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Home    /    What is Holistic Health?    /    Health Articles    /    Consultations    /    Disclaimer

Consuming Essential Oils Safely

There is a lot of controversy about the topic of taking essential oils internally and a lot of information going around that is actually very dangerous.

When I read a lot of the articles and information that is circulating around the internet I really see this as being a kind of “dangerous fad”.

For the record, I am not against using essential oils internally, in fact, I am about to share with you a bunch of information I have collected that can serve as a guideline for doing this safely. I think that the consumption of essential oils can be very helpful in certain situations and I have used them myself upon occasion. But for the record, I would encourage extreme caution to anyone who is looking into taking essential oils internally as this has become a fad and can be very dangerous if certain guidelines and precautions are not followed.


Do not take essential oils internally if you are pregnant, breast-feeding, have high blood pressure, heart conditions, liver problems, diabetes, or intestinal ulcers.

Always seek the advice of someone who is trained and qualified in this field if you have any major health concerns to take into consideration.

Do not take essential oils internally at the same time as taking prescription medication.

Do NOT allow children or babies to consume essential oils even in very small amounts!

Be Wary of Health Fads!

The most dangerous part about any health fad is that they come with so much hype. Everyone is sharing incredible testimonies and talking about how wonderful it is and how everyone should be doing it, but the danger is that they are not also passing along all the precautions and warnings that should be taken into consideration, or the possible side effects or risks that are involved.

So many people assume that because essential oils are natural and originate from plants that they must be safe to use, but this is not the case. Just because something is “natural” does not make it safe! Too much of anything (even a good thing) can be bad for you.

When considering taking essential oils internally, it is really important to think of them as “over the counter drugs” and to be very careful to treat them accordingly.

A very pure essential oil is estimated to be about 50-100 times more concentrated than herbs, which is one reason why they are so effective, but it is also the reason why they can be dangerous to take internally.

Essential oils are very concentrated, very strong, very potent, and very powerful. They have the potential to cause some very serious problems such as intestinal burns, respiratory issues, even liver failure.

Prolonged usage can lead to the inner lining being stripped away in your stomach, intestines, liver, or other internal organs, which can cause ulcers, burns, and possibly even cancer.

In the research I have done on this subject, and the experience I have from working as a certified herbalist, I tend to take the position that SOME essential oils are safe for SOME people to take internally IF it is done with extreme caution and ONLY done upon occasion (not frequently or for prolonged periods of time).

I would also highly suggest that it only be done under the supervision of someone who is trained in this field. There are so many things you need to know when taking essential oils internally, and so many different factors to consider and keep in mind during the process, that it is really best to do so under the supervision of someone who is trained in this practice.

Even most aromatherapists are not trained or qualified to advise internal consumption of essential oils. In my opinion it should really be someone who is trained in both aromatherapy AND herbalism, as it really is a combination of these two fields being merged together.

An aromatherapist will know about the chemestry and potency of the essential oils while an herbalist knows more specifically about using the plants as remedies and the possible risks and drug interactions to be aware of when taking them internally.

That said, here is the list of guidelines to follow if you are considering using essential oils internally . . .

1) Do not ingest essential oils if any other form of use would be sufficient

There are so many ways you can use essential oils besides taking them internally. In most cases, simply smelling the oils or using them topically can be just as effective as a home remedy that there isn’t really a need to ingest them. Your skin is highly absorbent and can carry the oils deep into the body without them even needing to enter the digestive tract.

The bottoms of your feet are exceptionally effective in distributing essential oils through the body. A simple application of oils on the feet can carry the oils to every part of the body in less than 20 minutes! The bottoms of your feet are also the least sensitive area of the body which means you are less likely to experience any adverse affects or skin reactions from the application of these oils.

Because there are so many other effective ways to use essential oils, the risks involved in taking them internally should only be considered if there are no other methods that would work just as well to accomplish your specific goal.

Also, if you are really needing to take something internally, there are plenty of herbal supplements that are much safer, better regulated, and carefully labeled with accurate dosage recommendations so that you can know exactly how much of a given plant you are actually ingesting.

I would recommend an herbal supplement long before recommending the consumption of essential oils!

2) Only use pure, high quality essential oils

When considering taking essential oils internally you need to be very careful to be sure that the product you are getting is a pure, high quality oil – and this goes beyond just reading the label!

Currently there is very little being done in the way of regulating the production of essential oils or accrediting essential oil companies. This basically means that any company that is selling essential oils can pretty much say whatever they want to on their labels and no one will dispute it or hold them accountable or liable for their claims.

There are many companies that claim that their oils are “100% pure” but really they only contain about 5-10% of actual essential oil and the rest is added ingredients, fragrances, or carrier oils.

In other words, essential oil companies can legally say that their product is “100% pure” even if it is not.

This is also true for labeling their product as “therapeutic grade”, or claiming that their essential oils are “certified”. You need to be aware of the fact that there is currently no universal “certification process” for essential oils. When an oil is “certified” all that really means is that the company that packages and sells the product is guaranteeing that the quality of the oil meets the standards of their own company (and those “standards of quality” are different for different companies).

Even the “grading scale” you have likely heard about, where companies will tell you that there are different “quality grades” for essential oils . . .

Grade “A” Being the highest quality of a pure, therapeutic oil

Grade “B” Being a moderately high food grade oil

Grade “C” Being a lower perfume or fragrance oil

Grade “D” Being the lowest quality or floral water

It all sounds good in the marketing field, but the problem still remains that these “grading scales” are set by the individual companies that produce their own essential oils. There is no universal grading scale and no association that overseas the production or the grading of the different essential oils. Pretty much any company could label their essential oils as being “Grade A” and no one would dispute it. This grading scale is something that the individual companies use to rate the quality of their own oils, and each company can decide for themselves what a “Grade A” standard of quality really is.

>> 6 Meaningless Essential Oil Terms and What to Look for Instead

All that to say, when you’re looking for a pure, high quality essential oil, you need to really do your research and look beyond the label of the product.

Don’t get me wrong, you DO want your product to say that it is “100% pure” that it is “therapeutic” or “food grade”, and it can be an added bonus if it is “certified” and “organic” as well. By all means read the labels, but just keep in mind that it is the companies themselves who determine what these labels mean and what standards of quality are associated with these claims, so in addition to reading the labels you also want to do your research and look into the different companies and their individual standards of quality.

I am in no position to guarantee the safety of any particular oils, but from my personal experiences and the research I have done, I would feel comfortable recommending the following companies:  Mountain Rose Herbs, Rocky Mountain Oils, Young Living, and Plant Therapy. Of all the different essential oil companies I have looked into, these four are the ones that stand out to me as having the highest standards for the quality and purity of their oils.

Of all these brands, Mountain Rose Herbs is my absolute favorite! I especially like that mention right on the bottle which part of the plant was used for making the essential oils. Very helpful!

(Please note that none of these companies are allowed to recommend their oils for oral consumption, and taking any essential oils internally is to be done at your own discretion.)

Also, my apologies if you are a big fan of doTerra, but I have to admit that this is one company that I would actually discourage people from using. There may be nothing wrong with the quality of their oils, but there has just been too much sketchy stuff going on with this company that I tend to get the impression that they are not being completely honest in their dealings. I have also, on several occasions, seen claims coming from the doTerra company or from their sales representatives that were not FDA compliment. In my opinion, honesty is the first policy when it comes to choosing an essential oils company, and I just don’t feel like I can trust this company or recommend it to others. You may disagree with me on this, and that is your right, I just felt the need to state this for my own conscience sake.

I also found it disturbing that in the Injury Reports from Aromatherapy United, close to half of the people who reported injuries were using doTerra products (2015 Injury Report) (2016 Injury Report). Granted, doTerra and Young Living are the two major distributors, so it stands to reason that most of the reports would come from these specific brands simply because most essential oil users are buying their products. But since these competitive companies are pretty equal in their distribution, I would have expected the numbers on the injury report to be pretty equal as well, but seeing doTerra with the highest numbers on the injury report just seemed to confirm to me that either the quality of their oils or the information they are giving their clients is likely increasing the risk of injury. This is just one more factor that leads me to think that doTerra is not the best choice for essential oils, especially with regards to internal use.

(Please note that I am not a sales rep, nor do I have anything to gain or lose with regards to which essential oil companies I endorse. I do not receive any commission or any profits as a result of these recommendations. I am simply sharing my personal opinion and the research I have done on the subject in hopes that this information may be of help to anyone who is interested in finding reliable companies and good quality essential oil products)

3) Know what plant (and what part of the plant) the oil comes from

All plants have a scientific (Latin) name that makes it possible to know exactly which plant the essential oils come from. The healing properties of the plants vary considerably from species to species, and some species may have higher risks or higher levels of toxicity than others in the same plant family. It is always important to check your essential oils bottle for the specific Latin name of the plant being used. Then do your research about that exact plant, its health benefits, as well as the risks or possible negative effects involved in using that particular species.

Here’s an example . . . Did you know that there are over 700 species of Eucalyptus? So when you buy an oil that is just labeled “Eucalyptus” which species are you getting exactly? The bottle just says “Eucalyptus”. It isn’t until you start reading the fine print that you find out which type of Eucalyptus it is . . . Eucalyptus globulus, E. bicostata, E. radiata, E. dives, E. Smithii, etc.  

And no, the different species of Eucalyptus do not all work the same way, they have distinct differences that are important to know.

>> The Uses of Eucalyptus are Many – But Which Species Do I Use?

But it’s not enough to just know exactly what plant you are working with, you also need to know what part of the plant is being used.

One of the first things you learn as an herbalist is that different parts of the same plant have completely different healing properties. So if you are trying to get the healing properties of a certain plant but are using the wrong part of that plant it’s just not going to work for you and may end up doing something completely different in your body than what you were intending to do.

Here are a couple articles I found that can be helpful in showing which essential oils come from which parts of the plants . . .

>> Essential Oil Properties By Plant Part

>> From Whence It Came

>> Percent Yield Guide for Essential Oils

But even these articles just give the “general” idea of which parts of the plants are most often used for making essential oils. If you want to know for certain you need to do your research and look into the individual companies of essential oils that you are using.

I mentioned this before, but one major advantage to using the Mountain Rose Herbs brand is that it says right on the bottle which part(s) of the plant were used for making the essential oils, so there’s no guess work or intense research involved if you’re using this company, you can know exactly what you’re getting just from reading the label.

Also keep in mind that the knowledge about the specific plants and the different plant parts is what herbalists are taught, so if you have any questions about the plants, or about which part of a plant you should be using, or what the possible negative effects could be of using certain plants/parts, it is always best to consult an herbalist or someone who is trained in this particular field.

4) Essential oils need to be diluted (and water does not count!)

Adding a drop of essential oils to drinking water is becoming a very popular practice these days, so what I am about to point out here is not going to sit well with some people, but it needs to be said:

Adding essential oils to your drinking water is NOT safe!

Essential oils are not water soluble! No matter how much you stir the water or how quickly you “chug” it down, or how carefully you swallow the oil with the water, the fact still remains, oil and water do not mix and the essential oils you add to your water are not diluted.

>> Essential Oils Will Not Mix With Water

When you add a drop of pure essential oil to your water the essential oil will always float to the surface of the water. Even if you mix it vigorously, the essential oil will still return to the surface and refuse to mix with the water.

That one drop of essential oil is very strong, very concentrate, and very potent. When you drink down the essential oil, that single drop of oil has the potential to affect and irritate anything it touches on its way through the system. Every part of the inner lining that this oil comes in contact with is getting the full force and full impact of those essential oil properties.

Also, consider this . . . When you have a bad reaction from applying essential oils on your skin what is the last thing you should put on?  Water! All the instructions you’ll read on the use of essential oils will tell you that if your skin reacts negatively to an essential oil application do NOT put plain water on it because that could actually make it worse. Instead, you are supposed to apply carrier oils to the area to further dilute the oils and help to relieve the irritation. So my question is, why do so many people disregard this principle when taking essential oils internally when the lining inside the body is even more tender and delicate than the outer layer of skin?!

You need to be aware of the fact that the inside of your body is not as tough and resilient as what is on the outside. Your skin is one of the most resilient parts of your body, but even the skin can experience adverse reactions when exposed to the pure, undiluted essential oils. So, if the skin can react to the essential oils in this way, how much more will the delicate inner lining of your mouth, throat, intestines, and other internal organs when they come in contact with that same essential oil.

What’s more, the liver is the organ that processes all the oils that you consume. So when you take essential oils internally they pass through the digestive tract and go straight to the liver. This is why people who take essential oils internally over an extended period of time often develop liver problems.

I mentioned earlier that there have been a number of reports of people ending up in the hospital with internal burns and liver issues, many of these cases are on account of people drinking their essential oils.

If you are going to add essential oils to your drinking water, please, at the very least mix the essential oil in a spoonful of honey first before you add it to your water. Honey does not entirely breakdown the oil molecules, but it can help.

Mixing essential oils with a food grade vegetable glycerine can be another option for taking the essential oils internally. But again, this only partially breaks down the oil molecules, so the essential oils are still only partially getting mixed in and would still not mix completely with water.

Another way to take essential oils internally is to put the drops in an empty capsule. I would suggest also adding a carrier oil (such as cocunut or olive oil) so that the essential oil is well diluted when the capsule dissolves and the essential oil is released in your body.

Here is a really helpful article on the subject of taking essential oils in capsules:

>> Capsules and Essential Oils – FAQ’s

And here’s an article that gives other suggestions on how to take essential oils internally:

>> Forget the Mustache! Use a Dispersant!

Personally, I recommend mixing the essential oils in a carrier oil (such as coconut or olive oil) and using “Design Release” capsules (ones that dissolves in the intestine, not the stomach) as the best way to take essential oils internally.

You can explore the different options on how to take essential oils internally, but whatever you do, please do not add the straight (undiluted) essential oils to your drinking water; this can be a real serious health risk.

>> Attention Essential Oil Enthusiasts: No More Drinking Your Oils!

>> Friends Don’t Let Friends Drink Essential Oils

5) Do not use to excess (too much, too often, or for too long)

Even if you take all the precautions to be “safe” in taking essential oils, you can still be at risk if you are taking the essential oils “too much” or “too often”.

It’s very difficult to give a set amount or frequency for this, it really depends on which essential oils you are wanting to take, your purpose in taking them, and the many variables of your unique case. This is why it is always best to work with someone who is trained in this field who can help you work out these details to suit your personal needs.

But as a general rule, one single drop is usually enough for an adult to take internally. And certainly not more than three drops. Also, it is possible to get less than one drop if you first drop the oil on a spoon and wipe a portion of it away with the corner of a tissue. Even one drop can often be too much, which is why I typically go with a half drop when taking oils internally. It may not sound like a lot but depending on the oil half a drop can be equivalent to about 10 cups of tea. There’s a lot of potency in a tiny amount of oil!

As for how frequently to take the oils, again, it really depends on your particular case (and is always best to consult someone trained in this field for personalized recommendations), but as a general rule, you should only take the product once in a 24-hour period unless advised otherwise by your health consultant.

If you are using the essential oils for pleasure (such as adding them as a spice or flavoring in foods) I wouldn’t do this more than once or twice a week.

If you are taking the oils as a preventative measure (such as trying not to catch a highly contagious virus that you are being exposed to) a general recommendation would be about 3 or 4 times during the week.

If you actually have a health concern that you are trying to address which requires more drastic measures (such as needing to do a parasite cleanse or taking a worm treatment), such treatments are usually taken once or twice a day for a total of 7-14 days (depending on the severity). But never longer than 14 days, and if 10 days is sufficient don’t continue taking the oils “just because”, only take them as long as is needed, and never exceed 14 consecutive days.

6) Only use under the guidance or supervision of a certified practitioner

There are many factors to consider when taking herbs or essential oils internally so it is always advised that you do so under the care of a certified practitioner.

Please be aware that most aromatherapists are not trained in the oral consumption of essential oils. Taking essential oils internally is really more of an herbalist’s field, but even so it requires an herbalist who has experience with using essential oils and understands the chemistry and potency of the oils.

Ideally it would be best to either find an aromatherapist who is trained to use essential oils internally or a practitioner who is certified in both aromatherapy and herbalism.

7) Keep a bottle of Activated Charcoal close at hand

Activated charcoal can be a lifesaver in any case of poisoning. I always make it a habit to have a bottle of activated charcoal in our First Aid kit and I highly recommend that anyone interested in taking essential oils internally should do the same!


If you experience any stomach pain, intestinal cramping, or any burning or intense internal pain after consuming essential oils, immediately take activated charcoal and call your local poison control center (or 911)!

>> What to Do When Injured By Essential Oils

>> Essential Oil Usage

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If you still think that taking essential oils internally is for you,

here is a related article that may be of interest to you:

FDA Approved (and Commonly Consumed) Essential Oils

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Do not take essential oils internally if you are pregnant, breast-feeding, have high blood pressure, heart conditions, liver problems, diabetes, or intestinal ulcers.

Always seek the advice of someone who is trained and qualified in this field if you have any major health concerns to take into consideration.

Do not take essential oils internally at the same time as taking prescription medication.

Do NOT allow children or babies to consume essential oils even in very small amounts!