Stop the Insanity: The Scientific Case for Ingesting Essential Oils
By Scott A. Johnson
Image Caption: "Cinnamon essential oil significantly reduces blood glucose, triglycerides, and total cholesterol, while simultaneously increasing HDL cholesterol according to preclinical research https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20561948"
The essential oil space has experienced tremendous growth over the last five years. This growth generated hundreds of thousands of new essential oils users that are forced to wade through the conflicting ocean of essential oil information that plagues the internet. One of the most hotly contested subjects is the ingestion of essential oils, with traditional aromatherapists bellowing the “dangers” and progressive essential oil experts championing the benefits.
One side largely relies on customary practices, whereas the progressives seek to find the answer to this divisive discussion through science. When you cut through all the rhetoric and objectively analyze the evidence, this dispute can be encapsulated in to four elements: 1) empowerment versus control, 2) potential, 3) knowledge, and 4) comfort level.
Empowerment Versus Control
Let’s start with the empowerment versus control aspect. Traditional aromatherapists seek to maintain control of an industry that has experienced rapid and dynamic change over the last decade. They seek to uphold the status quo and continue their heavy reliance on an antiquated and conservative aromatherapy paradigm established decades ago. By maintaining the status quo, they preserve their dominion and keep clients at their mercy. Of course, this traditional paradigm has merit that is valuable today, but as with Western medicine, new discoveries have enlarged our understanding of essential oils and how we can use them to reach the highest human potential.
As was mentioned in the previous paragraph, potential is a huge aspect of ingesting essential oils. Progressive essential oil experts advocate the use of all aspects of essential oils to their fullest potential - aromatic, topical, and internal. Oral administration has great advantages and is preferred in certain situations, such as when treating an infection or chronic condition. Waiting for transdermal absorption through the skin could allow an infection to overpower the individual and indeed puts the individual at great risk.
In addition, the number of bacteria in the body eclipses the number of cells, suggesting that human microbiome balance is crucial to overall wellness. It is naïve to think that topical use of essential oils will penetrate inside the stomach to influence any harmful bacteria residing there.
Another important aspect of oral administration is the metabolites (substances produced during metabolism) that are produced when essential oils are ingested. For example, one of the metabolites produced after the ingestion of limonene (found in abundance in citrus essential oils) is the anti-cancer compound perillic acid. Now, not all metabolites are good. Pulegone (found in pennyroyal and other essential oils) is metabolized to menthofuran, which is toxic to the liver and kidneys. This makes it important to understand the chemical make-up of an essential oil before ingesting it.
This leads us right into our third topic - knowledge. Ingesting essential oils requires a greater knowledge of essential oil composition, drug interactions, contraindications, dosage, and metabolism. However, this can all be obtained from advanced essential oil training or found in an evidence-based book. If you choose to take essential oils orally, you should seek this advanced knowledge and understanding first.
Knowledge from published studies is also telling. A review of the literature in PubMed shows that essential oils are administered orally safely and effectively in dozens of clinical studies, with burp back being the most common side-effect.
Along with knowledge, an individual's comfort level must be considered. If you are uncomfortable with ingesting essential oils, then limit your use to aromatic and topical use. These two methods still offer fantastic benefits depending on what you are striving to accomplish.
The bottom line is, the overwhelming evidence suggests that many essential oils are safe to ingest, and they produce remarkable systemic benefits that could not be achieved through other methods. It's time to stop the insanity and endless debate over essential oil ingestion, and embrace the future of essential oils, which includes internal usage.
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