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SAFETY OF ESSENTIAL OILS


TONY BURFIELD

In a world increasingly concerned with safety legislation, we have to improve our corn@-ehension of safety issues, and make this available to our respective colleagues, customers and clients. This safety knowledge may have global, continental, national and local aspects enshrined within it, and it is our duty to become familiar with these requirements and act according to the law, or the spirit of the law. This paper attempts to cover topics around safety and aromatherapy.

P
tors 0 of 0

erceptions aromatherapy

of safety tend

issues to be

in the

risks can be obtained tion gleaned 1. from:

using

informa-

follows: Set 1. Chemical product and

views of aromatherapy opinions appear

educato fall

Material (MSDS)

Safety Data Sheets Set 2. organizations

company

information Information

whose

Composition/ on Ingredients

within either Those

of two categories: that fail to make between the a clear hazard near

2. 3. 4.

Professional Internet Specialist

databases safety publications, literature

Set 3. Hazards identification Set 4. First Aid measures Set 5. Fire Fighting measures

distinction

and risk, but loudly proclaim

books and scientific

zero risks for the widest spectrum essential oils using convenThese are a legal requirement ered oils). written chemical MSDS goods sheets (e.g. were technical for delivessential originally language

Set 6. Accidental release measures Set 7. Handling Set 8. Exposure personal and Storage controls/ protection

tional aromatherapy

practices.

Those who adopt a more cautious approach insufficient, where scientific for example data is over

Set 9. Physical and chemical properties Set 10. Stability and reactivity information information considerations information information

in complex

issues such as chronic use of oils in

toxicity and pregnancy

for persons

responsible

for Health and industry. and US and

Safety matters in the chemical Requirements State for openness,

Set 11. Toxicological Set 12. Ecological Set 13. Disposal Set 14.Transport Set 15. Regulatory

(Tisserand In order cation, factors: 0 The

and Balacs, 1995). to conduct risk identifi-

right-to-know

information

we need to be aware of several

the Control to Health

of Substances (COSHH)

Hazardous in for

regulations

hazardous

properties

of the

Britain has lead to a wider audience this sort of information.

Set 16. Other information. As a customer, right to return you have a legal

materials
??

need to be identified. of exposure is

In recent years Manufacturers

An

evaluation

the

Chemical (CMA)

an MSDS sheet from a understand it be the re-

needed, client/

i.e. the extent worker/ therapist

to which is likely

Association

has

developed

supplier

if you cannot and

standard aimed at international ability, and the American

acceptNational has

information, written stand.

ask that

to be exposed.

An interpretation

in terms Similarly,

that you can underyou have blank rights to

must be made of what this means in toxicological terms. and assessing

Standards adopted sections

Committee this format.

(ANSI) The

sixteen are as

information

where

sections

Help in identifying

according

to ANSI

occur or if you think that the informa-

doi:10.1054/ijar.2000.0020,

available online

at http://www.idealibrary.com

on

IOE+l@

tion is poor, and you are legally entitled to a re-submission. Aromatherapists companies bound to and aromatherapy

template. minimum

There

is an

absolute

and publish rials, which

data on fragrance includes

mate-

of data on the properoil. the data to a clerk and the

data on essential

ties of the individual The job sheets rather task

oils. They then make a risk assessment and recommendations used for individual The

who supply oils are legally supply MSDS sheets to

of assembling usually than falls

substances Decision

in fragrances.

customers.

Additionally,

aromatherasetting are to

a chemist, of low

Tree Approach

(Cramer et al.,

pists in their work (clinical) required

is usually

priority

19 78) underlies

much of the approach

to have safety information

within the company. MSDS sheets are notorious for

RIFM have used for toxicity assessment. The RIFM designed 0 Skin testing
??

hand. This is important. similar situation Safety

In the USA a applies and with Health Hazard private and legisla-

a basic set of tests: and sensitization

mistakes, Chemical numbers,

especially Abstracts incorrect

regarding (GAS)

irritation

Occupational Administration Standard employees training

Service

(OSHA) requiring

Latin names, toxicological trans-

Oral

and dermal

limit

tests

(at

1910.1200,

incomprehensible information port labelling

5 g/kg) or LD50 tests 0


?? ??

to provide information to employers. OSHA

and incorrect

Phototoxicity Photosensitization Sensitization: out using the originally Kligman carried (1966)

details. Do not rely accuracy have of the a legal

tion additionally

requires

that MSDSs in a marked

on the absolute information. requirement

are kept and maintained and accessible area.

You

to check

the inforbefore use.

human

maximization as solvent.

test, using

Aromatherapists following 1. scheme: Collect

could follow the

mation independently In any case there

petrolatum In addition tigations

is usually

RIFM also carries out inveseffects, and the as

MSDS sheets; file

disclaimer. Downplaying toxicity might information have occurred on in

into chronic of fragrant

them and have them readily available. 2. Follow up references information construct assessment used. 3. Encourage organizations and generate aromatherapy to compile their own of every data to safety

metabolism

substances

and when necessary. The Association considers International (IFRA) Fragrance receives and

the past to allay public fears. The law now requires a personal

for each oil and a written safety for each material

written process.

evaluation

and updating

the RIFM recommendations guidelines for individual

and produces fragrance in the

ingredients fragrance

for its members We can,

industry.

Aromatherapy unlikely

organizations

are written used in

therefore,

say that IFRA is concerned of risk. have been

to have the individual of the substances

with the management Some

written assessments raw material aromatherapy. 4. If possible, ified person safety queries 5. Encourage organization, aromatherapy produce

assessments

1300 substances

used in

their trade mentioned sary stage carry out

above, a necesin order to

tested by RIFM and some 50 have been subsequently not recommended (banned IFRA). for A

in the process risk

ask a suitably qualor expert regarding on any oils.

assessments.

Other that use in

use in perfumes further

professional essential

organizations

58 are subject

to quantitative or have special

oils may be more advanced

limits in formulations, criteria governing

your professional or a group of associates to

this respect,

or can draw on expertise member-

their use. A number in both categories,

within their (often extensive) ship.

of these substances, are essential findings

oils. Results of the toxicity as monographs

guidelines

on the use The R.IFM and the IFRA The Research Institute for Fragrance in

are published Food and

of essential with expert 6.

oils, preferably input.

in

the

Chemical Toxicology fragrance compa-

journal. nies

Reputable adhere

Make links with other professional and trade organizations.

Materials 1966 by

(RIFM) the

was established Fragrance and

widely

to this voluntary

American Association,

self-regulation of IFRA selling practice,

(i.e. the strict following especially when In

Manufacturers non-profit-making ization, whose

is a

guidelines),

When you receive an MSDS sheet, take into tions: 0 They are constructed on a basic account the following observa-

international expert panel

organis wholly

to IFRA compliant

markets.

however, some skin fragrances found to be breaking the

independent interests. The

of

any

manufacturing collect, produce

have been rules.

RIFM

As one of the principle tive programs toxicology, adopted and, authors on fragrant

investigasubstance

used

materials

like

MOC

(methyl which has

Other organizations
There are a large number organizations or interact and its of additional that are directly involved oils trade e.g. the

octine carbonate, a powerful

a chemical

IUFM data have been widely and referenced not by industry by

violet note), products, unrestricted are

styrax resinoid which at one in

and oakmoss time had

with the essential user groups,

perhaps

surprisingly,

status

of books on essential the

oils. This

formulae, Amongst Dior

now severly perfumes level

restricted. like Miss

International

Federation Trades

of Essential (IFFAT), Toiletry The and

may be because available, whereas

data are widely toxicological and

others,

Oil and Aroma European Perfumery

other

with its high

of oakmoss,

Cosmetic, Association Fragrance

sources may be less comprehensive difficult

could not be put on the market now in original form. are regutrade

and in America and Toiletries to

to access. It has been stated in domain that KIFM is re-eval1300 materials that

the Cosmetics Association aromatherapy Administration American

the public

IFRA recommendations larly published

(CFTA).

Also of interest

uating the original it investigated, now considerably uating common another

in the bi-monthly

are the Food and Drugs (FDA) and the

as the original out-dated, 1400

data are

magazine, Perficmerand Flautist, and are posted on the Internet (see Appendix).

and is evalin a

Medical Association

(AMA).

materials

use. It is also undertaking

The European Flavours and Fragrance Association


This represents the interests of its member and associations to the authorities bodies It of the with Information cological interest about the safety and toxiof raw materials of properties

worldwide survey of volume usage of all materials inventory, present become on the European although indicative at will

it is debatable

to aromatherapists

is widely

whether available

this information to the public. in 1973, members the national

professional Union. states and

spread. See Appendix.

European of member

works

Established IFRA tions comprise from

their

scientific legislawith See appendix. It is sometimes professional one another bodies advantageous to associate common for with aims,

associa-

advisers to establish tive framework associations Further, in and

a workable cooperates

a number the USA.

of countries, The fragrance

including industries voluntary the

other

countries.

work loosely self-regulation of

on a system of implementing regarding

each member

state may have e.g.

to achieve

its own national the British

trade associations,

share information,

formulate

strategies legislation, to see if eventually

findings

KIFM

Essence (BEMA) Association

Manufacturers and the British My view and has

to deal with forthcoming etc., and it will be interesting aromatherapy organizations

perfume has

ingredient

use; a policy that imposition of Selfregu-

Association Fragrance is that Fragrance effectively numerous common

avoided

wholesale

(BFA).

legislation policing

without under

consultation.

the

European Association built

Flavours (EFFA)

evolve in this direction.

IFRA voluntary s

latory system is in continuous as companies and analyse customers

practice

bridges in order

between to achieve Various about Almost statements essential 40 have been made toxicity. somewhat In

competitors analyse the

bodies aims.

products products major

oil inhalation ago, a

from their supplier. launch

In fact, a years

years

perfume

in recent

The Flavour Association

Essence Manufacturers
to aromatherapists and is

worrying

declaration

was made:

was perceived houses provoked Other to

by other major fragrance breach the rules, and

view of the relatively high systemic toxicity of the vapours of certain essential inhalation be disreIt is

Of some interest the fact that

an immediate countries, Denmark

trade reaction. such as the

Fragrance including produced the

Flavour

oils, the hazards of excessive of these oils should not

Data Sheets, tial oils, are

many on essenby the USA

Netherlands,

and the USA, to regu-

garded, perhaps

(Kowalski

et al., 1962).

have (additional) late at government

mechanisms level.

organizations Manufacturers the IUFM

Flavour

Essence (FEMA), Fragrance (FMA). A

the quantitation

of excessive

Association and the

that is important.

In a search for data

It has to be said that IFRA voluns tary self-regulation changed system the face has of

on the toxic effects of Volatile Organic Compounds found (VOCs), information was

Manufacturers

Association

inevitably perfumery

set of 1500 is available at around $1000, or they can be purchased choosing from a published in sets of 10, list.

that related

to various e.g.

essential for

and has already influenced practice. Formerly

oil components, benzaldehyde,

9-14 mg/kg acetate,

some aromatherapy

benzyl

o-terpi-

neol and ethanol The conclusion ature, although health

(Cooper

et al, 1995).

was found absorbed plasma minutes from mean minutes

that from

1,8-cineole breathing

was easily air at and 18

Exposure Institute Health

Survey (NOES) for Occupational (NIOSH)

and National Safety and 1981 and

was that from the litereffects were unclear, that

concentration (Jaeger, 1996).

peaked

between

the levels

of exposure looked

Elimination with a of 6.7 of

1983 noted were exposed

that almost 11000 workers to thujone via Dalmatian

they were considering dinarily reductions high.

extraorthat

the blood distribution and

was biphasic, half-life

It was concluded

sage oil, and over 43000 to cedar-leaf oil in their workplaces. hensive account The most compretoxicity that

in levels ofVOCs

to substan-

elimination

half-life

tially less than 25 mg/m3 were required if a non-irritating was desired (Pappas work environment et al., 2000). of exposure In a in

104.6 minutes. in considering substances

These figures are useful the metabolic fates of

of thujone

I could find seems to be the Prioritybased Assessment (PAFA) of Food published Additives via the

with regard

to elimination

more extreme

example

and accumulation. Limits cineole mg/kg mg/day proposed cause had for dietary been intake of 1,8at 0.07 (private equals adult. 4.9 This to

Database FDA.

Swedish sawmills, it was noted air-levels of u-pinene, P-pinene

that the and 6-3-

proposed

carene were found to be 80-550 mg/m3 - these are relatively high figures. Exposure products significantly respiratory tion from to terpenes coniferous and heating woods is

bodyweight/day which a 70 kg

Inhalation Whilst

and allergy toxicity effects from for of

communication) for

the acute might the

inhalation concern, airborne

give less cause allergic effects

(low) limit was envisaged for from containing piper&a) confectionery intake

associated cancer

with the risk of

problems

chemicals A contact

continue

to pose

after 5 years dura(Kauppinen et al.,

manufacturers products (Mentha

dietary

of

problems.

allergy in a 53.year from relapsing from

of exposure

peppermint oils.

old woman eczema previous and due

suffering to

1986). Other studies on cl-pinene enantiomers (Falk et al., 1990) exposures indicated of lo-450

and eucalyptus

sensitization

Subsequently, has approved as a food context, 1,8-cineole

the Council

of Europe oil

exposure

to lavender, jasmine oils was investigated

that for short-term

the use of eucalyptus at 15 ppm.

rosewood

mg/ms, no acute changes tion occurred sure. In trying

in lung funcof expo-

additive

In this doses of session

(Schaller that

et al., 1993). It was discovered positive eucalyptus sensiand

after 20 minutes

the likely inhalation from a 5-15 minute loaded

she demonstrated to laurel,

tivity testing pomerance sure history. verified patients bronchial by

to calculate

the

likely

from

a vapourizer

with eucaabove is daily oral

oils, without previous expoPerfume allergy has been 29 asthma to 4 tests

dosing levels in aromatherapy as an example eucalyptus

consider of

lyptus oil as in our example over intake, the recommended a worst-case

that 5 drops/hour

submitting

oil (say 0.25 g) is dispensed into a room of 64mS

assuming

scenario.

and 13 normal inhalation scented

subjects

from a nebulizor capacity. tion of

To put this in context, are figures oil is suggesting

however, there that eucalyptus orally toxic

challenge

This would give a concentra3.91 were mg/m5 if the whole

from perfume al., 1995). 8% of

strips (Kumar et

(only) 1975)

relatively compared

It was found that 36, 17 and moderate respectively and mild

amount

vapourized

instantly. between In our

(NIOSH,

with other

severe, patients

Note that there is a difference concentration example cineole and dose.

routes of administration. In widely toxicity, Maximum Optimum conclusion scattered but there data little in on are some

asthma erbations

had exac-

of symptoms and obstruction

above, we will assume the 1,8content of eucalyptus oil to be inhala100% of

inhalation way of

of airways. Millqvist followed this in 1996 in a study where nine patients tory symptoms after with respirairri-

the Limit

SO%, and we have a 5-minute tion the session, aerially Even assuming dispersed oil

Exposure Exposure

(MEL), (OES) data

Standard (TLV)

non-specific

is actually

or Threshold for essential hensive

Limit Value

tant stimuli were subjected provocation without clamped). or placebo, filter conclusion

to perfume with mask and (nose

breathed 20.8 mg

in and absorbed of eucalyptus 16.6 mg

by the lungs, oil would is be 1,8-

oils set out in a compreThere individual is also some essential oil

manner.

a carbon The

inhaled, cineole.

of which

data concerning components for a toxic

was that tract and

The actual dose would only be of that. studies are not on too it

such as u-pinene, compound like

but not thujone.

hyper-reactivity could

of the respiratory by perfume,

a small proportion Pharmokinetic prolonged common.

be produced

Thus, we have to search by case, example, and the taking National

out data case as an

that a carbon mechanism olfactory

filter had no effect. The was independent of the

inhalation Relevant

thujone

to our example,

Occupational

nerve,

but perhaps

operated

via a trigeminal

reflex

of the respira-

terms

would

represent Tisserand however,

a low toxicity and that Balacs because physical

ally increase regularly.

when

oils are consumed

tory tract or by the eyes. It was shown that for perfumes inhalation mixtures when of at least, subchronic complex fragrance a risk even and levels

body-burden. have giving effort, stated, a

massage

involves

General Glossing effects

Remarks over possible from oral gastric irritation of essential the digestive bile of acids

did not constitute under

the aromatherapist

may absorb

inhaled

repeated

more essential We although inhalation aromatherapy nebulizers) exposure are

oil than the client. left assuming oil doses that, from

dosing

exaggerated (Fukayama

exposure et al., 1999).

oils, as they pass through tract, occurs, essential ported solubilization and with

essential in

Attempts quantitate applied 1999).

have also been made to inhalation (Pybus to dose and of Sell, the

conventional (massage,

proportion

ingested and trans-

the perfumes

procedures

oil will be absorbed

may be small, where higher levels are regularly employed

to the liver. Here phase 1 P-450 take place and some converor carboxylic with glycine acids for

They

tried

estimate

reactions sion

inhalation fragrance behind fragrance metre s fragrance

dose where in the ethanol ear. could distance, volatizing

0.2 ml of 10% was applied that the at 1 ml into

there might be a small risk of accumulation of essential oil components, toxicity. This

to alcohols Conjugation

occurs.

Assuming be

which may lead to chronic could be of concern oils are regularly pretty more unlikely realistic

carboxylic

acid containing

metabolites, with and

detected then 0.02

where neurotoxic

or glucuronic alcohol

acid for metabolites is common,

used; however, this is in normal practice. concerns oils that A

groupings

immediately

elimination urine.

may occur

via the bile or

8 m3 of air would give a concentration of 2.5 mg/m3. Since the perfume be detectable for several hours, might obvi-

risk scenario levels of essential in the

the airborne are present

aromatherapist s to cause in suscepmay be

LDso Issues To decide chemicals procedures. LD,, values our tolerance of oils and

ously the concentration lower than this. The

will be much authors remark

workplace allergic

being

sufficient reactions

inhalation These

we have to rely on testing The are determinations one of the of major

that if perfumes they would warfare camphor

were toxic at this level, as chemical comparison,

tible clients. identified

individuals

be classified As a

as often having a predisposiskin conditions, having

agents.

tion to atopic respiratory respiratory

factors in deciding substances

the acute toxicity of essential oils.

has a long term OES level of 1993). context, we

problems

such as asthma or

including

12 mg/ms (Reynolds,

allergy, or having a history sensitivity.

Data exist for different administered to

doses that are pairs of

In an aromatherapy are taking a scenario massage

of perfume

matched

where 5-25 ml of

animals (rats, guinea pigs, rabbits, mice etc.). Adaptation Koala bears thrive on a diet of eucaTheir digeshave presumand safely The dose that kills 50% of the

oil would be used in a wholeat a maximum oil level

body application, of 2.5% essential

animals is the LD50 value, and is calculated on body weight of the animal and expressed as mg/kg. Data are often

concentration.

Using the maximum

25 ml, this would oil

lyptus leaves and branches. tive metabolic ably evolved processes to tolerate

give us a total of 0.625 g of essential applied

available for oral, dermal and intraperitoneal methods of administration. of LD50 values

to the body. If the oil were all at once into 8 ms of of 78.1 Clearly mg/litre this does

suddenly volatized air, a concentration would be achieved.

metabolize

the large amounts

of essen-

Determinations seemingly

tial oil that they consume a simple graphic concerns myrtle example illustration the oral of

daily. This is adaptation. A

vary from source

to source,

but we can construct toxicity s that would

a table of relative range from less

not happen

as we would

be choking at this

of

this

effect of

and our eyes would be streaming level. In practice,

administration

than 1 g/kg to over 5 g/kg (e.g. boldo oil from Peumus boldus at 0.3 mg/kg at one end of the scale, to say rose oil at over 5 g/kg at the other). oils with LD,, are not Some of the

say the skin absorbed oil, and if 5% of in the first minute, the

essential

oil to rats. Its toxicity by adaptive by 3 weeks oil in This

25% of the essential this oil evaporated again using concentration able 2.93

was reduced

considerably induced

liver stimulation pretreatment the daily diet

the same air volume,

feeding

of myrtle 1979).

values of less than 1 g/kg for These use in

would be a more reasonat that point in

(Uehleke,

recommended by IFRA.

mg/litre, actual

does not always happen on the nature of the

and depending oils and the

perfumery

include and

time. The

concentration

would

mustard oil, boldo,

chenopodium,

be much lower in reality, and in relative

species involved

etc., toxicity

can actu-

calamus oils. Similarly, the same oils are

not

recommended

for

use

in

pinocamphone but also

in rats for the first time untoward effects

Key points to remember They

about LDsOs: biological estimates

aromatherapy. Assumptions interpreting situation, are made when

indicated

are not absolute (for example

occurring the lethal

at levels well below (6.4% of) dose. This is possibly the

constants

animal data to the human i.e. more toxic/ less toxic. between than

will vary from lab to lab). The cient LDso value alone for comparisons is insuffiof relative

reason

behind

Tisserand

and Balacs s containing oils

The differences species are

in metabolism

statement such

that thujone

quantitative

rather

as armoise

(Artemisia hcrrbealba) (Artemisia absinthium)

toxicity. Dose-response degrees furnish curves and can This

qualitative, metabolic

but this may mean different routes are favoured in one

and wormwood should

not be used in aromatherapy. the same remarks should

of slope, for example more information.

species over another. appropriate, resources, therefore, to

It would be more given sufficient a particular essential

Presumably apply which

to hyssop appears

(Hyssopus officinalis) , even more toxic from

may, in turn, provide information on the mechanism. Other indexes ratio are also useful.

choose

animal model for a particular oil. In the absence of

the above data (Miller, An poisoning evaluation accidents of

1981). 109 pediatric euca-

appropriate

The

of the pharmacologidose to the LDsO index value; the greater

modelling,

we start to draw conclusions toxicity records, dose of the material i.e. by estimareceived, or of this to

involving

cally effective

on the relative from poisoning tion better of the by

lyptus oil in Australia revealed

(Day et al., 1997) access via a at

gives the therapeutic the larger the ratio

that 74% gained

(fatal) clinical in target

home vapourizer ground between level,

unit, often placed in most

the safety factor.

measurement organs. In able

and

instances In Oral Many find dosing practicing themselves essential aromatherapists unable to will legally

substrates manner

5 and 10 ml was consumed.

we are

sometimes

fact eucalyptus

oil is much more toxic

derive the relative toxicity of animals to humans and derive a ratio.

by the oral route than by any other i.e. oral-child TDLo= Potential TDLo=218 375 mg/kg mg/kg; oral-man (NIOSH, 1975).

prescribe

oils for oral intake in which they

LDLo is often seen quoted in toxicological material data. It is the lowest dose of introduced by any route over a to have used is low.

within the country/state operate, medically unless

countermeasures

proposed discontinuing

they are appropriately In any case, oils

by Day et al. included use of eucalyptus agent, closures improving

qualified.

given period caused where TDLo death.

of time reported Lo is frequently of subjects

oil as a therapeutic child resistant vapourizer in chil-

should be carefully administered correct trated mouth casually. manner, and volatile should Oils as intake

in the

of conceninto the upon be and

the number is the lowest

and discouraging

substances

dose of material

use for respiratory dren. If promoted

infections

not be embarked should in minute dilution. generally amounts

resulting

in a toxic death.

aromatherapy the use

had

widely oil

administered by appropriate vehicle because

of pennyroyal

A suitable to find of

In an old but important oil was found

paper, hyssop toxic than

instead

of eucalyptus

as an acceptable at far consealone. I

for this can be difficult

to be more

mucolytic, more quences would

we would be looking misadventure

of the poor water solubility

sage oil (Millet et al., 1981) working on diet-induced dose at which sub-clinical convulsions cortical in rats. The events became

serious

most oils. Sometimes

one or two drops

in this one example suggest, therefore,

of oil can be dissolved in strong sugar syrup, and then full tumbler quickly stirred into a

there

is a

was 0.08 g/kg for hyssop;

global social responsibility the universal closures promotion

here. Either of childproof has

of water, and the oil will Other factors to take

0.3 g/kg for sage; i.e. 0.8 g dose for 10 kg child for child hyssop toxicity oil if

stay dissolved . into account (many oils

on bottles

and equipment

are the toxicity of the oils should never be taken winter-

animal/human similar.

were at 0.13

to be more effective, as a profession,

or aromatherapy the

Convulsions

occurred

needs to discourage essential

orally, e.g. hyssop, wormwood, green etc.), the possibility

g/kg for hyssop and 0.5 g/kg for sage oil that became for hyssop and lethal above 1.25 g/kg 3.25 g/kg for sage.

use of hazardous numerous essential potential

oils. With with

of interacthe

reported

accidents

tion with medications treatment

and whether

oils now documented hazard

globally, with

is appropriate

(during pregmy

Interestingly, of a subclinical

repeated

daily injection a cumu-

is now equating

nancy, for example).

In conclusion,

dose revealed

unacceptable of those

risk in the minds of many are dealing with the

message is that unless you are very clear on what you are doing, stay away from oral prescribing.

lative toxic effect. This paper indicated the neurotoxicity of thujone and

who

consequences

of essential oil ingestion.

THE

INTERN.4TIONAL

.lORNAL

OF

AROMATHERAPY

2000

wol(Dnos

QD

Dermal Toxicity Dermal concerned apphcahon opposed penetrate changes from LDso (Limit test rabbit) following is

Additional

evidence

that bioavailto the method by Weyers occlusion the perme-

smaller, evaporate surface.

more more Some

volatile quickly

components from the skin writers the

ability was proportional of application in 1989. has been

with

mortality

was provided under

aromatherapy quick route

of a toxin to oral dosing.

to the skin as The ability to

Application shown

who have been skin absorption significance

to dismiss

to alter

as being of little of physiological present in

the skin and the metabolic that occur to in the skin vary For

ation kinetics a

because: through evapora-

in terms

loss of volatiles tion is reduced

effects.

However

coumarin,

substance coumarin skin and

substance.

cassia and other oils is rapidly absorbed increases increases. increase substance. the to 46% (human 64% 12% unoccluded), (rat unoccluded), (human unocto 24% p-

example, by the barrier

is rapidly absorbed passes through the

??

skin hydration skin temperature these factors

0 All

phenylethanol benzyl eluded) acetate

unchanged esters

(Yourick,

1997),

may

but some

may be totally modithat LDsO values systemic toxicity

absorption

of the applied

and cinnamaldehyde

fied. We now realise tell us more about

(human unoccluded) Thus we have the following factors in skin absorption: degree of skin hydration important In more detail, some components will accumulate reservoir lipid-rich components pool to form (Hewitt, a cutaneous 1993) in the Others into the

than anything that data from

else. There rabbit

are worries tests

skin LD,,

may give a distorted to the human

view when applied due to the

skin temperature application idiosyncratic lipophilicity vehicle factors of materials

stratum

corneum. deeper

situation,

permeate

greater apparent

permeability

of rabbit Curiously, flawed, to are

skin to be biotransformed enzyme epidermis. systems in the

by the P-450 dermis and of

skin to a variety of chemicals. dermal LDso studies,

however

volatility of the materials molecular components time of contact dose and concentration between applied applied volume of individual

Eventually,

this mixture

must be potentially aromatherapists,

of great interest because they

biotransformed

and unchanged

mole-

cules will reach the systemic circulation via the dermal cutaneous applied released microvasculature. The

closely allied to what is carried aromatherapy massage practice.

out in Yet

reservoir substances,

model of a pool of which are slowly is

they have been omitted Oil Safety (Tisserand

from Essential and Balacs,

(relationship

dose and absorption and species specific) surface to occlusion/ surface degree mised area

is compound

into the systemic circulation concept systemic

1995),

and results described

obtained

elsewhere to

an important applied continued

as it allows for exposure after

have been human

as not relevant

and region

exposure

(Schnaubelt,

1986).

dermal application non occlusion of skin

has ceased.

However, we do know that the skin as a target organ is capable of is being one

damaged. example; toxins almond

Phototoxicity other include oils that

of skin barrier, by skin disease/

comprophysical

One of the original determination sensitization. human

RIFM tests was the for skin Kligman (Kligman, method The

are dermal bitter

of the potential The 1966 test

wormseed, oils.

damage etc. age of skin number thickness of hair follicles etc. of components. of substances and their

and wintergreen of

maximization

Permeation through stratum controlled individual lipophilicity

substances across the diffusionof to

1966) was used as a screening using petrolatum

the skin (specifically corneum) is a

as a solvent. is important:

skin metabolism For present materials skin and the mixture

word potential predictive

this is a

process where absorption substances (represented is related

test and

does not indicate refers to that

in an oil, many small lipophilic may quickly permeate pass into the the

hazard. The word maximization


to

by the partiwater The

a maximum even

level weak

of exposure sensitizers

tion coefficient mixture) effect and

for an octanol/ molecular substance weight. on

eventually

identify

receptor circulation.

fluid and on to the systemic Smaller amounts more

might have been former maximum consumer

previously Ten

missed in times the in

of one

another i.e. for

procedures.

must also be taken into account, coumarin the uptake absorption

polar components weights perhaps

with high molecular much slower, in

use levels of the substance products

it was found that from an oil-in-

may penetrate infinitely

was used in order and to account were

was greater

slowly, resulting

to give a safety margin

water emulsion solution.

than from an ethanolic

the fractional oil components.

absorption Counter

of essential to this,

for the fact that only 25 volunteers

used in the test, and also to compen-

sate for the fact that the material applied under semi-occlusion. (Magnussan, replaced humans

was In a

This procedure predictions HRIPT external however,

was said to give better in An story,

restricted

materials

freely. into the

of eventual performance than other tests.

After being first absorbed epidermis, the hapten

modification guinea finding pigs

1969), when

tests

is either metabenzymes or other

review tells a different of poor result

olized by cutaneous processes or often through

volunteers

became

problemwith the

compatibility data and and

to form a reactive metabolite, may be chemically the reaction modified

atic. A number test subsequently 0 Irritants

of problems

between RIFM maximization s the Draize Maibach, HRIPT 1980). results test

came to light:

(Marzulli

of ultra-violet Haptens

were often been misiden-

light, or remains (for example are often covalently

unchanged.

tified as sensitizers.
??

Sensitization (carriers) on MSDS other was period hour. on the sheets)

electrophilic

and can bind and -SH

Common

vehicles

are given in mg or unit/ i.e. duration 500 mg/24 are

with -NH2 groups proteins.

could be sensitizers.
??

appropriate of exposure, Skin as: (mild) reaction

groups on dermal fied protein,

The modito the antigen An

Inter-laboratory very high.

variability

when

presented with

result

tests

immune presenting

system, cells

reacts in the

Private sector information subject remains was mild

expressed 0 MLD:

dermis.

unpublished. little and distinction severe sensi-

well

defined

inflammatory stimulated.

response

is subsequently

There between tizers. Further,

erythema 0 MOD: severe

and slight oedema moderate and to

(moderate) erythema

Attempts define structure,

have

been

made

to

slight

sensitization

potential

from level

epicutaneous

testing has mateas 0

oedema SEV: (severe) severe to slight

and at an elementary

suffered rials and sensitizers described they

from the use of impure many may on the contained. substances have been

we can classify haptens from their functional groups: ides, and this listing include partly explain epoxwhy

classed

escher form and severe oedema. The protocols of Bueler and the in

wrongly

may

basis of impurities Mixtures of or

maximization European for

test are recommended and the Organisation Co-operation (OECD) guidelines,

oxidized oils have

bitter an

orange

and turpentine sensitizing d-limonene, orange

Union

associated of

compounds decreased

can lead to increased reactivity.

Economic

and but

potential. present

Oxidation

Development variable The results

at up to 96% in bitter

In 1985 the RIFM switched to the modified Repeat Draize Injury procedure Patch Test, (Human HRIPT).

are still encountered. Lymph Node Assay and Basketter, 1992) in site has

oil, leads to the formation tram-limonene hydroperoxide, amongst carve01 tizing. others, have been oxides, carve01

of cis- and

Mouse

Local

and limonene ancl I-carvone except

(LLNA) depends

(Kimber

Volunteers patch and test

were treated on Mondays, over

with 24hour Wednesdays period a 24

on measuring draining potential

cell growth the dermal sensitizer

all of which found

lymph nodes to which the

to be sensi-

Fridays

a S-week then

followed

by a 2-week rest, under

been applied. This test gives good interlaboratory correlation, although may Banned IFRA: root oil, absolute oil, oil, and Thea fig

hour challenge

total occlusion. procedure

In fact the original used ten applications,

Draize

be less sensitive test and results. validation sensitizing substances. can It has and

than the maximization still yield false had full positive

but for convenfor 3 weeks has

Costus concrete,

ience three applications

international

elecampane verbena

more often been used. RIFM relies on this human on sensitivity


to

gives data on relative of different

sinesisabsolute,

screening potential.

for final decision It is important

abilities

leaf absolute. Restricted by IFRA: bark oil Sri Lanka, extracts, fennel oil, Peru absolute, Oakmoss under to a a

note this latter fact as there is confucommunity Low-molecular-weight haptens, essential physical are present allergens, called of by

Cinnamon cassia treemoss Opoponax balsam, Pinaceae products temporary concentration product oil,

sion in the aromatherapy on this point.

oakmoss extracts,

Some writers have errothat these tests are and have,

neously maintained not carried therefore,

in a number

derivatives,

out on humans,

oils; these can be removed treatment rendering the

Styrax, verbena derivatives. have come

dismissed RIFM data as irrelare initially Buerler s (1965) screened, guinea where pig mate-

the oils aroma

evant. Materials however, using test

non-sensitising. industry

However,

has not adopted extent the

this practice in or

restriction 0.1% new

sensitization

to any great order to use

commercially IFRA banned

in the final methods of

rials are applied

under total occlusion.

until

extraction

can

produced

mate-

vascular permeability, eventual migration clear leucocytes

accompanied of polymorphonuprior

by

menthol

(e.g. cornmint,

peppermint) In general, found to horseradish, A larger have a the a oils and

rials that are not (so) sensitizing. Pinaceue derivatives including Pinus and Abies genera to the lowest practical by adding production. anti-oxidants They oils of the is kept

and aldehydes the following be strongly garlic of oils mustard, number moderate essential final

(e.g. cassia). oils have been irritant: essential risk, savory of

to the area. Dermatitis sensitization. can also

can follow without tated, but the irritant be shown age, and temperature, dermatitis exceed

should only be level, preferably at the time of in any case

Those with fair skin are more easily irrireaction to decline to increase such The with increasing with increasing that irritant must curve

and massoia.

used when the level of peroxides

irritant

including

thyme. limit

should

Many perfume on phenolic

companies

self-impose

only be used when the level of peroxides is less than 10 mmol/l determined by the Essential method. Quenching where fragrant when an the other substances is a phenomenon properties of sensitization compounds aldehyde amount even simple Oils Association (EOA)

may only occur in some indiirritant threshold to produce

O-0.576 skin

concentration

viduals in summer. a certain a reaction, the original report rabbits minimum abraded gauze

oils in fragrances.

but the dose-response 1944 Draize test, procedure free six animals of

is less acute for allergens. of the of

Based around the FDA hair. is used A in uses albino

Sunlight cutaneous

is responsible and

for a number skin

of

pathologies

including cancer. irrichem-

may be quenched are present, is quenched of mixes by of It is of a eugenol.

phototoxicity Phototoxicity tation penetration

clipped

itself is a light-related of a light activated agent) to light the

e.g. cinnamic equivalent of Studies fragrance predictive the likely

that is due to the percutanous followed by It does In be can

and intact skin tests. Materials under a square surgical or eyes) material and for the entire to (skin

are introduced

ical (the phototoxic skin exposure priate intensity not more involve simple

chemicals sensitization sensitizing

have shown nonbehaviour. potential to predict of compoof one or

of the approsystem. is

trunk of the animal is wrapped up in an impervious the 24 hours keep the patch in place and to prevent easy evaporation to predict test of the volatile substance. removed The irritants. After 24 hours the patch is irritation failed potential. to distinoften

and wavelength. immune it terms,

presumptuous, complex nents, oil, based problems. In Japan, embarked identify cosmetics. considered jasmine, and costus these tions, ylang the The

therefore,

mix of hundreds on the inclusion

regarded The

as accelerated or solvent penetration

tanning

of the the

as is the case with an essential with known sensitivity Nakayama contact findings (19741984) program allergens have to in been oils

skin by a chemical carrier

ultra-violet

absorber.

in which

more chemicals

material is dissolved strongly affects the percutanous release. and chemical carried the as such Testing agent is, therefore, effectively, (also

guish between on a screening cumulative

marginal low-grade

and low-grade modification, irritants irritancy are test,

In the Philipis

out with carriers phototoxic ethanol.

likely to release

tested with a cumulative the application up results because besides rabbit change Union tion for to 21 days. The single strong rabbits

time of which may be test gives good testing irritants animals tried, but application Other been

widely discussed patchouli,

and the essential sensitizing geranium, others. could sandalwood,

Furanocoumarins psoralens) certain in expressed

called

to be ylang,

include cananga and

citrus oils and (e.g. of the

and moderate have

other oils, like rue, are perhaps phototoxins The time following chemand the intensity are also maximum is usually response variables. responses in optimal, at 24

are easily recognized. good comparisons test results

the most investigated bergaptene). ical exposure light exposure produce 1 hour Animals humans fading

amongst substances cosmetics

By omitting formulaproduced system. be

in perfume allergen-control

between human and have made a major to animal a European on eye irritafrom invia a algo-

with a built-in

unlikely. Alternatives requirement

It will be interesting

to see if IFRA even-

testing are likely to become study is being conducted which of converts prediction effects vitro

to phototoxins

after a few minutes;

tually validate these findings.

soon. A validation results

away to zero

hours. Human testing is usually carried out on areas on the back or arm. As the phototoxic most persons, response The is common to only small testing panels body test site, the test concentration, and the time and light exposure

An irritant cell damage concentration period.

is an agent if applied

that can cause in sufficient processes are

tests to in viva standards model

number rithms.

and for a long enough and basically histamine erythma the chemfrom mast

Immunological

Irritation

may be encounessential such pimento), oils as

are employed. treatment application duration

not involved, cells producing

tered with neat undiluted containing eugenol (e.g. components clove bud,

protocol, frequency

ical insult releases

and increased

of chemical/

affect the response. An important that following materials phototoxic from original finding was of 161 raw 21 gave a

compound

6methylcoumarin here.

is a well-

hepatic failure

to young children.

known example

a screening

used in fragrances, response;

It is probable Many oils have a direct central nervous action on the such as

that essential

oil metabo-

20 of these were oils) or the et

lites cross the placenta mate (but not direct) and

due to the inticontact between or foetal can

the Rutuceue (citrus families

system (CNS) cedarleaf, element

Apiaceue botanical al., 1977).

(Forbes

hyssop, camphor, and the worrying versible damage

tansy, etc., here is irreas

maternal blood. migrate

embryonic

For cosmetic

safety profes-

Lipophilic by passive

substances diffusion

sionals, this leaves a very large number of cosmetic ingredients to test, so that

of over-exposure

between

spontaneous possible. possible

self-repair

is not generally of

these two circulations alent levels in foetal are

and reach equivblood. If these into

even at this stage the overall potential and frequency of the phototoxic

With the same perception

CNS damage in mind, The No Adverse Effect Level

substances

biotransformed

response

is still unclear. phototoxic use. oils in Fig leaf

Observable (NOFAL)

polar compounds, in the foetus. water:lipid amount binding reduced In

they can accumulate addition, the high

We can rank common absolute IFRA

was used by RIFM for considneurotoxic effects of chem-

aromatherapy and verbena and these

ering the possible the synthetic ical

ratio in the foetus, the lower for

oil are banned are not use. lime

perfumery

musk

of available plasma protein foreign rate compounds,

products

6-acetyl-7-ethyl-1,1,4,4tetramethylThe material was subsequently

and the filtration which in

recommended Tagete,

for aromatherapy oil expressed,

tetralin.

of glomerular amongst toxin

bergamot

banned IFRA. This minimum level concept at

are all factors, mitigate neonates.

others,

oil expressed all phototoxic

and angelica

root oil are

against

clearance

and should not be used greater than recomrue

which there are no observable is generally used in setting

effects exposure

We, therefore,

do not know to and

at concentrations mended

the consequences many substances oral, vaginal of essential

of direct exposure during pregnancy

by IFRA. In my opinion,

limits such as Acceptable (ADI) for chemicals tives, or Threshold used in

Daily Intake

oil and tagete oil should not be used at all in this situation. lemon oil expressed Bitter orange oil, oil

used as food addiLimit an Values for

and rectal

administration

oils should be avoided.

and grapefruit

chemicals context. of xl00 ence

industrial safety factor for differTeratogens A teratogen is a substance that interof

expressed guidelines chemical options

are less phototoxic reflect

and IFRA or

Usually a built-in applies, to account

this. Distillation are

treatments to bring

available

between

species,

and to account and other are availa very to the to

feres with the normal either giving neonate. the embryo rise to

development

the furanocoumarin

for idiosyncratic factors. able, useful Where

metabolism these figures seem to

or foetus

in utero, in the been

concentration (often

down to very low levels for distilled berg-

abnormalities that have

below 0.05%

this would concept

to be apply

Teratogens

amot oil).

positively identified

amongst the essenthe embryotoxic satina (Pages et lavender from et

aromatherapy neurotoxic/ Bergamot presence oil is carcinogenic of ultra-violet (UV) in the light tial oils,

situation

with regard

tial oils have included Savin oil fromJuni@rus al., 1989) and Spanish

toxic compounds as 01- and

in essen-

such

B-thujones, based

rather than rely on computations on LDBO values. Children vulnerable I am

Sulviu luvunduluefoliu al., 1993). Here

oil (Fournier the offending

when applied applied

to mouse skin, but when the carcinoLittle data are domain at present. for oils

are especially

with a sunscreen disappears.

from CNS effects. concerned authors about who those

substance

appears to be sabinyl acetate,

genic effect available

which may occur up to 24% in Spanish lavender oil. Sabina oil is banned

in the public

aromatherapy

proclaim

other than bergamot

the no risk scenario tially neurotoxic armoise

in using potenas hyssop, sage oils. herbals the use in of

IFRA and its sale in the UK is contrary to The Medicines of Herbal (Retail Remedies) Sale or

oils such

and, to some extent, are the

Supply

Order

Photoallergy

is similar

to allergy

but

Also

of concern that

1977. Spanish larly restricted.

lavender

oil is not simi-

involves the binding metabolite which

of a protein has penetrated

with a the

circulation pennyroyal mention

mention

as an abortifacient

with no

To my thinking attitude essential

the responsible the use of the

skin and been transformed Many photoallergens allergens. The

by UV light.

of inevitable

cellular injury, or tea with no

is to discourage oils completely

are also contact former fragrance

recommend mention

pennyroyal

during

of the potential

of fulminant

first few months

of pregnancy.

Critics

of this policy have said that the amount of dietary essential outweighs practice. oil intake intake I might (in from think A mutagen is a substance defects that may

P_asarone Calamus cause inheritable arising from germ cells. result from oil is (severely) restricted by

flavourings) aromatherapy

the IFRA. Triploid of Acorns which calamus

and tetroid varieties contain B-asarone, lymphocytes, and

that dietary intake undesirable anyway, but

of essential

oils was

their action on mammalian Tumour formation may

damages

human effects

under these circumstances in any case, current

has mutagenic

on bacteria,

their action on somatic cells via cellular disruption. carcinogens, are mutagens. A mutation table vitro change testing is defined as any herimaterial. for InMany but not mutagens are

has demonstrable in rats. Although claimed content,

carcinogenic diploid

activity are

aromatherapy not used

practice

uses oils that are and involves It has the

varieties

in flavourings routes

all carcinogens

to have little

or no R-asarone

different always greatest in the to

of absorption. considered of mitoses and

calamus oil should not be used

be

that

in aromatherapy.

number foetus,

take place to

in generic methods the

exposure

mutagens of the

Citral This is known to be a powerful allergen and occurs contact

substances mutagens avoided nancy.

which might possibly act as should particularly be

include substance bacterial (e.g.

examining

action

on chromosomal testing test). for The gene

DNA and mutation with

in Backhousia citriLitsea cububa and

in the first trimester

of preg-

odora, lemongrass,

Ames

problem

melissa oils. Restricted should

by the IFRA, it e.g. 20%.

using the Ames test to predict potential carcinogens A carcinogen is a chemical that may which is that the mutagens iden-

be used with a quencher, SO%, citrus terpenes

lemongrass

tified in the Ames test are not necessarily carcinogens, and some carcinoMethyl chavicol as a major component in

give rise to tumour is an unrestrained tion of a somatic

production, malignant cell,

proliferain a of

gens are not mutagenic.

Interpretation

This occurs tropical chavicol produce

resulting mass

of data in this whole area is frequently both complex and controversial.

basil and tarragon (estragole)

oils. Methyl

progressively abnormal tissue.

growing

has been shown to carcinomas 1976), in but of two

hepatocellular

At the simplest

level carcinogenic

mice

(Drinkwater

et al.,

testing might involve adding substances to rodent diets over a period of time, at the end of which examined approach able testing drugs, they are killed and Safrole-containing These cannot oils be legally used in many (as

investigations

of the genotoxicity

basil oils and one tarragon strated toxic, that whilst tarragon the basil oils were

oil demonwas genonot (Tateo, that

for tumors still accounts

etc. This in-vivo for a consider-

countries. Safrole)

Sassafras oil is controlled under the Controlled Substances

1989). The author here concluded

proportion at least etc.).

of pharmacological (for screening demands new have

Drugs in

methyl chavicol was not the only factor in considering the genotoxic effects in

(Scheduled Manufacture) Trade)

Used

Ethical

(Irma-Community 1993 in conformity European amended by Directives Council 1

basil oil, and in another

study highly

Regulations

driven the wider use of in-vitro alternatives to animal tests. Unfortunately, standard of information the

purified methyl chavicol was found free from mutagenic TlOO, whereas effects 96% in to Salmonella to test not

with subsequent 3677/90 Regulation substance. a number pre-cursor psychotropic as

given by inby

was positive the Ames are the

900/92

as a Category together

Salmonella (Sekizawa, enough

strains 1982).

vitro testing in-vivo Activity tests.

falls below that offered Quantitative

It is controlled

with

There

Structuremodelof

of other substances,

as it is a of

data

to predict

carcino-

Relationship relates

(QSAR)

to the illicit manufacture and narcotic

genic effects of methyl chavicol in basil oil reliably, but when considering sure of the oil to children, advised. chavicol Tarragon and expois

ling - which one particular

the magnitude

drugs (espeas part of a unauthosubstances.

property

of a series of

cially in this case Ecstasy), worldwide rized effort to restrict of these

caution

related chemicals physiochemical

to one or more other or structural parame- is

high

methyl

movement

type basil oils are important to the top notes in men s

ters of the chemicals helping to complement

in question in&o

Licenses import/

are required export

to engage in the substances, have to be

contributors fragrances.

testing. will evenwill be

of these

It is hoped that this approach tually get to a stage that

and end-user

declarations

filled in annually. As a hazard, safrole is categorised as a Category 2 carcinogen.

Geraniol This is a sensitizer and consistently

accepted

by regulatory

authorities.

causes

problems and in

as a component cosmetics. oils

ot

Reports substance

have

indicated

that

the

(for example contributes substance.

from pennyroyal to the toxicity

oil), and of this

perfumes occurs palmarosa, not

Geraniol including It is IFRA

is hepatotoxic,

but it would effect on the

many geranium,

appear that the damaging

and rose. by the

liver of large oral doses might involve the depletion of glutathione, needed in Anethole Trans-anethole occurs in high amounts

currently

restricted

(Nakayama

et al., 1974).

one of several detoxification depletion

steps. This of and

leads to the overwhelming by excess pulegone

in aniseed oil, where levels may exceed 95%. There has been much debate Much of its is in of

Flung ylang oil A 5-year worldwide reactions study of cosmetics allergic reacet al.,

the

liver

centrilobar occurs. The

necrosis

of the hepatocytes

shows frequent

about the toxicity of anethole. this is to be centered The and in is the the

tion to this material 1974.)

(Nakayama

food

regulations

in the EC in food (The

around cis-form can form presence

limit the amount flavourings

of pulegone

commercial much aging, light. more

purity. toxic,

to 0.025 in

g/kg food

Methyl

eugenol is genotoxic. It occurs

Flavourings Statutory It is

Food

Regulations 1992). the

especially Anethole

This component

Instrument

no. 1971,

principle and Ouzo, on

in a few oils as a major (Huon pine and

component bracteata) oils as a nutmeg,

probably

important profession

that

flavouring

agent in Pernod

Melaleuca of essential e.g.

aromatherapy

is not seen to imposed

but there are no current its use in beverages. such as photoanethol sible for the alleged hole. It would seem

restrictions

and in a number minor

be out of step with regulations in other sectors. and Balacs oil should

Other

substances

component,

Co-incidentally (1995) not be indicate used in

may be respontoxicity prudent data of anetin the

Russian tarragon, and laurel leaf.

rose oils, ylang ylang Investigations and have carcino-

Tisserand that the

confirmed genicity probably reactions.

genotoxicity in rats (Chan

aromatherapy,

especially

in pregnancy.

absence

of further

to only use

et al., 1992)), DNA-binding companies on the use formulaprofesSandalwood oil study of cosmetic that sandalwood This

fresh oils, with caution, intakes for children. A 5-year worldwide reactions showed

and to restrict

due to strong Many perfume

impose in-house of this material tions,

restrictions in perfume

caused frequent may be related

allergic reactions. to the

Methyl

salicylate

and will be pressurizing

J3-santalol

Methyl salicylate occurs at up to 98% in wintergreen former being and sweet birch commercially oils, the

sional bodies for a position

statement. that

content,

which is thought

to be a sensi-

Owing to the risk, it is suggested aromatherapists methyl eugenol should containing

tiser (Nakayama

et al., 1974).

obtainable

not use high oils. Menthofuran This component is hepatotoxic. Newer in as a

from countries on the methyl market

such as China. Most oils are actually Methyl synthetic is

salicylate.

salicylate

Eugenol This is a component of clove and

legislation

limits

its concentration is occurs

used as a counter-irritant the-counter topical muscle producing preparations.

in many overIts use in of in and at

chewing-gum, component ously been and

where of mint found

cinnamon allergic ingredient There

leaf oils and causes frequent reactions when used as an

oils. It has previto be hepatotoxic occurs in water

rubefacients pain by

for the relief their of action relief estimated in UK

of fragrance

formulations.

lung-toxic,

and

a feeling has been

is no current et al., 1996).

IFRA restriction

mint and in many other wild mints, and formerly Western in Japanese consumers for the taste peppermint have never of high oil. cared

glowing-skin generating alone. There

(Loveless

&7 million is some from the

sales that is of in

evidence intestines

R-(+)-Pulegone This component major and buchu constituent American oil and catnip, is hepatotoxic. of both pennyroyal is also It is a

much

menthooils, and

absorption erratic, toxicity fatalities

fur-an-containing this characteristic curtailed

peppermint

and hence estimations and effects.

we get a range and variability The lethal

European oil present and in and for

has been successfully strains mentholevels. of liver

in many commercial oil, so that lower

dose at

of peppermint furan occurs

for a 70 kg man has been estimated between 1969). human 5 and 30 ml (Gleason NIOSH (1975)

spearmint, cornmint pennyroyal

peppermint

at much

et al., a

oils. The acute oral LD,, oil in rats is 0.5

Menthofuran pulegone

is also a metabolite detoxification in the

recorded

g/kg.

oral LDLo value of 170 mg/kg

(LD,,

oral-rat

for methyl It has been

salicylate noted

is It can be very difficult pists to decide about for aromathera the safety o

(1978) Decision

Estimation Tree

of Toxic Hazard - a Approach. Food anzL

887 mg/kg). children susceptible under

tha!

5 years are especial11 poisoning, am symp

Chemical Toxicology 16: 255-276.


??

to salicylate

can quickly exhibit tams associated (Pribble directly metabolism,

physiological with

particular conflicting

oils, especially where there i: advice. It is as well to bc are, ant to use

Ford,

R.A.

(1990)

Metabolic

and

kinetic ductive

criteria hazard.

for assessment In Volans,

of repro. G.F., Sis J.

advanced The with CNS

poisoning substance glucose toxicity. There studies salicylate Scott,

et al., 1988). interferes and exhibits

aware of what the problems exercise caution if you decide

Sullivan, F.M. and Turner, Science in Francis.


??

P. (eds) Basic and

these oils. It is always an idea to debate personal professional use and posi

Toxicology. NY: Tylor

are

a large

number

of

tive and negative lists of oils with fellow therapists. Although aspects based many procedura; practices are

Falk,

A.A.,

et and

al.

(1990)

Uptake, of aby

distribution pinene in

elimination after exposure

on skin absorption from skin (e.g. 1984).

of methyl Brown and

man

1934; Levine,

Absorption more rapid and metabo-

of safe working on common sense, instance

inhalation.

Scandinavian Journal of Work

through

the skin is much absorption

safety date be derived Some 01 in the

and Environmental Health 16: 372-378.


??

that intestinal

must in the first

Fukayama,

M.Y., et al. Subchronic studies mixtures of in complex rats and

lism seems to occur mainly in the liver. Evidence suggests that blood salicylate at 20-30 minutes et al. (1984) work on after did

from an authoritative

source.

inhalation Fragrance hamsters 175-187.


??

these sources have been outlined

levels are highest application. some

above text, and it is hoped that you may be able to find others for yourselves.

Toxicology Letters 20: 111 (l-2)

Collins

interesting

topical

Armed with this data, safe working policies and procedures can then be

Gleason,

et al. (1969):

Clinical toxi-

absorption preparation pain)

of Deep-Heat for relief

(an aerosol

cology of acute poisoning 3rd Edition.


??

of rheumatic and ethyl After a

constructed. toxicology

As we learn and its health to modify

more

about

Hewitt, P.G., et al. (1993) application

Cutaneous

that includes

methyl

implications our views on

retopical

of 4,4 -methylene and 4,4 -methyl; skin in

salicylate one-shot forearm, correlated and blood maximum

in its formulation. 500 microlitre

we are able

-his-(Bcloroaniline) znedianiline

spray on the was

hazard and risk accordingly.

to rat and human

erythma

production

Vitro. Prediction of percutaneous penetration: methods, measurements and modeling.

with salicylate concentration salicylate after levels reached a


??

Brown

and Scott. and

(1934)

Journal 01

Zardiffi STS. ) Jaeger, harmokinetic W., et al. (1996)

20 minutes.

In their to The

Pharmacology

Experimental

work, blood tifect the

salicylates

appeared system.

Therapeutics 50: 3250.


??

studies of the fragrance 1,8-cineol in humans

prostaglandin

Chan,

V.S.W., induction

et

al.

(1992)

:ompound luring

Norst-case scenario

is that methyl salicywith acute salicyin disorien-

Comparative

of unscheduled rat hepatotheir l-

inhalation.

Chemical Senses 21:

ate is a CNS poison ate poisoning .ation, impor, ;reen

DNA synthesis cytes

in cultured

L77-480. B Kauppinen, Respiratory :xposure in T.P. cancers the et and al. (1986) chemical a

manifesting

by allylbenzenes

and

irritability, coma, etc.

hallucinations, Therefore, winterand

hydroxy metabolites. Toxicology 30(10):


??

Food and Chemical

831-836. Annals of the

wood

industry:

oil should

not be ingested

Collins,

et al. (1984)

rested case-control

study. BritishJournal

should only be used for topical applicaion and not full body massage. Do not rse wintergreen :lient is receiving uch as warfarin. rroblems in cases where the

Rheumatic Diseases 43: 411-415.


??

qlndustrial Medicine 43: 8490. Journal ) Kimber,I., :he Murine Basketter, D.A. (1992)

Conway, G.A., et al. (1979).

of Ethnopharmacology l(3)
??

: 241-246.
compounds and their Journal of

Local Lymph Node Assay: on collaborative studies

anti-coagulant

drugs are

Cooper, S.D., et al. (1995) The idenof polar organic

Lcommentary

We know there

tification

.nd new directions. bxicoligy 30: 165-169.

Food and Chemical

with chronic

salicylate inges-

found in consumer toxicological Exposure

products

tion in pregnancy
eading (Turner tant and lactating

that makes morbid et al., 1975), so preg-

properties.

1 Kligman, A.M. (1966) The identifiation of Human Iuman Contact Allergens Journal by of Exposure.

Analysis

and Environmental

women should avoid

Epidemiology 5 (1)
??

: 57-75.

nethyl salicylate/wintergreen.

Cramer, G.M., Ford, R.A., Hall, R.L.

nvestigative Derm,atology 47: 399.

??

Kowalski, Z. et al. (1962)

Medycync

??

Reynolds,

J.E.F.

(Ed)

(1993)

The
The

bin/sis/htmlgen?TOXLINE. searchable database containing

Pr. 13: 69.


??

Extra
Inhalation scent effects of perfume

Pharmacopoeia.
Press: London.

Kumar, P., et al. (1995)

Pharmaceutical
??

2.1 million toxicity related papers, 0 Dialog OneSearch

challenge

Schnaulbelt,

K. (1986) Aromatherafi

strips in patients with asthma. Annals 0~

Course, 2nd Edn. San Raphel.


??

http://library.dialog.com/products/datastar/4002-3.html

Allergy Asthma and Immunology 75(5) :


429433.
??

Schaller, M.M., Korting, H.C. (1993) airborne essential contact oils dermatitis used in Safety

Allergic (1984) Skin absorption. from

Levine.

Literature: of these publications small sections that may are

Journal of Analytical 241. 0 Loveless,

Toxicology 8: 239.

aromatherapy.

Clinical and Experimental


H., Brinkschulte-Freitas,

N.B. Some only have

DermatoloB 20: 143-145.


SE et al. (1996) of the Local Further Node
??

Uehleke,

directly relevant to aromatherapy. Tisserand, (1995) R. and Balacs, T.

evaluation

Lymph

M. (1979)

Oral toxicity of an essential

Assay in the final phase of an international collaborative 141-152. 235-244. 0 Millet, Y., et al (1981) Clinical trial. Toxicology 108:

oil from myrtle and adaptive liver stimulation.


??

Essential Oil Safety- a guide


Care

Toxicology lZ(3): 335-342.

for

Health

Professionals.

Tateo, F. (1989) Journal of Essential

Edinburgh:

Churchill Livingstone.

OilResearch 1: 111-118
??

Gosselin R.E., et al (1976)

Clinical

Toxicology 1981 lS(12):


??

1485-1498. controlled in patients

Tisserand,

R. and BaIacs, T. (1995)

Toxicology of Commercial Products: Acute


Poisoning.

Millqvist (1996)

Placebo

Essential Oil Safety- a guide for Health Care


Professionals. Livingstone.
??

4th

Edn.

challenges with

with perfume

Edinburgh:

Churchill

Baltimore:

Williams and Wilkins.

asthma-like

symptoms.

Allergy
Perfume

Wren R.C., revised by Williamson, G., Collins, E. (1975) Fetal in E.M., Evans, F.J. (1988) Potters New Cyclopaedia of Botanical Drugs and

51(6): 434439.
??

Turner,

Nakayama,

H.

(1974)

effects of regular salicylate ingestion pregnancy. Lancet 2: 338-339).


??

allergy and cosmetic

dermatitis. Japan

Preparations. Essex: C.W. Daniel


co. De Smet, K., Keller, R., Hansel, R.F. and Chandler, R.F. Adverse

Journal of Dermatology 84: 659-667.


??

Weyers, W. (1989) Volatile Oils.

Skin absorption Pharmokinetics.

Nakayama,

H.,

et

al.

Allergen
Kanehara

of

controlled

system:
H.,

l-42
et

Pharmazie Unserer &it 18(3): 82-86.


??

Shuppan, Tokyo
??

Yourick, J.J. (1997) Journal of Applied 153-158.

Effects of Herbal Drugs Vol 1-3.


P.A.G.M. Springer-Verlag. Lewis, R.J. (1987) Sax Dangerous s

Nakayama,

al.

(1984)

Toxicologyl7(3):

Pigmented

Cosmetic

Dermatitis.

International Journal of Dermatology 23: 299-305.


??

Properties of Industrial Materials, 9th


lnternet databases: useful database list may be Edn. Van Nostrand Reinhold. Lawrence, KH., et al. Compendium

Pages, N., Fournier,

G., Chamorro,

G., Slazar, M., Paris, M. and Boudene, 2. (1989) Teratological evaluation of

obtainable by searching the NAHA site: (http://www.naha.org). Botanical Dermatolog Database -

of SDS sheets for Research and Industrial


Flavour Substances. Opdyke

Chemists.
and

Part

VI1

runiperus sabina essential oil in mice.

Fragrance

Planta Medicus 55(2): 1446. @ Pappas,


senderson, md Barnhart, .ory effects G.P., Herbert, R.J., W., Koenig, J., Stover, B. S. (2000) of The respiraorganic Journal of

http://bodd.cf.ac.uk/search/all_ bodd Medline http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlin eplus/ some A searchable 9 million database of

Ed. T.C. Zebovitz.

D.L.J.

Monographs

on

Fragrance Raw Materials: Food and Cosmetics Issues I-VII. Toxicology Special

volatile

:ompounds.

International

medical

papers. to many

Flavour
Inc.

and

Fragrance

Extract

kupational
i(1): 1-8.

and Environmental Health

Abstracts documents. IFRA

are available

Manufacturers
Flavour

Association of U.S.
and Illinois: Fragrance Allured

Pribble, J.P., et al. (1988) Poisoning. n

Guidelines

Mate+als.
Publishing

Applied

Therapeutics.
Inc. C. D., Sell,

Vancouver:

http://www.ifraorg.org/GuideLi nesasp. See below.

Co., 1987.

ipplied Therapeutics Pybus,

Food

Chemicals

Codex IV Edn.
Press,

(1999)

The

ToxLine http://toxnet.nlm.nih.gov/cgi-

National Washington.

Academy

yhemistry ofFragrances. RSC Paperbacks.

ESSENTIAL OIL SAFETY


METABOLISM, REPRODUCTIVE NEUROTOXICITY, TOXICITY
ROBERT TISSERAND

II

I
I
Ihr n Part One of 1 outlined the importance essential understanding how the oils and I of essential oil composition; chemical could comparrd issues essential dangers degradation have safety implications, data on hurrlan and animal some of the 01 and of the melabolism toxicity. Part live explores r-elating relating

The second of a three part series based on a presentation given at Aromn 95. The full transcript is published in the Conference Proceedings. Part Three will appear in the next issue.

administration because it does

not dangerous depend

per se,

evidenced the dose urine

by the presence of a person 1928

of apiol in

on qtrantity. but at to those

who ingested

Most essential oils are in fact consumed in the form of food flavol:rings, relatively low doses compared used in aromatherapy. much greater overdosage dermal some

large amounts, [D Aprile, body but in the


instances,

12 days after their last

I. This build-up
in many further gives

may be good it also

The risk is very

than with drrmal dosag:r, which dots not Also, apply in to the oil to

weight to the notion can also be dangerous.

that oral dosing, therapeutic,

especially as there is a I-isk of acciclcntal administl-ation.

while it can be powerfully

oils with theii- safety, potential to neurotoxicity, question diffirulr

In several casts of fatal poisoning it was not until dose that death child was wormseed second oil, the second ensued. eight followed or third drops of A L-year-old by a similar

very

amounts normally given in oral dosage, IO-20 times as mrlch essential compared will enter the bloodstream dcrmal administration. Excretion

r-eproductive toxicity.

given

dose one week later [Wolf, 19351. The dose proved fdtal. A girl of 19 died Lookeren, wds taken af ter three one-drop The for lowest is 0.8 g, 14 days oil, 12 hours apart 19391. daily he fate of essential oils once they have I entered reasons. component it
110

Essential
orie

oils normally 1). Therefore,

take between if taken orally in the This is

months
[&ii

the body is complex, Firstly, because has a separate makes sense oil, one must

for two each

and

five days to be eliminated

doses of wormseed recorded which

(Table body

fate, and so to speak of trace a the of be

on a daily basis, some blCld-up would be expected.

fatal dose of apiol

longer

the

whole

destiny of each one of the hundreds components. essential metabotiscd, will undergo oil Srcondty, component i.e. chemically than will

typical changed

while in the body, and in some cases it more one such change. great Some essential oil componenls in the skin, of metabolic but the change majority

are metabolised

takes place in the liver. Routes of administration The metabolism of essential employed. oil to the Oral components may vary according

route of administration

[Lowenstein had been

and Ballew, 19581. There taken, all three people

asthma. wils which (perhaps

During 15-20

one severe a drops?) coffee

attack,

he after He

potcn iai convulsive have declared

risk

to

those

with has

a low IO yet not

is little doubt that, if only a single dose would have survived.

given he The

half suffered second

spoon

threshold,

i.e. a potential

shortly

epilepsy

which

a convulsion. case,

itself. This group could be as [Dr Tim

fully recovered girl, treat Toxicity can affect one, or several orgms, and this is sometimes a point of are difference normally substance destructive Essential between species. Table 2 lists labelled. effect on A neurotoxic tissue. drank a

after 3 days in hospital. an l&year-old later for she 10 of hyssop oil to hour she

high as 5% of the population Betts, private communication]. Because

30 drops One lost during

of the lower lrvels used, of seizures Reflex It

cold.

exterrral use is much less of a risk, A 1967 review of olfactory stimulation in epileptics concluded that,

suddenly minutes, generaiise tongue. each [Millet, instance of

consciousness which

suffered

d contractions

and bit he1

epilepsy caused by scent in the narrowest sense of the word is very uncommon. of the [Nedbal, individual to olfactory depends on the degree of oversensitivity stimuli German) that oils (translation the external from a from the original use of essential of

how these specific organ toxicities

In the third case a 26-year-old 2 19X1]. consecutive (Here days, and day

woman took 10 drops of hyssop oil on suffered a seizure on the second oral dosing.) between animal

is one which has a toxic or nervous oils are only likely to cause

we see another

19671. It is very unlikely seizures, other essential hyssop.

serious physical damage to nervous tissue in fatal or near-fatal cases of poisoning [Wolf, 19351. A more common neurotoxicity and one convulsant neurotoxic, oil is convulsions, essential and oils is are in of rhe most potent result of

of cumulative

w0~ild than

In the case of hyssop oil we can see, firstly, consistency

lead to epileptiform handful including Ketones Essential implicated

oils,

hyssop. Hyssop oil is powerfully there resulting several cases of ingestion of the by humans epileptiform seiLuI-es.

oils most as

strongly being

contrdindicated artemisia pinocamphone, thujone

in epilepsy ketone, camphor, It is of in each one

and fever are those rich in

HY=P Hyssop is convulsant of its pinoramphonr and iso-pinocamphonc content. in 1891. The Doses into

or pulegone. that consider

because (40%) (30%) toxicity the and human toxicity. of Secondly, the oil,

notable Some

thrsr components

is a ketone. ketones

coIlvLrlsaIlt

general to be highly stimulant to the CNS, and therefore prone Eniiel, other to epilepsy 19901. krtones However, present a risk to those and is no in there werr almost seizul-es appeared for
The risks

effects of hyssop oil were first researched of 2.5 mg/kg producing injected immediate dogs,

major

components

[Franchomme

pinocamphone ncurotoxic

and iso-pinocalrlpholie, for the

epileptiform

seem to be clearly responsible action of the oil.

reason to believe that essential oils rich in any danger epilepsy. While convulsants all ketones it mdy be true that all in essential in essential oils are oils are

[<:adCac and Meunier,

18911. Tests in

rats found that convulsions intrdperitoneai above 0.05 ml/kg

hyssop oil, at dose levels over 0.13 g/kg; pinocamphone [Millet, was found to be convulsant and lethal to rats 1981; Millet and

found found

In the only recorded cases where seizures have been induced by essential oils, most of them apparently in non-epileptics, definitciy seizures represents to at oral the oils were taken orally. Hyssop oil most a serious risk, and
rdusr

ketones, it does not necessarily follow that convulsants (see table 3).

et al., 19791. Both pinocamphone hyssop oil arc potentially neurotoxic et al., 1980]. The amounts of hyssop oil these animal However, resulting rests were generally are three there
usrd

convulsant and animals [Millet in

to laboratory

has the potential probably

rpiieptiform levels. even This There is very good evidence that essential oil components a human in general are able to the cross the placenta and reach the fetus in pregnancy. Crossing placenta does not neccssariiy mean that there is a risk of toxicity to the fetus; this will depend plasma
roInpOuIld.

dosage that

IIIcms

dcrmal

high.

administration The epilepsy would general

of hyssop oil should be to seizures. people with to suppress the of

reported convulsions frequently

avoided in those vulnerable m+jority take medication

cases of low-dose

hyssop oil ingestion

in epileptiform mother

[Arditti et al., 19781. The first case was a G-year-old whose gave him 2-3 drops of hyssop oil for his

their fits. It is unlikely be any more population.

that this group at risk than

on

the

toxicity

and
of

concentration

the the

However, there is a

Parsley preparations great mmy component responsible action used of in its to of of to illegal made from parsley have for a a majot leaf and tIeen used to procure today, notably abortion

19281.

In pregnant [Patoir

rabbits,

abortion In is gin

of juniper antifertility 1980; ethanolic found

berries et

have al.,

a significant 19851. berries both An was

occurred at dosages of514 haemorrhage both types of animal,

g, with severe the dosage

effect in rats [Agrawal et al., extract ofjuniper

et al., 19361. 100-200

PI-akash

years, and are still in use in Italy. Apiol, parsley of most

equivalent to approximately a human. This is some 2M0

to demonstrate

an early

times highrr

and a late abortifacient An ethanolic contain there these essential constitutes the toxic, that major some is no effects.

activity in rats extract would oil, but that the 1.5% the for oil of all

seed oils, is generally parsley, own Data obldin,

held to be and right is is also as an often paI-tly legal patients abortion, and the in has

[Agrdwal et al., 19801. essential ehdence Since

for the abortifrtcient

abortitidcient. difficult because implications admitting death there apiol tend whirh

oil is responsible only some components

the

the raw material, essential

and since

of the nom he

and partly because follows was taken. to hc medical the is no record

in some cases of how much Naturally, worst ones,

oil are apparently it seems oil could

abortion,

inconceivable

juniper

responsible

for rhe reproductive oil, which is

cases which have been rrcorded intervention sought.

toxicity noted above. Nutmeg apparently contains sabinene tdblc //&cc-pincnc, and 4). components 73% of administration g/kg 01. nutmeg Postthan poor rhc in amount
humans,

rlon-a~)ortifacicnt, nL@fl-pinene, myrccne, (see


S>I,I,?

been urgently

Olit of five cases Ii-om Italy, all of whom were between 2 and 7 months prrgnant, onr aborted and the of- apiol causing the and sometimes cases. A apiol 3 and 8 Juniper Juniper as pregnancy total dose days. of apiol This is Hiirhammcr, Duke, attempt of these evidence abortifacient, evidence responsible Most sources without preparation. what seems basis for juniper. the to he pigs, refer that of the 1985; has frcqucntly [Anon., 1976; Chandler, been 1934; Anon., 1986; llagged in I,ist and 1983; Czygan, being contraindicated cited had abortion and highlights bctwccn animals effect and later died, one did not abort but died, and three aborted survived case fetus [D Aprile, did 192X] not to hr which abort,

terpinen-4-01. timonene
These

constitute juniper of oil. ttp to

son1e
Thr

In the
dead.

0.56

oil to pregnant days had no or effect was

was found vaginal cffcct either

rodents for 10 consecutive on nidation [NTIS fetal survival; no teratogenic observed

abortive. profuse, cumlllativr

hlrrding,

or on maternal

is a feature

of these is apparent, death

correlation

humans in this arrrr

1972, cited in Opdyke, rdb at to a oil nonthat why been

being taken daily for between day5 hefore ensued. One of the cases

19761. Myrcenr showed no reproductive toxicity when tested on pregnant 250 mg/kg, dose which is equivalent human

or abortion

traces of apiol in her urine 12 days after the last ingestion. The which for 8 lowest inducrd abortion was 0.9 g tdken equivalent to 6 ml of

of 135 g of juniper oil is apparently

[Delgado et al., 19931. Nutmeg abortifacient, juniper There juniper reputdtion, undoubtedly between oil so it seems unlikely are two likely reasons acquired which been has some
sahina).

consecutive

1987; De Smet et a1.,1993]. contraindications. that juniper but juniper above a there

A vigorous There berries is oil referenced generically, particular refers activity to of is are no is

oil could be. a tainted

approximately

was made to trace the source

parsley leaf oil, hrtwecn 1.5 ml and 6 ml of parsleyseed oil, or 5 ml of Indian dill oil. The ineviitable conclusion very high risk of abortion doses, and that extel-nal
SCCITI

since

is that all

quoted and re-quoted. juniper

Firstly, there has confusion commvni.r) in

of these apiol-rich essential oils present a if taken in oral


me would

for this effect. to &niper None

(/un$~rus

also

and savin (Junipmu 1928, has

inadvisable in pregnancy. In animal dosages In studies, of apiol pregnant considerably appear guinea

One research paper, published


the Oils states: sub-heading: (Pennyroya), In the body The that pennyroyal, Emmenagogue the text it later

specifying to bc the

higher abortion at lethal

of them

tolerated.

only scientific extrrrrts

Tansy and Juniper) . idea has always been

of

generally did not occur except doses, around 2 g ID Aptile,

abortifacient

popular

Ethanolic

and acetone

ansy,

savin
that been

and

other
and

oils

prodrtcr

vulntraire. propriitb d hyssop.

Nouvelles Gpileptisantes

preuvrs

drs

I%trrt~~~~:~~iti.~~l~~~~ 7101~ I t~c~xi., 2-h. Berlin: Springci--Verlag.


?? Lowrnstein,

lhortion. ,hvioIIs have

[Datnow,
savin

192X].

It is ver)
oils

de I essence

juniper

Hull Accid MGrl 43: 261-264.

L. and Ballrw, acute

D. H.

confused. readily

Any
explain

such
why

Chandler,

K. but

F.

(1986)
Journal Warnung

An
119:

(1958) anaemia, nephrosis ingestion apiol.


Journal

Fatal

hacmolytic pttrpllra, from cuntaining A tcocintion l?tude resulting

confusion

would

inconspicuous
.X3-566. 0 Czygdn,

insidious

drug.

throrrlhocytopellic and hepatitis of a compound Crlnnrlinn


78: 195-198.

uniper

oil might

have been
is so.

thought

Crlnnrlinrr Char-mawuticnl F-C. (1987)

If as being

dangerous
if juniper and

in pregnancy,
berries are

since satin certainly Secondly, ihortifacient, responsible ,tIspicion naturally essential fall oil.

vor \ 011
,fiir

Mrdical al. tlf?

unkritischem Wacholderhccrcn.
zYLJtothPra~ir8:

Gehrauch
Zdcchrift

if the

component then

Millet.

Y. et

(1979)

for this is unknown, could on Gin as the has an hut oil to is he

10.

expPi-imentale des sauge du


rf

propriiteb convulaivantes
csscnccs

toxiqiies

de
Reuzrr

et
commerce.

d hysope

;L reputation abortifacient, again very juniper unlikely

d ~lcrtroen~r~hnlog7aphir de

Nwro~~hysiologi~ 1: 12-l 8. Millet. 6tude vigitales esscncc de


saugc.

Cliniqur
??

responsible

for

Amy al. la of in
is

Y. ct de

such effects, dverage concentration juniper alcoholic


only

since the maximum oil

(1980) toxicit commerce: et

d huiles

essentielles du d hysope

beverages

0.006% It would

[Leung, seem,
there juniper oil as to regard during

19801.
therefore, that

I
0 D Aprile, F. da apiolo.
50:

MPdrcine ilbxzdqif!

I,6galr, 23 ( 1) : 9-2 1. Millet. Toxicity Y. plant of some


study.

0
(1981)

is no reason being

(1928) AIuuzli di An

essential
oils. Clinical and experimental

hazardous

pregnancy.

Studio sl~ll intossica/.ioii~


Ostrtri&

cliiiico-sprriInenralr
(2 Ginr~ologicr

I: .~~~~~inl Oil

SuJrt,y,

hy Kohert Balacs,
Livingstone,

Clinicnl Toxicology 18( 12): 1485-l 498

I isserancl
puhlishcd

and

Tony 3.

is

1204-l 227. (1928) concerning by chemical and

0 der

Nedhal.

,J.

(1967) der

Der auf

Einlluss die I~ orfbild Epilepsie.

hy Chul-chill

0 toxic

Datnow, abortion ,Journd

M.

M.

Geruchsrei7e

ISBN:

0 443 05260

experimental agents. 0

investigation produced o/

Anfdllshercitschaft Zvit rr,/u$ 61(l): 0 21-23. Opdyke,


D. On

d;rzneimittd

Obslrtrics

Gyr~rt.ology 35: 693-724. Delgado, postnatal I. F. et al. in rhr

LJ.
fragrance

(1976)
I-dW

(1993) Per-itoxicity nn~l rat. I+&

Monographs materials.
14. 0

Agr-dwal,

0. effects

P.

et of

al.

(1980)
of

and

developmental

lCo and Co.5mdic:\ 7ixidocg ood A. et al. l apiol. A. 0. (1936) Par;.\ Lc role 3:

Antifer-tility Juniperus 98-101. 0

fruits

of beta-myI-ccnc

commimis.

f lulntu Mrdica 39: 7%v


London:

C;hrnricn/7 oxi&~,q 31(9): (1993) 0 Advme pfli,rt\

W-6%3.

I atoir, de

0 De Smet, I A. G. M. et al.(eds) .
(1934)
cotlrx. Press. Hrilivh
of hrrl~~l drug\, ~JO/.

ahortif 442-446. 0

MPrlical

Anon.

j~hnrmcrtrutid Pharmaceutical 0

The

2. Hridrlberg: Duke,

Springer-Verlag. J, A. (1985)
Handbook of

Prakash,

ct al. (1985) of

Antisome

implantation indigenous
?? Van

activity 441-448. J.

Anon.

(1983)

Llr-ili.t/~ 11rrbul British Trois par des

mrdic-inn1 h&s.

Boca Raton: CRC Press. P. and P&Gel, D.

plants in rats. Artn IGuo~~rcrn Lookeren, door


oleum

~/hnrrn/~~o~oricl. Bournemouth: Herhal Medicine 0 Arditri, J. observations essences Annalrs 0 (1891) Association. et al. (1978)

Franchomme, Jollois.

Ferti1itati.c. 16(h): Vergiftiging

(1990) Limoges: 0
cwwwr~ drugs

I, czromnfhPmpiP

PxnctPmPn/.

(1939)

chrnopodii.

d intoxication vPg6tales de Nmry M. and

Leung,
and

A. I< (1980)
irpwlirnl.~ co.smrfics.

I:ncyclopdn

oj

Neddandisd~ 83: 5472-5476. 0

Tijdschr-it Voor Gmmtkundr Fatal poisoning in a ncgro Archives of

convulsivantes. 17: 371-374. Meunier, I A. l i-tude par lc

II nlurnl

u.wtl in Jood, New

Mdicalrs

York: 1.. dpr

Wolf, I. .J. (1935)

Cadear,

.John Wiley. 0 List, I? H. and Hiirhammer, Hr~nrlbuch (1976)

with oil of chenopodium child with sickle cell anemia. Pdiattics 52: 126-l 30.

Contribution

physiologiqur

de I intoxication

Hager .r

SSEN AFET
CA RCINOGENI
TISSERAND ROBERT

TI AL Y III SIS,

0 IL
TOX IC ITY

PHOTO

The last of a three part series based on a presentation given at Aroma 95. The full transcript is published in the conference proceedings.

the chemical compared toxicity. difficult toxicity. examines essential metabolism,

part

one of

outlined

the

?? Do

they

express

their of

1979)

Estragole after infant

elicited

liver tumours of dietary given by et al., was

importance essential

understanding and how of essential and I on and animal and the very reproductive final role part of

carcinogenicity an essential oil? 0 0 Are What

when in the context the rodent level of carcinogens risk

in mice also in

12 months mice injection when

oil composition degradation

administration in humans? is subcutaneous al., 1976).

(Miller et al., 1983) and (Drinkwater (Miller after by et

oils could have safety implications, data on human In part question This the third
two I

also carcinogenic

Methyleugenol et al., 1983).

is similarly Asarone

elaborated

acceptable/unacceptable? What evidence There are is there that carcinogens oils? found in chemicals

hepatocarcinogenic 1982; Miller hcpatocarcinogenic administration injection weakly essential Do the is no question (Wiseman carcinogenic oils. carcinogens

neurotoxicity of and

13 months

are found in essential four steam distilled be rodent safrole, These

intraperitoneal are and in

controversial

et al., 1987). There in rodents, are found

oils in cancer,

and gives some

oils which are known to - bela-asarone, liver tumours to elicit in but sometimes produced to infant liver or mice and methylcugenol.

that these substances

well-established

data on phototoxicity.

carcinogens produce rodents) Safrole tube

estragole, typically

that the same chemicals

(the easiest type of tumour experimental It is important oil, or essential or contributing have rodents, have rodent extrapolates essential several assess a come and we do very to emphasise that there is causing other tumours by types. not one recorded case of any essential to cancer from in not good

express

their

carcinogenicity when in the context of an essential oil? Both calamus proved rodents. (containing asarone) carcinogenic, malignant after 1967). produced months, 59 duodenal weeks of (Taylor 90% but (Abbot 2) have most and sassafras oils have in oil 6&lweakly producing tumours dietary et al., oil safrole) of the to be carcinogenic Calamus 75.8% was

when given subcutaneously

oil component,

stomach

in humans. All the data we experimental research

understanding

of how well to humans for

carcinogenesis oils. questions the risk In need fact


LO

administration Dietary (containing

sassafras

no tumours after 22 development et al., 1961). essential tested been

be addressed occurrence essential oils: 0 What

in order of possible evidence

to from the in that (Gleason Dietary is there liver et al., 1984) safrole tumours mice and when given et al., 1963). kidney offspring and of rodents carcinogens orally to adult rats (Long produced in the

to humans

showed tumour 1

after 24 months None of Ihe other oils (see table experimentally.

implicated

carcinogens

are found in essential oils?

pregnant

(Vesselinovitch

et al.,

it is not surprising containing carcinogens carcinogenesis. containing not known. other essential the equally components (increase) Since carcinogenic is much there

that essential

oils of oils is that the could other

Are

the

rodent in humans?

carcinogens

dose-dependent,

and a compound

may

such high concentrations demonstrate Whether essential much lower concentrations are carcinogenic could speculate in one present However, might is no evidence inhibition One

carcinogenic

be safely disposed of at low doses, while at high doses the detoxifying pathways amount formed. amount can of One become carcinogenic study can lead to a sudden metabolic This in the that the saturated. increase showed

This is another records nogenic compounds are partially These,

area in which there are oils or essential a carciThe oils are but they liver humans. indeed,

very few data to go on, since there are no of any essential action found in oil components demonstrating in essential

of these compounds components carcinogen.

mctabolite formed from mg/kg studies In l of issue of in amount

of 1 -hydroxyestragole

oil might inhibit speculate

the action of that

very weak carcinogens

frorn estragole increased from 1% to 9% as the dosage given was increased O.O5mg/kg (Zangouras have humans, urine ingested means is produced the 0.3% estragole. of to 1000 Other similar amount found the et al. 1981).

metabolised cases, table

by the are 1).

into slightly more powerful carcinogens. in most (see I -hydroxy This since is an it is metabolites important known efficient that

potentiate of either

the action of the carcinogen. or potentiation in this arena to be of any

results.

consideration, in rodents than

this meta-bolism

is more is of is

hydroxycstragole

excreted

in essential oils, prediction too speculative value. In the absence risk is proportionate carcinogen present.

in humans.

This means A factor animal The

that the risk to humans to the relevance

The saturation

of any useful data to the amount of

probably lower than the risk to rodents. related testing is the saturation issue .

that extrapolating

levels of risk

we can do little else but assume that the

from animal tests with high doses to the human situation is not a simple matter. that the However, WC should remember

metabolism

of many chemicals

most common of administration aromatherapy we know these very

route in is little of in

drops of the oil were


RECOMMEND/

placed in a pot in the sauna room, the The woman s burns In more severe, not on skin. to were

dermal, not oral, and about metabolism chemicals the skin.

one arm and leg. a second, case serious

full-thickness

What level of risk


is acceptable? Taking all of the above considerations account, of the into it is possible level of in acceptable. possible Ensuring approach that to exposure safety in drops rubbed of undiluted on both essential as oils levels remain below these would be one aromatherapy.

burns were sustained following a 20 minule session on a sunbed, which bergamot application this instance, bergamot arms and both communication). followed oil (private In a few oil were legs

to give an indication carcinogens

essential oils which is likely to be safe or unsafe. In some instances contain components administration external (0.1-l%) completely carcinogens aromatherapy carcinogens (lo-go%). major

before going into a steam room. Some 15 minutes later the woman showered, went for a swim, showered bcrgamot crossed again, and then (Much Severe of the burns went on to the sunbed. the epidermis.)

In these cases oral In other cazes

would be unwise, as would

administration.

occur only at very low levels usage is likely to be Of best all the aspects by one of essential the of oil

oil, by that time, would have during the following to hospital and

and in these instances external safe. In the 2-10% area there toxicology, community understood of essential Since phototoxicity and is one of the scientific the least oils

steadily developed

48 hours on her arms and legs, at which time she was admitted remained there for seven days. and some blisters After leaving to

may bc some need for caution, and in this group will be found some commonly used essential oils such as fennel and nutmeg (see table 3). Oral administration recommended bear in mind or over of carcinogens. is not to oils for essential oils with 1% It is important that a few essential

understood

by those using essential the retail is especially on this began oils

The skin on her arms and legs had a roasted appearance, were hospital, 1Ocm in diameter.

in aromatherapy; rcscarch

consumer at risk. in the and are

she was not able to return

1950 we have a very good idea as to s, which ,essential which are not, for responsible oils are phototoxic and the phototoxicity components

work until her skin had healed and her limbs were fully mobile. Two years after the incident her limbs still have dark occasional streaks, and she experiences

contain more than one carcinogen. Conclusion The evidence that a few essential are carcinogenic although has oil in they been orally, into is little components rodents are all described Carcinogenicity seen following subcutaneously, the .abdominal doubt that carcinogens potential. rodent humans dosage risk is

largely well-known and well studied. We also have a very good idea how much is sale in humans, over what period An excessive can be induced particularly skin. occurs present, The In how much is not, and of time. reaction by certain the to sunlight chemicals, to the reaction agent tanning. will help is

burning sensations on the affected areas. Furanocoumarins The These absorb most common are polycyclic gives ultraviolet them phototoxic molecules the agents whose to store et al., are are the psoralens, structure or furanocoumarins. ability

is convincing,

as weak carcinogens. in rodents administration and by injection cavity. There oils possess

if they are applied phototoxicity,

(UV) photons,

essential However,

containing

only if the sensitising and results two in rapid cases following

them for a while, and then release them in a burst on to the skin (Caporalc 1967). present Phototoxic small components amounls, even are only in a few essential 2%. to, However,

carcinogenic extrapolating massage in levels of the oils is not easy.

tests to, for instance, with essential or exposure considered to be negligible,

illustrate what can go wrong: Two cases A woman was treated after a 20-minute taken immediately oil with lemon for minor a sauna 1992). burns bath A few session on a sunbed, after (Anon.,

oils, and normally at this oil is often effects If

in relatively less than level, diluted

As in other and there agencies

types of toxicity,

are all important, by regldatory

and even

if the essential they phototoxic

are levels below whi&

say, 2%,

capable of producing

and therefore

if the skin is then exposed to sunlight.

such essential and/or relatively phototoxic can result. There family of is a the if the

oils are used undiluted, skin is exposed of UV to a light source

guidelines. considered

Any higher

percentage

is

commonly lightweight protection (Dayton,

used clothing factor 1993).

to

manufacture 5 and 15 use in of a

as carrying a risk. A number they are

only have a sun

strong

of citrus oils are not phototoxic; listed in table 6.

of between The potentially phototoxic preparation, reduce Common tells risk us

(sunbeds or strong sunlight) effects whole best in The and are nonmolecules or

very severe

sunscreens,

of psoralens,

which

will risk of

known is bergapten found primarily oil. bergamot psoralens coumarins relatively volatile

the

phototoxicity. sense that the of will with time to the the the of

phototoxicity diminish following application skin. intensity phototoxic response more correctly, in oil is known or bergamot This as having an When there is no risk, or a reduced risk, of phototoxicity There applied is no risk of phototoxicity if the foils are used in a product off the skin, preparations such bergamot, distilled as citrus such which is not bath during next the hour, first remains and then hour the bergapten application, the following This is certainly (Zaynoun timescale other and citrus then will In reality

and, in the cast found (cold

citrus oils, tend to be in expressed pressed) oils, in distilled (or, reduce)

but not to

oils. It is also possible remove considerably bergamot FCF

increases following over 5). oil for

at a peak for the decreases (see table

oil. The resulting bergamot,

as bergaptenless bergamot

8 hours

(furanocoumarin-free). oil is regarded

to the skin, or which is washed as shampoo, citrus or soap. There is no risk

true for bergamot probably gradual hold

et al., 1977) oils. The mirrors then

and the same steady increase decrease time taken the it. the the the in to reach

inferior fragrance state (Dubertret


IL is clear

to the oil in its natural et al., 1990). rrom the essential by from 1 for and oil The the published

if non-phototoxic

oils are used, oils. However, and

furanocoumarin-free oils tend To be used in

monographs Research Materials consequent Fragrance ociation depends, presence type Some several and

or distilled

presumably dermis, and (A

the

Institute (KIFM), Research YIFRA) not

Fragrance

for the furanocoumarins phototoxic

Ikavourings rather than fragrances,

to pass beyond reaction until crossed take place has

International Assguidelines, mere furathe

cannot substance

that the risk of phototoxicity on the but on of phototoxic amount

epidermis dermis. As table oil are not impact. much used in aromatherapy, relatively poor fragrance phototoxic arter 8 hours, 10 hours. is no risk iI the parts of the the
oils have

and reached can 5, produced be a seen

nocoumarins, essential

0.5% no was out safe on

present. fura-nocolimarins to photo-

concentration reactions, Tests were

of bergamot I% carried

oils contain all contribute due CO their There skin to applied should safety,

phototoxic

which probably

and 2.5% was sale after

toxicity of the oils. We are concerned which essential Taget also with their degree oil, for instance, grapefruit not only with but to be than of phototoxicity. appears oils are phototoxic,

human has been at levels

volunteers. that skin which oils to This and the maximum treated higher should zone with phototoxic than not be exposed 12 hours. of 2 hours,

which

been

It is recommend

are covered in such a way as to them. It sake of clothing is UV fabrics substantial Most bc that assumed, typical lightly whereas blocks for the

prevent UV rays from reaching summer coloured) more

around 100 times more phototoxic expressed phototoxic on the the percentage skin, dilution based on

use levels, UV light gives of 5% assumes

oil. Table 4 shows at which each safe to USC IFRA current

for at least a maximum

(lightweight, permeable, clothing

a safety essential

oil is considered

concentration or 20%

out UV

oil. A 15%

concentration still produce after 12 hours xanthotoxin 10 undiluted phototoxic produce hours, (Zaynoun Individual but

ol

bergamot

oil

can The great majority quite safe as used but the danger to of essential which oils arc do exist it is the

mutagenicity bacteria. in aromatherapy, The photobiology perfume Journal 0 Clinical products, Wilktins, attitude seems oil essential of hazards, some of and 0 tumors safrole. 604 0 metabolic carcinogenicily that occur Carcinogens 0 of this as Miller, OJ be ignored. of 0

of I -acetoxycstragole

in

a phototoxic application A 0.5%

reaction (Zaynoun 01 equivalent

Jourrlal Duberlret, of

of the National Caww L. et bergamot an al. (1990) and oil as a a,nd overview.

>~~st%tute 57: 1323-1331 photochemistry ingredient:

et al., 1977).

concenlration

(very roughly bergamot potential)

areas

oil in terins of continued reactions after 48 for 36 hours

are very real and cannot very agree the much in the

As I have said on many occasions, interests to, aromatherapy on safety trade and to industry guidelines the implement

phototoxic ceased

Photochemistry

firstly, Par both and, those

Photobiolo~~ 7: 362365 Gleason, toxicology 5th edn. M. N. et al. (1984) of commercial Williams & Liver

et al., 1977). differences diflerences phototoxic but skin factor was no

profession

secondly, guidelines. The

In a study on 63 volunteers, did not significantly responses colour (Zaynoun statistical brown. bergamot phototoxic individuals average colour black of was a affect

in eye colour, age, sex and ability to tan to bergamot ct al., 1977). difference The average oil, There

Long E. L. et al. (1963) produced

aromatherapists ignoring pretending This attitude. thorough hazards retailers, teachers to essential subjecl something increase oil should for It

to be one

in rats by feeding

Archives of Pathology 75: 595Miller, J. A. et al. (1982) activation of and E. naturally in many Mutagens C. et al. The and spices. in the

significant

they simply is only

do not exist. through very that the real

is an unhealthy research from

and unrealistic

between those with concentration to produce in compared those with brown of a these to an skin or

skin described

as fair, sallow and light

of the subject ones.

alkenylbenzenes

we will be able to distinguish Ihe illusory writers, or practitioners, our safety. not I be Whether

oil required response was 2.4%, 15% in

we are manuracturers, researchers, we all need believe regarded advanced be basic to training. knowledge

Environ.ment 1: 83-96 (1983) of mouse the and and Structure-activity carcinogenicities rat of some synthetic relaled 0 Toxicity variety). 0 (1979) to studies in the naturally safrole J. of M.

described (Zaynoun

as dark et al., 1977).

A suntan

occurring and et

gave light skin some extra protection. When There Firstly, used there are
LWO

alkenylbcnzene

derivatives estragole. al. (1967) (Jammu A$plied D. et al.

so-called

is an increased scenarios

risk

of the

training

courses it should aromatherapy

Cancer Research 43: 1124-l 134 Taylor, of oil calamus and S. safrolc.

phototoxicity in which oils risk of phototoxicity if several together, may be increased. phototoxic the For risk are if the increases

any serious

Essen.tial Oil Safety, by Robert Tisserand and ?&1y Balacs, is published


Livin,gstone,

ToxicoloSq Vesselinovitch, Transplaccntal by

Pharmecology 10: 405 and lactational Cancer

proportionally. bergamot maximum in a product

instance,

s Ch.urchill by ISBN: 0443 052h0 3.

and cumin oils are both used in equal proportions, safe percentage if will be 0.2% concentrated 01 essential Citrus a oil oils large or 0 Chronic 0 warning. 0 Abbot, D. D. et al. (1961)

carcinogenesis 0 Wiseman.

Research 39: 4378-4380 R. W. et al. (1987) studies of safrole of the to on male (1981) of to the l alkenylStructure-activity hepatocarcinogenicities benzene estragole administration mice. 0 G et al. (1967) of some activily estragole q/ derivatives and oral toxicity Anon (1992) of oil of sassafras

for each, not 0.4% for each. Secondly, (deterpenated) maximum degree generally amount of (rdeterpenised, tcrpcncfree) possess (including much larger concentrated all the citrus their of citrus oils are used, the in proporlion to the

related

percentage

and safrol.

Pharmacologist 3 (73) Lemon lnternation.al

: 62
burn

should be reduced

to preweanling A. et al. conversion metabolite

concentration. contain terpcnes.

,Journal

Cancer Research 47: 2275-2283 Zangouras,

Aromatherafiy 4 (4) Caporale,

:4

Deterpenated oils therefore components in (1976) of oil will of So, a 10 times lemon

Dose-dependent carcinogenic hydroxyestragole.

terpenelcss, other

Skin photosensitizing methylpsoralens. 986 0 Drinkwater, cstragole

in the rat and mouse

Exfiewntia 23: 985 N.R. et al.

Biochemical S. T. el al. (1977) and its importance agent. Contact A

furanocoumarins)

Pharmacology 30: 1383-1386


??

amounts. expressed

Hcpatocarcinogenicity (1.allyl-4and in the l -hydroand mouse as

Zaynoun, phototoxic

study of bcrgamot a

have a maximum

safe ConcenlraLion

methoxybenzenc) xyestragole

0.2%, instead of 2%.

Dermatitis 3: 225-239