Using Essential Oils Internally: Is it Safe?
If you bring up using essential oils internally, you’re likely to get a few reactions: either the person will agree that it is safe, strongly disagree, or have no opinion. Internal use of essential oils is a really controversial topic and I’ve found that people are either for or against internal use without much in-between. BTW, remember to read our disclaimer!
So the question is; are essential oils safe to use internally? Before I get into it more, I will just say, never do something you are not comfortable doing. Trust your gut in everything!
Here are some things to consider:
- when you eat a plant you automatically ingest a small part of the essential oil
- when you drink herbal tea you also ingest a small amount of the essential oil
- essential oils are 50%-70% more potent than the plant they come from, so a little goes a long way–you don’t need a whole bottle for one sitting 🙂
How do I know which essential oils are safe?
Again, this is a pretty controversial topic. Interestingly, the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy states that “Essential oils may be applied on the skin (dermal application), inhaled, diffused or taken internally. Each of these methods have safety issues which need to be considered.” They also say that “if handled in the appropriate manner, the risks involved in their use can be very small”.
The FDA has a list of oils that are “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS). You can find the full list here and I’ve made a list with the oils I use most that are also on the list:
And if we’re being honest, DoTerra is the only essential oil brand I trust for internal use and this is because of the quality of their product (you can check the quality of each individual bottle here), and the rigorous, third-party testing standard they hold themselves to.
Using essential oils internally
There are a few ways to use essential oils internally, and again, this is up to your personal comfort level.
- Add one drop to your water: some people do this daily, but again, this is up to you and I actually don’t do this daily; probably just once a week.
- Add a drop of essential oil to honey: I do this often to use in tea (usually just a drop per cup of honey)
- Add a drop of essential oil to honey to take internally during illness
- You can also use vegetable capsules to take the oils internally
- Add a drop to your food; I add the protective/immune support blend to my granola here
- On occasion, I will add a drop directly underneath my tongue (usually the protective/immune support blend from DoTerra), but only when I feel a sickness coming on. This is not for everyone.
- Via suppositories
“The fact remains that there are no scientific, evidence-based, anatomical, physiological or logical reasons to say that essential oils are unsafe for human consumption.” -Dr. Eric Zielinski
While I agree with the above statement, this doesn’t mean you should go out and use all of your oils internally all of the time. There is moderation in everything, including the internal use of essential oils.
Safety Issues to consider
- Some essential oils are not meant to be used internally. So how do you know which ones are safe? DoTerra’s labels will tell you–if there are supplement facts on the bottle it is generally recognized as safe for internal use. The label will also give you a dilution ratio (for example; ‘one drop in 4 fluid oz.’)
- If you are uncomfortable using an essential oil internally, then don’t! Internal use has it’s benefits, but you can also get many benefits from aromatic and topical use.
- Quality of the essential oils. Like I said, the only brand I recommend personally for internal use is DoTerra. I have used other brands before and gotten sick.
- Dosage–this will depend on age, size, and current health of the individual. This is a general guideline: “It is best to start with the lowest possible dose (1–2 drops) and then increase the dose as needed. The recommended internal dose of essential oils is 1–5 drops, depending on the oil or blend. After a certain point, taking a higher dose no longer adds benefit. If you take too much, it can even become harmful. It is better to take a smaller dose, which can be repeated every 4–6 hours as needed. In total, typically no more than 20 drops, divided into doses, should be consumed in a 24-hour period.” (source).
- If you have sensitivity to an oil externally, I don’t recommend taking it internally
- Research for yourself or talk to a professional if you have concerns.