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Essential oil poisoning: N-acetylcysteine for eugenol-induced hepatic failure and analysis of a national database

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We present a 15-month-old boy who developed fulminant hepatic failure after ingesting 10 ml of clove oil. After 24 h, the ALT level was in excess of 13,000 U/l, with blood urea and creatinine of 11.8 mmol and 134 µmol/l respectively. The hepatic impairment resolved after intravenous administration of N-acetylcysteine so that 6 h later, the ALT level was approximately 10,000 U/l. His liver synthetic function and clinical status improved over the next 4 days. This is the first such case report of its kind in Europe. Analysis of a national database revealed a 14-fold increase in home accidents related to aromatherapy from 1994–1999. Clove oil has important hepatotoxic effects. Conclusion:Recent growth in aromatherapy sales has been accompanied by an unfortunate increase in accidental poisoning from these products. Clove oil warrants special attention. Ingesting as little as 10 ml causes hepatotoxicity which can be treated with N-acetylcysteine.

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Fig. 1



home accident surveillance system


disseminated intravascular coagulation


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We thank Dr Derek Johnston for his permission to report this case.

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Correspondence to Simon E. J. Janes.

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Janes, S.E.J., Price, C.S.G. & Thomas, D. Essential oil poisoning: N-acetylcysteine for eugenol-induced hepatic failure and analysis of a national database. Eur J Pediatr 164, 520–522 (2005).

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