Should I drink essential oils?

In a word:  NO.  In this post, I explain why and what to do instead.

More and more lately, we are bombarded with infographics and social media. “Add just a couple drops of X essential oil to a glass of water and drink up!” Here’s the problem: this seemingly benign practice can do a lot of harm.

Essential oils and water don’t mix – literally. In scientific terms, we say they are hydrophobic. They’re also lipophilic, which means they’re attracted to fats, like the fats in our body tissues. When we combine these properties, such as by adding essential oils to a beverage, we end up with a floating slick of undiluted essential oils on the surface of the liquid, which, when swallowed, penetrates the mucous membranes of the mouth and the gastrointestinal tract, and can cause irritation (heartburn is your first clue), burns, and erosions. Do this frequently enough, and the liver becomes taxed; it filters everything we take in, including concentrated essential oils.

Even though we’re only talking about a couple drops, essential oils are incredibly concentrated. It takes roughly one pound of lemons to make one drop of lemon essential oil. That’s simply too much lemon for a cup of tea.

Essential oils contain no vitamins, and there are much safer and more affordable natural flavoring agents to enjoy. Add fresh lemon to your water or tea and you will benefit from its trace minerals and vitamins, without the risk of damage to your digestive system. Add dried fruit, citrus peel, spices, or herbs to your stored tea blends for added flavor and beauty.

When you see advice to drink essential oils, ask for research sources and the qualifications of the author. Qualified, formally trained professional aromatherapists agree: save your beautiful, costly, and precious oils for other uses.  Dilute them properly and enjoy their benefits safely applied to the skin or diffused in the air and inhaled. Aromatherapy is an amazing way to support our natural immunity, healthy skin, balanced emotions, restful sleep, and overall well-being… when used properly.

Read more about my aromatherapy services and qualifications.

About Michelle Gilbert, CCA, APAIA, R.SPE.P.

Michelle Gilbert, CCA, APAIA, R.SPE.P. is a clinical aromatherapy educator and consultant based in Cleveland, Ohio. She is an instructor at the internationally renowned Aromahead Institute, a contributing writer for Aroma Culture magazine, and has appeared in Health Magazine and other publications. She also serves on the Education Committee for the Alliance of International Aromatherapists.

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