Ingesting Essential Oils Safely
Amy's Aromatic-Rant no. 349:
Hi, my name is Amy. I am a Registered Aromatherapist and Essential Oil Therapist, and I don't recommend ingesting essential oils. This is because research, education, and safety are a priority to me. I am committed to staying within my scope, recommending the safest, most effective and therapeutic ways of using essential oils. This means not making health claims, as essential oils can affect everyone differently.
I didn’t come by my decision lightly! I got into aromatherapy by learning "what aromatherapy isn't,” while working with an “aromatherapy” company. My gut instinct said to research the claims the company was making, and that research forever changed the course of my life.
As Buddha said, “Don’t blindly believe me, see for yourself.”
I dove right in, and learned from respected, professional researchers, including Robert Tisserand. He has been studying and researching essential oils for over 45 years, and STILL does not suggest ingesting essential oils.
I have worked daily with essential oils for my entire adult life, and am dedicated to staying informed about the science behind their amazing effects. It concerns me that well-meaning people are being misinformed by large companies with powerful marketing teams at their side.
Quality Marketing Doesn’t Create an Expert
Did you know that a trademark is a purchased product, and zero truth is required to buy one, just money! A trademark is a purchased marketing tool. So, when I see an aromatherapy company with a trademark that states "100% pure therapeutic grade" alarm bells go off. It appears that the statement has been approved by a governing body, when not only is that not the case, but the company goes against the actual governing body's standards.
To me, it seems sneaky, salesy and misleading for consumers who may not know the full story. I would like to highlight that there are countless genuine and authentic essential oils being produced all over the world. So when any one company claims to be the best, again it seems manipulative to the layman who simply doesn't know the differences.
Essential Oils are Potent Biochemical Compounds (Hooray for Science!)
Without an understanding of aromatherapy as a whole, it makes sense to believe what we're told. What’s missing from the conversation, however, is a deeper understanding of how these potent biochemical compounds react with the mucous membranes, liver, and kidneys, plus how they metabolize through digestion.
If people really want to add lemon essential oil (that is derived from the peel) to their drinking water, I would (admittedly tongue-in-cheek) suggest ingesting a few fresh organic lemon peels that are readily available at the grocery store. My guess is that it won't taste very good, and we won’t feel very good after. This is not a sign of the body detoxifying, it’s because it's just not good for us!
In reality, the lemon peel will be even more fresh than the essential oil, since in those huge companies, the bottles are sitting around for quite some time before they get into our hands. So toss a lemon wedge in your water & call it a day! If it's too acidic, add fresh peppermint leaves or cucumber. Listen to your body.
Trust the Experts (not Pinterest)
I agree with the British Columbia Alliance of Aromatherapy's safety standards, including not ingesting essential oils. It's beyond our scope, and usually simply not necessary as there are countless effective, gentle approaches without the hazards of ingestion. Essential oil ingestion is best left to specialized experts who've taken additional training on this approach, called aromatic medicine.
As I mentioned, it’s key that we consider what is best for us individually. I encourage anyone who's interested in essential oils to research them. Please don’t just blindly trust a company’s marketing, or a pretty Pinterest image. Read aromatherapy journals, and follow long-time experts and researchers like Tisserand.
Tisserand is committed to researching for the sake of knowledge and safety, as there's so much we still don't know about these oils. When I met him at a continuing education conference, I really appreciated his humility in admitting when he did not know an answer. He has excellent resources on his blog, social media, website, and in his books.
Keep Asking. Keep Learning.
I will add here that I have yet to find one company that meets all of my admittedly extremely picky standards. I use oils from all over the world so the Rose oil I choose, that my clients and I feel the effects most powerfully from, is not from the same place I source the Tea Tree oil that rocks my world. It's not about the company the oil is from. It's about each beloved essential oil, from Mother Nature.
Try five different bottles of Lavender or Lemon from different companies, ask about Latin names, and countries of origin. Learn about how the altitude at which a plant grows has a powerful effect on the biochemical make-up of the oils, which in turn dramatically changes its therapeutic properties. Ask about organic and wildcrafted. Talk up the Aromatherapists, chat to retail and network marketing sales reps, and gather information. Then, you can make decisions about what oils to use and how to use them from an informed and empowered place, rather than believing and trusting companies that simply sell oils. See for your beautiful Self.
If you're still with me (wow!), I'm impressed and grateful that others are committed and interested in learning what different people have to say about aromatherapy. Now, integrate what resonates for you and disintegrate the rest. It's about YOU.
Thank you again for the questions and inviting me into this conversation! Feel free to keep this conversation going with a comment or question below.
- Amy Reedman