Essential oils considered generally safe by FDA are known as GRAS.
GRAS is the Food and Drug Administration’s designation for food additives ‘Generally Recognized as Safe’. FA is the designation for ingredients approved as food additives. Essential oils are included on this list, as many of them are used for food flavorings and preservatives (due to their high anti-oxidant capacity and anti-microbial actions).
The FDA’s GRAS list does not include dosages that are considered safe. The FDA’s documents note only that the items on the list are safe in commonly used amounts, or amounts sufficient to achieve the necessary effect as a food additive. For essential oils, this means approximate doses in the range of 1 to 3 drops, 1 to 3 times per day. These are the amounts noted in most medical aromatherapy protocols. The oils should certainly be used with respect, and kept away from children.
There are oils that are NOT recommended for ingestion, and oils that are not recommended for use by folks with particular medical conditions, or whom are pregnant or nursing. Even some of the oils on the GRAS list should be used with caution — for example, while Wintergreen is considered a safe food additive, ingestion of the essential oil is NOT recommended (here, the commonly used amount as a food additive is exceptionally small, and even a few drops of the oil is significantly greater than the amount in a piece of chewing gum, for example).
If you choose to ingest essential oils, it is crucial for your safety that you are following a protocol appropriate for your health. You are responsible to know what appropriate dosages might be. Consider that most protocols indicate only 1 or 2 drops of essential oil be ingested once, sometimes twice, per day. We cannot recommend any ingestion protocols for our customers. We highly recommend you receive the guidance of a qualified health professional before proceeding ingesting essential oils.
Note: Our position on the ingestion of essential oils is that all of our oils are undiluted, pure and natural and suitable for therapeutic purposes. We do NOT recommend the ingestion of essential oils as they are highly concentrated and can cause damage internally if administered without expertise. This is also the position of the International Federation of Aromatherapists. With our statement noted, we do recognize that many of our customers are experienced in the use of essential oils and do make the decision to take oils internally.
Essential oils are generally diluted before ingestion. This can be done in nearly any liquid, though we generally do not recommend this is done in milk, as milk tends to bind many botanical ingredients and make them inactive in the body. Soy or rice milk may be used, or warm water or tea. Some oils can be ingested ‘neat’ though extreme caution must be used as to not cause burning of the inside of the mouth and esophagus. DO NOT ingest highly pungent oils such as Oregano, Ginger and Cinnamon without dilution!
- Please be aware of any particular safety considerations of the essential oil variety and your specific health condition before ingesting any essential oil.
- Be completely confident in the accuracy and appropriate choice of any protocol you choose to follow.
- MOST protocols describe ingestion of only 1-2 drops of any essential oil per day.
- To be safe, essential oils should not be ingested by children or pregnant or nursing mothers.
- MOST protocols describe essential oil ingestion for only short periods, and do not recommend prolonged use.