Cooking with Essential Oils
Over the past several months as I have driven around our community and I am seeing more and more references to classes offering to teach people how to cook with Essential Oils. As an aromatherapist, I was a bit dismayed to see this type of promotion.
First, the general public is being accosted with the notion that essential oils are good for absolutely everything and this is simply not true. In addition, people are being told that just a drop or two of this or that is a really small amount, when in reality and depending on the person this can be a MASSIVE amount.
Every drop of any essential oil contains 40 million trillion molecules! (This is the number 40 with 19 zeros after it). That means every single cell in the human body can be covered multiple times! Add to this the difference in dropper sizes. They are not calibrated and an unsteady hand may lead to multiples rather than just one. We all know how hard it is to squeeze out just 1 drop, without paying any mind to the SIZE of that drop.
Essential oils do not like heat
Secondly, essential oils do not like heat. Heat will change the physical chemical structure of the molecules (breaking them apart which can lead to the formation of undesirable molecules) and evaporate certain constituents very quickly. It is the balance of constituents and how they interact together that gives the purported therapeutic benefits. The added heat during cooking skews this balance, meaning cooking with essential oils is not a good idea.. Essential oils are AROMATIC MOLECULES and evaporation is what they do. That is why you can smell them.
I am constantly advising essential oil enthusiasts to keep their oils COLD or at the very least cool. Heat causes oxidation which is never ever desirable. Refrigeration is ideal even if not always convenient. This is even more important for citrus oils as their molecules are lighter and more easily subject to oxidation and change. Their shelf life can be lengthed considerably if they are kept cool.
Can you cook with essential oils? Proponents of cooking with essential oils argue that the oils can be added at the end of cooking so that they do not evaporate, but since they evaporate at room temperature, this will certainly be accelerated in the presence of warm food.
Oh, I am just going to put them on my salad you say as a defense against the heat argument. OK, with that in mind, remember, our bodies ARE accustomed to small amounts of essential oils in our diet (micrograms/nanograms). Essential oils are used by some manufacturers as flavor enhancers, ie: Cinnamon in toothpaste and Bergamot in Earl Grey tea.
Our bodies are used to seeing them in incredibly teeny tiny amounts, not drops. The liver sees the sudden increase of the oil constituents as a foreign invader and responds by increasing liver enzymes to counter the threat and help flush the oils from the body. They never reach the site where they are supposed to convey benefits. Over time the liver can become damaged from this and that is why a base liver enzyme test done by your physician should be done to establish where you are at and see if anything changes as you ingest over time.
You can see the cooking with essential oils touched a nerve for me. We believe in the oils, but knowing their POWER, we will always stress safe usage and application over promoting a sale.
If you have questions about essential oils, please contact me.