I come across countless people a day praising the practice of ingesting essential oils.
I even had someone tell me that as long as it says therapeutic grade or pure essential oil on the label it’s OK to ingest (which is not the deciding factor by the way).
Essential oils are very popular now, especially when it comes to the topic of ingestion.
Before you say yes to ingesting any oils you must first ask yourself these three questions:
If your doctor told you to take medication for a certain condition would you?
If your friend told you to take medication for a certain condition would you?
If you read on the internet to take medication for a certain condition would you?
Are your answers different to each of the three questions above?
Why or why not?
Does it have to do with education, experience, authority, or something else?
Research and questions need to happen whether or not it’s your physician telling you to do something, a friend telling you to do something, or reading it somewhere on the internet.
Practicing aromatic medicine
When you ingest essential oils what you are doing is applying the concept of aromatic medicine. Aromatic medicine is using essential oils in medical applications including ingestion.
Every oil has different properties and will react differently in different people. And the terms ‘therapeutic grade’, ‘pure’, and ‘certified pure therapeutic grade’ can be misleading and can add further confusion when it comes to ingesting.
You do want high quality oils when it comes to ingesting, but the quality is not the only reason to ingest an oil. Some can have an interaction with medications, cause adverse affects, or worsen medical conditions. There are even some that should never be ingested under any circumstances.
Essential oils and potency
Did you know that some essential oils are so potent that their spills are considered hazardous? So, you can only imagine the potential adverse effects of taking them internally if you are not careful.
For example, let’s look at just some adverse effects/warnings of using peppermint oil:
- Avoid use on children under 30 months of age. The nasal mucosa is an autonomic reflexogen organ, which has a distance action to the heart, lungs and circulation and may lead to sudden apnoea and glottal constriction.
- When used orally, it may cause heartburn, perianal burning, blurred vision, nausea and vomiting
- People with gallbladder disease, severe liver damage, gallstones and chronic heartburn should avoid the intake of peppermint oil
- Menthol and peppermint oil caused burning mouth syndrome, recurrent oral ulceration or a lichenoid reaction, by contact sensitivity in the intra-oral mucosa, in sensitive patients
- Use in infants or children is not recommended, when inhaled, taken by mouth or if applied on open skin areas, on the face or chest, due to the potential toxicity of the product.
- Peppermint oil should be used with caution. Doses of menthol over 1 g/Kg b.w. may be deadly.
Working with a professional
Working with a qualified, certified clinical aromatherapist should help you figure out which essential oils you can safely ingest for your particular condition versus ones to avoid altogether. They should take a thorough medical history from you to account for any medical conditions and/or medications being taken at the time that can have a reaction with the essential oil (read What to Expect from Your First Aromatherapy Consultation).
And he/she should be able to give you sound advice regardless of what brand of oils he/she sells. Also, don’t be afraid to ask about their education and look up the school itself if you have to. Find out what the school’s standards are and if the approvals they claim to receive are indeed by legitimate agencies.
And even if you work with a qualified, certified clinical aromatherapist you should do your own research on the matter, too. Find evidence based research that supports the reason to ingest an essential oil for that condition. This way you can ask as many questions as you need to in order to understand their advice and can accept it or reject it.
Go a step further and read books on the subject matter or get an education in clinical aromatherapy or aromatic medicine.
When you think of ingesting essential oils think of them as medicine because that’s exactly what they are and just because they’re natural doesn’t mean they can’t be misused.
Also, all essential oils should come with what’s called a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS), which includes important information such as flammability and chemical composition. If the oil does not come with one the company you purchased the oil from should be able to provide one upon request. If they can’t give you one upon request then I advise you to find another essential oil supplier.
What do you think of ingesting essential oils?
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