Can Essential Oils Be Ingested Safely?

Essential oils are not safe to consume and can cause significant poisoning even if small amounts are ingested. Certain essential oils can be deadly, so it is important to understand the risks of ingesting them. Yufang Lin, MD, a Cleveland Clinic integrative medicine specialist, warns against ingesting essential oils as they can be toxic. Natural does not always mean safe, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) maintains a list of essential oils that are generally recognized as safe.

However, this list is not definitive and it is important to choose an additive-free brand from a company that is transparent about where they grow their plants and how oils are extracted. Certain oils should never be swallowed, such as tea tree, eucalyptus, and wintergreen. Research has been done on animals rather than humans, so the science is not definitive about the ingestion of essential oils. Diluting the drops in water will not work either, it's just another one-way ticket to irritation.

Instead, one or two drops with a carrier oil, honey or in capsules with MCT oil or vegetable glycerin should be taken so that the essential oil dissolves and does not damage your system. It is also important to follow the instructions on the label when ingesting essential oils in a capsule. Many people argue that irritation of the mucosa or coating that protects our internal digestive tract will be damaged by ingesting essential oils, but we are not entirely sure. The mucosa is intrinsically protective, continually secreting more mucus to cover these sensitive areas and rapidly diluting essential oils.

It is also important to seek the advice of a trusted health professional when using essential oils. Aspiration of an essential oil can cause pneumonia; this can happen if someone tries to swallow it, but chokes so that a little goes to the lungs. Diffusing essential oils is one of the best ways to enjoy their benefits while making your home smell great. When using essential oils internally, it is important to use those that are in the Young Living Vitality line as they are up-to-date offerings of essential oils that are safe for ingestion if the instructions on the label are followed.