Alpha-thujone is a ketone found in cedarleaf and sage. Beta-thujone is a ketone found in mugwort, sage, hyssop, and tansy.
Many ketones can be toxic internally and topically. Some can be convulsant, toxic to the liver, or neurotoxic in high doses. Do not overuse or use for prolonged periods of time.
- Sage, cedar, thuja, and hyssop essential oil showed convulsant and neurotoxic activity in mice related to the constituents camphor, thujone, thuja, and pinocamphone. From: Millet, Y., Jouglard, J., Steinmetz, M. D., Tognetti, P., Joanny, P., & Arditti, J. (1981). Toxicity of some essential plant oils. Clinical and experimental study. Clinical toxicology, 18(12), 1485-1498.
- Toxic induced seizures from the following plants was reported: eucalyptus, fennel, hyssop, pennyroyal, rosemary, sage, savin, tansy, thuja, turpentine, and wormwood. Ketone constituents including camphor, pinocamphone, thujone, cineole, pulegone, sabinylacetate, and fenchone were mentioned. From: Burkhard, P. R., Burkhardt, K., Haenggeli, C. A., & Landis, T. (1999). Plant-induced seizures: reappearance of an old problem. Journal of neurology, 246(8), 667-670.
- The study recommends an acceptable daily intake of thujone to be 0.11 mg/kg bw/day. This is a very small amount; do not ingest essential oils containing thujone. From: Lachenmeier, D. W., & Uebelacker, M. (2010). Risk assessment of thujone in foods and medicines containing sage and wormwood–evidence for a need of regulatory changes?. Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology, 58(3), 437-443.
Links to Plants Containing Thujone
The listings of research below represents a compilation of scientific articles found on the topic, with a very brief overview description of each article/study. This compilation of research articles does not necessarily imply that there are adequate results to demonstrate safe and/or effective human use of any herb listed.
- Salvia fructicosa essential oil and its isolated components thujone and 1,8-cineole exhibited antimicrobial activity against eight bacterial strains, and the oil showed antiviral and cytotoxic capabilities. From: Sivropoulou, A., Nikolaou, C., Papanikolaou, E., Kokkini, S., Lanaras, T., & Arsenakis, M. (1997). Antimicrobial, cytotoxic, and antiviral activities of Salvia fructicosa essential oil. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 45(8), 3197-3201.
- Essential oils of sage, rosemary, thyme, juniper, pine, turpentine, and eucalyptus and their constituents of thujone, eucalyptol, camphor, borneol, thymol, alpha-pinene, beta-pinene, bornylacetate, and menthol inhibited bone resorption. From: Mühlbauer, R. C., Lozano, A., Palacio, S., Reinli, A., & Felix, R. (2003). Common herbs, essential oils, and monoterpenes potently modulate bone metabolism. Bone, 32(4), 372-380.
By: Kathy Sadowski