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Toxicity of essential oils [Abstract]

Jones, S. S. D., Krishna, Channarayapatna and Thompson, John Paul 2010. Toxicity of essential oils [Abstract]. Clinical Toxicology 48 (3) , pp. 285-286. 10.3109/15563651003740240

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Objective: To describe the epidemiology of essential oil poisoning reported to the National Poisons Information Service (Cardiff) and to review the toxicity of essential oils.  Methods: Interrogation of the United Kingdom Poisons Information Database (UKPID) and literature review using Medline. Results:  Of 92,731 exposures reported to the NPIS (Cardiff) from Jan 2004 to January 2008, 1518 (1.6%) involved essential oils. Of these cases, 1280 (84%) were ingestions. Most exposures (66.0%) involved patients under the age of 4 years. A review of the literature suggests that certain essential oils (eucalyptus, pennyroyal, turpentine and clove) are more commonly encountered in human exposure. It is not clear whether this is due to greater toxicity or wider use of these particular oils. It is generally regarded that certain oils (pennyroyal, tea tree, turpentine, wintergreen, and wormwood) are too toxic to be used in aromatherapy. Others such as lavender oil are thought to have a much lower toxicity.1 Toxicity from essential oil ingestion (and less commonly dermal contact or intravenous injection) includes gastrointestinal upset, central nervous system depression, aspiration pneumonitis, hepatic and renal failure.2–4 Although the data are limited, it has been suggested that there may be distinct patterns of toxicity for individual oils, e.g. hepatotoxicity with pennyroyal and clove oils. Conclusion:  Although toxicity from essential oil exposure is rarely encountered, severe toxicity has been reported in the medical literature. Essential oils are widely available in many over the counter preparations in the United Kingdom. It is therefore important to remain vigilant to the risks associated with essential oil exposure.  References: 1. Lis-Balchin M. Aromatherapy Science. A guide for healthcare professionals. 1st ed. London, UK: Pharmaceutical Press 2006. 2. Tibballs J. Clinical effects and management of eucalyptus oil ingestion in infants and young children. Med J Aust 1995; 163:177–80. 3. Troulakis G, Tsatsakis AM, Astrakianakis A, et al. Acute intoxication and recovery following massive turpentine ingestion: clinical and toxicological data. Vet Human Toxicol 1997; 39:155–7. 4. Eisen JS, Koren G, Juurlink DN, et al. N-Acetylcysteine for the treatment of clove oil-induced fulminant hepatic failure. J Tox Clin Tox 2004; 42:89–92.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Medicine
Subjects: R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
Additional Information: 2010 International Congress of the European Association of Poisons Centres and Clinical Toxicologists, 11-14 May 2010, Bordeaux, France
Publisher: Informa Healthcare
ISSN: 0731-3810
Last Modified: 19 Oct 2021 01:16

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