The French Model, which promotes taking essential oils internally, was originally advocated by three prominent aromatherapists: Jean Valnet, Paul Belaiche, and Henri Viaud. Internal use involves consuming essential oils in a vegetable capsule or softgel. They are absorbed into systemic circulation via the digestive tract. (1,2) Generally considered the most potent method of application, internal use of essential oils offers powerful effects to the body. (3-6)
This is also the most controversial mode of application, leading to much debate throughout the essential oil community in recent years. The confusion surrounding internal use of essential oils is largely based on lack of awareness. However, years of past and ongoing research have found that internal usage is a safe and profoundly efficacious application method.
Essential oils are already a normal part of your diet and the human body is well equipped to safely metabolize them (7) (see “Essential Oil Metabolism”
). When you sprinkle cinnamon on your oatmeal, sip a mug of peppermint tea, or add fresh oregano to your pasta sauce, you are actually consuming small amounts of the volatile compounds found naturally in the plant. Essential oils give plants their aroma and flavor. When concentrated, essential oils can be used as internal supplements for more potent and targeted support.
Today, many essential oils are found on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) list (8), which affirms the safe use of essential oils as flavoring agents and preservatives. Every substance found on this list has a well-documented history of internal safety. Although essential oils have health applications that extend far beyond flavoring, this list sets a safety framework that can be applied to the internal use of essential oils.
Some people express concerns about damage to mucous membranes when taking oils internally. This fear is unfounded when looked at under scientific scrutiny. See Mucous Membranes and Essential Oils to learn more. Internal use of essential oils is perfectly safe and worry-free when used properly. See Recommended Ideal Amounts for information on appropriate amounts.
Some essential oils are not recommended for internal use, such as Arborvitae, Birch, Cedarwood, Cypress, Eucalyptus, White Fir, and Wintergreen. They are best used aromatically or topically.
An important aspect of using essential oils is regarding them on an individual basis, noting their specific chemistry, beneficial effects, safety considerations, and appropriate application methods.
Effective Ways to Use Oils Internally:
- Put a few drops in a Veggie Cap and swallow whole
- Take a softgel such as DigestZen®, doTERRA On Guard® +, or TriEase®
- Coelho-de-Souza AN, Lahlou S, Barreto JEF, et al. Essential oil of Croton zehntneri and its major constituent anethole display gastroprotective effect by increasing the surface mucous layer. Fundam Clin Pharmacol. 2013;27(3):288-298.
- Guesmi F, Ben Ali M, Barkaoui T, et al. Effects of Thymus hirtus sp. algeriensis Boiss. et Reut. (Lamiaceae) essential oil on healing gastric ulcers according to sex. Lipids Health Dis. 2014;13(1):138.
- Moraes TM, Kushima H, Moleiro FC, et al. Effects of limonene and essential oil from Citrus aurantium on gastric mucosa: role of prostaglandins and gastric mucus secretion. Chem Biol Interact. 2009;180(3):499-505.
- Moraes TM, Rozza AL, Kushima H, Pellizzon CH, Rocha LRM, Hiruma-Lima CA. Healing actions of essential oils from Citrus aurantium and d-limonene in the gastric mucosa: the roles of VEGF, PCNA, and COX-2 in cell proliferation. J Med Food. 2013;16(12):1162-1167.
- Santin JR, Lemos M, Klein-Júnior LC, et al. Gastroprotective activity of essential oil of the Syzygium aromaticum and its major component eugenol in different animal models. Naunyn Schmiedebergs Arch Pharmacol. 2011;383(2):149-158.
- Takayama C, de-Faria FM, de Almeida ACA, et al. Gastroprotective and ulcer healing effects of essential oil from Hyptis spicigera Lam. (Lamiaceae). J Ethnopharmacol. 2011;135(1):147-155.
- Zhao H, Xie Y, Yang Q, et al. Pharmacokinetic study of cinnamaldehyde in rats by GC-MS after oral and intravenous administration. J Pharm Biomed Anal. 2014;89:150-157.
- Chang W, Han L, Huang H, et al. Simultaneous determination of four volatile compounds in rat plasma after oral administration of Shexiang Baoxin Pill (SBP) by HS-SPDE-GC–MS/MS and its application to pharmacokinetic studies. J Chromatogr B. 2014;963:47-53.
- D’Alessio P a., Ostan R, Bisson JF, Schulzke JD, Ursini M V., Béné MC. Oral administration of d-Limonene controls inflammation in rat colitis and displays anti-inflammatory properties as diet supplementation in humans. Life Sci. 2013;92:1151-1156.
- Crowell PL. Symposium on Phytochemicals : Biochemistry and Physiology Prevention and Therapy of Cancer by Dietary Monoterpenes 1. Exp Biol. 1999:775-778.
- Liu JH, Chen GH, Yeh HZ, Huang CK, Poon SK. Enteric-coated peppermint-oil capsules in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome: a prospective, randomized trial. J Gastroenterol. 1997;32:765-768.
- Talpur N, Echard B, Ingram C, Bagchi D, Preuss H. Effects of a novel formulation of essential oils on glucose-insulin metabolism in diabetic and hypertensive rats: a pilot study. Diabetes Obes Metab. 2005;7:193-199.
- Jager W. Metabolism of terpenoids in animal models and humans. In: Baser KHC, Buchbauer G, eds. Handbook of Essential Oils: Science, Technology, and Applications. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press. Taylor & Francis Group; 2010:209-234.
- 182.20 Essential Oils, Oleoresins (Solvent-Free), and Natural Extractives (Including Distillates).United States of America: 42 FR 14640, Mar. 15, 1977, unless otherwise noted; 2015. http://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?rgn=div5&node=21:184.108.40.206.13#se21.3.182_120.