Recently my 16 yr old daughter came home from a friends house asking if I knew people could drink essential oils. The first thing I said was "let me guess, one of your friends parents sell Young Living Essential Oils" and she asks "how did you know?"
The first time I heard about Young Living was during my aromatherapy certification course when a student brought up Raindrop Therapy. She was immediately shut down by our instructor but when she refused to stop talking about YL she was told she'd have to leave the classroom. The focus of the class quickly returned to the proper use of essential oils, not what MLM (Multilevel Marketing) companies often say to get you to use more of their product.
Following that experience I didn't come across the words Young Living again until I was at an herb festival and one of the instructors there was pushing YL essential oils, encouraging people to try Raindrop Therapy, passing essential oils around for guests to drink in a glass of water, and telling people that as long as an essential oil was labelled GRAS it could be consumed. One of the guests taking part in the drink fest was a pregnant woman. Following that experience I decided to do some research and discovered some not so savory things about Young Living reps and their founder that concerned me but I don't want this post to be about that, I want it to be about this…
I didn't appreciate the misinformation about essential oils being shared with my daughter but luckily she's been exposed to the use of essential oils since birth and heard me preach about how to properly use them enough that she knows better than to jump on the Young Living band wagon before verifying things with her mother. Other teens may not be so enlightened. In fact, according to my daughter, Young Living has become quite popular at her high school and several teens are using them in ways that they shouldn't. Next up we'll hear the FDA is going to start regulating essential oils and only people with a certain level of education will be able to dispense them. Something I've been concerned about for a while now so I'm going to take some of the things reps for essential oil companies love to say about drinking essential oils (including what was said at the Herb Festival) and give the facts.
They might tell you that when an essential oil is labelled GRAS it means generally recognized as safe for internal use. They might also say if someone tells you it is unsafe to drink essential oils they are referring to other brands, not their brand, because their brand has the purest and only therapeutic oils on the planet. One thing a proponent of internal use of essential oils will do to make you believe it is safe to drink essentials is point out foods or other products, like mouthwash, that contain them.
Fact: GRAS does mean generally recognized as safe but does NOT mean you can drink the essential oil. Click HERE to see how GRAS is defined by the FDA.
Essential oils are used in the food industry as a flavoring agent, so for example, if you choose to bake with an essential oil you'd need to know which ones are generally recognized as safe (CLICK HERE) and you'd need to know their dilution rate (I won't go into that here - refer to FDA guidelines or pick up a book that specifically covers this). I personally don't use essential oils to flavor my foods, I prefer the benefits I receive from flavoring my foods with herbs, spices or extracts. Why spend the time researching how to use an essential oil according to the FDA safety guidelines when I can use a spice in its place? Besides, many essential oils are diluted with synthetics like BHT or petrochemicals (It was recently discovered that Cinnamon Bark by Young Living was diluted with synthetics), so why take the risk of ingesting something like that?
Essential oils are also used in items like mouthwash, toothpaste, etc...
Example - Listerine: menthol, thymol, methyl salicylate, and eucalyptus are all essential oils used in Listerine mouthwash. Ethanol is used as a dissolving agent. The percentage of ethanol used is between 21-27%, which is required to dissolve the essential oils and ethanol is also considered non-drinkable which is another reason Listerine is not to be swallowed.
You see a DISSOLVING AGENT is being used for the essential oils in the Listerine and there is a warming on the bottle that says DO NOT SWALLOW.
Essential oils are not water soluble so they will not dissolve in water, tea, coffee or juice. The oils will just float on the surface. Example, using cinnamon bark essential oil as a flavoring agent in hot cocoa makes absolutely no sense because it doesn't mix. Don't believe me? Take a clear bottle of water and drop in 2-3 drops of an essential oil. Cover and then shake to see what happens. This is what you'll get.
essential oil floating on surface of water
If you drink a glass of water with lemon essential oil in it the oil could damage your mucus membranes; mouth, throat, stomach… Lemon essential oil is caustic and has been known to eat its way through rubber, do you really want that sitting in your stomach?
Just yesterday I read on a FB page a comment by someone who uses lemon essential oil in her water. Her post, and I quote "I don't care what the FDA says, I've been drinking lemon essential oil in my water for years and I like it. Nothing bad has ever happened."
Nothing bad has happened to her! READ THIS to get an idea of what bad has happened to some people who have taken essential oils internally. Now is that a risk you are willing to take just to have your water smell and taste like a lemon?
There are no nutrients in essential oils. If you want the smell, taste and benefits of a lemon, squeeze a bit of lemon juice into an 8 oz. glass of water. A fresh lemon is rich in vitamin C and contains many other vitamins and minerals. If you want the taste of cinnamon in your coffee, break up a cinnamon stick and boil it in a pot of water with your coffee, it won't only taste great but it is actually beneficial to your body and you won't have to worry about it possibly damaging your throat or harming your stomach.
Note: Young Living is not the only essential oil company that promotes drinking essential oils, others like DoTerra and Veriditas Botanicals do also. Plus many more.
Essential oil companies would love for you to drink their oils because then you'll use them up quicker and return to buy more. Telling people to drink essential oils is nothing more than a sales tactic. They'll tell you that people have been drinking essential oils for years and even the French prescribe internal use of essential oils to treat various health issues but what they aren't telling you is that the people in France and other parts of the world prescribing the internal use of essential oils are medical professionals and it's done only in the case of serious diseases and never for every day use. Those individuals obtain a full medical history from their patients including current medication or supplement intake, assess the necessity and monitor for issues and desired outcome. So if you still feel the need to take essential oils internally after you've read this I urge you to do so under the guidance of a clinical aromatherapist or other medical professional trained in the use of essential oils.
If you read my post and like the woman above you said to yourself I don't care, I like taking eos internally, and you refuse to consult with a professional then the safest way this can be done according to Robert Tisserand (world's leading expert on aromatherapy) is to use an empty gelatin capsule filled with a fatty oil and the essential oil of choice - Not ideal since it is preferred a person be under supervision while doing this but it is the safest option if going it alone. *Note - Tisserand DID NOT SAY to take the essential oils internally without guidance this way, he said IF you are going to refuse the guidance then the safest thing to do is to use the gelatin capsule with fatty oil.
People advising you to avoid the internal use of essential oils aren't trying to keep you from buying anyone's product, they are trying to keep you safe and healthy. It's the same reason I taught my kids how to read the label on a bottle of Ibuprofrin. I'm not against them using Ibuprofrin when it is needed but it must be used according to safety guidelines to prevent injury.
So the next time you reach for an essential oil bottle ask yourself, in whose best interest is it for you to take the eo internally.
I was reading a Facebook post recently where essential oils were being discussed, particularly cassia vs. cinnamon bark oil. There was a debate over whether two plants from the same genus were essentially equals. Should we refer to both peppermint and spearmint as mints (mentha)? Should we refer to both cassia and cinnamon bark as cinnamon? The answer provided by the chemist leading that particular page was NO, just because they are from the same genus does not make them equal and knowing this is important, not just in aromatherapy but in herbalism also and here are a few good reasons why.
If you hear repeatedly that lavender essential oil helps people relax and you're stressed what are you likely to do? You'll probably jump online or head to the store to buy a bottle of lavender. You'll look at the label and see the common name "lavender" and think you're getting what everyone is raving about but you might just end up buying an oil that does the exact opposite of relaxing you. Then what happens? You start telling people that essential oils are snake oil, aromatherapy is quackery, and not because you are right but because you weren't educated.
When I studied herbalism and aromatherapy there was a lot of emphasis on learning the latin binomial of each plant. In fact, latin names were the first on the list to memorize, they repeatedly appeared on exams and quickly it became very apparent why.
Example: lavender essential oil is made from several varieties of the species Lavandula. Each species contains various chemical constituents and none are exactly the same. Using the oil from one species can have a different effect on you than if you use one from another species.
Lavandula intermedia - known for its ability to stimulate Lavendula augustifolia - known for its ability to help people relax
Another example is cinnamon essential oil vs. cassia. If go to the store looking for cinnamon essential oil you'll see cinnamon eo labelled two ways but both have the same scientific name; Cinnamomum zeylanicum. The bottle will be labelled either "cinnamon bark" or "cinnamon leaf" and the latin name will be listed as well. (at least this is how reputable companies label)
Cassia oil is known as a Chinese cinnamon oil but it is always labelled as Cassia on a bottle of essential oils unless someone is trying to mislead the consumer. A bottle of cassia should also contain the latin name Cinnamomum cassia.
There is no confusing the two essential oils if labelled properly. Problem is, many companies will label an essential oil as C. zeylanicum when it's actually C. cassia and in the world of spices the same occurs. A company could pay the price for C. zeylanicum which is costly but receive C. Cassia which is much cheaper. Ingesting C. cassia as a medicinal or even just as a food item is also an issue. If you want to understand why read this, Tis the Season for Cinnamon or this Cinnamon's Dirty Little Secret Revealed. In short, it has to do with the coumarin and cinnamaldehyde content.
When an herbalist reaches for C. zeylanicum (synonym Cinnamomum verum) they are interested in the chemical constituents found in C. zeylanicum, not C. cassia.
I hope I explained that well, let me know if it doesn't make sense.
Why someone with no scientific background would find it appropriate to argue about this with a chemist that makes a living analyzing essential oils is beyond me but I'm grateful to whomever that woman was because it brings up an important issue about the use of essential oils that I don't think gets addressed often; individuals selling and promoting a product they know nothing about. It also made me reflect on my own lack of understanding of how herbs and essential oils worked in the years prior to getting certified in both - like in college when I dumped an entire bottle of peppermint essential oil into my bathtub not realizing that eos and water don't mix. I'll just say… the results of that mistake weren't pretty.
While I was at Valley Natural Foods the other day I was standing behind a couple in front of the honey shelf and I overheard them discussing the quality of the various honeys. The woman leans in towards the man to tell him that some of the honeys had gone bad "you can tell because they are crystallized" she said. I didn't correct them but I had to laugh to myself because prior to becoming a beekeeper (once upon a time) I use to think that too. I'd always toss out honey that had crystallized and I learned to do that from my mother who would say "that honey is bad." So, here's the truth for those of you who have done the same. Crystallized honey isn't bad, not even inferior. In fact, it is great! Trust me, I learned this directly from the bee genius Marla Spivak.
Since I learned about this in my beekeeping course I now prefer my honey to be crystallized. I'm a firm believer that if it doesn't crystallized at some point then it is an inferior product. Why? Because the more natural (raw) a honey is the more likely it is to crystallized or be sold in that form.
I purchase raw honey from a local beekeeper (sold at our natural food store) and my recent purchase looks like this:
I had two jars from the same MN beekeeper and one was liquid for about 1-2 weeks and the other solid (like you see above). How is that possible? Well, how fast a honey crystalizes depends on where the bees found their nectar. Example: nectar that comes from goldenrod is more likely to crystallized faster than nectar that comes from blackberries. So, the amount of sugar vs. water content is what contributes to the rate of crystallization or granulation.
Another factor affecting crystallization of honey is in how it's processed. Heating and filtering is what keeps it from crystalizing and both can destroy the healing benefits of honey. Commercial beekeepers will heat (pasteurize) up to 150 degrees F, filtering out all pollen, wax and other bee particles. Makes honey pretty but not healthy.
It's easy to make honey liquid again without destroying the beneficial components (nutrients and enzymes), all you have to do is warm it up a little. I prefer avoiding the microwave to do this, instead I'll use a pot of hot water (don't heat above 95 F) and set the honey jar inside til it is liquid again.
There is a huge misconception that pasteurizing (heating) makes the honey safer to consume. That is not why commercial beekeepers or companies do this, they do it because the customer prefers it. Not sure how that came to be but I'm assuming it is similar to why we preferred white soap over non-white...ADVERTISING! They market liquid & clear honey as "more appealing" to look at but in addition they'll also claim that their honey is also beneficial to your health when it isn't. What made it clear and liquid also destroyed its beneficial properties.
So, buy RAW and don't be afraid if it is crystallized or granulated or if it was once liquid and becomes crystallized or granulated. Honey does not expire in the way other foods do which is why you likely will not find an expiration date on locally made RAW honey from a small beekeeper. When commercial honey is sold it often has an expiration date on the bottle or a "best if used by" date. When you see this, remember it has nothing to do with the honey but more to do with the company selling it wanting you to buy another bottle. That expiration date in conjunction with the crystallization will make you think your honey has gone bad but that commercial honey was crap to begin with. It will still taste great and work fine in your tea, baking, etc… but it will not help you recover from a cold or sooth that sore throat the way RAW honey does. Much of the commercial honey now is being adulterated with ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup so its best to avoid anyway but now I'm drifting off topic.
After learning I have an autoimmune disease and finding that I really struggle to overcome even the most basic illness I've decided to be proactive about maintaining wellness this year. I've always done a few things to prepare our family for flu season, like making an elderberry tincture and keeping a natural version of antibacterial hand spray on hand for each person in the house but I've been warned by my ND and GP after my two trips to urgent care this past year that I need to be extra cautious about getting sick. So, how does someone NOT get sick? Well, I know it isn't completely avoidable but I'm going to try my best and if I can't keep myself from getting sick I can at least have something on hand to lessen the duration of an illness (time I have to suffer) and to help do this I made an Elderberry syrup.
Elderberry is known for its ability to lessen the duration of the flu, it is also good for alleviating the symptoms of a cold.
If you are interested in making your own syrup for this coming winter, here is how you do it;
1/2 cup elderberries (dried) - sambucus nigra or sambucus nigra sbsp. canadensis
3 cups water
2 cinnamon sticks (broken up)
1 pinch of ground clove
1 pinch of dried ginger
1/2 cup raw honey
I normally use fresh elderberries but our favorite spots to find the plant have now been destroyed by development :( We do grow our own but the deer don't share so… this year I purchased elderberries from Mountain Rose Herbs. They also have a great video on making elderberry syrup if you prefer to follow that. You do not have to use cinnamon, clove and/or ginger but I think it makes the syrup taste 1000x's better and they contain beneficial properties that aid in relieving various ailments.
Make sure you use RAW HONEY, preferably local and organic. There is a significant difference between raw honey and processed honey. The antimicrobial and antibacterial enzymes found in honey are destroyed when honey is heated beyond a certain degree which is why the processed honey you usually find in grocery stores is not what you want to be consuming. When people tout the benefits of honey they aren't referring to your grocery store variety, they are talking about the honey straight from the hive. If you just want honey to use as a sweetener than go ahead and buy the processed version but if you are looking to benefit from honeys healing properties you'll want to buy RAW - ORGANIC - LOCAL.
This also means you need to keep in mind that honey should never be heated above 95 degrees F. It's the heat that degrades honey. In this recipe you'll probably want to have a thermometer on hand to make sure your liquid is at or below 95 F before you add your honey.
Measure out the water and place it in a sauce pan, then add your berries, broken up pieces of cinnamon, a pinch of cloves and a pinch of ginger.
Bring to a boil and then cover and lower heat to a simmer for 40 minutes. Make sure to stir the contents every 10 minutes as it simmers (to prevent sticking to the bottom of pan).
After 40 minutes remove from heat and strain. I did this by covering a jar with cheese cloth because I couldn't find my strainer. The joys of a disorganized kitchen.
After boiling I was left with 1 1/2 cups of liquid so to make sure the syrup wasn't too sweet or too bland I put in 1/2 cup of raw honey, stirred til it was completely dissolved and the taste was perfect!! (remember: do not add honey until temp of liquid is below 95 F). Pour into a glass jar for storage in the fridge.
Make sure you write the date on the top of your jar since you are going to want to discard any unused syrup after about 3 months.
This recipe makes a liquid syrup that is not the consistency of the syrup most people are use to. It will not resemble maple syrup or have the thickness of Robitussin. This is a watery syrup. Make sure you refrigerate the finished product or it will go bad quickly. This recipe does not contain a natural preservative, if you want to extend the shelf life of your recipe you'll need to add an alcohol like vodka or brandy. Natural Fertility and Wellness has a great recipe with brandy included.
You can take this syrup as a preventative at a dose of 1 tsp a day to boost immunity otherwise if ill take 1 tsp 2x's daily.
**Although a lot of research has been done on elderberry the verdict is still out on whether it is safe to take while pregnant or breastfeeding, same goes for if you are on other medication or have any health problems so it is best to speak to your health care provider before using.
I placed my first order from Mad Oils recently; love the fast shipping, the personal touch "thank you" gift with FO sample and the quality of their essential oils and micas. Unfortunately, after using their Lemon Cupcake mica my cp soap ended up looking a little orange instead of yellow :( Their website says it isn't unusual to end up with orange the first 24 hours but it has been 2 weeks and it is still more orange than yellow. Their micas do mix up nice and smooth in the raw soap though, better than other suppliers I have used. I'll try using the yellow again in another recipe, this time with a different essential oil, and see how it turns out.
As for their Grape Nehi mica, that came out perfectly. A perfect purple that lasts. Also, their lavender essential oil has the truest and best scent of all those I have used from soap suppliers.
Mad Oils is definitely on my list of go-to shops for soap supplies.