Is it Safe to Ingest Essential Oils? – Yes, but be smart about it!


You Have Probably Ingested Them Already!

Is it safe to ingest essential oils? Have you ever done it? If you think you have never ingested EOs, you are likely mistaken. I have learned that many of the foods we eat contain these oils, just check out the ingredient list on some of your favorite foods. Of course, the amount of EOs added to our foods for flavor are minuscule. Nevertheless, I believe, it is safe to say that most people have consumed EOs, whether you knew it or not.

Doctors in Europe, India and Asia prescribe the ingestion of Essential Oils to manage health issues and they have been doing this for thousands of years. It also said that people in the United States and North America tend to shy away from this practice because essential oils are less well-known.

So, is it safe to start ingesting them? The answer seems to be yes and no.

Picture of a colorful question mark.

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First and Foremost

The key thing to remember is that EOs are EXTREMELY POTENT CONCENTRATED PLANT ENERGY. Take a look at the following information to see how much of the original plant it takes to produce only one pound of the EO.

  •  1500 lemons to yield one pound of lemon EO
  •  256 pounds of peppermint leaf to make one pound of peppermint EO
  •  10,000 pounds of rose petals yields one pound of rose EO
  •  250 pounds of lavender yields one pound of lavender EO
  •  6,000 pounds of melissa plant (commonly known as lemon balm) yields one pound of melissa EO

This is pretty amazing isn’t it? As you can see, it takes an enormous amount of the original plant to produce small quantities of essential oil.

Yes, Some People Ingest Essential Oils

Yes, it seems some people do consume essential oils. Examples of edible oils may include orange, ginger, chamomile, lemon, cocoa and turmeric, just to name a few.

Some things to consider if you decide to do so. Make sure you choose the purest, most organic and steam distilled oils. It is best if the bottle states it is meant for food consumption. Lots of oils produced are not intended for oral consumption. They may contain other ingredients that would not hurt you if used in a diffuser or topically applied but may be harmful if taken internally.

So, again, yes, it seems that we can use EOs in our food. From what I have figured out, it is very difficult to measure such a small amount of oil with our common household measuring devices. If we measure improperly (use too much), we run the risk of injury due to the high potency. Also, one should be sure the oils they intend to use are deemed “food grade”.

During my research it was quite clear to me that there are differing opinions whether we should consume EOs. I saw articles that were 100% against it. There were articles that were totally for it and have no problem with it. I even saw Cook Books related to Essential Oils.

Some Oils Should Never Be Ingested

A sign that says CAUTION.

It does make sense to me that some Essential Oils could be taken internally if they could be properly measured and contained no impurities. There are some EOs that should NOT be ingested. As I was researching, I came across a few examples of oils that would fall into that category. They are:

  • Birch
  • Cedarwood
  • Eucalyptus
  • White Fir
  • Wintergreen

This list is not conclusive in any way. Always do your homework and find out what is safe and what is not.

In Conclusion

It was quite interesting studying this topic. I sure noticed varying opinions regarding the safety of ingesting EOs. Another thing to consider is how the government regulates and approves the use of essential oils for humans. I live in Canada and as far as can tell, our government has approved the marketing of essential oils for aromatherapy and topical application.

Well, it seems that EOs can be used internally. It does make sense that they could be, after all, they are plant material. If you do plan to cook with EOs then please take good care when doing so. Follow the suggestions above and/or do some investigating of your own.

If you plan to take an EO as an internal medicine, it would be a very good idea to check with a certified medical professional.

I will be completely honest with you, I have never cooked with or taken an essential oil internally. I do love using EOs in my diffuser and occasionally topically. I believe the western world is slowly becoming more aware of the usages of EOs and how they can certainly benefit us.

Thank you for taking the time to read this article. Please feel free to leave a comment if you like. I enjoy learning and would love to hear what you have to say.

Angela (founder of Your Aromatherapy Store)

I would like to remind you that essential oils are very POTENT and should be used with common sense and caution. Always read the labels. If you are currently taking any prescribed medication it is recommended that you speak to your doctor before using essential oils.
If you are concerned about allergies, you may want to perform a patch test on your skin.
It is also good to be aware that some essential oils are photo toxic. Avoid the sun as necessary when using these oils.
Please know that some oils are not recommended if you are pregnant or nursing. Essential oils are considered “complementary and alternative medicines” and are not always a substitute for professional medical intervention and advice. If you are experiencing severe physical or mental illness it is best to contact a medical professional.

A Brief History of Aromatherapy – How Did It All Get Started?


Who Used Aromatherapy First?

a brief history of aromatherapy. Mortar bowl and pestle with dried aromatic herbs.

Did you ever wonder how aromatherapy came to be? If you are like me then you probably did wonder from time to time. Well, I did a little digging online and found some interesting things. Let me share with you a brief history of aromatherapy.

Firstly, it is important to know that it goes back a VERY, VERY long time! Thousands and thousands of years! For this very reason, it is hard to credit any one particular culture or person as being the first to discover aromatherapy. Many ancient civilizations used herbs and oils for ritualistic, hygienic, therapeutic and spiritual purposes. They were such a luxury, they were even used as means of payment at times.

The word “aromatherapy” was not coined until the 20th century…….I will tell you a little more about that further on in the article.

China

It’s likely that the Chinese and the Egyptians were making use of plants for medicinal purposes within the same time period.

a brief history of aromatherapy. Jars of dried aromatic and medicinal herbs.

It is thought, Chinese culture has the oldest continuous “written history” of any medical system in existence. It’s an herbal and agricultural encyclopedia called Shennong Ben Cao Jing. 365 medicinal plants and their uses are listed in this book. The original version was supposed to have dated back to 2700 BC. Unfortunately, this did not survive, however, it was compiled again between 200 and 250 CE and is still in existence today. That’s pretty amazing!

It is interesting to note that there is some archeological evidence from ancient Chinese tombs that show the use of herbs 5000 years ago.


“I have an advertising relationship with the stores/ businesses that I link in this post. I will earn a commission when you shop through my link with no added cost to you.”


Egypt

a brief history of aromatherapy

The ancient Egyptians used plants in religious rituals. They believed that certain smells could raise their consciousness and heighten states of tranquility. In addition to this, they burned offerings of frankincense to the sun god Ra at sunrise and burned myrrh in the evening, as an offering to the moon god.

Some other interesting things I learned about the Egyptians and the use of herbs and oils are:

  • Frankincense, Benzoin and Myrrh were, at times, considered more valuable than gold – that’s pretty valuable!
  • Some people say the Egyptians are credited with the first distillation machine to extract oils from certain plants. Although I noticed that other cultures were also thought to have been the first to distill oils.
  • The Egyptians were excellent at using plant resins and plant oils to embalm the dead.
  • Jars of Frankincense have been found in ancient Egyptian tombs.

Greece

a brief history of aromatherapy. A drawing of Hippocrates sitting in a chair reading.

A brief history of aromatherapy has to include the Greeks. After all, Hippocrates, “The Father of Medicine” is believed to have used over 200 herbs as infusions and internal medicine. He documented his findings as well. He did not believe that people became ill because of supernatural forces. Hippocrates promoted treating people with baths, physiotherapy and massages, which included the use of plants and their healing properties.

Between 40 – 90 AD, Greek physician, Pedacius Dioscorides, wrote a book called Materia Media. The book contained information about herbal medicine. This book formed the core of what was called the European Pharmacopeia (the western world’s standard medical reference) until the 19th century. Fascinating! It’s hard to deny that plants have some very useful qualities.

Another interesting thing I discovered was that the Greek gods were supposedly gifted with the knowledge of perfume and fragrance. That’s a pretty long time ago, I’d say!

India

A brief history of aromatherapy. People looking at a statue surrounded with flower petals. The statue is likely Buddah.

Another very old civilization is India. They have been using fragrant incense, scented flowers, aromatic plants and plant parts for many thousands of years. It was and still is an indispensable part of religious rituals, worship and healing. Spiritual inspiration and cleansing of the soul were thought to be related to fragrances.

It is mentioned several times, in the Buddhist scriptures, that Buddha was treated with floral aroma. We can conclude that aromatherapy (although not called that yet) was an accepted way of treating ailments. Right?

Rome

The Romans adopted the use of aromatherapy (or whatever they were calling it back then) from the Greeks. They not only adopted it but they ran with it, so to speak, with sheer extreme and decadence. They did this by:

  • Bathing in the oils several times a day
  • Becoming the bathing capital of the world
  • Frequently having massages with oils
  • They created celebrated fragrances blended by
    a brief history of aromatherapy
    highly skilled perfumers
  • Oils were used to scent the bed, body and hair
  • The establishment of trade routes were due, in part, to the popularity of aromatics. Exotic oils and spices were imported from lands such as India and Arabia.

The knowledge of aromatics was virtually lost during the dark ages, due to the decline of the Roman Empire.

More recently….

We covered some interesting history concerning the use of plants for medicinal and ritual purposes. Now, let’s move ahead to more recent times. Let’s look at where and when the term Aromatherapy arrived on the scene.

The first appearance of the word Aromatherapy in print was in 1937. A chemist by the name of René-Maurice Gattefossé authored a book called : Aromathérapie: Les Huiles Essentielles, Hormones Végétales. The story goes that while working in a laboratory he burned his hand very badly. The only liquid near him was a vat of lavender oil into which he put his hand, after burning it. His injury healed quickly and with little scaring. This led to his increased interest in the healing properties of plants and the word AROMATHERAPY!

René-Maurice Gattefossé experimented with essential oils during the First World War. He applied lavender, thyme, lemon and clove to the wounds of soldiers. An increase in the rate of healing was noted compared to the antiseptics in use at the time.

Aromatherapy has continued to be studied and many books have been written supporting the healing powers of aromatherapy. In the late 1970’s and 1980’s, the use of essential oils and aromatherapy became a major part of alternative and holistic healing, worldwide.

In Conclusion

Well, I think we can all agree, that plants have definite potential to aid us in our health and for some people, their spirituality. The information available on this topic is extensive and I have hardly scraped the surface of what there is to know. I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I did writing it. If you have any comments regarding the history of aromatherapy I would love to hear from you. It is always great to share and learn so I encourage you to leave a comment if you like.

Have a great day!


Angela (founder of Your Aromatherapy Store)

I would like to remind you that essential oils are very POTENT and should be used with common sense and caution. Always read the labels. If you are currently taking any prescribed medication it is recommended that you speak to your doctor before using essential oils. If you are concerned about allergies, you may want to perform a patch test on your skin.
It is also good to be aware that some essential oils are photo toxic. Avoid the sun as necessary when using these oils.
Please know that some oils are not recommended if you are pregnant or nursing.
Essential oils are considered “complementary and alternative medicines” and are not always a substitute for professional medical intervention and advice. If you are experiencing severe physical or mental illness it is best to contact a medical professional.