I have a blanket statement about the ingestion of essential oils. Don't. Generally speaking, my opinion about ingestion of essential oils is not a popular one. However, safety first. There are many people that approve of, advise to and have no problem with the concept of internal use of essential oils. My questions would be these: Are they an aromatologist/clinical aromatherapist working under the care of a physician? Have they had years of training? Do they know all of the side effects/interactions with medications and health conditions and are they willing to be responsible if something goes awry with the ingestion? Essential oils are considered a medication or a treatment. Who is the prescriber? Do they know that gender and ethnicity along with genetics play a role in the metabolism of essential oils? Do you?
The first concern about ingestion is determining the purity of the essential oils. Given the state of the market and that most GC/MS sheets (see my earlier post on these) are not available...what are you putting in your body? Would you eat a granola bar that didn't list the ingredients or something from a roadside stand that had no sign telling you what it was (perhaps it would just say "food")? When I am looking to live a "whole" lifestyle I want to know everything that I am putting in my body.
Has your "prescriber" taken a full history on you? Have they talked to you about your age, body weight, state of health and medication? Probably not. If you read the Tisserand/Young book on safety of essential oils they suggest that there is so little information on the safety of ingestion of oral dosing that a person should be carefully monitored by a primary care practitioner.
There is data to suggest that overdose can cause lethargy, difficulty with walking, coma, irritability, gastrointestinal irritation, convulsions and a multitude of other serious conditions (Aromatherapy for Health Professionals, 2007). There is a table within the source noted above for lethal doses of essential oils. I wonder if the individual advising you to ingest essential oils has read it. Further, is the person that has suggested oral dosing familiar with diagnosis and pharmacology of essential oils? Here is a list from Tisserand/Young of some common drugs which interact with certain essential oils: Warfarin, Aspirin, Heparin, Acetaminophen, Phenobarbital, Citalopram, Fluoxetine, Sertraline, Metformin, Furosemide, Spironolactone....these are just a few of the more "known" medications.
Did you know that there are many cases of Eucalyptus poisoning? Since there are many types of Eucalyptus and the specifics on which one have not been disclosed we can only refer to Eucalyptus oil as a whole. In 34 cases of Eucalyptus poisoning 50% of them led to coma (Gurr & Sccroggie 1965). All of them recovered.
If you are ingesting an absolute or a resin be aware that there is solvent residue remaining in these oils. There is concern also that Peppermint essential oil can cause premature contractions. In the hospital we do not give Peppermint essential Oil to pregnant women, people with a cardiac history or individuals with contractile disorders (seizure, epilepsy for example).
In summary, these are a few of my reasons for having a hard stop with ingestion of essential oils. I hope that I've given you something to ponder as you consider ingestion of essential oils. There are lots of things to be concerned about with ingestion of essential oils.
My name is, Polly J. Huenink-Schellinger. I am a Registered Nurse, Board Certified Holistic Nurse, Reflexologist, Clinical Aromatherapist, Parish Nurse, Certified Healing Touch Practitioner and Prepare for Surgery, Heal Faster Facilitator.