Are essential oils safe to digest? It's a highly debated topic, so we asked qualified aromatherapist Alissa Geddes to give us some more information on whether or not we can ingest essential oils.
Are essential oils safe to ingest?
There are so many fantastic ways to include these healing oils into our lives including skin applications like massage, compresses, baths and inhalation through diffusers or a few drops on a tissue for instance. As a qualified aromatherapist, I have found that a gentle approach with essential oils is enough to ensure good healing outcomes for my clients. Ingestion of essential oils tends to be unnecessary and in the case of serious health concerns should only be by prescription and under the supervision of a qualified aromatic medical practitioner.
Basic chemistry teaches us that the nutrients of the plant do not survive the process of extracting and distilling of essential oils. They are not nutrients as per say as they contain very little to no water-soluble or fat-soluble vitamins, minerals, proteins, enzymes or hormones.
The main concerns with the safety of ingesting essential oils are:
Irritation to the Gastro Intestinal Tract
Some essential oils are irritating to the sensitive lining of the digestive tract and/ or may cause damage with prolonged use.
Some essential oils are toxic to the liver and kidneys when ingested.
Purity of the Essential Oil
Some companies may produce essential oils use solely for fragrances. These oils will be adulterated and this means that other chemicals have been added resulting in a cheaper product. In this case you do not know what you are ingesting.
How do these aromatic molecules enter our bodies?
Used appropriately essential oils are an effective and powerful way to support and improve our health and wellbeing. Aromatic molecules in essential oils are the vehicles for healing and health. One example is menthol, found in Peppermint essential oil, has an analgesic and cooling action.
- For the relief of a minor headache mix 1 – 2 drops of Peppermint essential oil in a small amount of carrier oil and massage into your neck and shoulders. The crisp cool scent will help you energise and re-focus, so you can get on with your day.
When you inhale essential oils the aromatic molecules travel through two routes. Down into your lungs these molecules easily pass into the blood stream where they are carried throughout the entire body. And up into the limbic system in the brain. The limbic system is a primitive part of the brain and is associated with memory and emotional response. This is why certain aromas can produce powerful memories and emotions within us and how essential oils can help enhance our emotional state. Once the limbic system is triggered neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and endorphins are released.
- Stressful day? Take a moment to open a bottle of lavender essential oil and deeply inhale the soothing scent for a few breaths. Allow this gentle fragrance to carry you back to calm.
Essential oils are also absorbed through the skin and from there, they enter the blood stream. Heat, water and covering the treated area also increase the level of skin absorption. So, methods like baths and compresses are a great way to incorporate essential oils into our daily lives.
- Help for a cold. Make a warm compress by adding 3 drops of Eucalyptus essential oil to a medium sized bowl of warm/ hot water. Soak a face washer in the water and wring out excess moisture. Lay back and apply the face washer to your chest, repeat as the compress cools down. The Eucalyptus steam from the compress will help to clear your sinuses and antiseptic properties of Eucalyptus can help kill the cold causing bug.
When used properly, with respect and safety in mind, essential oils are an amazing way you can help yourself and your loved ones to enjoy beautiful, vibrant health.
Author: Alissa Geddes
Alissa is a fully qualified Aromatherapist with further qualifications in Remedial Massage & Myotherapy. She qualified as an Aromatherapist in 2005 and has worked in hospitals, day spas and in clinical practice. Alissa contributes her extensive knowledge to ECO. and helps with detailed education to our ECO. community. Alissa is passionate about assisting and teaching others how to restore and maintain their health and wellbeing.