Natural doesn’t necessarily mean safe

Natural doesn’t necessarily mean safe or without side effects especially when it comes to young children. There are increased reports of toxic exposures to kids from essential oils derived from plants used in many natural remedies and homeopathy.  Because young children often like to put things in their mouth especially when something smells pleasant, there is the potential for not only swallowing but often coughing leading to aspiration into the lungs and pneumonia. Many times allergic reactions can even occur if too much is rubbed into the skin as a child’s skin is more sensitive and prone adverse reactions, rashes, andburns than adults.

Tea tree oils have been used for skin infections to kill both bacteria and fungi as well as in bath water to help reduce coughs. However this essential oil seems to be cited frequently for many overdoses and accidental ingestions especially in kids according to Dr. Justin Loden at VanderbiltUniversity Medical Center’s TennesseePoison Center. In addition applying tea tree oil to the skin especially boys may be unsafe as it is a potential hormone disruptor and there have been cases of enlarged breast tissue in boys using this product. Safety for young girls is not really known.

Besides tea tree oil, lavender, camphor, clover and wintergreen essential oils can be toxic in high amounts causing behavior changes, hallucinations, seizures ,burns and liver failure.  If you do use or have these oils in your home, it’s extremely important to lock them up or put them out of your child’s reach like youwould do with prescription medications or cleaning products. And always keep the Poison Control phone number1-800-222-1222 easily accessaible .I recommend to all my patients to program it into their phone’s speed dial so you have it if your ever need to use it.

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