Adverse Effects of Essential Oils and Herbs
Guardian Angels Pat & Dixie and Mary
Jane & Maggie May
It has been noted
that in some cases epileptics have been known to seize from exposure to certain
scents or botanical extracts, such as essential oils that are used in fragrances
or aromatherapy. Studies show that this may or may not be true. Below are
examples of the more common essential oils that may be linked to seizure
activity, as revealed in some studies. Please note that animals and humans
differ in sensitivities, and the reactions to essential oils are unique
ESSENTIAL OILS and GARDEN HERBS:
Essential oils and herbs have been used in treating many conditions since
ancient times. Aromatic oils have been used for stimulation and relaxation and
to aid in the healing process. Some of our epi pups have been helped by the use
of Rescue Remedyâ made from a blend of the
flower essence of Rock Rose, Star of Bethlehem, Impatiens, Cherry Plum, and
Clematis. Please note that Rescue Remedyâ does not contain
essential oils, but is essentially the infused "energy" of the plant, and is not
harmful to epileptics, nor is an overdose possible, because it is said to heal
on a vibrational level instead of a physical one.
However, there is evidence to suggest that some essential oils can initiate
seizures. Camphor, eucalyptus, fennel, hyssop, pennyroyal, rosemary, sage,
tansy, tea tree (aka: melaleuca), thuja, turpentine, and wormwood are among those oils. Whether
it be a trigger brought on by the simple fact that these are pungent oils or
that some, such as sage, rosemary, and wormwood, actually contain potent
neurotoxins, caution should be used. Again, we are talking about the essential
oils. The plant, when used in normal amounts as in cooking,
is usually not concentrated in amounts large enough
to cause problems.
But please note that all dogs are different and it has been reported that some
highly sensitive dogs have had seizure reactions to being near or in contact
with these particular garden herbs. Exceptions to this are found in mistletoe,
rue, and wormwood. Parts of these plants (leaves, berries) have shown to be
toxic in the growing plant.
Animal Nutrition Center, Franklinville, NJ
(from web site):
CAUTION: Rosemary - the camphor, thymol and terpineol in Rosemary are highly
stimulating. Do not use during pregnancy. Individuals prone to asthma may be
bothered by the strong scent and the active ingredients can bring on seizures in
There is no sound scientific evidence that any particular essential oils can
trigger an epileptic incident. In fact it is well documented that any powerful
smell can initiate such an attack. Therefore, the only advice may be avoid the
pungent oils like camphor, eucalyptus, tea tree (aka: melaleuca), rosemary, etc. On the other
hand, some trials have indicated that the traditionally relaxing oils can
substantially reduce the incidence of attacks.
Aromatherapy Magical Garden (from web site):
PRECAUTIONS: Epilepsy: Fennel, hyssop, sage and wormwood (often contained in
herbal preparations against parasites) can trigger an attack.
CAUTION: Sage oil contains a toxic component called thujone, which can interfere
with the brain and nervous system functions. Sage should not be used by people
prone to epileptic seizures.
Elixarome Limited, Kent, England
(from web site):
ESSENTIAL OILS, PRECAUTIONS: EPILEPSY:
Do not use camphor, fennel, hyssop, rosemary or sage oils if you suffer from
Contains thujone, a neurotoxic ketone, so avoid this oil for anyone prone to
Life Blends, Dallas, TX (from
The following oils have a powerful action on the nervous system and should be
avoided by people with epilepsy:
Fennel, hyssop, rosemary and sage.
Wormwood-Absente.com; Elro Company, Palm Coast,
Description: Thujone is a natural chemical compound found in many different
plants and flowers. It is especially known in many spices, herbs, and essential
oils. Thujone has a similar chemical structure to Tetrahydrocannibinol (active
ingredient found in marijuana or THC) and Menthol (peppermint odor found in many
over-the-counter medicated creams).
Can be found in 24 direct food additives according to the FDA's PAFA database.
Dalmation sage oil and cedar leaf oil are stated
as containing the highest concentration of thujone. Absinthe, Absente, Vermouth,
Benedictine, Elisir du D.R. and Chartreuse contain small amounts of Thujone.
This natural chemical is stated to make up 40-90% (by weight) of the essence of
SIDE EFFECTS and WARNINGS:
Reported side effects of thujone and wormwood are nausea, vomiting, insomnia,
restlessness, vertigo, tremors, and seizures. Large doses of thujone have been
found to cause delirium, convulsions, seizures, paralysis, brain damage, renal
failure and death.
Animal Nutrition Center, Franklinville, NJ - web site
Aromatherapy Magical Garden - web site
Elixarome Limited, Kent, England - web site
Life Blends, Dallas, TX -
Prescription for Nutritional Healing, Phyllis A. Balch, CNC,
and James F. Balch, MD, 3rd Edition, 2000
Rodale's Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs, 1987