Culinary Use of Essential Oils
Across Europe and India and in many cultures throughout Asia, it is a popular and ancient practice to ingest essential oils and use them internally. Doctors and other medical practitioners in those countries often prescribe the ingestion of essential oils to heal or manage health issues and to bolster immunity. In the United States, as well as in most of North America, essential oils are less well-known, so people shy away from that practice. Honestly, it is best to avoid eating (and applying) the low quality, mass produced essential oils that are sold by some health stores and multilevel marketers.
Essential oils are under the purview of the FDA as food items, and it maintains mountains of muddled regulations for the internal use of oils. Among those regulations, the FDA keeps a list of essential oils that are labeled Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS). The GRAS label is granted to an essential oil by the FDA if it is "generally recognized, among qualified experts, as having been adequately shown to be safe under the conditions of its intended use…" The food and flavor industry adds essential oils like bergamot, peppermint, and vanilla to boost the taste and aroma of many items, such as juices, liqueurs, and teas. The health supplements industry uses the super critical extracts of many herbs and plants in pills and capsules, including seabuckthorn berry, saw palmetto, and basil.
Plan for Potency
Most really real, pure, and organic steam distilled essential oils are safe to eat (including some left off the GRAS list), and many of them are distilled from common culinary items such as orange, ginger, alfalfa, tea, turmeric, cocoa, coffee, coriander, rose, chamomile, lemon, juniper berries, and many more. (See the footnotes for Living Libations 57 GRAS edible oils.) The key difference between eating the whole food and eating its essential oil is potency. Essential oils are powerfully potent, concentrated plant energy! For example, the aromatic molecules of 60 roses must be distilled to make 1 single drop of rose essential oil.
For clarity, let's compare this with coffee drinking. Drinking a cup or two of coffee is enjoyable and may benefit your health. Drinking a pot or two of coffee is probably imprudent, though. Similarly, eating a reasonable amount of an essential oil can be enjoyable, healthy, and safe though guzzling a whole bottle is ill-considered. Wise use of oils follows the "less is more" principle because the full botanical blessing is encompassed in just one drop. One single drop of oil is a dose or serving and the daily allowance is 10 drops (0.5ml) of an oil. It is also a good practice to mix the drop of essential oil with organic honey, olive oil, or coconut oil. When adding a drop of essential oil to a culinary creation, add one drop per portion and do so just before serving.
Listen to Intuition
Even though the FDA recognizes that over 160 essential oils are safe to ingest , its guidelines on who may recommend ingesting them is rather narrow. We at Living Libations are not medical professionals, thus we refrain from advocating to our clients specific protocols for eating essential oils or using them internally. Instead, we refer to the protocols and prescriptions provided by the leading professionals in essential oil safety and use.
Our favorite resources are:
Robert Tisserand, Essential Oil Safety: A Guide for Health Care Professionals
Kurt Schnaubelt, PhD, The Healing Intelligence of Essential Oils: The Science of Advanced Aromatherapy, andMedical Aromatherapy: Healing with Essential Oils
When it comes to your health and your body you should always use your intuition. If your intuition inspires you to use essential oils internally and you feel that it will benefit your health, we hope that you will contact a qualified professional to assist you and/or carefully consider the protocols in well researched essential oil resources such as the books above.
Living Libations GRAS Edible Oils: all spice, basil, bergamot, blood orange, black pepper, black cumin seed, cardamom, carrot seed, chamomile, cape chamomile, blue chamomile, cinnamon bark, clary sage, clove bud, coffee bean, coriander, cypress, eucalyptus, frankincense, ginger root, grapefruit, grand white pine, geranium, goldenrod, Greenland moss, hemp blossom, immortelle, lavender, lemon juice, lemongrass, lime, manuka, marjoram, mastic, myrrh, neroli, nutmeg, orange, oregano, Palmarosa, palo santo, peppermint, ravensara, rose otto, rosemary, roses over geranium, seabuckthorn, schizandra berry, spruce, tangerine, teatree, thyme, thyme linalool, turmeric, vanilla, yarrow, ylang