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Can I ingest essential oils?

While we know there are people who take essential oils internally, and companies that promote ingestion, Green Valley Aromatherapy does not and cannot recommend this due to Canadian law and safety concerns.

Some essential oils have toxic components, for instance, nutmeg oil contains myristicin and elemicin which are psychotropic and could cause problems if ingested by someone not familiar with this. As aromatherapists, we are aware that some essential oils in particular are extremely strong and potentially dangerous. Essential oils can be one hundred times stronger than the dried herb.

In a society where the “more is better” syndrome is the norm rather than the exception, it is best if essential oils are utilized through inhalation or body application in massage oils. It takes very little essential oil to be effective.

While many essential oils are used in the flavor industry, it is important to note that they are used as such under very strict conditions. In the United States the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) regulates food ingredients and several essential oils fall under the Generally Regarded As Safe (GRAS) list. According to the FDA, the following essential oils are listed on the GRAS list:

Aniseed essential oilBasil essential oil, Bay, Bergamot essential oilBlack Pepper essential oil, Cardamom, Carrot Seed essential oilChamomile (R) essential oilCitronella essential oilClary Sage essential oilClove essential oil, Coriander, Dill, Fennel essential oilGeranium essential oilRose Geranium essential oilGinger essential oilGrapefruit essential oil, Hyssop, Helichrysum essential oilJasmine essential oilJuniper essential oilLavender essential oilLemon essential oilLemongrass essential oilLime essential oilMandarin essential oilMarjoramm essential oilMelissa essential oilNeroli essential oilNutmeg enssential oilOrange essential oilOriganum (oregano) essential oilPalmarosa essential oilPeppermint essential oilPetitgrain essential oilRose essential oilSage essential oilSpearmint essential oil,Thyme essential oil and Ylang ylang essential oil.

Essential oils are highly concentrated and can have dire side effects if not used with care. Undiluted or not, some essential oils are toxic, poisonous, caustic, can cause an allergic reaction or are otherwise dangerous.

There are some companies operating today that will tell you that their oils are so pure they can be taken internally. While purity is one aspect of this discussion, it is not the only, nor the most important one. A more important issue is whether the chemical composition of an essential oil can do harm to the body either now or in the future. For example, no matter how pure your bottle of wintergreen is, it is still toxic and can cause death. No matter how pure your cinnamon is, it is caustic and can cause internal damage. No matter how pure your lemongrass is, if you are allergic to lemongrass it will cause an allergic reaction.

We at Green Valley Aromatherapy hope that research into the safety and efficacy of using essential oils internally and externally will be ongoing so that we may continue to safely enjoy the many benefits of these “little miracles in bottles”.

*This is educational information and any opinions expressed here-in do not replace professional medical advice. If you are ill, see a suitably qualified medical practitioner.*

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