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Can You Ingest Essential Oils?

As a Certified Clinical Aromatherapist, one of the most frequent questions I'm asked about using essential oils is “Is it safe to ingest essential oils?” and “Is ingesting effective?” To answer both of these important questions we have to turn to the field of toxicology.

What is Toxicology?

Toxicology, as the name implies, is the study of chemicals that can cause harm. These chemicals are known as toxicants or toxins- a chemical that causes systemic damage.

But don’t be thrown by the word chemical because we aren’t differentiating between manmade synthetic chemicals and naturally occurring chemicals. Essential oils are full of chemicals and many of these chemicals are really good for our body. And so when we’re looking at identifying toxicants and the ultimate safety for anything we’re exposed to, what we’re really trying to find out is if there is anything that will cause systemic damage.

If we say something is toxic, it doesn’t necessarily mean it is poisonous and this is probably one of the biggest misconceptions. Something can be toxic to us without being poisonous and it doesn’t mean it’s going to kill you immediately or in the long term. Toxic means it is going to harm something in your body. Also, something that is an allergen is not necessarily considered a toxicant.

We know that applying certain essential oils to the skin can cause irritation or burning when applied neat and this may make us think that this oil is corrosive or irritating. However, this is again a separate reaction because toxicity is a SYSTEMIC reaction that causes harm throughout the body.