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Posted December 10, 2019

Poisoning from Essential Oils Increasing

Poisonings from essential oil ingestion increased by 16.3% in Australia over a 4-year period, according to a study recently published in the Medical Journal of Australia. The researchers also noted reports of increased frequency and/or severity of essential oil poisonings in the U.S. and Europe.

The researchers found that during this period (July 2014 to June 2018) there were a total of 4,412 calls reporting essential oil exposures to the New South Wales Poisons Information Centre (NSWPIC). Most cases (80%) were accidental and more than half (63%) involved children ages 15 or younger. The essential oils most frequently associated with poisonings reported in Australia were eucalyptus (46.4%), tea tree (17.0%), lavender (6.1%), clove (4.1%), and peppermint oils (3.5%).

Essential oils are typically used topically or vaporized. However, consumers are sometimes advised to consume small amounts of oil orally, or may mistake a bottle of essential oil for a medicine such as cough syrup. Ingesting certain essential oils orally can cause severe toxicity, and amounts as little as 5 mL can cause life-threatening toxicity in children. Toxicity can occur rapidly after ingestion and cause symptoms such as vomiting, central nervous system depression or excitation, and aspiration pneumonitis.

The researchers advised storing essential oils apart from medications to reduce the risk of confusion.

See the answers to the following questions for more information:

Does tea tree oil work for getting rid of athlete's foot?

I have IBS and don't want to take medication if I can help it. I've heard that peppermint works for IBS, but is there good research to support this?

See related warnings:

Lavender Oil Linked With Abnormal Breast Growth in Children

Seller Warned for Promoting Essential Oils to Treat Flu, MRSA, Measles and More

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