I live in Portugal, which is an aromatherapist’s delight. In my back yard (30 hectares/75 acres) aromatic plants grow wild. They include two types of lavender, helichrysum, cistus, rosemary, mint, thyme and chamomile. My horses and dogs are free to interact with theses plants whenever they like. What I have observed is that they hardly ever eat them. Occasionally, they will take a tiny nip from the tip of a dried plant, where most of the essential oil has already evaporated.
The most natural way for an animal to be exposed to essential oil is through inhalation as they walk through the plants, releasing the aromatic molecules. I wish you could smell the chamomile in this video as it is crushed under foot. Some of the horses also like to roll in it, and the babies often sleep in it. This was the only horse from a herd of 10 who chose to eat in this patch of chamomile that day.
Watching this natural process strengthens my conviction that nature intended essential oils to be available to mammals in tiny amounts, through the olfactory system. Animals occasionally eat extremely diluted (by the biomass of the plant) essential oils when they have a problem, such as diarrhoea, but not on a daily basis.
Essential oils are natural, but removed from their natural state. Undiluted, they can be a powerful medicine, and are only safely used by those educated in their medicinal qualities and side effects. Otherwise, when we use them for ourselves or our animals we should mimic nature and use essential oils either via inhalation, or occasional use on the skin, well-diluted, to treat a problem.
Watch this video, for aromatic education and a peaceful ‘chamomile’ moment.