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Ingesting essential oils; Safe or harmful?

Certain topics have been avoided among friends throughout history because of their controversial nature. Religion and politics are among these divisive subjects. However, more recently other subjects have divided friends and family including car brands and sports teams. There are also divisive subjects among essential oil enthusiasts, including choice of essential oil brand and whether or not it is safe to ingest essential oils. Regarding the latter, you have an entrenched group of traditionalists that want to maintain the status quo and a growing group of progressives that advocate oral ingestion. Blog posts and articles on both sides  fuel the fire of this discordant debate. All of this leads to a great deal of confusion for the consumer who just wants to enjoy the benefits of essential oils.

So, with all the conflicting information and the drama associated with the topic of ingesting essential oils what is the average consumer supposed to do? The purpose of this article is not to add fuel to the debate, but to provide an evidence-based perspective based on current scientific research.

Misguided Convictions, Proper Training, and Control

First of all, I respectfully submit that some of the traditionalists are misguided in their convictions against essential oil ingestion. For some, it is a case of continuing to do what they’ve always done. Change is difficult. Humans, in general, don’t like change and prefer what they are familiar with. Others have only received training from an “approved” school that doesn’t teach ingestion methods. These aromatherapists have not received the proper training to teach the ingestion method and therefore are not qualified to do so. Another group just wants to maintain control of aromatherapy. If individuals are empowered with the correct information they can use essential oils safely without resorting to an appointment with a certified aromatherapist. I understand this completely. They want to protect their bread and butter — their revenue stream. I tend to prefer empowerment. A knowledgeable essential oil user, empowered with the right knowledge, can realize better health naturally and safely.

 

Oral Administration in the Scholarly Research 

I was recently invited to contribute a chapter along with my colleague and friend Dr. Joshua Plant  on essential oils to a forthcoming medical textbook Nutrition and Integrative Medicine: A Primer for CliniciansAs part of this chapter, I completed a literature review of clinical studies that administered essential oils orally. A significant range of doses was used in the dozens of clinical studies I located depending on the purpose and the essential oil used. Doses ranged from 50 mcL to 3 mL daily. These studies safely administered essential oils orally with few, if any, adverse events. It is clear that members of the scientific community accept the oral administration of essential oils and recognize it is a valuable administration method.

Our Body is Regularly Exposed to Essential Oil Constituents 

Another aspect of this debate is whether our body is used to processing the constituents found within essential oils. Here are some of the constituents are body commonly encounters and is used to processing:

  • Limonene is a common essential oil constituent and found in citrus fruits (including their juice), carrots, baked goods, beverages, chewing gum and more. Indeed, orange juice contains a number of volatile constituents, with limonene being the most abundant at 376 to 741 mcg/mL.(1)
  • Linalool is found in coriander, rosewood, and lavender essential oils to name a few, but it is also present in apricots, papayas, and cranberries. Linalool is the most abundant volatile constituent in papaya fruits.(2)
  • Alpha-terpineol is another alcohol present in several essential oils (distilled lime, neroli, clary sage, cajeput, palo santo, etc.), but also found in cranberry juice.(3)
  • Eugenol is an abundant compound of clove bud and other spicy essential oils but also found in common foods such as coffee, mung beans, peaches, and bananas. Eugenol gives coffee its woody aroma.(4)
  • Even methyl salicylate (the dominant compound of wintergreen and birch essential oils) is found in tomatoes, peaches, and bilberries.(5)
  • West Indian lemongrass, rosemary CT myrcene, juniper berry, and blue spruce all have myrcene present in good to significant levels. Myrcene is considered the major constituent responsible for the “green hop aroma” of beer.

It is abundantly clear that we are exposed to, and our body is used to, processing very small amounts of essential oil constituents. Indeed, as Supercritical Essential Oils reports, many of these compounds have demonstrated significant beneficial properties.

The Unconvincing Argument Against Ingestion

It is also interesting that Robert Tisserand is the most commonly cited expert by traditionalists to support their anti-ingestion stance. This is despite the fact that he has been quoted in more than one article that he is not against oral administration. He believes — as do I — that a greater level of knowledge is required to ingest essential oils. His book Essential Oil Safety even lists oral dosage recommendations (“Maximum adult daily oral dose”) for many essential oils.

Other groups opposed to the ingestion of essential oils share documents filled with adverse reactions allegedly caused by essential oils. Self-reported adverse reactions is hardly credible due to bias, untrained diagnoses, and lack of complete information (concomitant use of other supplements or drugs, the health status of the individual, etc.). In reality, these reports equal a statistically insignificant number of adverse events compared to the number of people who regularly ingest essential oils.

The Evidence-Based Conclusion

It is time for the traditionalists to embrace the future of essential oils and stop ignoring the ever-increasing evidence that essential oils are not only safe to ingest but provide a potential not attainable through inhalation and topical application in some cases. Long-established organizations should modify outdated policies and stances against this practice and encourage schools and certification programs to adapt their curriculum to teach the proper way to ingest essential oils. If you are looking for a program that already teaches these guidelines, I invite you to check out my comprehensive essential oil certification program.

For more information on other aspects of this debate, including empowerment vs. control, potential, knowledge, and comfort level, see my additional blog post here.


References

(1) Dagulo L, Danyluk MD, Spann TM, et al. Chemical characterization of orange juice from trees infected with citrus greening (Huanglongbing). Food Chem. 2010;75(2):C199-C207.

(2) Flath RA. Volatile components of papaya (Carica papaya L. Solo variety). J Agric Food Chem. 1977;25(1):103-9.

(3) Hirvi T, Honakanen E, Pyysalo T. The aroma of cranberries. Zeitschrift fur Lebensmittel-Untersuchung und Forschung. 1981 Sep;172:365-7.

(4) Hendon CH, Colonna-Dashwood L, Colonna-Dashwood M. The role of dissolved cations in coffee extraction. J Agric Food Chem. 2014;62(21):4947-50.

(5) Stevens MA. Inheritance and flavor contribution of 2-isobutylthiazole, methyl salicylate and eugenol in tomatoes. J American Soc horticultural Sci. 1970;95:9-12.

Top 5 Scientifically Proven Benefits of Lavender Essential Oil

Lavender essential oil is considered the “Swiss Army Knife” of essential oils, and for good reason. It is one of the most well-researched and versatile essential oils with vast benefits and numerous properties. It has been used traditionally for its healing and relaxing properties. One of its most well-known uses is for burns, but it is also useful for stress management, relaxation, painful menstruation, and more. So what benefits has science revealed about this remarkable essential oil? Let’s explore the top five scientifically proven benefits of lavender essential oil.

  1. Relieves anxiety. Several clinical studies demonstrate that oral administration of lavender essential oil significantly reduces anxiety.
  2. Improves emotional balance and relieves depression. Clinical research shows that oral and topical administration of lavender essential oil positively modulates mood and reduces depressive symptoms.
  3. Alleviates pain. Inhalation or topical application of lavender essential oil alleviates painful conditions according to clinical evidence.
  4. Improves sleep quality. Inhalation of lavender essential oil increases deep sleep and reduces mild insomnia in humans.
  5. Kills cancer. Laboratory research suggests that lavender essential oil kills breast, metastatic prostate, lymphoblastic leukemia, lung (large cell), and colorectal cancer cells.

 


REFERENCES:

See Medicinal Essential Oils: The Science and Practice of Evidence-Based Essential Oil Therapy.

DIY Essential Oil Foaming Hand Soap

Ingredients:

  • 5 ounces water
  • 2 tablespoons liquid castile soap
  • 2 tablespoons aloe vera juice
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable glycerin
  • 5-10 drops of essential oils 

Instructions: Fill an empty foaming soap dispenser with 5 ounces of water. Then add the other ingredients in the order listed and shake vigorously. Use each time hands are washed.

For more essential oil recipes like this, see Synergy, It’s an Essential Oil Thing.

An evidence-based guide to caring for children with essential oils and free quick reference

3D_EBEOTOur children are extremely precious, and as parents, we are the first responders when it comes to their health and well-being. Children get sick, and as parents we want to do everything in our power to make them feel better. When our actions don’t provide our children relief, it can be a very frustrating experience. Without the proper knowledge and the right tools, caring for children can be an intimidating undertaking. As a parent, it is your right and responsibility to determine what health care your child receives and to determine whether the condition can be safely and effectively managed at home or requires professional care.

Essential oils are a valuable tool for the parents who seek to raise their children using what is found in nature. Many parents prefer natural options when it comes to the care of their children, but they may feel ill-equipped to employ the healing power natural remedies possess. This hesitancy or uncertainty leads to frequent trips to the pediatrician’s office, often to be told that the illness is caused by a virus for which Western medicine provides very limited support. Or the illness has occurred when the doctor’s office is closed and you can’t get in for several hours. Indeed, many pediatricians and other doctors now outsource their after-hours operations to third-party sources that are less qualified, provide very limited support, and do not know your family and child. These can be long nights for both the parents and the child, unless the parent is prepared to handle the situation at home.

Some believe that parents are incapable of caring for the well-being of their children alone. But the reality is a parent can choose to receive directions for the care of their children from a trained physician (who will intrinsically prescribe what he or she is trained on and comfortable with — synthetic chemical options) or a reliable resource — like an evidence-based and well-researched book — that shares detailed instructions about how to use natural remedies effectively and safely.

There is a  lot of confusion and misinformation out there when it comes to using essential oils for the well-being of children. No parent wants to do something that could potentially cause an unintended consequence with their children. This makes an evidence-based guide, that merges ancient healing practices with evidence available from scientific research, imperative to the safe and effective use of essential oils with children. Reviewed and endorsed by two integrative-minded pediatricians, Evidence-based Essential Oil Therapy is the standard for essential oil therapy for children. Detailing the safe and effective use of essential oils for the most common ailments children experience it is a must have for the natural parents.

Below is a downloadable quick reference that can be used in conjunction with Evidence-based Essential Oil Therapy.

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The Waterfall Technique: A new essential oil application technique to encourage homeostasis | And the damaging effects of blind allegiance

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The Waterfall Technique: A new essential oil application technique to encourage homeostasis | And the damaging effects of blind allegiance

The number of people enjoying the benefits of essential oils is growing daily, and more people are looking for effective ways to use essential oils to encourage homeostasis. This can be achieved in many ways from simple inhalation to foot massages with essential oils, to oral administration; but one way to really promote optimal well-being is an application to the spine and feet.

Dr. Daniel Penoel was the first to introduce the application of a specific sequence of essential oils to the spine in the 1980s, referring to it as “live embalming.” His technique involves applying large amounts of undiluted essential oils to the spine followed by the use of a hair dryer to drive them into the skin.

In the spirit of Dr. Penoel’s remarkable technique, I have developed a technique called the Waterfall TechniqueTM that employs a special sequence of clinically-significant essential oils and proven restorative touch techniques, each of which serves a specific purpose to balance, renew, oxygenate, protect, soothe, quench, synergize, enhance, and rejuvenate. I had the privilege of meeting Dr. Penoel in October 2015 as we both attended a wellness summit. We discussed this technique, my books and new certification program, and Dr. Penoel walked away happy and excited to read the course materials for my certification program (which I gifted to him).

The Waterfall TechniqueTM is the culmination of thousands of hours of essential oil research, years of clinical experience, and scientific evaluation, united with the art of essential oil application techniques and reflexology. It serves to support and rejuvenate cells (clean cell receptors, enhance cellular communication, and affect cellular behavior) and key body systems (nervous, circulatory, immune/lymphatic, musculoskeletal, and endocrine systems), and reduce limiting factors in health (stress, toxins, harmful substances, and negative emotions). Through this technique many have experienced extraordinary and wide-ranging wellness benefits.

To learn more about the why behind this remarkable technique, I invite you to join my new certification program, which contains all the details.

Now to a disheartening related subject. I believe in the regular use of essential oils and my wife and I regularly perform the Waterfall TechniqueTM on our children and each other. Our family finds it very relaxing and supportive of greater wellness. In the spirit of sharing how my family has enjoyed this, I posted about it on my personal Facebook page. To my astonishment, some felt the need to attack me both publicly and privately.

I was forwarded screenshots from a member of a private group who was very upset that this group was attempting to defame and disparage me. This group claims that my technique is “stolen” from an individual who developed a spinal application technique adapted from Dr. Penoel’s technique.

As is typical of members of this organization, they refuse to do objective research before coming to their conclusion. They choose blind allegiance rather than to be a free-thinking intellectual. They erroneously believe that only one person has the rights to a spinal application technique using essential oils and anyone who develops their own techniques has stolen and copycatted. I find this laughable, since it is reported and widely accepted that the individual they claim my technique was “stolen” from adapted his technique from Dr. Penoel’s live embalming.

In addition, this thinking is akin to providing a drug manufacturer a patent for all applications of drugs to the skin simply because the manufacturer was among the first to apply drugs topically. No government in their right mind would grant this patent, just as no reasonable person would say that only one person/company can develop a technique to apply essential oils to the spine and feet.

The fact, is my technique was not adapted from this other individual’s technique. None of the application methods are the same and the essential oils I chose are also different and were selected solely on their benefits to specific body systems and cells.

Indeed, since Dr. Penoel first introduced his technique, several other individuals have created unique spinal and foot applications using essential oils, which benefits all who love essential oils. No one person knows everything and so having multiple people exercising creativity and knowledge drives innovation. Each individual (or group of individuals) infused their knowledge into their technique to make it unique, and each technique has merit and positive experiences to report.

One of the comments from this private group was particularly laughable and shows just how much of a blind follower the poster is—not to mention how she has not done any independent or objective research. She states “He [referring to me] is dead wrong using a company that has known synthetics in their oils. And he surely missed out on the fact that brokering oils from manufacturers isn’t to be trusted and that manufacturers are corrupt.” I find this statement ironic for many reasons:

  • All companies (even the one she has chosen) buy the MAJORITY of their essential oils from brokers. In fact, industry experts estimate that fewer than 10% of her chosen company’s oils come from their own farms. So, she is eating the proverbial ‘crow’ after stating “brokering oils from manufacturers isn’t to be trusted.”
  • She claims I am using a company that has synthetics. First, I never identified what company I prefer, I simply stated that I have lists of essential oils for people to use their preferred brand during the Waterfall Technique. Though I assure you that I have chosen to use essential oils from a company that consistently provides pure oils that meet clinical standards established by the scientific community—a company that provides me proof in test results for every bottle of essential oil I buy.
  • She decries synthetics in other’s products, yet she doesn’t ask for any proof that her own company has pure oils. Where is the proof (all the testing available per batch of essential oil) that her chosen company is pure? I find it funny that she accuses others of adultering their products without any proof that her own products are pure.
  • It is an indisputable scientific fact that more than one company has pure essential oils. This is proven in testing and can’t be disputed. In fact, some companies buy essential oils from the same broker and so their oils are virtually identical. While, this may not be across the board at each reseller of essential oils, I have had the opportunity to review test results from multiple companies and find pure oils in several companies. I have also found some misbranded and adulterated oils. This is why transparency in providing test results is so important and should be an industry standard.

It’s unfortunate that these people feel the need to attack and demean others without facts. Ultimately, they are the ones who will suffer for their blind allegiance, and I feel sorry for them.