To Ingest or Not to Ingest?

Jun 25, 05:22 PM

by Katharine Koeppen, RA

This seems to be the burning question lately, as MLMs continue their wholesale onslaught upon the aromatherapy industry and their numerous distributors give "instruction" on social media and during personal sales presentations. MLM targets are told that it is perfectly safe to take essential oils by mouth, and unwitting consumers are sometimes advised to take as many as 5 milliliters of essential oil per day, for weeks or months at a time. "Essential oils are as harmless as mother's milk," gushed one MLM devotee in a recent Facebook post.

This year, I've gotten more calls and e-mails than ever from aromatherapy newbies asking if it's safe to ingest essential oils. I am alarmed to say that at least 50% of these inquiries come from nurses, who've been sold a bag of goods by a friend or coworker hawking MLM aromatherapy products, usually of the weight loss or detoxification variety.

I've posted on this issue many times, and hate having to post on it again, but the questions keep coming. The vast majority of people selling MLM essential oils have been trained in sales, not in aromatherapy. Most of them haven't spent so much as an hour in a clinical aromatherapy class, and most of them couldn't even tell you what essential oils are in the blends they're hustling. Their companies have concentrated on developing weight loss and detox products because those are easy to sell. Please don't be stupid enough to buy and consume these products.

If you do not understand essential oil chemistry, pharmacology and basic human physiology, there are a lot of things that can go wrong when you ingest essential oils without being under the direct supervision of a qualified clinical aromatherapist or a medical professional who is well versed in aromatherapy.

Short term complications of essential oil ingestion:

- burning of the mucous membranes of the mouth and/or throat
- reflux
- diarrhea
- nausea and/or vomiting
- interference with various medications that have a narrow therapeutic window, ranging from rendering the meds useless to complications such as seizures
- interference with anesthesia
- dramatic elevation in liver enzymes 

Long term complications of essential oil ingestion:

- all of the above, plus
- liver cancer
- liver failure
- fatty liver disease
- liver enlargement
- kidney failure 

As you can see from the lists above, potential side effects and complications are unpleasant, serious and can be irreversible. Most professionals will simply not recommend unsupervised oral ingestion by untrained persons.

Be safe, not sorry.

For more information on the dangers of oral ingestion, please view the following AromaBlog posts:

Is It OK to Ingest Essential Oils?

Adverse Reactions to Peppermint Oil

Is Grapefruit Oil a "Fat Burner"?

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