Ingesting Essential Oils…Yes? or No?


I am writing this blog to address ingesting essential oils because I feel this is important information to get out into mainstream.   I understand that there will be people who don’t agree with me and that is okay.  I have to share this information because of what happened to me personally because I ingested essential oils.

Essential oils are all the rage lately, and more and more companies are adding them to their product lines. That is because essential oils are a powerful natural remedy, when used properly and if using pharmaceutical grade oils. Because they are so powerful people using them and selling them have a responsibility to be informed.   There are many essential oil resources online giving worrisome blanket advice about their use.  I know people from various companies say it has to be the brand of oils that is causing problems when ingesting them and that their brand is safe to ingest.  In the case of ingesting, brand doesn’t matter unless you are using synthetic oils which should never be ingested, period.

One of the most often talked about topics in aromatherapy, is ingestion. Without naming brands, there is a plethora of unsafe advise floating around the internet and at  meetings for some of the mlm brands of essential oils.  I have encountered numerous individuals ingesting these oils without so much as batting an eye (or offering a disclaimer), because the information to do so was passed down to them from their sponsor. I often hear people say ” just put a drop or two in water and drink it”.  I heard that they were safe to ingest in water and know a lot of people who are using them this way.  Essential oils don’t mix in water, they need a dispersant. When you add a drop to a glass of water that droplet doesn’t mingle with the water like a drop of an herbal tincture. It sits there, and you sling that glass back and take a big gulp. The first signs of distress from this method are mouth and throat irritations.

“Essential Oils are Highly Concentrated

Did you know that it takes:

  • 256 pounds of peppermint leaf to make one pound of peppermint essential oil
  • 150 pounds or more of lavender flowers to make one pound of lavender essential oil
  • Thousands of pounds of roses to make 1 pound of rose essential oil

Essential Oils contain very concentrated properties of the herb or plant they are derived from. A very small amount of EOs often has the qualities of many cups of herbal tea from the same plant. For instance, one drop of peppermint essential oil is equivalent to 26-28 cups of peppermint tea. This isn’t to say essential oils should not be used, but they should be used carefully, with proper education and in safe amounts. If you wouldn’t ingest dozens of cups of an herbal tea, you should probably think twice before consuming the equivalent amount of essential oils.” (Source) 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?

A surprising number of consumers believe that all natural remedies are safe, and see no problem using essential oils with abandon. A person who would never consider taking half a bottle of aspirin in a sitting has no problem downing a teaspoon of highly concentrated essential oil.   The only cases of death, organ failure and hospitalization in the history of aromatherapy have been caused by ingesting essential oils. It is THAT dangerous.  The practice of consuming essential oils is dangerous and was designed to be done under the care of an aromatherapist trained in that form of therapy. In addition, studies have shown that topical aromatherapy is more effective than internal aromatherapy methods.

I learned the lesson about to ingesting oils and the problem it can cause the hard way, which motivated me to get serious about discovering the truth behind the safety of essential oil ingestion.  I think it is important for people using and/or selling essential oil to have this information!

First of all I want to say that essential oils are powerful healing agents if used in the proper way.  If used in ways that are not recommended they can cause harm. It is NOT recommend the ingestion of ANY essential oils. They are highly concentrated and have the capacity to cause serious damage if used internally without the necessary expertise required in administering it. This is supported by the International Federation of Aromatherapists, NAHA and AIA that does not recommend ingestion of essential oils unless under the supervision of a Medical Doctor who is also qualified in clinical aromatherapy.

Many essential oils contain natural chemical constitutions that are antibiotic, antiviral, and antiseptic making them excellent tools for preventing disease.  When I started thinking about this it struck me that if they contain those qualities that must be what they do in your body.  Antibiotics destroy bacteria.  The intestinal track is made up of bacteria so it would be logical to assume that you are ingesting the oils they are going to end up in your intestine and destroy the bacteria.  I have read that they have the same impact on the flora in your intestine as antibiotics do.  Most of us know that if you take antibiotics for any length of time you will have to rebuild the flora in your gut.  The same is true with essential oils.


“What about using the oils internally for therapeutic purposes? In my opinion, anyone considering using essential oils internally should know what the chemical composition of the essential oil you are considering using in this way is and what the possible cautions of those components might be. For instance ketones (found in quite large amounts in oils like peppermint 30%; spearmint 55%) generally stimulate the formation of tissue, have mucolytic effects, dissolve fats, and are potentially neurotoxic. Ketones are the most common toxic substances in essential oils. According to Dr. Penoel, ketone molecules can penetrate the blood-brain barrier more easily than other molecules. Some of the oils high in ketones can cause liver damage. After absorption from almost all regions of the gastrointestinal tract, most substances pass directly to the liver, where the great majority will be deactivated but some may be made more toxic. Not all ketones are equally problematic but this is the reason why many oils that are high in ketones carry the caution: Do not use in pregnancy. Can the developing fetus’s liver handle the ketone content of an oil like peppermint or spearmint? “ (Source)

Can essential oils be toxic?

“Toxicity rarely occurs with appropriate use of essential oils and is primarily attributed to misuse and accidental ingestion, especially in young children. Essential Oil Safety by Tisserand and Balacs, 1995, is a valuable reference to understanding potential toxicity and lethal dosages. Again, we recommend that you never eat or drink essential oils.” (source)

MY PERSONAL STORY I started ingesting essential oils in June of 2014 as a way to drink more water.   I am not a water drinker so adding a drop or two of essential oils gave the water more flavor and got my water consumption up.

On July 4, 2014 I started having diarrhea which quickly turned severe.  I couldn’t eat much of anything without having diarrhea so I started adding an essential oil blend for digestion.  I thought maybe I had picked up a parasite while I was in Bali in April so I went through a series of parasite tests and they all came back negative.  During the time I was being tested it was suggested that I just eat bananas, crackers and toast as a way to get the diarrhea under control.  It turned out that that is all I could eat for 3 months and even that didn’t keep the diarrhea at bay.

I was afraid to leave the house because I had to use the bathroom so much. One might wonder why I didn’t work with a doctor to discover what was wrong.  First of all I don’t believe they would have figured it out because they wouldn’t have asked the right questions and in the process they would have run a lot of expensive tests trying to figure out what was wrong.

I know my body very well and trusted that I could work to find an answer and a solution.  I knew it was my digestion that was the issue.  It just took a while to determine the cause.  If you have read my book “Empowered Health and Wellness: Awakening Your Inner Physician” you understand that I believe our bodies are self healing and I trusted my Inner Physician to help me.

By the end of October I had a hunch that I should stop using the essential oils after reading that they could have a negative impact on the digestive tract. I started to notice and improvement pretty quickly after stopping.  I did a lot of research and started to focus on finding a way to heal my gut.  Here is the protocol I started with.  Slowly I began to notice that my digestion was improving and the bouts of diarrhea we decreasing.  I slowly was able to begin adding foods to my diet that I wasn’t able to eat during the Summer.  I stayed away from gluten and dairy.

In  March of 2015 I started adding probiotics, probiotic foods and a water kiefer. I was concerned at times that I might have done permanent damage to my digestive tract.  I began to have normal bowel movements in Mid May 2015, 10 months after the severe diarrhea started. I wouldn’t want anyone to go through what I have gone through because they ingested essential oils and that is why I want this important information to get out.

When I posted this issue on Facebook there were a number of people who said they had been ingesting essential oils for years and didn’t have problems.  I read a number of sources that said you may have been using oils for years and don’t notice symptoms but that doesn’t mean damage is not being done. Other people said that everyone is different and might not be impacted the way I was. It is true that each person is different and as a practitioner I would never suggest ingesting essential oils because you never know how they are going to impact someone.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES Comprehensive article on Ingesting Oils  Great article Internal Use safety

Book ” Essential Oil Safety” Robert Tisserand Testimonials of people who have had damage from Ingesting Oils Essential Oil Safety: Documented Side Effects, Injuries, and Deaths from Essential Oil Ingestion Essential Oil Safety