Is it safe to use essential oils internally?
The answer is simply – yes and no. In a nutshell:
-If the product label says it is safe for internal use.
-Only in the amount and method indicated by the directions.
-If the product label says do not use for internal use.
I know there is a lot of misinformation out there and a lot of very vocal differing opinions. I’m going to tackle some of those and share my opinion on using essential oils.
Do I recommend internal use?
Yes and no. I make no secret that my recommendations and uses are more conservatives than many of those who use and sell dōTERRA essential oils. For those that are curious I base that upon countless hours of research, education and hands on experience with myself and direct interaction with hundreds if not thousands of individuals using dōTERRA essential oils that I have supported.
First and foremost, only use essential oils internally if you are comfortable doing so. Trust me on this, if you don’t want to use them internally it does not mean that you cannot support your body to be healthier. Using a high quality heavily tested essential oil is just as supportive if used topically or aromatically. You need to do what you are comfortable with.
When to I recommend internal use?
Typically when I am trying to support an internal body function, a normal inflammatory response or support or boost the immune system. Again, I can’t emphasis enough that those systems can be supported topically or even aromatically. Those methods are very effective.
When do I not recommend internal use?
Outside of the above, from the time when we are small children, we are trained to associate oral use to help us feel better and support our health needs. Essential oils are a departure from this and breaking that training can be difficult, but I feel it is important to look at each thing you are trying to support and use the oil for it appropriately. That means that if you over do it on a hike, apply Deep Blue Rub to the area that is achy is the ideal way to support your body, not using an essential oil internally.
But what about the FDA? I keep hearing different things… the FDA doesn’t approve essential oils for internal use. Some people say they do. What do I believe?
Believe the FDA itself. A list follows of essential oils that the FDA has listed as GRAS from the FDA’s website. GRAS is an acronym for Generally Regarded as Safe for internal use. (Again only per labeling instructions).
basically, the FDA designates which oils are safe for GRAS but they don’t regulate, test or otherwise get involved with essential oils other than labeling and if a drug claim is made or if there was a health and or safety risk involved.
In addition, the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA) is without question one of the most respected associates for aroma therapists. In fact, most people looking for training explore to see who NAHA endorses. Here is there statement on internal use:
2. Internal Use
Do not take essential oils internally without appropriate advanced aromatherapy education and understanding of the safety issues involved in doing so. Essential oils are commonly used internally throughout the world. Some individuals are doing so without the appropriate knowledge or understanding of safety concerns. NAHA does not support the indiscriminate or uneducated internal use of essential oils. If essential oils are used internally, we recommend doing so under the guidance of a knowledgeable health professional. To learn more, we recommend you receive education from a NAHA approved school. NAHA is dedicated to promoting education in this area so that internal use is better understood, and if done, is performed safely and effectively.
If you’d like to see it:
I know there are thousands of wild accusations of essential oils not being safe to use internally. Frankly I completely understand where many of those statements are coming from. I also strongly agree that it is a true statement with most essential oils. In the ‘old days’ we had to dig out a huge $100 reference book, print out the reports on the oil, do calculations and a lot of steps to use them internally. We also had to have a lot of care that the oils were safe, pure, the chemical constituencies were in a safe range and of course that it was the correct species. Species and chemical constituencies are key because if those aren’t correct there can be horrific and tragic results. Thankfully dōTERRA carefully takes care of that for us. While I still reach for that reference book frequently, most every day users don’t have to. All they have to is read the label and the dōTERRA provided safety chart.
I should also point out that the reason NAHA cautions careful use is that some people have taken it upon themselves to recommend use and amounts that are a departure from what is on the label. It has caused numerous issues that typically could be avoided by just using the product according to the label. Yes I acknowledge and understand some EO users advocate outside of recommendations. Think back to when you were a kid and your mom said, well if So and So jumped off a cliff would you do it to? Same thing here. Just because someone else is doing it doesn’t mean that it is okay or a smart thing to do. While this might not be a popular opinion, mine is use the instructions on the bottle exclusively unless you have an expert working with you. To be clear, expert doesn’t mean your friend who has been using essential oils for a couple of months and they heard this works. It means someone who is a Certified Holistic Health Coach, A Certified Aroma therapist or a professional practioner. I need to be absolutely clear that must be one who does continuing education and research. I recognize that there are plenty of weekend classes with certifications that aren’t worth what they are written on. If a class only focuses on a specific brand, it is product training not health coach training. But I digress, so I’ll step off my soapbox. Sometimes an expert will make an oil use recommendation that departs from label use but that should be in unique situations and not the norm.
What amounts and how do you recommend using essential oils?
I recommend using them as the label states. With dōTERRA oils that typically is ONE drop in 4 ounces of liquid. Adding a drop of fractionated coconut oil to the liquid and then the essential oil on the fractionated coconut oil will help dilute it. If the taste isn’t palatable, put the oil in a gel cap with a drop of fractionated coconut oil. I do not recommend heavily compounding this. For most cases one drop is sufficient and rarely is more than 3 drops necessary.
But what about the famous F Bomb? That isn’t something I recommend. dōTERRA has OnGuard Plus gel caps and they have GX Assist. Both of those are better options. They are easier to use, less likely to open too early and less likely for you to ingest too much essential oil. I should note that GX Assist is ALWAYS followed by PB Assist and never take more than one GX Assist at one time or for a longer period than the bottle states.
Before I close on this topic, I thought it important to add my own personal experience to internal use. I do use dōTERRA essential oils internally and rarely depart from the directions on the bottle. You may or may not know that I have Fibromyalgia, (which has been in remission since 2012), and about 20 years ago I was given a brand new pain reliever to try. It interacted with another drug and did some serious damage to my esophagus. Because of that and the fact that my father had esophageal cancer, they do routine endoscopes on me (how lucky am I). I had one done before I used essential oils internally. It showed the permanent damage done by the drug (which now has a warning) and I had 100s of polyps. So many that while they were trying to get enough biopsies I woke up and they had to put me under again. Thankfully they were all benign but it was a concern. I had another routine endoscope and they were pleased by the condition of my esophagus. The permanent damage still showed but was not as bad and there were no polyps. None, nada zip. Now I need to be clear I am not saying that was a result of the essential oils at all. There were too many variables including serious diet changes that could have attributed to it. The point is that there was no sign that the essential oils damaged it. Best of all, the specialist had no problem with me continuing to use my essential oils internally. (Did I mention he is head of the most prestigious medical facility in one of the top US cities)? So for me, that provides strong support that when used according to label instructions dōTERRA essential oils are safe for internal use.
I’ll also add that we have to use some logic to this issue. dōTERRA is an international company based in one of the most litigious countries in the world. There are almost 5 million people using dōTERRA. If their recommended internal use was not safe the lawsuits would cripple and bankrupt them.
Note: My philosophy always has been that while I think doTERRA essential oils are the best oils on the planet, there are other quality essential oils available and I am just happy you are using essential oils. Just check the label before using other brands to verify safety.
If you’d like to learn more about doTERRA essential oils please contact me or visit my Facebook page.