Wormwood Essential Oil – Possible Skin Issues:
Greener Life Diamond – Bio-Healthy Score => 3 – Possible Skin Issues:
Maximum dermal use level: 0.4%
The International Fragrance Association (IFRA) recommends that Wormwood oil be limited to 0.4% (about 2.4 drops per ounce of any other carrier oils) for leave-on products like ointments, creams, and lotions. There is no restriction for body washes, shampoos, soaps, and other wash-off products because the oil does not remain on the skin.
Wormwood oil is considered as a narcotic oil when used in higher doses. The adverse effects of Wormwood oil is attributed to the presence of chemical constituent thujone, which contributes to about 50 percent of the oil. Thujone containing oils are restricted prevalently, mainly due to the concern of its psychotropic, nephrotoxic and neurotoxic effects. It may cause skin irritation, redness, eruptions in sensitive skin and dermatitis.
Studies witness the excitation of the autonomic nervous system due to convulsions and binding of the GABA receptors caused due to α and β-thujone. It is also a known fact that high amount of thujone and its metabolites can induce convulsions, unconsciousness, seizures, gastrointestinal cramps, insomnia, tremors, dizziness, hallucinations, vomiting, headaches, retention of urine, renal lesions, congestive heart failure and rhabdomyolysis (collapse of muscular fibers).
Wormwood should never be used internally as there are numerous studies witnessing the severe toxic effects of ingesting this oil and few cases include absinthism and the acute renal failure due to rhabdomyolysis in a person who drank about 10 ml of Wormwood oil; In an another case, the intake of 60 ml of Wormwood oil ended up in seizure, altered mental faculty, attention disability, rhabdomyolysis and hyperthermia.
Blend Wormwood oil in mild carrier oils like Coconut oil or Avocado oil before topical use as pure and organic essential oils are highly concentrated substances and can harm the skin surface if used in a concentrated form. The safe level of dermal use for this oil is 0.4% by IFRA (International Fragrance Association).
Dr. William Smith in a Medico-Chirurgical transaction study talks about the case of poisoning by Wormwood oil. It is stated that this oil has narcotic influence that may have negative impact on the nervous system, causing headache, convulsions, giddiness, vomiting, tremors and paralysis.
The PanAfrican Medical Journal study talks about the burning effects of Wormwood herb, where a 50 year old woman reported a severe pain in the facial skin with a dry and delicate erythema in the cheeks and forehead classified as an initial degree burn.
It was concluded that the presence of toxic agents, like thujone and malic acid were responsible for the adverse effects like redness, skin sensitivity and chemical burns. It was termed as a phytodermatose, which are lesions on the skin due to the frequent contact with certain herbs. Research reports also state that thujone is porphyrogenic in nature and can be hazardous for patients with defective hepatic heme synthesis.
With thujone being the toxic component, using Wormwood oil can act as a threat to pregnancy as it may affect the health of the uterus with its emmenagogue and abortifacient effects and is good to continue avoiding this oil during lactation as well.
It is advisable to restrict the use of this oil on children as they have a sensitive skin. Wormwood oil can also cause allergic reactions on the skin for those who are susceptible to plants of the Compositae/Asteraceae family like the Marigold, Ragweed, Chrysanthemum etc.,
Reference Links Substantiating the Possible Skin Issues of Wormwood Oil:
- Artemisia absinthium: burning plant! By Najia Ilham El Makrini, Badredine Hassam, Department of Dermatology, Ibn Sina Hospital, Rabat, Morocco published in the PanAfrican Medical Journal
- Case of Poisoning by Oil of Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) by Dr. William Smith, Surgeon Chesterfield and North Derbyshire Hospital, published in Medico-Chirurgical Transactions, Royal Society of Medicine
- Wormwood by Essential Oil Safety: A Guide for Health Care Professionals By Robert Tisserand, Rodney Young
- Wormwood Toxicology by Leung’s Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients, used in Food, Drugs and Cosmetics by Ikhlas A. Khan and Ehab A. Abourashed
- Adverse events and side effects of Artemisia absinthium by American Herbal Products Association’s Botanical Safety Handbook, Second Edition by Zoe Gardner, Michael McGuffin
- Toxicology and adverse reactions of Wormwood by Drugs.com
- Side effects of Wormwood by University of Michigan Health System
Thought for the day:
Life is not living, but living in health.
– Martial, Roman poet
- Artemisia (Medicinal and Aromatic Plants – Industrial Profiles) by Colin W. Wright
- Complete Aromatherapy Handbook: Essential Oils for Radiant Health by Susanne Fischer-Rizzi
- Aromatherapy for the Soul: Healing the Spirit with Fragrance and Essential Oils by Valerie Ann Worwood
- Essential Oil Safety, Second Edition by Robert Tisserand and Rodney Young