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Lavender oil

Lavender oil is an oil made from the flowers of lavender. Lavender poisoning occurs when someone accidentally or intentionally swallows lavender oil.

This is for information only and not for use in the treatment or management of an actual poison exposure. If you have an exposure, you should call your local emergency number (such as 911) or the National Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.

Poisonous Ingredient

Lavender oil (mainly linalyl acetate and linalool)

Where Found

Lavender oil is used in certain perfumes. It is also used as a flavoring substance.

This article may not include all uses of lavender oil.

Symptoms

  • Blurred vision
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Burning pain in the throat
  • Burns to the eye (if you get it in your eye)
  • Diarrhea (watery, bloody)
  • Stomach pain
  • Vomiting
  • Rash

Home Care

Seek immediate medical help. Do NOT make a person throw up unless told to do so by Poison Control or a health care professional.

If the chemical was swallowed, immediately give the person water or milk, unless instructed otherwise by a health care provider. Do NOT give water or milk if the patient is having symptoms (such as vomiting, convulsions, or a decreased level of alertness) that make it hard to swallow.

Before Calling Emergency

Determine the following:

  • Patient's age, weight, and condition
  • Name of the product (ingredients and strengths, if known)
  • Time it was swallowed
  • Amount swallowed

Poison Control, or a Local Emergency Number

The National Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222) can be called from anywhere in the United States. This national hotline number will let you talk to experts in poisoning. They will give you further instructions.

This is a free and confidential service. All local poison control centers in the United States use this national number. You should call if you have any questions about poisoning or poison prevention. It does NOT need to be an emergency. You can call for any reason, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

See: Poison control center - emergency number

What to Expect at the Emergency Room

The health care provider will measure and monitor your vital signs, including temperature, pulse, breathing rate, and blood pressure. Symptoms will be treated as appropriate. You may receive:

  • Activated charcoal
  • Breathing support, including a tube through the mouth into the lungs and a breathing machine (ventilator)
  • Chest x-ray
  • EKG (heart tracing)
  • Fluids through the vein (by IV)
  • Laxative
  • Medicines to treat the effects of the poison
  • Tube through the mouth into the stomach to wash out the stomach (gastric lavage)

Outlook (Prognosis)

How well you do depends on the amount of poison swallowed and how quickly treatment is received. The faster you get medical help, the better the chance is for recovery.

Lavender oil is generally nonpoisonous when breathed in during aromatherapy or swallowed. The major effects are due to allergic reactions of the skin.

References

Prashar A, Locke IC, Evans CS. Cytotoxicity of lavender oil and its major components to human skin cells. Cell Prolif. 2004;37:221-229.

Maypole J, Woolf, AD. Essential Oils. In: Shannon MW, Borron SW, Burns MJ, eds. Haddad and Winchester's Clinical Management of Poisoning and Drug Overdose. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 101.

Update Date: 1/20/2014

Updated by: Jacob L. Heller, MD, MHA, Emergency Medicine, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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