Ways to use Essential Oils to Relieve Stress — Part 3: Ingestion

Of the ways to use essential oils to relieve stress, internal use offers some of the most profound effects, and yet it is the least recognized. Find out how to ingest essential oils in a safe, effective way.

There are three main methods of using essential oils to relieve stress: topically, by inhalation and by ingestion. In this final part of our series, we will learn about how to safely use essential oils internally.

Tips about using Essential Oils to Relieve Stress

Among the ways to use essential oils, the least understood is internal use. Yet, when used properly internal use offers potent therapeutic benefits. The essential oils of the plants can support our organ systems, and balance our metabolism. Using the oils internally offers a way to increase the potency of the oils. And all of this is great if you are working to prevent or reverse the harms of chronic stress.

1. What essential oils are safe to use internally?

2. How do you find quality essential oils?

3. How do you use essential oils internally?

4. Which oils should I use internally?

5. When do I use essential oils internally?

6. What are the advantages of taking essential oils internally?

7. What precautions should I take with internal essential oil use?

1. What essential oils are safe to use internally?

There are two main considerations when choosing an oil to use internally.

First, you must check if a particular essential oil is certified as GRAS (Generally Regarded as Safe) by the FDA. If the oil is on this list, it will be safe to be used internally.

The second, and equally important consideration is the quality of the oil. Most essential oils, even the ones at health food stores and especially the ones at a bath and body shop, are made for the perfume industry. They can be adulterated with many chemicals to extend the oil or alter the scent. Even the term “natural” has no official meaning and may not guarantee the oil’s purity.

To judge an essential oil, you must ask:

–Is the oil genuine? Is it 100% natural (no synthetic additives)? Is it 100% pure (no similar essential oils added)? Is it 100% complete (not decolorized, recolored or deterpenated)?

–Is the oil authentic? Is the oil from the specific species listed on the label?

The best essential oils for internal use are from small production facilities who carefully produce their oils with a vision of aromatic healing. Each batch should be processed slowly, carefully and at low temperatures. And each batch, like a fine wine, will reflect the particulars of that harvest. The best oils will very in small ways from year to year.

The quality and purity of essential oils are important because they assure that you get the true benefits of essential oils, that you are not ingesting chemicals and that you are assured a predictable action from the oil.

Only use essential oils you trust.

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2. How do you find quality essential oils?

The quality on any particular oil is difficult to assess, even to aromatherapists. Using spectrometers, companies can make sure their oil supply is pure on a gross level, but many chemicals can be added to an essential oil so that the spectrometer results mimic a pure oil.

The best way to find quality essential oils is to find a supplier you trust, and let them make the assessment. Ask questions about the oils–what do their labels “pure” or “natural” really mean? Do they know the farmers who raise their crops? Do they use low temperature distillation? Find a company which takes pride in the therapeutic value of their essential oils.

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3. How do you use essential oils internally?

There are many ways to use essential oils internally.

–You can add a drop of oil to a glass of water or a teaspoon of honey. For example, a drop of lemon will make your water taste great. A drop of peppermint will taste good and ease stomach upset. Be prepared for a flavor blast!

–If the flavor is too strong, you can put a couple drops in a gelatin capsule and take that. Start with only a 2-4 drops until you know how your body will react.

–For those who enjoy the strong flavors, you can put a drop directly under your tongue. I use this with Thieves blend as a cold preventative. Peppermint will freshen your breath.

–And finally, one of the fun ways to use essential oils to really take advantage of the essential oil flavors is to cook with them. Some of the healing properties may be lost with the heat of cooking, but the flavor will be fantastic. Add oregano or basil to your tomato sauce. Add black pepper to your salsa (this is really good). Add lemon to your home-made lemonade and decrease the sugar. The lemon will make a tasty drink the kids will love.

For certain conditions, the French have other ways to use essential oils. They will sometimes use essential oils rectally or vaginally. Suppositories are especially effective for lung conditions because the oils are absorbed by the rectal veins and by-pass the liver on the way to the heart-lung circulatory tract.

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4. Which oils should I use internally?

A starter list for you:

Longevity blend. Longevity is absolutely one of my favorite oil blends and I use it regularly to counteract the effects of stress. It is a very strong anti-oxidant, which helps your body repair the wear and tear of stress. It also contains oils which contain anti-tumural properties, support immune function, decrease the stickiness of blood cells and prevent degradation of fats in brain, heart, liver and kidneys.

This blend comes in a capsule form, so it is one of the easiest ways to use essential oils internally. The capsule is designed to dissolve in the intestines to maximize the absorption of the oils. Take Longevity daily to tonify your body, and balance your metabolism, counteracting the damage from stress.

Thieves blend. This is a great blend when your immune system is run-down because it is extremely anti-microbial.Take a drop or two under your tongue or in a capsule when you feel a cold coming on. It may prevent a cold or lessen its effects.

The Power of Essential Oils to Prevent a Cold
One winter my family joined my friend’s family in a cabin in northern Wisconsin. Nine of us were in close quarters for 4 days as my friend’s son came down with a cold which eventually became pneumonia. Only my friend and I took Thieves during those days, and only we stayed well. The other seven people all got sick. Thieves worked great for us.

Lemon. I use lemon to flavor my water so that I can drink my daily requirement. I avoid sugary drinks and keep my water intake high.

Grapefruit. I put grapefruit in my water when I want to curb my chocolate cravings (which, of course, escalate under stress). When my chocolate cravings becoming too consuming, I reach for the grapefruit instead.

Peppermint. If anxiety has your stomach churning, try a drop of peppermint in your water to sooth and calm your digestion.

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5. When do I use essential oils internally?

Using essential oils therapeutically delivers potent healing directly into your body. Anytime you need major physical support , you can take essential oils internally.

There are two philosophical ways I use essential oils internally. Some oils I use regularly for health maintenance. For example, I regularly take Longevity or drink grapefruit.

Other oils I only use as relief for a specific health crisis. I don’t hesitate to take Thieves if I’m getting sick. And if I had a major disease, I would absolutely use essential oils as a part of my health plan.

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6. What are the advantages of taking essential oils internally?

Whether essential oils are used internally, topically or by inhalation, the healing properties of the oils will enter your body. There is some debate about which of the ways to use essential oils is most effective, however. When using essential oils internally, digestive juices of the stomach may alter the effectiveness of the oil. However, the same could be said about the oils penetrating the skin when used topically.

In general, for emotional issues, I would inhale the oils as my first action, and then use them topically. For physical complaints, I would use them primarily either topically or internally. For a major disease or health crisis, I would use them all three ways.

It is important to remember, however, that no matter how you use the oils, you will be getting the health benefits from them. Do what is best for you, your body and your comfort level. Experiment. See what works and what doesn’t.

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7. What precautions should I take with internal essential oil use?

  • Make sure your oils are GRAS.
  • At first, use only a drop or two. Later when you know how your body reacts, you may wish to increase it.
  • Use common sense–essential oils are very potent. Do not drink a bottle! This would seem obvious, but remember, anything in large doses is bad for you. If you have very young children, keep the bottle in a safe location, just like you do for any remedy.
  • Use pure oils only.
  • Epileptics and people with high blood pressure should consult with their doctor. They should use caution with high ketone oils like basil, rosemary, sage and tansy (tansy is not on the GRAS list anyway).
  • Pregnant women should consult with their doctor. They should avoid sage, fennel, and hyssop.
  • Do not give essential oils internally to children under 6.

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This completes our series of using essential oils to relieve stress. Essential oils are one of the best tools for a stressed mother. She can regain her sanity while enjoying the prescription for her health.

About Julia Rymut

Julia Rymut helps women find peace in their busy lives. She uses massage, essential oils, organization and a sense of humor to show that stress is a state of mind that can be changed. She lives in Madison, WI with her 2 kids and loves talking about history, traveling to exotic places, working out and walking in the woods.


  1. Kathryn M says:

    I have been taking Clove Oil (1 to 2 drops) in my tea for about three days. I am experiencing headaces, which I don’t generally get. Also, some stomach/digestion discomfort (which is why I’m taking the oil). My thoughts are that I am having some kind of detox from the oil. What are your thoughts?

    • Gosh, Kathryn. I have never heard of people getting headaches from Clove Oil but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen.

      My first advice is to make sure you are using pure, high quality oils. You have to be very sure that you aren’t ingesting adulterated oils because that could be harmful.

      My second suggestion is to consult with your health practitioner to make sure nothing serious is going on.

      Generally I find clove oil very helpful and have used it a lot. Headaches could be a sign of detox but without seeing you personally, I don’t want to give specific advice. Seek out an essential oil specialist to double check what’s going on with you. Maybe he or she could suggest a different oil which could help with your digestion (peppermint perhaps?) but avoid the headaches.

      Good luck!

    • Hello Kathryn,

      I am currently researching safety, with regards to use of essential oils. In Robert Tisserands book ‘Essential Oil Safety”, Robert indicates the following hazards with regards to Clove essential oil (botanical name Syzgium aromaticum)

      1. Dermal irritant (moderate)
      2. Mucus Membrane irritant (strong)
      3. Hepatotoxic
      4. Inhibits Blood clotting

      He cautions and indicates that depending what part of the plant the oil was distilled from, it should be diluted 1-3% on the mucus membrane. There is also Toxicity data that indicates Eugenol (which clove is between 70-95% – if your oils a pure) is a powerful inhibitor of platelet activity, which is essential for blood clotting. He quotes “It would be prudent to avoid oral administration of clove oil in people whose blood clots only slowly, whether or not this is caused by heredity hemophilia. Caution is recommended in anyone taking anticoagulant drugs, such as aspirin, heparin or warfarin.

      Because Clove Oil is a strong mucous membrane irritant – the oil could be causing your stomach discomfort – especially if you are using it undiluted.

      I would also recommend you see a certified aromatherapist before ingesting any essential oils, and talk with them about any other medications your are currently taking and any/all health concerns. Certified aromatherapists have been trained in the effective use of Essential Oils, weather it be inhaled, topically or oral administration, with regards to your overall health.. You can find a list of certified aroma therapists at the NAHA (National Association of Holistic Aromatherapy) website: NAHA.org

      I hope you find this helpful, and you are feeling much better!

      • Julia Rymut says:

        Hi Denise,

        Great information. Thank you. You’re right, clove can be very irritating.

        I want to add my 2 cents that StressFreeMama is not suggesting that any of those reactions are what is going on with you. I think the best advice is what Denise suggested–go to an aromatherapist or other health adviser and find out what is going on with you.

  2. I have been doing some research on peppermint oil for the teeth, gums, UTI, hair, skin and sinusitis. I understand precautions should be taken when an essential oil is internally digested. They should be GRAS, pure oils and use only a drop or two. I have never used peppermint oil for my teeth and gums, so could I get some feedback on how to properly use it. What carrier oils are best recommended to mix with peppermint and lavender oils when applying them to the skin and hair? I read for the hair you need to take 10 drops of lavender oil, 10 drops of rosemary oil, 5 drops of basil oil and 4 oz. of jojoba oil. I am not sure what carrier oils I should mix with peppermint oil, so could I receive some feedback on this as well.

    • Hi Sondra,

      I think using jojoba oil for your hair is a great idea! I’ve never tried basil, so I can’t comment on basil specifically, however, it seems like a good recipe.

      I’ve used a number of different carrier oils when I use essential oils. When I’m in a hurry, sometimes I just grab some organic olive oil. Of course this is safe to ingest and generally good for your skin, however olive oil has an “olive-y” scent and can leave the skin a little shiny.

      I’ve also used coconut oil, but depending on what temperature you keep it, it may need to be warmed. If I’m just rubbing it on my skin, I’ll put a little in my palm and when it melts, I’ll add a drop or two or essential oil and stir it with my finger.

      As far as I know, there is nothing about peppermint that requires a specific carrier oil.

      Does this help?


  3. Greeting!

    I am curious about using grapefruit essential oil in a capsule to help lose weight. I read about a petrochemical oil cleanse where you rub ledum and citrus blend on your skin and ingest 20 drops of grapefruit oil. My concern is when I began this, I bloated up – my hands and neck swelled. I immediately stopped and within a few days the swelling subsided.

    I really want to do this cleanse but can you advise me how to do it safely…and how do I know if/when the petrochemical cleanse is working? My body has a high resistance to lose weight…and I am desperate to try anything!

    Thanks in advance for your help!

    • Hi Mike,

      I’m not familiar with the petrochemical cleanse. I suggest that you find a local aromatherapist and get advice specific for your body. Bloating like that sounds uncomfortable and potentially dangerous.

      I wish I could be more help, but your reaction sounds quite extreme. Find a naturopath or aromatherapist to help you.

  4. I wanted to know if you could recommend specific stores and brands that you trust that can pick up. I live in Atlanta Ga. and there is Whole Foods,Trader Joes and Nutrition House right in my area. Do you of know of any brands I can pick up at these stores and do you recommend these stores for essential oils (internal use)? Do you know of any Mom and Pop stores in the Metro Atlanta area where I can pick up the essential oils for internal use that you mentioned here?

    • Julia Rymut says:

      Hi John,

      Unfortunately, I can’t make a recommendation. I wish I could. I don’t know the Atlanta area, but even more than that, I don’t know of any brands available commercially that I can recommend. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t good brands–only that I don’t know what they are.

      The 2 biggest brands I recommend for essential oils are Young Living and doTerra. Both of them are MLM’s and to be completely transparent, I’m a distributor for Young Living. I would be very happy to help you get some Young Living oils, but sometimes I recommend that people find a distributor locally so they can get face-to-face help. If you want me to help you, contact me on my Contact Page. If want a local distributor but don’t know anyone, give their headquarters a call and usually they can refer you to someone.

      There is one other company that I sometimes send people to, Swiss Aromatics. I don’t know much about them and I haven’t used their oils, however it is associated with Dr. Kurt Schnaubelt who is a well-known, French-style aromatherapist. I suggest you call the company and ask how their oils are produced. Trust your gut–if you feel like the oils are trustworthy, order a few and give them a try.

      I hope this helps.


  5. Good morning Julia,
    I am relatively new to using essential oils for health and emotional support. I am so thankful to have been introduced to quality essential oils through the yoga studio I attend. I have a desire to educate myself more thoroughly on essential oil usage. I have been reading a variety of blogs and essential oil website articles. I came across your website as I researched toxicity in essential oils. I have a different source for essential oils than you do, but I have really enjoyed your objectivity in answering questions about essential oils; this objectivity conveys a wisdom and knowledge that I appreciate. Do you have any recommendations for sources to broaden my knowledge base of essential oil utilization?

    • Julia Rymut says:

      Hi Jeri,

      Essential oil education. Hmmm… Much of what I have learned is just by immersing myself in the “oil” world and is not from a particular course. But if you want a general description to identify information similar to my site, I really like classical French-style essential oil usage. The French view essential oils like herbs and use them for their healing properties.

      As you probably know, there are many essential oil companies but the 2 biggest in the US that produce oils for healing are Young Living and doTerra. Both of these companies are MLM’s and offer education about the oils. Of course, the education is often specific to their products, and probably only available to their distributors.

      And if you do a Google search for aromatherapy courses, you’ll find pages of choices. I’m sure many of them are quite good but I don’t have any personal experience with them.

      The one company that I have heard good things about (and which is not a MLM) is the Pacific Institute of Aromatherapy. The courses are created by Dr. Kurt Schnaubelt, a well respected classical aromatherapist. Please note that I have not taken any of these courses, but I have heard only good things about them.

      The advice I give everyone that wants to know what kind of oils to use or what school to go to is to trust yourself. I don’t say this lightly. There are many fine teachers and each one has something different to offer and each one of us has something different to learn. So if you find a course that sounds interesting, take a quiet moment and explore if it is right for you. If it’s right, go for it!

    • Hi Jeri,
      You may want to check out http://www.heartofherbs.com. They have both aromatherapy and herbal courses, and they offer on-line options. They keep the courses far more affordable than some of the others that I have found. Demetria Clark is a wonderful source of information and she is great about interacting with on-line students. I am currently enrolled in the aromatherapy course with HOH. Hope this helps.

    • Hello!

      Here is a great blog: Learningabouteo.com

      Also, the NAHA (national association of holistic aromatherapy) NAHA.org has a an education link with a list of schools whom they have approved for course/certificates in aromatherapy. My recommendation is that you check out there site, and then take classes/courses from only those schools which are approved.

      I am currently taking classes with aromahead institute – aromahead.com. they are offering a free introductory course to essential oils.

      Hope this helps!

  6. Hi, thank you so much for your info. I looked into the FDA website and couldn’t really find any info on which oils were GRAS. Could you possibly post a link to the webpage if you have it? Thanks a bunch!

    • Julia Rymut says:

      Hi Julie,

      I looked on the FDA website and I believe they have the GRAS essential oils listed there somewhere, but man is it buried! Even if you do find the information, you’ll have to dust off your “government-alese” to understand what is written.

      I don’t have a link to a webpage, although that is a great idea for me to put together. I use my essential oil reference books to look up the oils. I suggest you do a Google search to find a list. When I did a search, there were several lists in the results.

      Sorry I couldn’t be more help.

  7. Hey Julia,

    I have ordered Garlic Essential Oil online and am waiting for it to arrive. Would it be okay to take a drop of this internally in a glass of water? Have you had any experience with garlic essential oil?

    Thanks in advance,


    • Julia Rymut says:

      Hey Justin,

      Garlic essential oil is a new one for me. I haven’t used it so I have no guidelines to give you. It seems logical that you could take it internally because garlic is edible, but I would check with the people you bought it from to be sure there are no additives or contraindications.

      Sorry I couldn’t be more help,


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