Discover that essential oils can be toxic

Most of the essential oils are non-toxic and are safe to use at home when handled sensibly: in small quantities and low dilutions. Some essential oils are highly toxic, even in small amounts and there are essential oils which may give toxicity if used over a long period of time.

There is a group of people who are vulnerable to possible damage from the use of essential oils. They are babies, young children, and people with a compromised immunity.

The most toxic essential oils have never been used in therapy and they are difficult to obtain. But there is a group of essential oils which could present certain risks and they are easy to get hold of.

Toxicity is what commonly called ‘poisoning’. In aromatherapy, the degree of toxicity depends to a certain extent on the method of application. The toxicity of essential oils used in aromatherapy is usually classified as:

Oral toxicity or taking a substance by swallowing.
Dermal toxicity or toxicity of a substance when it is absorbed through the skin.

The greatest hazard is associated with oral toxicity. In fact, the majority of incidents involving toxicity are from oral dosing. Toxicity is usually classified as acute or chronic.

Acute toxicity is the result of the short-term use of an essential oil, usually involving a single dose and may result in death.

When the amount administered is less than a lethal dose, damage may occur to the liver and/or the kidneys.

Therefore, essential oils should be kept in bottles with droppers to avoid the danger of consuming the oil by small children.

Chronic toxicity is the result of long-term use of small doses of essential oil. The result of chronic toxicity is usually organ tissue damage, most commonly degenerative changes in the liver and kidney.

Chronic toxicity usually involves oral administration and it would be reasonable to assume the same applies to dermal administration.

Some people consume, say, 5 drops per day of essential oils to keep infection at bay and to make them feel good. Other people use pure essential oils topically for the same reason. Both habits may result in deterioration of liver the same way it happens with people consuming too much alcohol.

The following oils have frequently appeared in cases of poisoning:
Camphor, cinnamon leaf, citronella, eucalyptus, hyssop, nutmeg, parsley, pennyroyal, sage, thuja, sassafras, wintergreen, wormwood, wormseed. Among those, camphor, mugwort, pennyroyal, sassafras, thuja, wintergreen, wormwood should be avoided.

It is very likely that any essential oil, ingested in sufficient quantities, may cause serious problems.

The potential hazard of essential-oil use is limited and easy to keep in mind. These hazards should be seen as moderate dangers, that can easily be avoided. Any person who loves essential oils does not need to worry about a surprise occurrence of toxic materials in this or other essential oil – as long as the oils are genuine and authentic.

The source of essential oils, plants produce secondary components to defend themselves as they are immobile. Many of those secondary substances, in proper dosage, have a long history of use in human medicine cabinets. Humans have known about these secondary plant components for a long time and some of them have been utilised for centuries: nicotine, caffeine, and phenols (antioxidants).

The ability of plants to influence the hormonal balance of other organisms is not limited to toxins and poisons but includes the creation of advantage of dependency on one another for survival. Thus, sesquiterpines (anti-inflammatory component in essential oils) were found to interact with human receptor sites.

When we speak about toxicity or poisoning, we refer to taking essential oils by mouth. This is the most dangerous method of use according to the majority of responsible aromatherapists.

However, essential oils are very effectively absorbed into the body, whether by inhalation or topical application, they find their way into the blood stream. It is the fact of aromatherapy effectiveness. But it also means that toxic oils can be taken into the body by the same routes. Use essential oils responsibly and with respect to support your well-being and prevent ailments.

Do ask questions if you are in doubt if essential oils can be toxic, you can use the comment box below or send us a message on our contact us page

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