Are Essential Oils Poisonous?

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Essential Oils have become increasingly popular and in demand over the years and with good reason. They are a good alternative to pharmaceutical drugs and no longer only available in Natural Product stores.  Many essential oils and natural products are readily available at stores like Walmart, Amazon, supermarkets and local pharmacies.
Some of them do a lot of good and some not so much. Most of my immediate family believe in looking for natural and organic when it comes to our food and drink. However, I have come to the realization that natural does not necessarily mean safe. “Are essential oils poisonous” keeps coming up in conversation.   While many natural herbs and oils are quite helpful, they are not regulated and tested like other medicines. Some essential oils are sold for aromatherapy and others are sold as alternatives to pharmaceutical drugs to be applied directly to the skin or ingested in small amounts.
There is so much to review on the subject of the safety or lack of safety for essential oils. There is usually a debate and/or comparison between the amount and effectiveness of pharmaceutical drugs versus herbs and essential oils. So I will write this review as a comparison between peppermint and tea tree essential oils​, side by side with over the counter drugs, kaopectate and nyquil, for the same illness. We’ll compare how they work for just a couple of illnesses such as Stomach and Digestion and the common cold and flu.
Peppermint Compared To Kaopectate For Stomach And Digestion
PEPPERMINT is often used for flavoring foods and beverages, as a fragrance for various things, and is commonly used to sooth an upset or query stomach. It’s also used to aid digestion. It’s usually taken as a tea but is also ingested in the form of peppermint lozenges and candies. The teas might be made from tea leaves or from a few drops of peppermint oil in water. This use of peppermint is generally safe with no side effects unless ingested in large amounts higher than recommended by your health care provider. Peppermint use is being compared to the popular over the counter drug, kaopectate, it’s ingredients and side effects.
INGREDIENTS: 100% pure Peppermint leaves and water (1 drop of peppermint oil may be added with tea leaves for potency or used alone in a cup of hot water, 2 drops if you prefer it stronger).
BENEFITS: Soothes upset query stomach, cramps, and aids indigestion and irritable bowels.
SIDE EFFECTS: No known serious side effects from a few tea bags or 1-2 drops of oil, or when used in flavorings and seasonings. However, if peppermint oil is ingested in large amounts (even 1 teaspoonful) it can cause a serious allergic reaction and could interact with other health issues and drugs to be lethal. Look for signs such as skin redness, stomach irritation, and exasperation of ulcers and hiatal hernias. The oil might also cause mild irritation to sensitive skin when used topically. All in all peppermint essential oil is very safe if not ingested or absorbed into pores in large amounts.
One of the active ingredients in peppermint oil is a volatile oil called menthol, which can be toxic in its pure form.
KAOPECTATE and PEPTO BISMOL are just two different brand names for the same drug Bismuth subsalicylate.
INGREDIENTS: Active Ingredients: Bismuth subsalicylate – Inactive Ingredients: caramel, carboxymethylcellulose sodium, flavor, microcrystalline cellulose, red 40, sodium salicylate, sorbic acid, sucrose, water, xanthan gum
BENEFITS: This drug treats upset stomach, diarrhea, heartburn, nausea and indigestion;
SIDE EFFECTS: Common side effects include constipation, dizziness, abdominal pain and nausea, dark colored stools or black or darkened tongue. Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives, difficulty breathing, swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat. Stop taking Kaopectate and call your doctor at once if you have hearing loss or ringing in your ears, diarrhea for more than 2 days, or stomach condition gets worse. There may be other side effects from interaction with other drugs such as warfarin and insulin.

Tea Tree Oil Compared To NyQuil For Cold and Flu

TEA TREE OIL: First of all tea tree oil is derived from the leaves of the tea tree. It has so many practical uses that you won’t want to be without it in the home once you’ve used it a few times. It should always be used topically and never ingested. Inhale vapors or apply on the effected areas such as chest and back. The oil has antiseptic properties and is typically used so often for that reason. Together with it’s many other uses, vaginal and fungal infections are also often treated with the oil made from the tea tree leaves and mixed with a carrier oil.
INGREDIENTS: 100% Tea Tree Oil, sometimes used topically with 100% eucalyptus and other carriers
BENEFITS: The chemicals in tea tree oil is expected to kill bacteria and fungus, reduce allergic skin reactions, treat colds and flu, for preventing and treating infections, pulmonary inflammation and bronchial congestion, . It’s used as an antiseptic with a carrier oil on cuts, burns, insect bites, and even ear infections and sore throat.
SIDE EFFECTS: Tea Tree Oil can be poisonous if swallowed and should not be used around the mouth. It might cause a burning sensation on the skin, dryness, eczema, itching, and skin redness.
NyQuil Over The Counter Remedy For Cold and Flu
I chose NyQuil as the over-the-counter comparison medicine in this case because it is sort of all-in-one treatment for the symptoms of cold and flu. I remember NyQuil from childhood so it certainly has longevity and is like a household word. There is also a Daytime version of NyQuil that doesn’t leave you so drowsy. Whether for a runny nose and sneezing, a sore throat, fever, chest congestion and coughing, headaches and other minor body aches and pains, NyQuil nighttime is the perfect treatment for temporary relief. It also helps the patient sleep and get much-needed rest.
INGREDIENTS: The active ingredients in NyQuil are acetaminophen, dextromethorphan HBr and doxylamine succinate. NyQuil also contains a number of inactive ingredients: According to the report on, in the original version of this NyQuil formula are acesulfame potassium, alcohol, citric acid, D&C Yellow No. 10, FD&C Green No. 3, FD&C Yellow No. 6, flavor, high fructose corn syrup, polyethylene glycol, propylene glycol, purified water, saccharin sodium and sodium citrate, as reported on Flavored versions of the formula have additional or different inactive ingredients.
BENEFITS: Relieves runny nose and sneezing, soothes a sore throat, lowers fever, relieves chest congestion and coughing, headaches and other minor body aches and pains, For those who still might not know, NyQuil nighttime is the perfect treatment for temporary relief. It also helps the patient sleep and get much-needed rest.
SIDE EFFECTS: Dry mouth, nose and throat, drowsiness, nausea, increased chest congestion, headaches, overly excited and nervousness. The acetaminophen in NyQuil might cause liver damage when more than the suggested dosage is taken. The same could happen if the drug is taken over a longer time than the period recommended.

So in conclusion, are essential oils poisonous? In this article we looked at two of the oils, peppermint and Tea Tree Oil. Both have the potential to be poisonous when misused or in some cases over used.
Until next time, I wish you joy and good health!


9 thoughts on “Are Essential Oils Poisonous?”

  1. Hi, very interesting article, I have used two of the products you mentioned on many occasions, Tea Tree Oil and Peppermint Tea without ever give much thought to them being ‘dangerous’ simply because they can be bought ‘over the counter’ I do believe that many of these oils and herbal remedies do need to be regulated more strictly and more information needs to be supplied with them and warning of the dangers of misuse. Look forward to more articles.

  2. I have always used natural products and enjoyed your article
    The drug companies of the world are destroying people s health with so many of their products filled with toxic additives etc and it is refreshing to see someone proactive and caring
    Keep up the great work

  3. Hi Vanna

    Just read your article above ” Are essential oils poisonous”. I totally agreed with what you have stated as yes although many companies do use essential oils within their products many are just added mainly for the scent.

    Whereas many Naturopaths and Aromatherapists would use true essential oils for other health benefits some of which you mentioned above.

    One also needs to know that there are some oils which are part of poor regulation in some countries where you can buy cheap oils under the same name these are fragrant oils and are totally different compared to essential oils.

    That is why I believe one should seek out further advice on the uses of such oils and there can be so contradictions for those with sensitive skin, those who have fallen pregnant along with some children and older adults. Preferably with as I mention with Naturopaths or Aromatherapists as they have done extensive studies during their training.

    As for Peppermint, I love having this as a tea which as you have mentioned in great for upset stomachs also great for those who may feel a bit nauseous.
    Tea tree is a great oil that can be used for many other areas as it is also a great antiseptic, antifungal also great for the skin however as you mentioned there are some contradictions in its use and for some can be sensitive to the skin. Tea tree oil as I have found is one of the essential oils that is not recommended to be taken orally as that can also create some problems.

    Look forward to reading more on essential oils down the track.
    Thank you for the time taken in providing this information.

  4. Thank you for creating this great guide! I use tea tree oil occasionally so it’s good to know what the side effects could be so I know to watch out for them. Do you think the health benefits make using these products worth it overall?

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