What is Turpentine Oil & Is it Toxic to Ingest?

What is Turpentine Oil?

Turpentine oil is derived from the resin of certain trees such as pine trees. It is produced by steam distillation of the wood of pine trees.(1) It is an ingredient in over-the-counter chest rubs, perfumes, soaps and deodorants. Turpentine oil is used as a solvent in thin oil paint and paintbrushes. It is also used for flavoring certain foods and beverages but is also considered toxic when ingested directly.(2)

Health Benefits of Turpentine Oil

Despite being considered amongst the things that should not be ingested, turpentine oil is a remedy for numerous health conditions.

Turpentine oil is known to play its best role in relieving joint, nerve and muscle pain. A study conducted on 300 people found turpentine being effective in treating pain caused by diabetic neuropathy or nerve damage.(3)

Another study conducted on 20 people found that the spray containing menthol, turpentine oil, gaultheria, eucalyptus oil, and clove oil helped in reducing mild to moderate muscle pain.(4) However, it was difficult to judge which of the many ingredients was the most effective.

Turpentine oil is used by many people to relieve congestion and toothache and is also a part of the treatment of different types of infections. These uses of turpentine oil lack proper research.

Side Effects of Turpentine Oil

Turpentine oil is a natural product, but, not all-natural products are safe to use. It can be toxic and lead to many side effects if ingested.

Poisoning of turpentine oil include:

If consumed in doses of 0.5-5 ounces the Turpentine oil may be fatal as well.(2)

Direct inhalation of turpentine oil may cause irritation of the airway and pose danger in those with respiratory conditions such as asthma.(5)

A few older studies state that applying this oil to the skin can lead to dermatitis and inflammation.(6)

Pregnant females and children should avoid using turpentine oil as not much research is there and can affect their health in long term. Those with lung conditions should not inhale turpentine oil as it can worsen the condition. It can cause spasms of the airways particularly in people with asthma and whooping cough.

Children can be more sensitive to any chemical than adults and it is important that it should be kept away from their reach. It can prove to be fatal if swallowed.

Safe Ways to Use Turpentine Oil

Traditionally turpentine oil is used in the treatment of numerous ailments. There is very little research on its safety and it is highly toxic if ingested.

Applying a very less amount of it on the skin is considered safe.

Always consider doing a patch test before using it anywhere on the skin. Also, it is best to take an opinion of a healthcare professional before using any type of essential oil, especially those taking medication for any health condition. Make sure you follow the direction mentioned by the doctor or the pharmacist before using the product.