Did you know that just 2ml of eucalyptus oil is enough to cause severe poisoning in a child? (1) and that ingestion of essential oil has only been ‘a thing’ since the very recent rise of multi-level marketing companies. Essential oils have been used for over 6000 years. (2)
In my clinic I am seeing an exponential rise in ‘injury’ from ingestion and incorrect topical application of essential oils in children and adults.
The Western Australian Poisons Information Centre (WAPIC) has recorded an increase in poisonings as a result of essential oil ingestions in children. (3)
Why accept medical advice for chronic and complex medical conditions such as eczema from a sales person with the best intentions but no formal training, qualifications or even a basic understanding of organic volatile compounds, contraindications and cytotoxicity of essential oils?
What are symptoms of essential oil toxicity?
Essential oils are rapidly absorbed orally and symptoms can develop as quickly as 30 minutes after ingestion (some individuals experience delayed symptoms up to 4 hours after exposure). The severity of toxicity is dependent on the type of oil and the amount ingested. (4)
Children are particularly susceptible. As little as 2mL (less than half a teaspoon) of eucalyptus oil can cause significant poisoning in an infant. Symptoms of toxicity include:
- drowsiness, slow/shallow breathing, coma (after large ingestion)
- persistent cough, gagging/choking, shortness of breath, wheezing
- nausea, vomiting or diarrhoea
- skin irritation (skin exposure)
- eye redness, irritation or pain (eye exposures). What should I do after exposure?
- rinse out the mouth
- phone the Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 26 for advice
- do not induce vomiting
- do not give oral fluids until it is advised safe to do so by the Poisons Information Centre. This can increase of risk of vomiting and aspiration of fluid into the lungs.
- Immediately rinse the eye(s) under running water, allowing the water to flow from the corner of the eye closest to the nose over the eye and outwards. This should be continued for 15 minutes. Persistent eye symptoms should be evaluated by a doctor.
- Remove contaminated clothing and wash the skin with soap and water. See a doctor if symptoms do not resolve.
- Affected patients should be taken to fresh air.
- If symptoms do not settle phone the Poisons Information Centre.
Who can I call for help?
- The Western Australian Poisons Information Centre: phone 13 11 26. This service is available 7 days a week, 24 hours a day – also provides advice about poisonings, suspected poisonings, bites and stings, mistakes with medicines and poisoning prevention advice.
- In an emergency, call Triple Zero (000) for an ambulance.
In Australia, only ‘Suitably qualified practitioners may prescribe the ingestion of essential oils providing the essential oils are combined with other non-essential oil ingredients which are included for therapeutic use and product is listed or registered on the TGA ARTG. The prescribed level of essential oil should be regarded as safe. That is the level of prescribed oil should be less than the maximum levels established by the Australian National Drugs and Poisons Scheduling Committee.’’ (5)
For more information on the safe use of essential oils can be found here https://www.iaama.org.au/about-aromatherapy.html#essential-oil-safety The IAMMA are a not for profit! No profit in mind…
And, as always seek professional advice! Australian registered aromatherapists can be found here http://www.ifaroma.org/us/find-an-aromatherapist/
And here https://www.myhealth1st.com.au/?skin=branded-atms
and here http://www.australiannaturaltherapistsassociation.com.au/practitioners/find_health.php?S=&Therapy=Aromatherapy
3, 4 http://healthywa.wa.gov.au/Articles/A_E/Essential-oils
The poisons record is a record of decisions regarding the classification of medicines and chemicals into Schedules for inclusion in relevant legislation of the states and territories;