Toxic Essential Oils
Just because essential oils come from plants, and plants come from nature, doesn’t mean they’re not potent or potentially harmful. I’m printing a list of essential oils (I’ll abbreviate EO going forward) that you must never use because the risks outweigh the benefits. I recommend staying away from these, for the safety of yourself and your children/family.
Bitter Almond (Prunus dulcis var. amara): Also known as prussic acid or cyanide, this is a well-known poison.
Boldo Leaf (Peumus boldus): The EO is extremely toxic. See Julia Lawless’ Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils.
Calamus (Acorus calamus var. angustatus): The EO is an oral toxin and reported to have carcinogenic properties (Lawless). Tisserand’s Essential Oil Safety Manual says it’s not to be used internally or externally.
Brown or Yellow Camphor (Cinnamomum camphora): The EOs contain safrol and are carcinogenic (Lawless). But white camphor can be used with caution.
Horseradish (Armoracia rusticana): We use this in herb form as a stimulant, but not as an EO. According to Tisserand, it’s “one of the most hazardous of all essential oils.”
Jaborandi Leaf (Pilocarpus jaborandi): The EO is an oral toxin, abortifacient, and skin irritant (Lawless). Abortifacient means that it is capable of inducing abortion.
Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris): The Artemisia genus seems to have a lot of no-nos in Aromatherapy, and this is one of them. Mugwort EO has a high thujone content and is an oral toxin and abortifacient.
Mustard (Brassica nigra): Considered one of the most toxic of all essential oils (Lawless). Don’t use either internally or externally (Tisserand).
Pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium): An abortifacient oral toxin that has resulted in death when taken in large doses (Lawless).
Rue (Ruta graveolens): As an EO, is an oral toxin, abortifacient, and skin/mucous membrane irritant (Lawless).
Sassafras (Sassafras albidum): I’ll just quote Lawless directly, since her words can’t be much scarier: “Highly toxic – ingestion of even small amounts has been known to cause death. Carcinogen. Irritant. Abortifacient.”
Savin (Juniperus sabina): I had never even heard of this EO before. I guess that’s because it’s banned from sale in many countries because of its toxic effects as a nerve poison, oral toxin, abortifacient, and dermal irritant (Arctander, “Perfumes and Flavor Materials of Natural Origin”).
Southernwood (Artemisia abrotanum): Another EO I’ve never heard of…and I can’t find anything in my texts about it. But see, it’s another Artemisia.
Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare): This EO is an oral toxin and abortifacient and also has a high thujone content (Lawless).
Thuja (Thuja occidentalis): Oral toxin (again, high thujone content – the name gives it away) and abortifacient (Lawless).
Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens): Honestly, I had bought and used this EO as a headache remedy and loved it, but apparently the true oil, is almost obsolete and not in use anymore (so maybe I didn’t get the real thing). Lawless writes that it is “an environmental hazard or marine pollutant.”
Wormseed (Chenopodium ambrosioides var. anthelminticum): Yet another EO I have never heard of. This EO is “one of the most toxic,” according to Tisserand. Apparently, cases of fatal poisoning have occurred with even low doses.
Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium): Told you, another Artemisia. As an herb, it is an effective anthelmintic (destroys, purges, or expels worms), but as an EO, it is toxic and abortifacient and the French banned it from inclusion in the drink Absinthe.