Using Essential Oils Internally. Yes or NO?
Just because you can, does it mean you should? As a clinical aromatherapist I have taken additional courses aimed specifically at internal use. My thoughts are this...... using them internally? Not unless you are using it for a specific reason, and a specific amount of time. Essential oils should never be used topically or internally if you are healthy and they are not needed. My criteria for internal use are:
upper respiratory infection
vaginal yeast infection
If what you are using them for doesn't make the list above, why are you even considering internal use in the first place?
I see it all the time, a blog here or there that recommends ingestion. They even cite bits and pieces of expert recommendations, and reasons why it’s a good idea. What these people, (usually coming from a sales rep), aren’t telling you, is that ingestion or internal use changes everything. Let me say that again, INGESTION OR INTERNAL USE CHANGES EVERYTHING!
These blogs only share bits and pieces of what the experts are advising. Because these companies put nutritional or supplemental facts on their oil bottles, it means that they are safe to ingest, right? Well, kind of, to a point, I suppose. These supplemental and nutritional facts MUST be added to anything that a company is selling to be used internally. That's it, that's all, there isn't any more to it. It in no way means they should be used internally.
They taste terrible! Recently I had the misfortune of being stung on the tongue by a bee. It was in my drink. Before I knew what was happening, it stung me. I added diluted lavender to my mouth to reduce the pain and swelling. It helped tremendously but it tasted HORRIFIC! After swishing in my mouth, I spit it out. I didn't want it to kill the good bacteria in my gut and have my liver and other organs need to filter it out by swallowing. Topical application is very effective.
If there is a better way to use it, why not do so? If you have limited education and are not working with an aromatherapist specifically trained in aromatic medicine, please steer clear of ingestion.
The following essential oils, if misused, may cause serious consequences. Most people don’t even own these toxic oils, except for wintergreen, possibly a blend with camphor. I don't own any on this list. As an aromatherapist with children, I would rather not take any chances.
AVOID THESE OILS
Almond (Bitter) - Prunus amygdalus var. amara
Arnica – Arnica montant
Birch (Sweet) – Betula lenta
Boldo - Peumus boldus
Broom (Spanish) – Spartium junceum
Calamus - Acorus calamus
Camphor (Brown, Yellow) - Cinnamomum camphora
Deertongue – Carphephorus odoratissimus
Horseradish - Cochlearia armoracia
Mugwort - Artemisia vulgaris
Mustard - Brassica nigra
Pennyroyal - Mentha pulegium
Rue - Ruta graveolens
Sassafras - Sassafras albidum
Savin - Juniperus sabina
Tansy - Tanacetum vulgare
Thuja - Thuja occidentalis
Wintergreen - Gaultheria procumbens
Wormseed - Chenopodium ambrosioides
Wormwood - Artemisio absinthium
Anything misused, may be poisonous. Just because something is 100% natural does not negate the risk. Proper usage and training is essential! On that note, let’s talk about bioavailability.
According to medicaldictionary.com the definition of bio-avialability is:
“The physiologic availability of a given amount of a drug, as distinct from its chemical potency; proportion of the administered dose that is absorbed into the bloodstream.”
So, what that means is, basically when something is ingested or used internally, a certain amount will be absorbed into the bloodstream and affect the body. According to training I had at the Tisserand Institute, Robert Tisserand taught us that 95% of an ingested essential oil enters the blood stream. While only 5% of a properly diluted topical blend of 1-10% will enter the blood stream. You know what the crazy part is? The properly diluted topical blend can be just as effective as the ingested one, but without all the risk.
Since I became an aromatherapist, only one of my clients have ingested oils. Why? Because it really, truly is not generally needed. By ingesting an oil, you change how it works in the body. You also change what parts of the body are affected by the oil. Depending on how you were advised to ingest the oil, in water (never recommended), capsule, honey, sugar cube, etc, the oil starts to break down in your mouth. Then hits the esophagus, stomach, intestines, and is eliminated. A normal stomach contains gastric acid (hydrochloric acid (HCl), potassium chloride (KCl) and sodium chloride (NaCl)) which breaks down food, drinks and of course essential oils. Then it goes into the intestines where it is absorbed into the body. By the time it actually gets to where it is needed, there may not even be any of the chemical constituents left. Those constituents are needed to fight what you are using it for. All the while, you could be burning your mouth, esophagus, stomach and destroying your gut in the process.
I recently had someone debate with me that using any essential oil, whether it be topically or internally will destroy gut flora. Yes, that definitely could happen if taking orally, but take this into consideration. I am going to refer back to the bioavailibility information above. 5% of a properly diluted blend of 1-10% (1% is 5 drops per ounce of carrier oil and 10% is 60 drops per ounce), will be released into the body at a much slower and lower rate than say a capsule of 5, 10, or even 12 drops of pure essential oil. Yes, some Pinterest recipes have called for “bombs” with that much oil all at once. It can cause serious injuries, including death. That small amount is going through the entire body and being broken down, not going straight into the digestive system.
Properly diluted oils still work and it a lot less taxing on the body. Remember, less is always more when it comes to essential oils and aromatherapy. If you haven't read my blog on the Power of Essential Oils, please do. It really puts things into perspective.
Please, always educate yourself on how to use essential oils. If you feel inclined to use them internally, please, please, PLEASE hire an aromatherapist trained in aromatic medicine. It’s best to be safe than sorry. Need to book an aromatherapy session? Click HERE to get one scheduled. As always, you may contact me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org should you have any questions.
Love and light!
Caution: The material on this page is not meant to take the place of diagnosis and treatment by a qualified medical practitioner. Since the actual use of this product by others is beyond our control, no expressed or implied guarantee as to the effects of their use can be given nor liability taken. Use at your own discretion. Any application of the recommendations is at the user’s risk. Sweet Willow Spirit, LLC disclaims any liability arising directly or indirectly from the use of this information and assumes no responsibility for any actions taken. This should not be used in place of traditional therapies but solely as a complementary means for bringing well-being. The FDA has not evaluated the statements on this website. No claims are made as to any medicinal value of any oil or healing modality.