Can Eucalyptus essential oil cause seizures? A video by Robert Tisserand

by | Aromatherapy, Commentary, General

A 2021 research study highlights the potential risks of inhaled Eucalyptus essential oil and oils rich in camphor. How worried should we be? And what steps should be taken to ensure safety? Robert Tisserand looks at the evidence in this digest.

The guidelines may need to be revisited and for now, greater vigilance and awareness is needed from aromatherapy practitioners and medical workers.

Studies mentioned in the video:

Mathew, T., K John, S., Kamath, V., Kumar R, S., Jadav, R., Swamy, S., Adoor, G., Shaji, A., Nadig, R., Badachi, S., D Souza, D., Therambil, M., Sarma, G., & J Parry, G. (2021). Essential oil related seizures (EORS): A multi-center prospective study on essential oils and seizures in adults. Epilepsy research173, 106626. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eplepsyres.2021.106626
 
Mathew, T., John, S. K., Kamath, V., Kumar R, S., Jadav, R., Shaji, A., Nadig, R., Sarma, G., & Parry, G. J. (2020). Essential oil-related status epilepticus: A small case series study. Journal of the American College of Emergency Physicians open1(5), 918–921. https://doi.org/10.1002/emp2.12147
 
Mathew, T., Kamath, V., Kumar, R. S., Srinivas, M., Hareesh, P., Jadav, R., & Swamy, S. (2017). Eucalyptus oil inhalation-induced seizure: A novel, underrecognized, preventable cause of acute symptomatic seizure. Epilepsia open2(3), 350–354. https://doi.org/10.1002/epi4.12065

Author

  • Robert Tisserand is a speaker, educator and consultant on the science and benefits of essential oils and their safe and effective application, and in 1977 he wrote the first English language book on aromatherapy. In addition to teaching online courses, in recent years he has inspired live audiences in Europe, Asia, North America and South America. He was privileged to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from the AIA in Denver in 2007, and in 2014 he co-authored the second edition of Essential Oil Safety, which has helped set industry safety standards. Robert is the principal of The Tisserand Institute.

20 Comments

Comments

20 Comments

  1. Intrestingly, my sister just informed me the other day that she reacts to Eucalyptus as a result of the menthol components. She seems to react with sort of a spasmotic reaction in her lungs. Thanks so much for all of your work.

    Reply
    • That would be cineole, not menthol – there’s no menthol in Eucalyptus 🙂

      Reply
  2. oh No, that is sad news. I have Globulus/radiata/dives as well as (HO LEAF)Ravintsara and myrtle (Lemon). usually i use for diffusing via a nebulizing diffuser with a timer, 15 min on every couple hrs. occasionally use topically w/carrier oil. Are all routes of concern?
    what about the Rosemary ct. verbenone? is the 12.11% camphor in this considered high?

    Finally made the decision to get your book – a little above my science background (ok a lot) but I sure find myself referring to it often.

    Kari
    Ps Welcome to the Country.

    Reply
    • Hi Kari,
      Unfortunately these new case reports can’t easily be extrapolated to specific safety guidelines for oils containing cineole/camphor, so until we know more, it’s just an added layer of caution.

      Reply
  3. Is this VIDEOopen for anyone to watch?
    I taled on the arrow/pic
    And nothing happened
    All my other videos I’ve watched today work fine I was just
    Wondering if perhaps you could send a link to my email to see If I could try to watch.
    Very DISAPPOINTED ,I’m very interested.
    Thank You.
    Paula

    Reply
    • Hi Paula,
      I made the same mistake! Just scroll down and you’ll see the active arrow.

      Reply
  4. I think it’s important to know what dilutions the oils were used that caused the seizures. Were they used full strength (neat) or preblended before being inhaled? Hopefully they say so in the studies, I will hop over and read them now. Thanks for bringing the topic to our attention.

    Reply
    • Hi Stephany, in the most recent study there are several case reports just from steam inhalation of Eucalyptus oil. There are no further details, so we don’t know how much was used, and we have to assume that it was actually Eucalyptus oil. In most other cases, balms were used with varying %s of Eucalyptus oil and camphor.

      Reply
  5. Really appreciate your time and update on this

    Reply
  6. Were the India cases coincidental with covid-19? I’ll refer to your book, essential oil safety. To look at the constituents
    In eucalyptus lemon. Is there a possibility of adulteration in the eucalyptus used in the cases involving seizures?

    Reply
    • Most of these cases happened pre-Covid, so not related.
      For Lemon Eucalyptus – and for Eucalypti in general – these are pretty inexpensive oils anyway, so there’s not much advantage in adulteration.

      Reply
  7. As one with epilepsy and occasional seizures, this is appreciated and gives credence to approaching, not avoiding, these oils with said constiuents cautiously. Thank you kindly.

    Reply
  8. Can it be said that this seizure potential is associated with a certain gene in Indian humans?

    Reply
    • This is one of the possibilities that I think will be looked at in future.

      Reply
  9. I would say it is very strange all in india and reported by the same doctor.

    Reply
    • The fact that all the cases are in India, and these reactions do seem to be more prevalent than in Australia for example, suggests a possible genetic factor, but right now there’s not enough evidence to know either way. They are all reported by the same doctor, but that’s because he suspected this might be a problem, and surveyed other doctors looking for cases. This should not influence the validity of the findings either way, and we will surely know more in time.

      Reply
  10. Hi robert, has the quality of the oıls been checked? there are many oıls contaınıng many other cheap substances ın the market (ı mean ın general but ıt may be the case ın ındıa as well)

    Reply
    • Hi Fatma, I think there is a need to check this, though it would be unusual for all of the cases to not be genuine Eucalyptus oil. Because it is a very inexpensive oil, adulteration is not likely, as there’s little or no cost benefit.

      Reply
      • you have mentioned certain balm containing the oil had been used in most reported cases. so it could also be “co-effect” of the oil with other Balm components? or properties of the oil being changed during production of the balm?

        Reply
        • Hi Miriam, I agree it is a weakness of the reports that none of the products were either identified by name or by complete list of ingredients. They simply give the % content in each balm of Eucalyptus oil and camphor. This lack of transparency does not allow deeper scrutiny, and suggests the possibility of bias by only reporting the ingredients assumed to be causative.

          Reply

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