Officials with the Tennessee Poison Control Center are warning that they are seeing an increasing number of toxic exposures, mostly involving children, to essential oils used in aromatic and homeopathic natural remedies.
TPC, which is housed at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, says the number of essential oil exposures doubled between 2011 and 2015, and 80 percent of those cases involved children.
Poison control specialists say some essential oils such as camphor, clove, lavender, eucalyptus, thyme, tea tree, and wintergreen oils are highly toxic. The oils can be toxic when they are ingested. They can also cause a child to choke.
TPC officials say the primary route of poisoning is by ingestion, but also occurs with excessive or inappropriate application to the skin. Children are at risk because their skin easily absorbs oils.