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Oral Ingestion of Essential Oils

If you use essential oils, please read this.

In the last several years many students have contacted us on the topic of oral ingestion of essential oils. One of our graduate students, Haly JensenHof MA, RA writes a weekly BLOG on her website,, and summed it up beautifully. She has given us permission to share her BLOG post on our website.

Post written by Haly JensenHof, MA, RA: “Unless you have received proper instruction from a properly qualified aromatherapist, physician, or other health care practitioners DO NOT ingest essential oils!” Today’s topic centers on the risks of orally ingesting essential oils. I have been very concerned and dismayed to read on several blog sites that to take essential oils orally is safe. On one site I saw the suggestion to take a gel cap filled with three drops of three different essential oils three times a day was perfectly safe for what the blogger “thought” might be allergies! I don’t even want to go into the risks of self-diagnosis, the risk of allergies to the essential oils the blogger recommended be ingested, the irritation to mucous membranes said essential oils are known to cause, or the suggestion, (made by an individual untrained in clinical aromatherapy) that taking essential oils orally is perfectly safe and acceptable. I will tell you, as a clinically Registered Aromatherapist, what I do know about what oral ingestion of essential oils can cause.

The use of essential oils through oral ingestion can lead to the following:

• Systemic toxicity (affecting the entire body and organs), poisoning, and even death.

• Irritation of the gastrointestinal tract.

• The possibility of nausea and vomiting, which will compound a client’s complaints.

• Undue stress on the liver. Substances pass from the gastrointestinal tract to the liver for metabolism, and in the case of essential oils their therapeutic properties can become deactivated or made more toxic.

The highly respected, and leader in the field of aromatherapy, Robert Tisserand, wrote: “Oral administration is more likely to lead to systemic toxicity problems than application to the skin, since a greater concentration (about 10 times as much) is likely to reach the bloodstream.” Additionally, Tisserand stated, “It is our recommendation that essential oils should only be prescribed orally, for therapeutic purposes, by primary care practitioners such as medical doctors and medical herbalists.”[1] [1] Tisserand, Robert and Caldwell, John; Essential Oil Safety, A Guide for Health Care Professionals; Churchill Livingstone; New York, NY; p. 3.

Knowing what I know about the significant dangers of oral ingestion of essential oils, I never recommend this practice to clients. There are so many other effective, and safe, means of administering essential oils. I prefer to apply them through inhalation, massage blends, diffusion, bathing, shower scrubs, lotions, and salves.

Thank you Haly for your wonderful contribution to the world of aromatherapy!

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