Can you use essential oils if you have food allergies?
It was one of my top questions when I started diving into essential oils for culinary use. Like many with food allergies, I don’t just have one, but several foods and spices I need to avoid.
Some of of the foods aren’t really an issue for heartache. (Sorry, oranges.) But others – like black pepper and sesame – make me very, very sad. (HUMMUS!!! How I miss thee!)
When I started using essential oils for flavor, I was curious if I could reintegrate some of my favorite foods. The answer? Maybe. It all depends on the allergy and your body.
it all comes down to how the oils are processed. (Please note the information below applies to Young Living oils. Check with other companies for their processing methods.)
Steam distilled versus cold-pressed method
If you are like me and have a citrus allergy, you are out of luck.
That’s because citrus fruits are extracted by a cold-pressed method instead of being steam distilled like ginger and black pepper.
Here’s the difference:
In the steam distillation process, protein molecules that typically cause allergic reactions are left behind and not bottled.
When cold pressing, however, these protein molecules remain. That means if you are allergic to lemons, limes or oranges, essential oils are a no go.
Some have said they are able to use Young Livings oils – like lavender – despite allergies because these proteins are not bottled in steam distilled oils.
Does this mean you should try essential oils despite allergies?
That really depends on YOU. You need to decide if you want to take that risk – because a risk it is. Essential oils are the most concentrated part of the plant. They are intense. One drop goes a l.o.n.g. way. You may want to consult your health care provider to see if it is a good idea.
Of course, being the adventurous cook that I am, I tried it.
And with no health care provider consultation. (Why would I do that?!)
With black pepper, no less. (Could I have found any more potent an essential oil to try?)
Black pepper on its own typically impacts my head with sneezing, coughing and watery eyes. But oh how I miss it! The flavor and smell of freshly cracked black pepper is heaven in a grinder. I was really hoping I could finally have it back.
The answer? Uh, no. Definitely not.
I had a reaction and needed to take an OTC liquid allergy medicine. I don’t like OTC meds, but I do keep some around for just such an occasion.
I could just write it off as the fact that black pepper is so strong, I could not handle that particular essential oil, but I won’t. To me, it isn’t worth testing the theory again with other oils to see if I can handle them. I’ve worked around these culinary allergies for years and found great substitutes (for the most part). I’m thankful that others ARE able to enjoy essential oils despite allergies.
If you want to test the oils, you might first consult with your health care provider about possible reactions. Know what you are doing and how it may impact your body before you begin.1