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To Eat, or Not to Eat?

Ingesting essential oils is a subject I have avoided in the past. In recent weeks, there has been more information on the internet, on TV, and on social media about the subject and many of you are asking my position on the matter. It hasn't changed. Twist my arm and I'll tell you!

OUCH! Ok, here goes... I do not recommend ingesting essential oils for 3 reasons:

  1. There are no GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) standards established by the FDA for essential oils. There are no long-term studies on what amounts are safe to eat unless we are talking about the relatively small amounts used by flavor chemists in the food and beverage industry. Taking essential oils at full strength is something entirely different. Read on...

  2. Just because a plant is edible does not mean that its essential oil is also safe to eat. Essential oils are highly potent concentrates that also happen to be extremely volatile. This means they interact quickly and easily with almost anything with which they come into contact, including your delicate digestive tract, your gut lining, and other internal organs. It takes 155 oranges to make a half-ounce of orange essential oil. Similarly, it takes 250 pounds of lavender to make 1 pound of lavender essential oil. Think about that for a moment. Yes, these are naturally occurring compounds, but the concentration found in essential oils is much more potent and can be extremely hazardous to one's health. Drinking/eating essential oils is NOT the same as eating the plants, fruits, seeds, roots from which they are derived.

  3. The use of the term "essential oils" has become trendy. Let's not forget that although there is a growing Neo-Oil Culture out there that is obsessed with all the ways to use "oils," the original science is called aromatherapy. Inhalation is the safest, fastest, and most effective way to reap the benefits offered by essential oils. The second-most effective delivery method is through topical application in a carrier oil. Some count ingestion as a third option. I prefer to leave it out of the mix. It's not worth the risk. However, if you insist on ingesting essential oils, consult your medical doctor and a qualified Registered Clinical Aromatherapist first.

I realize I may sound like a crotchety old aromatherapist, but it hurts my heart to see all the ways that essential oils are being misrepresented and misused. People are getting hurt. This ancient, sophisticated science has become part of a trendy, Instagrammable lifestyle which often includes crystals, yoga, wine, coffee, mindfulness, cute outfits and an overabundance of house plants! Please know that I am laughing with you. I am a yogi. I enjoy crystals, and I like houseplants (a lot.) But, let's give these amazing compounds the reverence and respect they deserve and learn to use them safely so no one gets hurt.



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