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®, On Guard® +, or TriEase™
- Zhao H, Xie Y, Yang Q, et al.J Pharm Biomed Anal. 2014;89:150-157.
2. Chang W, Han L, Huang H, et al.J Chromatogr B. 2014;963:47-53.
3. D’Alessio P a., Ostan R, Bisson JF, Schulzke JD, Ursini M V., Béné MC. Life Sci. 2013;92:1151-1156.
4. Crowell PL. Exp Biol. 1999:775-778.
5. Liu JH, Chen GH, Yeh HZ, Huang CK, Poon SK. J Gastroenterol. 1997;32:765-768.
6. Talpur N, Echard B, Ingram C, Bagchi D, Preuss H. Diabetes Obes Metab. 2005;7:193-199.
7. 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.
8. 21 U.S.C. 321, 342, 348, 371. §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=21:18.104.22.168.13#se21.3.182_120.
Originally posted 12/14/2015