Internal Use of Essential Oils
Why can't I find any specific information about the internal use of essential oils on AromaWeb?
AromaWeb is host to millions of individuals from around the world. AromaWeb's visitors have varying levels of awareness of aromatherapy safety principles. English is a second language to some AromaWeb visitors, and AromaWeb's text is sometimes run through automated language translators by those that do not know English (such translators can alter the intended meaning of some text). Some individuals confuse fragrance oils with essentials oils. Fragrance oils are synthetic and are not suitable for ingestion. Additionally, some individuals skim text so fast that they can miss important safety recommendations.
For these reasons, AromaWeb does not encourage or provide suggestions regarding the internal use of essential oils or hydrosols.
But aren't essential oils sometimes taken internally?
Yes, absolutely. I very mindfully take essential oils internally. However, bear in mind that I have been formally educated in the internal use of essential oils. There certainly are a number of beneficial applications for the internal use of essential oils. Essential oils are also used in the food and flavoring industry. For instance, there's a strong possibility that the candy canes that you enjoy during the holidays may be flavored with a tiny amount of Peppermint Essential Oil.
However, the internal use of essential oils for therapeutic or culinary applications requires more care than a lot of people new to essential oils realize. Essential oils are highly concentrated, and many associated risks exist when taking essential oils internally without being properly educated or without being under the care of a properly trained practitioner.
Even though essential oils are cold pressed or steam distilled from a range of citrus and common spices like Lemons, Oranges, Grapefruits, Allspice, Basil, Black Pepper, Cinnamon, Clove, Fennel, Ginger, Rosemary and a number of other botanicals that are routinely ingested without the need for precautionary usage info, essential oils should not be ingested without thorough understanding of appropriate usage and risks for each oil.
To help support this important point, I will cite a statement found within the second edition of Essential Oil Safety written by aromatherapy experts and educators Robert Tisserand and Rodney Young. They recommend the following: "...only practitioners who are qualified to diagnose, trained to weigh risks against benefits, and have a knowledge of essential oil pharmacology should prescribe essential oils for oral administration." [Robert Tisserand and Rodney Young, Essential Oil Safety (Second Edition. United Kingdom: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier, 2014), 50.]
Is it okay to add essential oils to my drinking water? Just a drop?
Don't! A excellent article on the subject is offered by aromatherapist and educator Amy Kreydin: Friends Don't Let Friends Drink Essential Oils
What steps should I take if I do want to properly learn how to safely take essential oils internally?
Find a reputable holistic aromatherapy school or educator that is qualified to teach about the internal use of essential oils and enroll in a course or program that appropriately covers the topic of internal essential oil usage (or consult with a qualified aromatherapist). AromaWeb's Aromatherapy School and Educator Directory is a helpful starting point. Please inquire directly with each school/educator to discuss their curriculum and approach. I'm not saying that you need to spend thousands of dollars on a formal holistic aromatherapy education before you can begin to incorporate sensible internal essential oil use into your lifestyle, but there is a core level of information that you need to be familiar with first.