I know you've seen it. On facebook, blogs, or other internet sites......well-intentioned people touting the benefits of essential oils used internally and/or 'neat' (undiluted) on the skin. I've seen people say that 'x' brand essential oils are completely safe and digestible! So not true and potentially dangerous! There is absolutely nothing in the claim of 'therapeutic grade' (excellent article in the references below). The rampant misinformation has spurred me to write this post - if for no other reason than as a safety precaution. (Please note that this is not a post on the quality of essential oils but the usage of essential oils regardless of the quality.)
Many of you know that I am a current student with Vintage Remedies School of Natural Health. I have almost completed both my Intro to Aromatherapy course as well as my Family Herbalist course. One of the reasons that I chose Vintage Remedies is because they are evidence-based. The founder of the school wrote a very telling article on the subject of essential oil safety last year. She will also be attending an aromatherapy seminar next month in England where internal use will be discussed. Hopefully, she will return with more information on the subject!
There is no 'brand' of essential oils that are officially approved for internal use (even though the manufacturer may claim so)! The best way to use essential oils is through inhalation (that's why it's called 'aromatherapy')! Many oils can also be used on the skin when they are properly diluted. Very few (less than a handful) are truly safe for ingestion - and some may be safe when prescribed under the care of a medical practitioner (i.e. you should not be using essential oils internally unless under the care of a clinically trained professional). Many people will use anecdotal evidence and say that they have been taking the oils internally for years, they have helped, and they have no ill effects. First of all, it's not safe to risk one's health on anecdotal evidence that contradicts the clinical evidence. Secondly, sub-clinical damage can be taking place (particularly to the liver) that does not cause symptoms until much later.
The individuals that I see recommending the use of oils in unsafe ways are not trained aromatherapists. Your health is nothing to mess around with. Do your research - and make sure you are getting your information from unbiased and reputable sources!