not feeling good,the start of a cold. Mixed the immune up and put the germ on my feet. The next day I woke up feeling fantastic! She has been talking about taking the EO’s internally. I guess there is one that claims it helps with metabolism and she puts it in her water and “says” she has lost 6 lbs in one week. I will stick with sniffing my munchies bottle. I have been using that to help curb my appetite.
    Thanks for sharing about how they can thin the blood if ingested. Gotta wonder if the other companies warn people of that. They could really be harming people who take blood thinners by not telling them that could be a side effect of ingesting certain ones!!!

  36. Thank you for all your work in getting out this excellent information! It’s most unfortunate how the myths are so prevalent about “therapeutic grade being safe to ingest.” We must strive to keep educating people, as it’s just a matter of time (in my opinion) before the FDA makes it harder for us to obtain our precious essential oils. A case in point: an acquaintance is currently dealing with her daughter’s BAD experience ingesting oregano and cinnamon. She has damaged her esophagus, stomach, and intestines. This very experienced herbalist also pointed out that peppermint (as safe as it seems) can do permanent damage because it is hot. Essential oils say “For Topical Use Only” for a reason! One thing she also told us is to NOT drink water to try to dilute the reaction to ingesting an oil. Instead, dilute with more consumable oil- olive or coconut. Then take a large dose of fiber, followed by a laxative if needed, to get it out of the body quicker. I hope these people promoting the internal use of oils also are preparing people with antidotes!

  37. So glad you repaired the link, I really wanted to read the entire article. Finally, a straight forward & informative article on ingestion! Thanks Plant Therapy!

  38. Thank you very much for this article. I thought you made a fair and somewhat comprehensive (for us non-professionals/non-experts) presentation and I appreciate it. I have been using, learning & experimenting with EOs for almost 2 yrs and want to branch out to include herbs as well. From my growing understanding of EOs, there simply doesn’t seem to be a NEED to ingest the oils – they reach the bloodstream within minutes, which is a more effective communication system than running them through the digestive system, right? I think so. (opinion) I was occasionally ingesting them early on but have now decided against it – it isn’t needed, so why risk my liver or any other part of me, when they’ve been proven safe [in my mind] when used aromatically & topically? I so appreciate Plant Therapy and its commitment to safety & education. You may decide to delete this, but: The FDA has proven itself to be about as trustworthy on safety as an organization as not-ever-learning-to-read has proven to lead to wonderful self-education….. Zero.

  39. I really appreciate your information and the way in which it has been presented. I have friends on both ‘sides’, and the do-ingest side I don’t think give enough info for others to understand safety, and the do-not-ingest side just trash eo’s entirely.
    Thankful to have found your company.

  40. Thank you so much for this informative article. I was introduced to EO’s through one of the MLM companies, but choose to do my own research online when I came across Plant Therapy. I LOVE your company and appreciate you getting this information out to us. I love this blog and wish more people would realize that the “oil classes” held by the MLM companies are based on what the person is being taught to say by their higher ups who are in it for the money and could seemingly care less about the truth which in the long run will hurt people more than help them.

  41. Hi Retha,
    Thank you so much for the article, it was very informative. I have dealt with Essential oils for the past 18 years and there is always more information to be aware of. I have to tell you that your oils are the first ones I have been able to find that seem to be a high grade since Aroma Vera stopped making oils. I have tried many different brands and they have not measured up. Thank you for the research you have done and the willingness to make the oils affordable to everyone.

  42. I was introduced to essential oils back in the 60’s, we mainly wore it as perfume. I was reintroduced by a MLM co. I bought the kit and was very wary about putting oils in my water. I started doing my own research and ran across PT. I love PT and haven’t looked back. I have explained to friends why you shouldn’t put oils in your liquids. Some listen, some don’t. One day I was at my daughters and my 6 yr old grandson wasn’t feeling good and he was laying on the couch. Next to him was her Defuser with thieves coming out of it right next to him. I explained that children should be careful with certain oils and thieves was one of them. She turned off the defuser and I sent her info on which oils are safe for children and what is not. I learned this from PT and other sources. Now like myself she goes to plant therapy for any info she might need. Thanks Plant Therapy!!!

  43. I got some essential oils from an MLM company and used them according to the companies literature and consultant suggestions. I started having stomach aches, sleeping a lot and felt burning sensations. I decided to research the safety of using such large amounts, ingesting oils and using them neat. I found the Plant Therapy website and was amazed that as a business you encourage being safe and saving money by using smaller amounts of essential oils (“less is more”), to always dilute oils and to ingest them only under a trained medical practioner. I ordered some of your essential oils and find them to be quality products, as effective and much cheaper than the MLM products. Thanks for this article and the blog with excellent information.

  44. With the growing popularity of essential oils, there are tons of people out there trying to get more people to sell/buy essential oils from them and they are not doing the research or educating themselves on this topic. I never recommend ingesting an eo because even if I have some knowledge I am not a trained aromatherapist. Thanks for this article!

  45. I would like to specify that a certified practitioner is not a chiropractor etc but an aromatherapist. I have heard several chiropractors and other health care practioners endorse MLM companies and the ingestion of essential oils. These people may be highly educated but unless they have courses in aromatherapy (which most do not) the information they are giving out is most likely from an MLM company. There is a trend now for MLM companies to go into physio clinics and chiropractic clinics to “educate” the practioners on essential oils and promote their products. Some practioners really question the given information but a surprising amount do not. My “go to” question when feeling around for a practioners education is if they know who Robert Tisserand is and if they have read his latest book. Most do not recognize the name. Sad but true. So thank you for looking out for our safety and taking the time to educate us.

  46. Thanks for everything! A wonderful article! I shared it on Facebook. I’m glad I asked the question. It seemed to help many. Thank you again.

  47. Thanks for this article and for being such a responsible company. I really respect that. I attended the Botanical Conference in Tempe Az this weekend and took 2 of David Crow’s classes and he was very adamant about this same thing and very concerned about the FDA taking notice of all the harm that people are doing to themselves with this over use and internal ingestion. He was critical about the MLM aspect of it too…..the push to always consume more for $$$ with not enough education. So then to open my email on Monday a.m. and see your write up was very telling. Thanks again.

  48. I really enjoyed reading your article. I am wanting to use some essential oils to flavour the raw, orgainic sugar free chocolates I am making. Approximately 1 drop per 30g of chocolate. Do you think this is a sufficiently small amount to be ‘safe’ ? Any oils which I should totally avoid….?

  49. Wow! I have been researching and researching for this very answer! You are the ONLY company to give the reasons why oils should not be taken internally. My chiropractor has been pushing for me to take frankincense internally and I didn’t feel well after. My skin had a horrible rash too! I am so happy to finally get the answers I needed. Thank you!

  50. I just have a bottle of wintergreen. I’m Wonder why avoid it? I haven’t opened it or even smelled it.
    But the lady I got this from is adding these oils to everything water, cooking, etc. I had heard it wasn’t safe and have not tried any myself. I’m intrigued with the oils because I love things that are natural but the oils just set there because I have no idea what’s the proper way to use them.

    1. Wintergreen is HIGHLY toxic if ingested. It also can act a blood thinner if used for long periods of time.

  51. I like to add the fruit oils to water for a refreshing drink. I have used young living and just switched to your oils. Are your lemon,orange,grapefruit oils ok to but in water to drink

    1. Putting essential oils into water isn’t the best way to use them. They actually will float on top of the water and then hit your lip, mouth and throat undiluted. If you choose to ingest essential oils – it’s best to speak with a Certified Aromatherapist who is trained in using essential oils in this manner.

  52. Is it okay to use oils to cook with in very small amounts? For example, if I wanted to add a few drops of peppermint oil to brownies to make them peppermint brownies? Thanks.

    1. When using essential oils in cooking you’ll want to use a single drop or less – and make sure to use a recipe that contains a moderate amount of fat! 🙂

  53. I’ve been a certified holistic aromatherapist for nearly 30 years. Your article was very well written and very much needed. I continue to be amazed and a little horrified at what is happening in the essential oil and aromatherapy industry. Thank you so much for taking the time to write your article.

  54. Thanks for this article, this matter is very important to discuss about.
    I am concerned about possible stress on liver, due to use of EO:s. (even when used only externally.) I would like to know if there are some oils that may possess more risks for liver and respectively some which are safest in this regard? Or is the risk generally very minimal if oils are used only externally?

    1. Any products or food that you put on or in your body are eventually processed by the liver! It’s best to use moderation and always dilute essential oils when applying to the skin! 😉 It’s important to only ingest essential oils with the supervision of a qualified practitioner.

  55. Although another company sings the virtues of taking EO’ s internally, I have not felt comfortable doing so. The one time that I gave in,my stomach was upset all day. I will not be trying that again.

  56. I’ve been learning about essential oils and using them regularly over the last year or so. This is by far one of the most straight forward and on point articles I’ve read. Thank You!

  57. And this is why I will be a Plant Therapy customer for life. Thank you for the frank, honest answer and for your competitively priced outstanding oils. My sister-in-law sells a MLM oil and is constantly telling and blogging about her “protocols” she uses with her oils, many of which she ingests internally. She has only been getting advice from other “consultants” and has never seed a doctor, certified aromatherapist, etc. It frightens me to think of the damage she, and others, could be doing to their bodies and never even know. “But it’s all natural,” a friend constantly tells me. Yeah, well, so is hemlock. We use essential oils to help our health…why potentially sabotage yourself or someone you love? Check with a licensed aromatherapist and stay safe!

  58. Good Article. Especially the part about some oils possibly affecting the liver. I have elevated liver enzymes and some oils will really make me feel sick and flu-like, even if applied topically. I have to make sure I dilute and I don’t take any internally for this reason.

  59. Thank You, Plant Therapy! It’s comforting to know that you actually care about your customers. It’s really cool that you share your knowledge with us!!! Thanks for the reading recommendations, as well.

  60. Thank you so much for such an informative article. “Just because an essential oil is 100% pure and natural, does not mean that it cannot harm you. Harm from an essential oil is not always due to impurities or adulterations; more often it’s simply about the constituents it contains. This is not about purity; it’s about safety.” This explains the issue clearly. When MLMs advocate ingestion, they are causing irreparable harm when they could be advocating safe usage. I am happy to have found Plant Therapy and am a vocal supporter of your safety recommendations.

  61. This is fantastic! Thank you Plant Therapy so much. I too have been under the influence of well-meaning YL reps, who suggest ingestion. I just wasn’t comfortable with doing this and didn’t really know why because I really have no experience with EO’s, it just doesn’t seem right knowing how concentrated they are. Since purchasing from PTEO I have received so much information about your product, about general EO’s and now this wonderful read. I am just so pleased that I found you!

  62. Just recovering from 12 years of pharmaceutical malpractice hell, I had to laugh at the FDA’s comment about their participation is pharmaceutical regulation. “Unlike drug products that must be proven safe and effective for their intended use before marketing, ….” Thanks for the chuckle there! Now after that about the FDA’s caution (not), on a more factual note, thank you too for this article. The importance of learning and knowing what we are doing has been very well stated and driven home. It goes to show self regulation and the sharing of information among intelligent people is superior to government’s or even a western medical psychiatrist’s and doctor’s advice. I would always suggest a Naturopath over a western trained provider. Again, thank you.

  63. I have been a witness of YL essential oils for my dad, who was diagnosed with stage one leukemia, had 3 times pneumonia in less than 9 months and today he is Leukemia free and doesn’t even get colds.. Two of my brothers at church are twice survivors of stomach and bladder cancer taking frankincense orally.. All this information is excellent and I will share it, but I do believe in G-D’s medicine more than man made with all kinds of side affects medicine that eventually kill people or shorten lives. I just one question, are Plant Therapy bottles glass or plastic?

    1. I am so happy to hear about the success your family has had with using essential oils! We do not recommend ingesting essential oils unless you are under one on one care with someone trained this area of aromatherapy. Our GC/MS reports show that our oils are pure and unadulterated however even pure essential oils carry risks, particularly when taken internally. It does sound like you’re probably already doing this. I agree with you, if i can ever go the holistic route is anyways my preference, I’m grateful for modern medicine when needed, but holistic is my first choice. Our essential oils come in amber glass bottles.

  64. Hi, are your ginger and turmeric CO2 safe to take internally?

    1 drop from each per day in 1 tablespoon of coconut oil?

    1. We do not recommend ingesting essential oils unless you are under one on one care with someone trained this area of aromatherapy. Our GC/MS reports show that our oils are pure and unadulterated however even pure essential oils carry risks, particularly when taken internally.

  65. Resulting from a dermatitis flare up, someone gave me the advice of drinking 1-2 drops of lemon essential oil in 16oz water one time per day. Stupid not to research, I know…I did this for two days and when I woke up today my stomach is distended and cramps. I’ve suffered from GERD in the past and I’m sure the oil as damaged my stomach lining. Obviously, I have stopped ingesting the oil, but does anyone have any further advice?

    1. I’m so sorry to hear about your situation. I think that recommendations would be best offered by your gastroenterologist, or other specialist that may be able to determine the extent of the damage.

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