The Edible Argument

One question we get almost weekly is, can I eat/drink/cook with essential oil? 

While each of us has personal autonomy over our own body and can make this choice, we don’t recommend ingestion of essential oils. 

The truth is, essential oils are extremely concentrated and potent extractions, and there isn’t enough research on ingestion to confirm its safety. Essential oil is 50-100 times more concentrated than in the plant matter, and safety issues apply to essential oils that don’t necessarily apply to the whole plant or herbal extract.

And, since it takes such an abundance of plant matter to obtain essential oils, their cost is relatively high and at a minimum, it may just be a waste of your money to use them for ingestion. 

Aromatherapy is based on inhalation – the quickest way into the bloodstream is via the breath, where it goes through your olfactory system to the brain – delivering mood and relaxation benefits – and to the bloodstream, delivering its analgesic, antiviral and other medicinal benefits. When you ingest, the oil is metabolized as food, bypassing the clean deliverance of its aromatherapeutic benefits via the olfactory system.

However, if you must try ingestion, there are some food-derived essential oils that are classified by the FDA as GRAS (Generally Regarded as Safe), although –

The FDA does not regulate essential oils so there is no FDA approval for them.

So ingest essential oils with caution and at your own risk. 

Potentially Edible Essential Oils

see complete list from the FDA

Since essential oils are very concentrated, plan on 1 drop being equal to 1 teaspoon of botanical matter.  Due to their concentration, dilution is essential – do not consume directly. Dilute in water, tea, or food at no more than a couple drops in a full glass of water or cup of food.

Anecdotally, I know people who like to add a drop of lemon to a glass of water, or make lavender cookies with a few drops of lavender in the batter, or cook a sauce with 1 drop each of anise, ginger or clove. Personally, I make my own mouthwash with peppermint or spearmint essential oil (although I don’t ingest – it’s a “swish and spit” usage). However, our official recommendation remains that using essential oils for inhalation is the preferred method of delivery, and ingestion is best avoided. 

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Stephanie Ariel

Stephanie Ariel is a certified aromatherapist, author, yogi and marketer who lives and offers classes in Santa Fe, New Mexico...Stephanie's Full Bio

4 thoughts on “The Edible Argument”

  1. Intriguing insight! The cautionary note on ingesting essential oils highlights the need for informed choices and sheds light on their concentrated nature, urging us to consider safety and cost-effectiveness in our wellness journey. #EssentialOils #Wellness

  2. advises against ingesting essential oils due to their concentrated nature and limited research on safety. The blog advocates for the preferred method of aromatherapy through inhalation while providing a cautious list of potentially edible oils. Users are encouraged to exercise dilution and discretion if considering ingestion.

  3. Thank you so much for sharing that experience – and I’m sorry it happened! I once tried making aromatherapy tea and with just a few drops infusing several ounces of tea, I got a stomach ache for several hours. It underscores again, we do NOT recommend ingestion.

  4. Early on, before I achieved my Certification in Clinical Aromatherapy, I tried adding a drop of oregano oil to a pot of stew, based on the recommendation of a MLM representative, who said, “You never need to worry about being out of fresh or dried herbs anymore!” One drop of oregano ruined a whole pot of stew – it was so strong, it was completely inedible.

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