There has been much controversy over whether it is safe to ingest essential oils or not, and there are many strong opinions on both sides of the argument. With proper research and safe practices, I believe that it can be safely done for short periods of time.
Essential oils are high concentrations of a given flower, herb, fruit, or plant. For example, it takes 256 pounds of peppermint leaf to make one pound of peppermint essential oil! (Source) These oils are extremely powerful in many ways, and with great power comes great responsibility.
The antimicrobial and antibacterial properties of essential oils can be both good and bad for you. The effects of essential oils on the bacteria in the body is relatively under-researched, but one can assume it affects both types of bacteria, good and bad. Over consumption of essential oils and prolonged exposure can lead to possible problems in the future.
Essential oils should be consumed sparingly and taken as if they were medication. When defusing/inhaling does not do the trick, switching to consuming may be the next best thing. Peppermint is great at easing indigestion and nausea. Lemon essential oil is great at detoxing. Grapefruit is an appetite stimulant. A study showed that peppermint helped reduce nausea in chemotherapy patients when taken as capsules before and after chemotherapy.
Remember to be safe when consuming essential oils. Many suggest mixing them with water. However, water and oil do not mix, so getting a dilution of the essential oils can be hard. Try adding one drop of essential oil to 1 tsp honey then mixing in a cup of warm water. Another way to ease consumption of essential oils is placing them in gelatin capsules.
I enjoy baking with essential oils, but I always mix them with a cooking oil. For example, lemon oil is great on a fresh piece of salmon. Mix the oil with extra virgin olive oil and marinate your fish with it. All you need is one or two drops compared to several whole lemons. Some of the benefits may be lost when cooking with essential oils, but essential oils do a great job of flavoring with just the tiniest amount.
Many essential oils are listed as GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) by the FDA for oral consumption. These include Basil, Bergamot, Roman Chamomile, Cinnamon Bark, Clary Sage, Clove, Dill, Eucalyptus. Frankincense, Ginger, Grapefruit, Lemon, Lime, Lavender, Myrtle, Nutmeg, Oregano, Spearmint, Peppermint, Orange, and Thyme.
A full list can be found here.
The biggest mistake someone can do is to use too much or consume them too often. It is important to treat essential oils as antibiotics or over-the-counter medication. Use sparingly and consult a doctor. This is especially true if the condition being treated persists, worsens, or new symptoms emerge.
If you decide to try ingesting essential oils, only use high-quality food safe essential oils. Always dilute your essential oils and mix well before taking. Only use one drop at a time — that is all you will ever need.
Sometimes I need a pick me up from either cold symptoms, nausea, or energy loss. Just one drop once in awhile does it.
You can learn more from the video below!
“Ingestion.” Essential Oils for Beginners: The Guide to Get Started with Essential Oils and Aromatherapy. Berkeley: Athena, 2013. 201. Print.