Ingesting Essential Oils (and Applying them Neat) is Asking For Trouble

It has apparently become a 'thing' to ingest essential oils and/or apply them neat to skin. People are getting hurt because of this dangerous trend and there has even been a rise in children being admitted to poison centers.

I am horrified to see some essential oil purveyors instructing their customers how to 'safely' use essential oils.

One advises to 'dilute 1 drop essential oil with 3 drops of carrier oil for topical use'.

Another recommends applying neat to different areas of the body and have dubbed this 'raindrop technique'.

Excuse me?!?!!?

But It's OK to Apply Essential Oils Neat Sometimes, Isn't It?

Topical use of essential oils neat is do-able in the rarest of instances
– with only a very few specific essential oils
– only on adults
– only on unbroken skin
– only if there are no sensitivities
– etc etc etc.

In short, here's a guideline:

It is generally NEITHER SAFE NOR ADVISABLE to apply essential oils neat – or almost neat – to the skin!!!!! 

And yes, I meant every one of those exclamation points.

Ingesting? Are They Serious?!

Unfortunately, the madness doesn't stop there. The most disturbing trend I have seen is ingesting essential oils in various ways.

One company offers a list of 'pointers' on how to safely ingest their 'therapeutic grade' essential oils.



(that was a double take)

First of all:
There is NO SUCH THING as a therapeutic grade essential oil.

Second of all:
Ingesting essential oils is not only seriously dangerous – it can be life threatening.

Internal Use: But It's Possible, Isn't it?

Internal use is possible, but only if you know exactly what you are doing!

Star Khechara, author of The Holistic Beauty Book and founder of Formula Botanica, offers this insight:
"I used to teach an essential oil cookery module as part of an essential oil science course in France. 
So little is used for food that it wasn't even measured in drops – we'd use a sterilized needle to pull a tiny amount of essential oil out of the bottle, then 'swipe' it into the food we were making. For example in lavender icing (frosting). 
Using whole drops in a glass of water is nuts and the MLM companies that promote this are irresponsible. 
In France, essential oils are used internally but you have to be a trained medical doctor - not a Young Living or DoTerra 'distributor'"

Paula, founder of Rustic Rootz Organic Bodycare with 25 years of experience in working with essential oils, has been kind enough to share what happened the time she tried ingesting an essential oil blend that was sold with specific directions for consumption:

"Despite the fact I would NEVER recommend ingesting oils, I tried it ONCE. Afterwards, I was angry for being tempted into trying it, then disappointed that a company could manipulate others into selling these products and leading people on that it's a good thing.  
I tried a blend that consisted of Grapefruit, Lemon, Peppermint, Ginger, and Cinnamon Bark essential oils. I added 2 drops to a glass of water first thing in the morning (as suggested), and could feel the BURN immediately. I drank the glassful and afterwards felt like I had burned out my esophogus. 
Lesson learned."

Sound scary?

It is scary, because taking essential oils internally is downright dangerous.

But Gargling Isn't Swallowing, So That's OK, Right?

When a close friend heard I was writing about the dangers of ingesting essential oils, she offered to share her own experience of the time she tried gargling with one.
"I was getting a sore throat and my friend told me to add a few drops of grapefruit essential oil to a glass of water and then gargle with it. She said it was a great way of taking care of a sore throat naturally. I did it, and my throat went dead and was numb all day. I couldn't taste anything and was really worried I had done some serious damage. I'm never ever doing that again."

The worst part?

I could go on.

These are just a few examples.

LisaLise Tip of The Day

If  anyone – especially a company who wants to sell you their essential oil products – tells you it's OK to apply essential oils neat or to ingest them, walk away.

Just walk away.

Do you really want to risk your health and the health of your loved ones?

I didn't think so.

Now, have a safe and healthy day.

Do Tell

Do you know anyone who has tried these methods? What were their experiences?

More Information 

Tennesee Poison Center sees a rise in children ingesting essential oils

One more time: there are no FDA certified pure therapeutic grade essential oils

Robert Tisserand: Essential Oil Safety

AromaWeb: Essential Oil Safety

Kayla Fioravanti: Warnings DoTerra and Young Living Won't Tell You

The Holistic Beauty Book by Star Khechara

Young Living and Intent to Sell Drugs by

10 reasons to Avoid Raindrop Therapy by The English Aromatherapist

AromaWeb: Guide to Diluting Essential Oils


Anonymous said…
Hi Lisa, I super agree to your post. It is really hazardous and irresponsible to have ask the customer to apply eo neat and to ingest. I see this getting more n more common especially for mother who have zero knowledge on safety usage of eo. It's kinda disturbing when I see those people being grain washed by the mlm co.
Pepper7 said…
Another insightful and fascinating post Lisa ! People assume that every thing that nature provides is harmless. On the contrary, essential are potent, they can eat through plastic ! It's a shame what companies will do and say to make a buck !
Signe said…
I know you shouldn't use essential oils straight to the skin, and I never would ingest them. But there are still some occasions when I do exceptions - I have bad cold sores on my lips occasionally, and I use tea tree oil straight to the vesicles. That is the only thing that prevent them to grow really bad. I also use tea tree oil for gargling if I have sore throat, few drops in the glass of water. I'm pretty allergic for everything, but I've never get any bad reactions from essential oils.
María said…
Another very good theme of debate.
As usual, the amount of nonsense you can find all over the internet is astonishing, and here is where common sense (for those who have such blessing) kicks in: research, research, research. Although reliable sources can be hard to find (as are not always on the very first page of Google search) they are not impossible.
We can use essential oils on the skin undiluted, but only 4-5 of them.
We can ingest them, but only very few of them and in really small amounts. They can be diluted in a carrier, mixed in another vehicle (like honey or bread) or in a capsule.
But they need to be PRESCRIBED, as they are as potent as drugs. And prescription is not only WHAT essential oil, but also HOW MANY DROPS (yes, drops).
A hell of a debate would be...
Chris said…
Another splendid result caused by the "natural is better" movement.
Anonymous said…
I 101% agree with your post.
I am a trained qualified aromatherapist /complimentary therapist. I believe it rather irresponsible for any companies be it MLM or otherwise to trivialise the use of essential oils.
Essential oils are nature's gift and should not be given a bad name. - in the hands of a trained person they are a blessing however in the hands of the untrained - it is open to misuse and could therefore be lethal.
For topical use, a trained aromatherapist would apply a certain safe ratio of essential oils to carrier oil before application on skin. There are only very limited essential oils that can be safely applied neat topically.
Essential oils are extracted from plants and therefore contain potent chemical characteristics of the plant from which they're extracted.
Robert Tisserand ( ) , discusses factors which determine either therapeutic or toxic outcomes of using essential oil
The note of warning is therefore to either get informed, so that you know exactly what you're doing or seek consultation with a trained professional to safely use these oils.
LisaLise said…
Hi @Anon - thank you for your input!

Hi @pepper7 - you are so right Margi - it's really disturbing to see companies so profit driven that they disregard the health of the people they are selling to!

Hi @Signe - You obviously know your essential oils, because tea tree is indeed one of the EO's that can be applied neat. I must admit I'm worried you say you gargle with it? Personally, I don't think this is something I would be comfortable doing.

Hi @María - You obviously know your essential oils! I saw another discussion on this subject where someone asked about ingesting peppermint essential oil. I remembered one of my fave Christmas candies recipes - a very old recipe from last century for homemade mints using a few drops of peppermint essential oil for the flavoring.

HI @Chris - yes, you hit the nail on the head. It is when things are taken to the extreme that the damage happens.
María said…
You can make absolutely delicious dark chocolate!
Melt in a bain Marie good quality dark chocolate (at least 70%) and separate in 2 batches.
Add to one batch spearmint or peppermint essential oil. To the other, sweet orange.
Et voilà, gorgeous aromatic chocolate!
When I made it, I added a maximum total of 30 drops for 100 g of chocolate.
LisaLise said…
María you are so right-- orange chocolate--- my mouth is already watering!
Unknown said…
Dr Axe says that he ingests Frankincense daily. Are there some oils that are fine to take internally vs others?
LisaLise said…
Hi Latisha - there are some oils used in the food industry for flavorings, but I have not seen frankincense among the oils used in this manner. As for Dr Axe taking frankincense internally on a daily basis, I cannot fathom why anyone would do this. If it is for cancer fighting purposes, it should be the extract and not the oil, as none of the cancer-fighting components of frankincense are in the oil, but the extract. Taking the oil internally is dangerous and health hazardous.