Abstinence-Only Aromatherapy Education


Imagine yourself back in high school.

You’re sitting restlessly, waiting for the bell to ring so you can rush on home.

The minutes are dragging by, and this last class is the most boring — Mrs. Hoffenpot, teaching the deadly dull subject “Essential Oil Safety.”

Here she goes again with the same old line, “EOs should not be ingested, unless under the supervision of a qualified and practicing professional.”

Fortunately, the bell rings and you are finally free!

You rush home, where behind closed doors, you and your best friend pour yourselves a tall glass of water.

“Should we do it?” she asks as she takes out her little bottle of lemon essential oil.

“Well, I did hear it’s good for detoxing and weight loss,” you hear yourself say.

And the next thing you know, you’ve put a few drops of lemon oil in your water, and you’re both gulping it down and waiting to see how your bodies react.

You see where I’m going with this.

Lots of enlightened essential oil educators now repeat the mantra, “Don’t ingest your essential oils!”

At the same time, tens of thousands of people are ingesting their EOs every day.

Yes, some of those cases result in injuries. Others probably result in less acute but equally bad reactions (such as possibly killing your gut flora).

But people keep doing it, and some are actually benefitting from it.

Don’t believe me? There was a survey conducted last month, across Facebook, on the topic of adding EOs to water.

The results were just published, and a bunch of surprising facts came out. The two that jumped out at me:

  1. 8.3% of EO ingesters reported sensitivities, 4.3% reported injuries, while 87.5% reported no adverse health impact from drinking EOs.
  2. 78% of those who currently drink EOs reported an improvement in health, ranging from appetite control to cleared urinary tract infections to reduced seasonal allergies.

The survey also shows an interesting pattern: the people who did report injuries or sensitivities from drinking EOs typically had a bad reaction very quickly, after only a few turns with ingestion.

On the other hand, over 80% of people who currently ingest EOs have been doing so for more than a year.

So what’s the point of this?

Frankly, I don’t know yet. There’s something here for everyone, whether you are for or against EO ingestion.

Maybe the enlightened message will get through eventually…

But maybe, a better approach than preaching “ingestion abstinence” is to give people all the info they might ever need.

At first, I thought this could be a new high-school class, “How to ingest essential oils, as safely and responsibly as possible, given the risks.”

However, I then got a message from aromatherapist Sheri Roach, who pointed out that this “class” actually already exists:

The informatio­n IS out there. Some free online, some for a fee, and some in books (which may be in your local library, and hence would also be free.)

The big problem is that there is SO much MIS-informatio­n. I think the better analogy in this particular case is: how do you tell the difference between the high school teacher and the drug dealer on the corner? Who/which source falls into which category?

Schnaubelt and Shutes are both “high school teachers” but many of the voices out there in this case are the drug dealers. Boy that sounds harsh, but it’s reality. The drug dealer’s job is to get you to buy more. The teacher’s job is to educate you to make good decisions and keep you safe.

I like how Sheri’s extended my high school metaphor to include drug dealers lurking around the corner.

I’m also grateful to her for pointing me to resources out there that talk about using EOs internally in a more serious way than what you see on most blogs and Pinterest. Here are a couple of the resources that Sheri refers to above:

An article by Jade Shutes on internal use of EOs (including ingestion)

A brief excerpt from Kurt Schnaubelt­’s “The Healing Intelligence of Essential Oils” that talks about EO ingestion

And here’s another resource I’ve found for this EO ingestion curriculum. It’s a list of 16 questions, put together by aromatherapist Amy Kreydin. These are questions you should ask yourself before you start ingesting EOs by yourself:


Just for the record, I’m not advocating ingestion of EOs, and I’m not particularly interested in practicing it myself.

I just think it’s wise to put this kind of information into the manila folder of secret information to show people who are thinking of ingesting essential oils. This way, they can have a more concrete idea of the potential risks and benefits, and they can hopefully steer clear of the misinformation that Sheri points to.

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