The safest, most effective therapies for optimal health!

by Ellen Landauer

Are Terpenes
Bad For You?

Are terpenes bad for you?

These compounds serve roles in plant metabolic function. There are over 30,000 terpenes in varying quantities and combinations throughout the plant realm.

are terpenes bad for you?

PHOTO ABOVE: Are terpenes bad for you?

Limonene in lemons is just one of tens of thousands of varieties of this compound. ALL plants, including the cilantro and greens in the drink above, contain them, along with other plant toxins - oxalates and furanocoumarins, etc.

Are terpenes bad for you?

ALL plants contain them. Most people are consuming them every day in the form of herbs and plant-based foods. They are abundant in numerous herbs touted as beneficial for humans: boswellia serrata, frankincense derived from boswellia serrata tree - in the form of resin or oils - as in 'essential oils (which are NOT in any respect essential for humans or animals). Commonly consumed herbs containing this compound are myrrh, rosemary, turmeric, cannabis, savory and cumin.

Many fruits, vegetables and seeds also contain considerable amounts of terpenes (see food list below). There are literally tens of thousands of varieties of terpenes (note in excerpt below that strychnine, a deadly poison, is among them):

'Examples include monoterpenes, sequiterpenes, diterpenes and triterpenes found in floral and vegetative parts (e.g. menthol, artemisinin, taxol), triterpenoids and carotenoids (e.g. steroidal alkaloids, cardenolides and bixin) (Fig. 3). Other compounds are partially derived from a terpene starter, such as monoterpenoid alkaloids (e.g. strychnine, vinblastine), which are synthesized in part from secologanin (Fig. 3), a member of the widespread class of iridoid monoterpenes (Geu-Flores et al., 2012). A variety of other specialized metabolites exist to which a prenyl unit is added, and then sometimes further modified and even degraded, such as the polyketides humulone and THC, and the coumarin psoralen (Fig. 4).'  (1)

Are Terpenes Bad For You?
What Are They?

Part of the answer to the question, 'are terpenes bad for you?' lies in their biological make-up. They are derived from plant resins (tar-like substance).

'Pitch is another example of a terpene mixture of long-term importance. This sticky substance – which is the residue of the terpene exudate of diverse trees that is left after the volatile terpenes have evaporated from it – has been used to waterproof boats, ships and other structures (Langenheim, 2003). Rubber, a natural terpene polymer, is an essential component in mechanized transport systems, as well as many other technological devices.' (2)

Taxol, derived from resins of the Pacific Yew tree, taxus brevifolia, is the variety of terpene compound in Tamoxifen, a drug promoted to breast cancer patients as a 'natural' treatment. This drug is just one example of a terpene product that is not safe just because it is from a plant.

Patients rated this drug overall a '2' out of '5,' with 5 being excellent and 1 indicating worst effects. Some patients were taking only 10 mg!  (3)

Are Terpenes Bad For You? Research is Misleading

Are terpenes bad for you? Due to direct experience of how deadly these plant-derived concentrates are, I have done intensive research to discover the truth about them.

The mistake I made at the beginning of my research was to try to find info on side effects of terpenes in herbs.

No luck! To ask 'are terpenes bad for you' is apparently pretty much forbidden by the health dictocrats. It took a very deep search to dig up any research that voiced real concerns.

EVERY article alluded to impressive (on the surface of it) benefits of boswellia and other herbs for humans with arthritis, cancer and other health issues. HOWEVER, when you look at the research, there are flaws. For example, the claim that frankincense oil kills cancer cells...

Yes, frankincense oil probably does kill cancer cells. Here's how they determined that.

They put breast cancer or other cancer cells in a petri dish (in vitro experiment) and bomb the hell out of them with potent frankincense oil. The cells die. From this, they extrapolate that frankincense will kill cancer in vivo (in your body), thus effecting a 'cure.'

So, for example, if you put some cancer cells in a petri dish and add Clorox and the cancer cells die, does that make Clorox a cancer cure?

Where is similar in vitro research on what frankincense oil and other similar compounds would do if you put them in a petri dish with healthy living cells from human tissue? Would it also kill those cells??


Are Terpenes Bad For You? Sketchy Research

Are terpenes bad for you? Research is not properly controlled...

In research touted as valid, they give cancer patients oral frankincense oil and come up with results that say the patients improved. BUT - what ELSE did these patients change in their protocols? How controlled were the studies? How long did they follow the test subjects? Three weeks? Two months? Five years? What exactly were the 'improvements' and how lasting?? Did they simply ASK the patients how they felt? (Can you say 'placebo effect?').

Were there any studies that showed NO improvements?

What variables were figured into the research?? Most people eat a lot of processed foods; then they get cancer and eat a lot LESS processed foods. Maybe they reduce stress and do some exercise. Were such changes taken into account?? So, despite taking an essential oil that is a toxin, they improve and the 'research' attributes it to the frankincense or other herb. You see how this works?

It is very difficult to when doing a search for 'frankincense oil dangers/side effects' to find ANY article that does not give a glowing report of health benefits and a little lip service to a few minor side effects they claim are 'rare.' No, not rare!

The same holds true for most ANY herb you may research.

Are Terpenes Bad For You? Essential Oils...

Are terpenes bad for you? Essential oils contain enormous amounts of them and are another example of products whose dangers are minimized and glossed over. With deep search, I was able to find info that gave the lie to the glowing reports and copious assurances by media that they are quite safe and beneficial (bolding below my emphasis):

'Many people think essential oils are harmless because they are natural and have been used for a long time. In some cases, that is simply not true. Many essential oils can cause rashes if used on the skin. Many can be poisonous if absorbed through the skin or swallowed. Few have been tested like medicines have, even though people put them in their mouths, on their skin, and in their children’s vaporizers. Aspirating an essential oil can cause pneumonia; this can happen if someone tries to swallow it, but chokes so that a little goes into the lungs.' (4)

Another example of misleading research:

"Conclusion: Peppermint (Mentha piperita) essential oil with high levels of menthol/menthone and characteristic in vitro cholinergic inhibitory, calcium regulatory and GABAA/nicotinic receptor binding properties, beneficially modulated performance on demanding cognitive tasks and attenuated the increase in mental fatigue associated with extended cognitive task performance in healthy adults. Future investigations should consider investigating higher doses."  (5)

NOTE on the above: When confronted with a sudden, acute emergency situation, our cognitive processing naturally goes into hyperdrive. The response to the peppermint essential oil in this experiment is no different; when a sudden influx of toxic material with stimulant properties gets into the body, the body goes into emergency mode. The above experiment is no proof that this essential oil is good for humans.

Terpenes Side Effects

'Pathophysiology: Terpenes are local irritants and thus are capable of causing GI signs and symptoms. CNS (central nervous system) manifestations may range from an altered mental status to seizures to coma. Aspiration (into lungs) is a particular concern and can result in long-term complications or fatality.

'Absorption begins in the oral cavity and is rapid, as evidenced by the early onset of toxicity in significant ingestions. Terpenes are metabolized through cytochrome P450 and are excreted as conjugated metabolites by the kidney.'  (6)

'In high concentrations, terpenes can relax the blood vessel walls and cause hypotension (low blood pressure) and dizziness. Concentrated forms can be toxic to our cells — causing irritation, pain, inflammation, and more.'

' pure form, all of these terpenes can trigger rhinitis or asthma attacks in people with seasonal respiratory problems or induce contact dermatitis.'

'The commercial cleaning solvents, Turpentine®, as well as Pinesol®, are made from terpenes extracted from pine wood. These products contain high concentrations of pinene, camphene, and terpinolene. This highly concentrated form irritates the mucous membranes and triggers headaches, nausea, confusion, dizziness, and shortness of breath.'

'...terpenes may repel insect pests like lice, but they can also cause eye, nose, and throat irritations.

'Cicutoxin is a toxic terpene produced by water hemlock. This terpene disrupts the way the brain and the spinal cord normally function. Not only can it cause convulsions, but it can also cause respiratory paralysis.

'The daisy family produces a type of toxic terpene called atractyloside. While this is considered a medicinal herb, high concentrations can result in acute renal failure and acute liver damage. (emphasis mine - how insane is it to consider such a compound for 'medicinal' use)?

'Daphnetoxin is a terpene exclusively found in the Thymelaeaceae plant family. This terpene has the potential to cause diarrhea as well as lung damage that can lead to emphysema.'  (7)

Terpenes Food and Herbs List

Are terpenes bad for you? Various commonly consumed foods contain them:

Mangoes - contain myrcene

Apples - terpinolene, alpha-farnesene

All citrus fruits - limonene

Basil, rosemary, cinnamon, oregano, thyme, lavender, and peppermint, spearmint, sage, black pepper - beta-caryophyllene

Cloves - Eugenol, beta-caryophyllene

Broccoli - beta-caryophyllene

Tea tree oil -  terpene hydrocarbons, monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes

ALL essential oils contain high amounts of a multitude of terpenes.









Ellen Landauer is an expert with over 40 years in-depth study and experience of the safe and effective use of nutritional supplements, botanical extracts and detoxification methods.

She is Certified as an Advanced Practitioner of Structural Integration body therapy developed by Dr. Ida P. Rolf - also known as Rolfing. This hands-on therapy is the deepest, most comprehensive body alignment therapy. 

Ellen Landauer is also a  PUBLISHED AUTHOR!

To learn more about Ellen Landauer, see her detailed bio HERE


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