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Turpentine oil is made from the resin of certain pine trees. It is used as medicine.
Don’t confuse turpentine oil with gum turpentine, which is the resin.
Turpentine oil is applied to the skin for joint pain, muscle pain, nerve pain, and toothaches.
People sometimes breathe in (inhale) the vapors of turpentine oil to reduce the chest congestion that goes along with some lung diseases.
In foods and beverages, distilled turpentine oil is used as a flavoring.
In manufacturing, turpentine oil is used in soap and cosmetics and also as a paint solvent.
How does it work?
Turpentine oil, when inhaled, may help reduce congestion. When used on the skin, turpentine oil may cause warmth and redness that can help relieve pain in the tissue underneath.
Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...
- Toothaches, when applied to the skin.
- Joint, muscle and nerve pain, when applied to the skin.
- Lung problems, when breathed in (inhaled).
- Other conditions.
Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).
Turpentine oil is POSSIBLY SAFE when adults use it on their skin or inhale it appropriately. When used on the skin, it can cause skin irritation. When inhaled, turpentine oil can cause spasms of the airways, particularly in people with asthma and whooping cough.
Turpentine oil is UNSAFE when taken by mouth or used over a large area of skin. Turpentine oil, when taken by mouth, can cause serious side effects including headache, sleeplessness, coughing, bleeding in the lungs, vomiting, kidney damage, brain damage, coma, and death.
Pregnancy and breast-feeding: It is UNSAFE to take turpentine oil by mouth. It might cause a miscarriage. Not enough is known about the safety of putting it on the skin or inhaling it if you are pregnant or breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.
Lung problems, including asthma or whooping cough: Don’t inhale turpentine oil if you have a lung problem. It might make your condition worse.
The appropriate dose of turpentine oil depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for turpentine oil. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.
Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
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Robbers JE, Tyler VE. Tyler's Herbs of Choice: The Therapeutic Use of Phytomedicinals. New York, NY: The Haworth Herbal Press, 1999.