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Essential Oils ‘Generally Recognized as Safe’ for Ingestion by the FDA

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 [...]

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:

Common nameBotanical name of plant source
AlfalfaMedicago sativa L.
AllspicePimenta 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 rootAngelica archangelica L.
Angelica seedDo.
Angelica stemDo.
Angostura (cusparia bark)Galipea officinalis Hancock.
AnisePimpinella anisum L.
AsafetidaFerula assa-foetida L. and related spp. of Ferula.
Balm (lemon balm)Melissa officinalis L.
Balsam of PeruMyroxylon pereirae Klotzsch.
BasilOcimum basilicum L.
Bay leavesLaurus 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 roseAniba rosaeodora Ducke.
CacaoTheobroma cacao L.
Camomile (chamomile) flowers, HungarianMatricaria chamomilla L.
Camomile (chamomile) flowers, Roman or EnglishAnthemis nobilis L.
CanangaCananga odorata Hook. f. and Thoms.
CapsicumCapsicum frutescens L. and Capsicum annuum L.
CarawayCarum carvi L.
Cardamom seed (cardamon)Elettaria cardamomum Maton.
Carob beanCeratonia siliqua L.
CarrotDaucus carota L.
Cascarilla barkCroton eluteria Benn.
Cassia bark, ChineseCinnamomum cassia Blume.
Cassia bark, Padang or BataviaCinnamomum burmanni Blume.
Cassia bark, SaigonCinnamomum loureirii Nees.
Celery seedApium graveolens L.
Cherry, wild, barkPrunus serotina Ehrh.
ChervilAnthriscus cerefolium (L.) Hoffm.
ChicoryCichorium intybus L.
Cinnamon bark, CeylonCinnamomum zeylanicum Nees.
Cinnamon bark, ChineseCinnamomum cassia Blume.
Cinnamon bark, SaigonCinnamomum loureirii Nees.
Cinnamon leaf, CeylonCinnamomum zeylanicum Nees.
Cinnamon leaf, ChineseCinnamomum cassia Blume.
Cinnamon leaf, SaigonCinnamomum loureirii Nees.
CitronellaCymbopogon nardus Rendle.
Citrus peelsCitrus spp.
Clary (clary sage)Salvia sclarea L.
CloverTrifolium spp.
Coca (decocainized)Erythroxylum coca Lam. and other spp. of Erythroxylum.
CoffeeCoffea spp.
Cola nutCola acuminata Schott and Endl., and other spp. of Cola.
CorianderCoriandrum sativum L.
Cumin (cummin)Cuminum cyminum L.
Curacao orange peel (orange, bitter peel)Citrus aurantium L.
Cusparia barkGalipea officinalis Hancock.
DandelionTaraxacum officinale Weber and T. laevigatum DC.
Dandelion rootDo.
Dog grass (quackgrass, triticum)Agropyron repens (L.) Beauv.
Elder flowersSambucus canadensis L. and S. nigra I.
Estragole (esdragol, esdragon, tarragon)Artemisia dracunculus L.
Estragon (tarragon)Do.
Fennel, sweetFoeniculum vulgare Mill.
FenugreekTrigonella foenum-graecum L.
Galanga (galangal)Alpinia officinarum Hance.
GeraniumPelargonium spp.
Geranium, East IndianCymbopogon martini Stapf.
Geranium, rosePelargonium graveolens L’Her.
GingerZingiber officinale Rosc.
GrapefruitCitrus paradisi Macf.
GuavaPsidium spp.
Hickory barkCarya spp.
Horehound (hoarhound)Marrubium vulgare L.
HopsHumulus lupulus L.
HorsemintMonarda punctata L.
HyssopHyssopus officinalis L.
ImmortelleHelichrysum augustifolium DC.
JasmineJasminum officinale L. and other spp. of Jasminum.
Juniper (berries)Juniperus communis L.
Kola nutCola acuminata Schott and Endl., and other spp. of Cola.
Laurel berriesLaurus nobilis L.
Laurel leavesLaurus spp.
LavenderLavandula officinalis Chaix.
Lavender, spikeLavandula latifolia Vill.
LavandinHybrids between Lavandula officinalis Chaix and Lavandula latifolin Vill.
LemonCitrus limon (L.) Burm. f.
Lemon balm (see balm)
Lemon grassCymbopogon citratus DC. and Cymbopogon lexuosus Stapf.
Lemon peelCitrus limon (L.) Burm. f.
LimeCitrus aurantifolia Swingle.
Linden flowersTilia spp.
Locust beanCeratonia siliqua L,
LupulinHumulus lupulus L.
MaceMyristica fragrans Houtt.
MandarinCitrus reticulata Blanco.
Marjoram, sweetMajorana hortensis Moench.
MatéIlex paraguariensis St. Hil.
Melissa (see balm)
MentholMentha spp.
Menthyl acetateDo.
Molasses
(extract)
Saccarum officinarum L.
MustardBrassica spp.
NaringinCitrus paradisi Macf.
Neroli, bigaradeCitrus aurantium L.
NutmegMyristica fragrans Houtt.
OnionAllium cepa L.
Orange, bitter, flowersCitrus aurantium L.
Orange, bitter, peelDo.
Orange leafCitrus sinensis (L.) Osbeck.
Orange, sweetDo.
Orange, sweet, flowersDo.
Orange, sweet, peelDo.
OriganumOriganum spp.
PalmarosaCymbopogon martini Stapf.
PaprikaCapsicum annuum L.
ParsleyPetroselinum crispum (Mill.) Mansf.
Pepper, blackPiper nigrum L.
Pepper, whiteDo.
PeppermintMentha piperita L.
Peruvian balsamMyroxylon pereirae Klotzsch.
PetitgrainCitrus aurantium L.
Petitgrain lemonCitrus limon (L.) Burm. f.
Petitgrain mandarin or tangerineCitrus reticulata Blanco.
PimentaPimenta officinalis Lindl.
Pimenta leafPimenta officinalis Lindl.
Pipsissewa leavesChimaphila umbellata Nutt.
PomegranatePunica granatum L.
Prickly ash barkXanthoxylum (or Zanthoxylum) Americanum Mill. or Xanthoxylum clava-herculis L.
Rose absoluteRosa 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 budsDo.
Rose flowersDo.
Rose fruit (hips)Do.
Rose geraniumPelargonium graveolens L’Her.
Rose leavesRosa spp.
RosemaryRosmarinus officinalis L.
SaffronCrocus sativus L.
SageSalvia officinalis L.
Sage, GreekSalvia triloba L.
Sage, SpanishSalvia lavandulaefolia Vahl.
St. John’s breadCeratonia siliqua L.
Savory, summerSatureia hortensis L.
Savory, winterSatureia montana L.
Schinus molleSchinus molle L.
Sloe berries (blackthorn berries)Prunus spinosa L.
SpearmintMentha spicata L.
Spike lavenderLavandula latifolia Vill.
TamarindTamarindus indica L.
TangerineCitrus reticulata Blanco.
TarragonArtemisia dracunculus L.
TeaThea sinensis L.
ThymeThymus vulgaris L. and Thymus zygis var. gracilis Boiss.
Thyme, whiteDo.
Thyme, wild or creepingThymus serpyllum L.
Triticum (see dog grass)
TuberosePolianthes tuberosa L.
TurmericCurcuma longa L.
VanillaVanilla planifolia Andr. or Vanilla tahitensis J. W. Moore.
Violet flowersViola odorata L.
Violet leavesDo.
Violet leaves absoluteDo.
Wild cherry barkPrunus serotina Ehrh.
Ylang-ylangCananga odorata Hook. f. and Thoms.
Zedoary barkCurcuma zedoaria Rosc.

 

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