A question I am constantly asked as an aromatherapist relates to the ingestion of essential oils.
Can I do it?
Is it safe?
In my professional opinion, it is not an easy question to answer as the topic is far more complex that just a case of yes or no.
I’m all for people taking ownership of their health and wellbeing, and using a variety of techniques and approaches in the name self healing and self awareness. Unfortunately, when it comes to the ingestion of essential oils, there’s so much misinformation abound on this subject that many are not aware of the complexities, and more and more people are hurting themselves by not speaking with appropriately qualified professionals.
Simply put, yes it can be done.
But whether it is the best option, the most effective option or the safest option - that is far more difficult to answer.
Using essential oils via the oral interface is a valid form of administration, but it should be done under the guidance of some with extensive training. It is not a case of following a recipe from a book, or from a social media post. It requires careful consideration, thought and individual analysis to determine the best course of action for the individual in question.
There are a number of advanced training and qualifications available which cover this method. You are trained in diagnostic techniques, formulation and dispensing of aromatic substances for all body interfaces, including oral ingestion. The safe and effective use of aromatics within all body interfaces is examined as well as additional supporting training in aromatic chemistry, pharmacology & toxicology is imperative. The training would also cover the use of aromatics to clients with specific needs such as palliative care, aged care, women and children.
An aromatherapist at this level is expected to have an in-depth understanding of an extensive range of essential oils and application methods. They must operate within relevant legislative and regulatory requirements, for example the Therapeutic Goods Act and State/Territory Drugs and Poisons Acts.
But my EOs have GRAS status?
GRAS means Generally Regarded As Safe for adding to food and beverages which is their intended purpose. In fact many companies use essential oils as flavouring in their food preparations. The key point that some are missing is the dilution ratio. The other point they are missing is that when used in commercial quantities. The way some are promoting GRAS as a reason to add them to your food and beverages is misleading. For a more in depth read on this area of the topic, check out http://www.thebarefootdragonfly.com/essential-oils-and-gras-what-it-really-means/
Another factor to take into consideration is the quality and purity of the essential oils one is using. But there is more to EOs than quality and purity. There are many companies that provide pure essential oils, there are many that provide quality essential oils. The two terms are not mutually exclusive. When we start using these powerful tools internally, quality and purity are important, but not the only factor in the equation. As a qualified professional, I read and review the GC/MS documentation to ensure that the oil in question meets requirements, but there is also so much more to look for in terms of testing. I'll address this further in another post soon.
When we ingest them via the oral interface, we must understand how they change within the body – pharmacology, pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics.
One thing many may not be aware of is that essential oils can interact with any medications you might be taking. This is why the “recipe” or “there’s an oil for that” approach is ill considered when it comes to internal usage. Only a full consultation with an appropriately qualified aromatherapist or aromatic medicine practitioner will give you the right advice and consideration for you.
I believe that when it comes to the ingestion of essential oils, you really need to be under the care of an appropriately qualified professional, one that can support you on your journey of health and wellbeing.
If you’re looking for a qualified aromatherapist, start with IAAMA www.iaama.org.au