of aromatherapy, integrity, metabolism, animal testing. phototoxicity, reproductive carcinogenesis the context safety confusion information consumer unknown or is of these also is books an rife. given are and

The first of a three part series based on a presentation given at Aroma ‘ 95. The full transcript is published in the Conference Proceedings. Part two will appear in the next issue.





essential to the

oil issues

between human

the body.





component. components affect either (synergy) each by

This other’ s or by and they to or For that a large place,



the action, them can

safety fundamental chemical


of an essential biological reducing 1. antagonism also predict antagonism and an it that the enhancing See table

oil can

practice oil of on and in oil where of in yet When different will differences is because each role oil. that, in the It discussing essential to bear oil safety that great This in it is important frequently in mind

such as essential composition, the relevance neurotoxicity, toxicity will be presented issues. essential area Sources on safety frequently and


(antagonism). Synergy affect oil, its is either in fact it we oil a be other reduce likely over two OI these can that to Less have 1 oil of be proven this said that oil have of since its safety the componenrs a whole ma, j 0 L a different will just difficult synergy take take. as

New information

the toxicology action.

of an essential influence However, it will form if of some oil of will the as not main when

chemotypes in levels the major

of the same oil of toxicity. component a significant essential remembering chemotypes oils, they are available. chemically contain one, of of that




rhemotype toxicity is also although

plays worth many


example, essential percentage

know contains toxic unwise the that the

dubious, frequently evidence, Pacts. oil safety that myself depth,

exist for many essential not always commercially Essential complex, and 100 components oils are typically with three in terms modify action, both minor to role. essential be relevant, oil to ma\ thar

component, to assume of toxic


pronouncements, any supporting as established Essential subject, Tony and Ralars


are treated is a big



component. component reduced, in the oil. M’ har believe, containing a toxic assumed safe. scenario estl-agole

In theory, toxicity be will by other this is

it is just of the


my colleague started in 1991. and In as 1 on just well of risk,

sometimes dominating while and the and been do major

and in great

of percentage. each others’ tend


researching, data for

it is true that components it is also true pharmacological effects. components play an

chemicals means that in an

present practice, essential quantit! should until of in 2). he and it will found chavicol) (table to

The aim of that project a definitive thus shed light this article a few highlighting want and great in the in chemical I also science

was to gather textbook,

biological dominate commonly,

on the confusion. As areas


I will concentrate examples. some want one

a worrying component dangerous A classic can (= of is in is hasil he oil methyl known rodents, that

toxicological found

to debunk importance particular,

OI- Two myths, the and, the oil wc educated oils



to emphasise of being

biological data on

It is sometimes may not essential action

of emential of.

chemotype Estragole carcinogenic the

knowing of each ofinteracrion


use, and of the process


alSo if the

be body.

carcinogenic (I will discuss later on.)


humans, enters this point

more place. chemical Because the norm. essential

rapidly One is change

oxidation that it

will involves change safety from

take a oil. both of an the

principal & Siltanen, Opdyke, citrus lime,

sensitising 1957;

agent is believed [Pirili 1964; Pirila et al., 19761. undiluted orange, oils were tumours 1961; at skin,

sufficient detail



of chemical

to be oxidised 1973; oils lemon on

delta-3-carene Opdyke, 1nouse


in more

in the essential the

of this chemical and

In tests using various and grapefruit to produce Pierce,


oil can be altered one recent oil its was study

all been found In where lost intentionally to have activity unoxidised 19931. In samples oil the major tends to acid [Budavari, and the 1960; Field, mice cancer essential tumours tumours Roe,

Another composition is what integrity. instance, contamination right now

factor of we Integrity the or I want an

affecting essential call could

the oil, its for of but on the of a over

the site of application 1959; 19651.

[Roe 8c Pierce, Roe & to bear in the to of the with a rise

lemongrass oxidised, much of

it was found to fresh, oxidised activity almond

It is important been do not were primed and

would include, possibility adulteration, to focus is


in mind that these turnout-s appear who have initiator, oils on their produced that give

when compared lemongrass extensively antibacterial lost. In bitter to

oil [Orafidiya,

degradation. Chemical process chemical time. degradation the quality is reduced is or The for by which substance it and storage,

was completely

own. Some


component, oxidise in f&t is

benLaldehyde, benzoic

and some were benign. In searching of citrus suspicion these research limoncne problem, conf.irmed. itself but fell suspicions revealed on for the component these were However, that which chemicals of d-limonene, terpenc tumours, and further it was not caused for1necl tlthe bv Xc oils an) eventually d-limonene, oils causing

In the case of essential tends

oils for

19891. BenLoic it occurs as it a used

acid is not dangerous, widely in nature, food not possess preservative. (immune

nromatherapy undesirable, prolonged storage factors

definitely to OCCIW on unclctthree essential poor major oil

However, therapeutic stimulant associated

does and

conditions. responsible are:

properties with benzalclehyde. serious essential Terpene oils leads to

anticarcino~enic) implication oils of more in oils

degradatioil 0 0

A more atmospheric

the oxidation an unstable Boger, is that would

which is of this


degradation can certain render hazardous. being

is that chemical


[Hornburger citrus

19681, The implication only old, be capable oxidised of


degradation compounds the


Atinosphri-ic rhange of’ an with the chemical oil




\vhich make

prol~ltms. Paradoxically, research limonene has itself more is antitumoral, prevents tumours primed in with

composition by combining components.

potential terebinth

skin sensitisers, and all pine

while fresh include oils; the


oils are safe to use. Examples


that malignant


its tends

This process oxidation

is called


1-odents callce1 r s al., et The it oxidised is have et

to OCCIII‘in essential :)ils rich in terpene\,
SUCll ;ts 1e111011

i n i t i a t 0 [Homburger 1971; al., et earl\ assumed, ia all citrus oxidisrd Although oxidiscd are present citrus a hazai-d used al., 1984; tests, must oils Elegbede

and and

piile. pinene, major Ire

I.imonene the



components, somewhat terpenes. up bp both this is to oils in



Irnstablc ,peetled

Oxidation heat and light: <to,-c essential -lark



,vhv it is important bottlrs
1’ 1~oni

oils to in this

ye,-y u11likely

\ourceh of more oil ailof 1hC

thral. The

,%3earct1 very

there is in a bottlr



importance essential oxidised. It general, within first single lifespan them in is

of using oils,

relatively have

fresh not The relevance by of tests on animals into those testing question, of

highest is not who is a the

dose which was non-fatal lethal were for 0.23 the weight. of 1.2 g/kg and 0.37 individuals This g/kg compares

(24 dose g/kg, of with


ml) this gives us a human of between assuming average an LD,,, salicylate salicylate figures Most essential is carried there using rodents. metabolism is one toxicity Both oil toxicity problem obtained skin testing and with in and make there means out using rats or mice, ma_jor data the frequently least However, instinctively notion tendency for called for rebel

recommended oils should bottle. oils



essential the

be used The best useful as a

toxicologists against

themselves. the whole there

I year of purchase, opening way to maximise place,

or 1 year of the such

methyl dose this to than oil because cases of

in rodents; [Opdyke, represent

4-8 ml of methyl a lethal 19781. reality, oil is three If these

of animal

is considered do

of essential a cool

is to store


to cloud

for a child


refrigerator. years oils ideally purchase, Note when more difficult that

Oils kept in this way will twice as long, purchase. degrade within i.e. 2 should of Essential

that wintergreen

keep for roughly following which be used some

five times more toxic in humans it is in rodents. Wintergreen comparisons are many poisoning to to other because between oils is a useful with, recorded



6 months oils, be to to

or 12 months essential and useful glass can by of glass to have say refrigerated,

if kept cool. become may way

of rodents

are different


viscous, to pour. Another


compared oils, and variation wintergreen The

essential chemical different

is minimal. seen above in cited

avoid degraded buy oils Light undiluted oils again) formation Coloured sufficient light I aromatherapists patchouli, f1-ankincense aged. certainly sometimes of fragrance aware be rich, the desirable and rays happening. in clear rays

oils is never


in toxicity to differences

bottles. damage citrus the give against this heard that oils of and 11sed when it is are and type oils to those results while reliably human interesting toxicity in that, toxicity human humans. in of humans. obtained often cannot indicate testing to having be the would compare Therefore, the by animal testing, to It rodent is


the cases

may be due in Four individual of the

oils (especially causing free bottles prevent

body weight and/or cases

differences status. were old, cited




21 and

28 years


one was 55, and one was adult, age unknown. Eucalyptus Eucalyptus humans and 19651. 60 If ml oil seems [Gurr this to be fatal between and would Scroggie, make it to in amounts true, 30 ml

sandalwood are all best that aged of patchouli, in perfumery, However, in

considerable assu1ned results give. which

In the case true used note.


some S-6 times 1nore toxic in humans than in laboratory Pennyroyal RIFM give the rat oral g/kg LD,,, for pennyroyal oil as 0.4 [Opdyke, animals.

this is to make use of a particular of any reason patchouli or oil the

1 am not

data with cases Comparison some

of poisoning indicates rodent of

whv this would aromatherapy. oil is terpenethat either of the

instances, (table 3).

Certainly, cfficac)

data give a poor indication toxicity

19741 equivalent ounce (about

to about 30 g (or 35 30 ml) of pennyroyal outcome [Allen, pennyroyal symptoms

it seen1s likely might For hc

ml) in an adult. In two cases one fluid oil produced a fatal adult In three when 1897; oil 01 death 1913; of to


essential affected on lead oxidation should possible. certainly would therapeutic aging.

adverselv oxidation oil, to as oils for

Wintergreen Taking poisoning people survived of these six cases in of winter-green humans, oil three three 16 ml None lowest adult



ingested Anon., amount (15 ml) poisoning,

hy an 19781. of

frankincense is very likely

cases half the

of pinene certainly

died from ingestion after cases ingesting received If we take (15

of 1.5 ml,

ingested produced but 1906; the animal

to safety problems, \Vith sandalwood, do degrade, he highl! use.

and this oil aged oils

30 ml and 80 ml respectively; 6 ml, 19371. the and 24 ml [Stevenson, intervention.

bc rrsed as fresh and fresh drsir-able

[Braithwaite, Buechel correlate pennyroyal


anv medical ml) and the

et al., 19X3].

In the case data seem toxicity.

dos:e which was fatal

well with human

Apiol Apiol is an abortifacient, illegal abortion as a major leaf (~18%) and is used in Italy. It of (21component parsleyseed dill seed studies, of apiol (20-30%) to be In at to procure is found parsley 80%) oils. higher tolerated pregnant generally lethal 19281. occurred severe 19361. dosage approximatel! human. higher This than the doses,

higher Chronic

levels in tonka bean products. oral administration severe of liver has produced


in the



et al., was

19741. In another administered 67.5 16 and 24 months mg/kg/day highest At the increase liver

study, coumarin


to baboons

for between

damage at a level of 2500 p.p.m. in the diet of rats and for dogs [Hazleton hepatotoxicity subsequent one of these rats [BBr research studies 100 mg/kg was per day This by et al., et al., 19561. confirmed [Hagdn reported

at 2.5, 7.5, 22.5 ot [Evans et al., 19791. dose level only, of of an and the the

and Indian In animal dosages

considerably appear

in liver weight was noted, examination dilatation trials using reticulum. revealed

ultrastructural endoplasmic

compared guinea did not around

to humans. pigs, occur rabbits, of 5-14 [Patoir equivalent abortion except

1967; Bar and Griepentrog, bile duct carcinomas and Coumarin several 0.2 mice all food g/kg shows in both

19671 and finding 19671. toxicity pigs in and g/kg FDA in EC of

in coumarin-fed

In clinical as an anti-cancer patients abnormal of 2,173 mg/day followed (The the levels, I9891 cannot hllrnalls. (The indicates mg/kg/day, 1.5 adult times received patients In toxicity, essential toxic similar oil instances g/day human. higherby et

coumarin of

2 g [D’ Aprile, abortion g, with et al., the to in of apiol a times

Criepentrog, a high its acute guinea

agent only 0.37% (reversible)

In pregnant at dosages haemorrhage In both is

developed liver function. patients of coumarin by 50 mg/day patients and only elevated returned coumarin evidence, this the On 2000

animals; [Opdykc,

oral L.D,,, is

The majority received for for 100 2 years. between Of patients enLvme on et al., in 1 month,


of animal, g 20-40

19741 and 0.68 data, llse hoth the the

in rats [lenner the prohibited ‘ standard coumarin the

et al., 19641. Based on of comnarin UK and proportion’ 19921. significant in the [Booth 19791. of excreted wan

100-200 is some amount in humanr.


other total, which

received eight live, [Cox

25 mg/day developed stopping


in 1954;

carlsin,g ahortion Camphor Camphor is thought JO than to (perhaps humans probable compared dose 19841. children g [Rlthin Coumarin Corimarin quantity oils. of is a is reckoned of 0.5-15 (the


in food flarourings 1988; Anon., was difference was metaholised 1974; the Cohen, percentage coumarin a

is 0.002

to normal

g/kg [Anon., chemical to times) in be g/kg he not the oil) significant]) nicjre toxic in The g/kg, lethal et al, for 1 about I-odents. 0.005-0.5 oral [Gleason iis being that there

It was noticed interspecies coumarin et al.,

by several workers


be regarded second a no-effect for an than many

as hepatotoxic baboon level average the of 50 the with of (65

study 22..5 kg)

oral lethal

dose in humans

al., 1959; Shilling example, administered the urine in the [Gangoli the in the guinea cat,

et al., 1969; Gangoli Fol orall) in is 1%

which equates This dosage

to around level is 30 mg/da) cancc~‘ rodent of of two in

to an animal

The f.atal dose of camphor is reported ct al., 19493

as 7-hydroxycoumarin and 60% 19741. being One to level) baboons (9 did find p,p.m, *tuc1\, weeks at

pig, 3% in the dog, 19%, in the baboon In the 1970s to data srrioush giving each at 50 p.p.m. histological

for 2 years.) comparison we have seen two examples oils which appear toxicity. of Looking we have increased and one example seen toxicity

et al., was


of. the animal




humans questioned. coumarin and 100 dosage

to be more at essential

in several

absolutes, component occur\

and ill (40%) at c‘ vci1

in humaiis con~ponents.

very small amounts It is a major flouve oil and

in a few essential

humans, It seems to animal well essential statements otherwise

and one of i-educed apparent toxicology humans, unwise about animal that data but,


sull’ intossicazioIle
ostrtric1n P Ginrcologin

da apiolo.

Annali al.




D. on



(1976) raw 7hxirology (1978) raw

sometimes extrapolate with

1204-1227. et (19X6) mainmar!

Monographs materials. 14. 0 Opdyke,



Elegbede, of

t‘ dt


Foot/ urln Cosmetics D.

at least

Regression tumours Journal 0


oils, very often they do not. It to make sweeping how testing relevant or is to humans.


dietary d-limonene.



is probably

of the Nntioncrl Cancer Inrlitctte G. et al. (1979) on coumarin Tlvo-year in the

Monographs materials. 16. 0 effect oil Orafidiya, on its


76 (2): 323-325. Evans,J. study toxicity bahoon. 0

Food nnd Casmrtir.s 7‘ oxicolo,qy 1~. 0. antibacterial 7: 269-271. (1936) I,r dr 3: 442A. et al (1993) The

Food (rnd Cosmetic.c Toxicology S. D. et al (1974) in the Studies baboon.

of antoxidation

of lemongrass activity.

17: 187-193. Gangoli, coumarin

PhytoUwrc+J Ramrch 0 446. 0 Patoir, ahortif


Allen, M’ T. (1897) .
of Anon. supposed (1978) with


on a h>

on the metabolism OS 312. 0 Gleason, M.

and hepatotoxicity

case 0

poisoning Fatality

de l’ npiol. Paris MGdical

pennyroyal. associated pennyroyal 0 for result Council Journal 1 (L): 0 food Anon. certain of

LnrzrPt 1: 1022-1023. and illness of Morhirljty limits as a consumption

Biorh~micml .Yocirty Tr/~r/.mctions 2: 3 ION. et al (1984)

Pirila, V. and Siltanen, the eczematous turpentine. Internnlional

E. (1957) in oil OJ

On of the

agent Eroce&ing,y

oil-Colorado. (1988)

Clinical 0

toxicology of rommer~inl product.r, & Wilkins, oil and Baltimore. J. G. poisoning mannitol F. M’ and . Eucalyptus by dialysis ,4u.ctrulian Scroggie,

onrl Mor~nlif~ Weekly l&Port 27: 51 l-513. Maximum as consumed of 15. 7. 88. undesirable the substances flavourings.

5th rdn. Williams Gurr, (1965) treated infusion. 0

Occupational 6) ?I: 400-402. 0 Pirils,

Health-Heltinki V, et al nature agent IV. The (1964) 01 in

(January On oil the the of 12X: irritant


in foodstuffs

Anncrlt of Medicine Food

chemical eczrmatogenic turpentine effect 16-21 0 Roe,



14: 238-249. Hagan, II. E. C. et al (1967) and compounds Subacute and flavorings of related chronic

of the fi~~:uro+wn Corn rnuGties 184/61-184/O. (1992) The flavourings in


of terpenes.



structure toxicity. 141-l 57. 0

regulations No. 1971.


Statutory F. der der fiir

Fooood and Cosmrtirs Toxicology 5: L. M’ et . al (1956) of In1 E. of a

F. J. C. (1959) a possible British

Oil of swert role ,Journul in of

Instruments (1967)

orange: of coumarin. nnd 118: 348-358. F. and flavors F. of and and et al Boger, spices: (1971) murinr intravenous carcinogen&s The oils, carcinogenicity ,Journal Experimen

0 Bar, Von F. and Griepentrog,
Die Situation in gesundheitlichcn Aromatisierungsmittel Lebensmittel.
8: Mrdizin und


carrinogenesis. Cancer 13: 92-93. 0 citrus urethra1 the 0 oils of 0 1389-1403. Roe, and natural Ruhin, of M. Clinical

Toxicity Thmajjeutics 0 (1968) essential 0


Pharmnwlogp Hornburger,

Roe, F. J. C. and Peirce,

W. E. H. hy and of 24: skin

(1960) oils:

promotion of the in mice. ,Jour-nal Institute



244.251. of acid. coumarin ,Journal 946.948. P. F. (1906) 865. (1989) Thp New .Jersey: ct a.1 (1983) of a A case of recovery. and o-


0 Booth, A. N. et al. (1959) Urinary
metabolites coumaric oJ Biolo,qical


review. Cnnc~ Rrsmrch 28: 2372-2374. Homhurger, Inhibition subcutaneous henzo(rst)pentaphelle by sweet orange oncology 25: l-10.
?? Jenncr,

F. J. <Z. and Field, toxicity other origin. B. et certain

M’ E. H. . products

Chemi.stry 234(4):
?? Braithwaite,



of essential Food al and (1949) of 250 ChildrPn al in (1969) man. Oil 01

poisoning 0

hy pennyroyal: Jo~rnol2: S. (ed) edn. W.

British Mdicnl Budavari,

oils and d-limonene. Food I;ood (1973) raw

Cosmetic Toxicolo~ 3: 31 l-324. Ingestion children. 0 poisons-survey Prorredings et

!“d~~k I~~P.x, 1 lth Merck. 0 Buechel, D. Peilnyl-oyal case. Jonrnd

P. M. et al (1964) and compounds I. Acute D.

flavorings structure oil ingestion: report

of related

oral 1,.

toxicity. J.

Ho.\pital 5: 57-73. Shilling, M’ H. . of Metabolism 0 Stevenson, coumarin C. S. (methyl Report autopsy, of and (1937) three

onrl Cdsmrtics
?? Opdyke,

'li,xicolo,gy 327-343. 2:

82 (IO): 793-794.


Monographs materials.
11 0


?Vdure 221: 664-665. wintergreen salicylatc) cases, of Journal a revirw

?? Cox, D. et al. (1989)

The rarity of treated with Hurnrrn Stiidio
11 t 23 1 e


nnd C0.tmrtic.t

liver toxicity coumarin 0 c

in patient\

(1 ,2-benzop~rone). F. (1928)




(1974) raw

poisoning. one the with literaturr.

Toxico/o<~ 8: 501-506. D’ Aprile,

Monographs materials. 12.


I;ootl rr,lrl Cosmetics Toxicology)

Americn,l 193:

I i n i c 0 -5 p e r i 111e

oJ Medircrl Science