We get the question all the time: "Is it safe to ingest essential oils". There is a pervasive attitude in America that they are not, while in much of the rest of the world, they are even prescribed by health professionals to be taken this way. What seems to be happening is that authors are so afraid of repercussions if someone eats essential oils following their guidelines and hurts themselves. In major health food stores, you'll find both Oregano and Peppermint essential oils are currently offered in capsule form to treat digestive illnesses, which presents an obvious contradiction to the idea that one should never eat essential oils (and oddly enough, these are two oils that are nearer to the 'potentially unsafe' end of the spectrum).

While we are not advocating ANY essential oil ingestion protocol here, we would like to clear up the confusion regarding essential oil ingestion. Truthfully, MOST essential oils commonly used in aromatherapy are in fact safe to eat in very small amounts. This is on the order of 1-8 drops per day, depending on the oil and one's condition. We are not saying its a good idea to start dosing yourself internally with essential oils, but if you feel this may improve your health, FIND A QUALIFIED HEALTH PROFESSIONAL to help you determine a program for you.

Below is a list of essential oils listed by the FDA as 'GRAS' or 'Generally Recognized as Safe'. This is the complete and current listing. This does not imply that they can be consumed without regard to quantity. The FDA GRAS list for essential oils actually notes that these oils are safe when consumed in commonly used quantities. Again, this is on the order of only a very few drops at a time. The FDA specifically notes that the list does not mean that the oils have been acknowledged as helpful as dietary supplements, only that they are considered safe for consumtion in historic/commonly-used amounts.

Essential oils, oleoresins (solvent-free), and natural extractives (including distillates) that are generally recognized as safe for their intended use, within the meaning of section 409 of the Act, are as follows:

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Common name Botanical name of plant source
Alfalfa Medicago sativa L.
Allspice Pimenta officinalis Lindl.
Almond, bitter (free from prussic acid) Prunus amygdalus Batsch, Prunus armeniaca L., or Prunus persica (L.) Batsch.
Ambrette (seed) Hibiscus moschatus Moench.
Angelica root Angelica archangelica L.
Angelica seed Do.
Angelica stem Do.
Angostura (cusparia bark) Galipea officinalis Hancock.
Anise Pimpinella anisum L.
Asafetida Ferula assa-foetida L. and related spp. of Ferula.
Balm (lemon balm) Melissa officinalis L.
Balsam of Peru Myroxylon pereirae Klotzsch.
Basil Ocimum basilicum L.
Bay leaves Laurus nobilis L.
Bay (myrcia oil) Pimenta racemosa (Mill.) J. W. Moore.
Bergamot (bergamot orange) Citrus aurantium L. subsp. bergamia Wright et Arn.
Bitter almond (free from prussic acid) Prunus amygdalus Batsch, Prunus armeniaca L., or Prunus persica (L.) Batsch.
Bois de rose Aniba rosaeodora Ducke.
Cacao Theobroma cacao L.
Camomile (chamomile) flowers, Hungarian Matricaria chamomilla L.
Camomile (chamomile) flowers, Roman or English Anthemis nobilis L.
Cananga Cananga odorata Hook. f. and Thoms.
Capsicum Capsicum frutescens L. and Capsicum annuum L.
Caraway Carum carvi L.
Cardamom seed (cardamon) Elettaria cardamomum Maton.
Carob bean Ceratonia siliqua L.
Carrot Daucus carota L.
Cascarilla bark Croton eluteria Benn.
Cassia bark, Chinese Cinnamomum cassia Blume.
Cassia bark, Padang or Batavia Cinnamomum burmanni Blume.
Cassia bark, Saigon Cinnamomum loureirii Nees.
Celery seed Apium graveolens L.
Cherry, wild, bark Prunus serotina Ehrh.
Chervil Anthriscus cerefolium (L.) Hoffm.
Chicory Cichorium intybus L.
Cinnamon bark, Ceylon Cinnamomum zeylanicum Nees.
Cinnamon bark, Chinese Cinnamomum cassia Blume.
Cinnamon bark, Saigon Cinnamomum loureirii Nees.
Cinnamon leaf, Ceylon Cinnamomum zeylanicum Nees.
Cinnamon leaf, Chinese Cinnamomum cassia Blume.
Cinnamon leaf, Saigon Cinnamomum loureirii Nees.
Citronella Cymbopogon nardus Rendle.
Citrus peels Citrus spp.
Clary (clary sage) Salvia sclarea L.
Clover Trifolium spp.
Coca (decocainized) Erythroxylum coca Lam. and other spp. of Erythroxylum.
Coffee Coffea spp.
Cola nut Cola acuminata Schott and Endl., and other spp. of Cola.
Coriander Coriandrum sativum L.
Cumin (cummin) Cuminum cyminum L.
Curacao orange peel (orange, bitter peel) Citrus aurantium L.
Cusparia bark Galipea officinalis Hancock.
Dandelion Taraxacum officinale Weber and T. laevigatum DC.
Dandelion root Do.
Dog grass (quackgrass, triticum) Agropyron repens (L.) Beauv.
Elder flowers Sambucus canadensis L. and S. nigra I.
Estragole (esdragol, esdragon, tarragon) Artemisia dracunculus L.
Estragon (tarragon) Do.
Fennel, sweet Foeniculum vulgare Mill.
Fenugreek Trigonella foenum-graecum L.
Galanga (galangal) Alpinia officinarum Hance.
Geranium Pelargonium spp.
Geranium, East Indian Cymbopogon martini Stapf.
Geranium, rose Pelargonium graveolens L'Her.
Ginger Zingiber officinale Rosc.
Grapefruit Citrus paradisi Macf.
Guava Psidium spp.
Hickory bark Carya spp.
Horehound (hoarhound) Marrubium vulgare L.
Hops Humulus lupulus L.
Horsemint Monarda punctata L.
Hyssop Hyssopus officinalis L.
Immortelle Helichrysum augustifolium DC.
Jasmine Jasminum officinale L. and other spp. of Jasminum.
Juniper (berries) Juniperus communis L.
Kola nut Cola acuminata Schott and Endl., and other spp. of Cola.
Laurel berries Laurus nobilis L.
Laurel leaves Laurus spp.
Lavender Lavandula officinalis Chaix.
Lavender, spike Lavandula latifolia Vill.
Lavandin Hybrids between Lavandula officinalis Chaix and Lavandula latifolin Vill.
Lemon Citrus limon (L.) Burm. f.
Lemon balm (see balm)
Lemon grass Cymbopogon citratus DC. and Cymbopogon lexuosus Stapf.
Lemon peel Citrus limon (L.) Burm. f.
Lime Citrus aurantifolia Swingle.
Linden flowers Tilia spp.
Locust bean Ceratonia siliqua L,
Lupulin Humulus lupulus L.
Mace Myristica fragrans Houtt.
Mandarin Citrus reticulata Blanco.
Marjoram, sweet Majorana hortensis Moench.
Maté Ilex paraguariensis St. Hil.
Melissa (see balm)
Menthol Mentha spp.
Menthyl acetate Do.
Molasses
(extract)
Saccarum officinarum L.
Mustard Brassica spp.
Naringin Citrus paradisi Macf.
Neroli, bigarade Citrus aurantium L.
Nutmeg Myristica fragrans Houtt.
Onion Allium cepa L.
Orange, bitter, flowers Citrus aurantium L.
Orange, bitter, peel Do.
Orange leaf Citrus sinensis (L.) Osbeck.
Orange, sweet Do.
Orange, sweet, flowers Do.
Orange, sweet, peel Do.
Origanum Origanum spp.
Palmarosa Cymbopogon martini Stapf.
Paprika Capsicum annuum L.
Parsley Petroselinum crispum (Mill.) Mansf.
Pepper, black Piper nigrum L.
Pepper, white Do.
Peppermint Mentha piperita L.
Peruvian balsam Myroxylon pereirae Klotzsch.
Petitgrain Citrus aurantium L.
Petitgrain lemon Citrus limon (L.) Burm. f.
Petitgrain mandarin or tangerine Citrus reticulata Blanco.
Pimenta Pimenta officinalis Lindl.
Pimenta leaf Pimenta officinalis Lindl.
Pipsissewa leaves Chimaphila umbellata Nutt.
Pomegranate Punica granatum L.
Prickly ash bark Xanthoxylum (or Zanthoxylum) Americanum Mill. or Xanthoxylum clava-herculis L.
Rose absolute Rosa alba L., Rosa centifolia L., Rosa damascena Mill., Rosa gallica L., and vars. of these spp.
Rose (otto of roses, attar of roses) Do.
Rose buds Do.
Rose flowers Do.
Rose fruit (hips) Do.
Rose geranium Pelargonium graveolens L'Her.
Rose leaves Rosa spp.
Rosemary Rosmarinus officinalis L.
Saffron Crocus sativus L.
Sage Salvia officinalis L.
Sage, Greek Salvia triloba L.
Sage, Spanish Salvia lavandulaefolia Vahl.
St. John's bread Ceratonia siliqua L.
Savory, summer Satureia hortensis L.
Savory, winter Satureia montana L.
Schinus molle Schinus molle L.
Sloe berries (blackthorn berries) Prunus spinosa L.
Spearmint Mentha spicata L.
Spike lavender Lavandula latifolia Vill.
Tamarind Tamarindus indica L.
Tangerine Citrus reticulata Blanco.
Tarragon Artemisia dracunculus L.
Tea Thea sinensis L.
Thyme Thymus vulgaris L. and Thymus zygis var. gracilis Boiss.
Thyme, white Do.
Thyme, wild or creeping Thymus serpyllum L.
Triticum (see dog grass)
Tuberose Polianthes tuberosa L.
Turmeric Curcuma longa L.
Vanilla Vanilla planifolia Andr. or Vanilla tahitensis J. W. Moore.
Violet flowers Viola odorata L.
Violet leaves Do.
Violet leaves absolute Do.
Wild cherry bark Prunus serotina Ehrh.
Ylang-ylang Cananga odorata Hook. f. and Thoms.
Zedoary bark Curcuma zedoaria Rosc.