5 Health Benefits (And Serious Risks!) Of Drinking, Ingesting Or Otherwise Consuming Toxic Turpentine

Buzz, Self

Tiffany Haddish swears by it! Should you do the same?

There is no arguing with the fact that comedian and Girls Trip actress Tiffany Haddish is a true delight.

Like, you can try to argue with me about it, but I fully intend to leave the room the moment you start, so consider yourself warned.

Something you can argue about, however, are the assertions Haddish made during a recent interview with GQ, when she touted the bountiful health benefits of turpentine, or more specifically, regularly ingesting a teaspoon of 100% pure gum spirits of turpentine oil — topped off with a sugar, honey or castor oil chaser, of course — which she claims keeps her super duper healthy.

Say what?!

 

RELATED: 6 Health Benefits Of Apple Cider Vinegar (And How To Specifically Use It For Weight Loss)

 

While Haddish herself is alive and doing quite well, her claims about the potential health benefits and healing powers of turpentine are founded in tradition rather than in science.

Various groups of people all over the world have been cited as believing in for centuries past that ingesting "the essential oils of turpentine" will cure all that ails you, including, but surely not limited to: "parasites, cancer cells, pathogenic bacteria, fungus, yeast, rheumatism, MRSA, sciatica, nephritis, constipation, increasing membrane permeability, etc."

Unfortunately, as is the case with many other alternative and naturopathic remedies being trumpeted there, science holds firmly by the stance that the health risks far out weight any possible benefits you might (believe) yourself to glean by ingesting turpentine.

That is to say that when you swallow turpentine, natural substance or not, the dose isn't only not likely to make you any better, but puts you at risk of seriously poisoning yourself.

Here are 5 examples of essential turpentine oil uses as "medicine" along with Haddish's claims about health benefits versus the scientific facts and risks associated with this toxic substance.

1. Some believe turpentine effectively rids your body of worms.

Haddish says: "There’s worms inside your body."

Science says: Okay, brace yourselves ... 90% of the cells that make up the human body are parasites. Every human being, no matter how clean and healthy you are, at any given moment in time has some amount of lice, microbial colonies, and various invisible bugs crawling around and having a mighty fine time living in up in Chez You, and NONE of these microscopic renters need to or should be killed.

As reported by the BBC:

"By far the most numerous inhabitants are the microbial colonies inside the body itself — there are 10 times as many bacterial cells as human cells. Most are crucial for us to break down food into the nutrients we need to survive; these immigrants pay back just as much as we give them."

The demodex spiders living on your facial skin, for example, help keep your pores clear and infection-free!

With the exception of dangerous parasites like hookworms or tapeworms, any naturally occurring worms inside of your body are there to help you not hurt you so please don't chug turpentine to kill them off.

 

2. Some believe turpentine is a natural cure-all for anything from cramps to malaria.

Haddish says: “'Honey ... back during slavery — let me teach you something, okay?' Per Haddish, in the absence of 19th-century medical care, slaves drank turpentine — an oil distilled from pine resin, today commonly used as a paint thinner — as a cure-all for various ailments."

Science says: It's true, during the antebellum era, many slaves were treated with the same medicines used to treat the slaveowner's other property, i.e., livestock. This meant slaves were generally left to care for their ailments as best they could manage on their own, although sometimes, "Some slaveholders purchased medicine for their slaves, including castor oil, quinine, and turpentine."

In oral histories, former slaves reported that they "routinely took these herbal tonics by the teaspoonful. Castor oil, a laxative, was commonly used by slaves, and they kept it on hand at all times, even giving it regularly to their children to purge them of impurities. They used quinine to treat nighttime muscle cramps and malaria, and they used gum turpentine from fir and pine trees in the form of 'spirits' to treat toothaches, chronic bronchitis, and other ills."

While historically accurate, none of this data about these intended uses for turpentine in the past can be reliably considered an indication that the practice is actually safe.

Turpentine, you see, contains hydrocarbons called "terpenes," which are straight up poison, i.e., "If ingested, turpentine is highly toxic and fatal poisonings have been reported in children who have ingested as little as 15 mL [1 tbps] of the material."

 

RELATED: What Happened When I Tried To Drink Lemon Water Every Single Day For 2 Weeks

 

3. Some believe turpentine boosts your physical energy and mental clarity.

Haddish says: “Everything just felt so much better, clarity-wise,” referring to how she felt after trying turpentine her first time.

Science says: While Haddish experienced clear-headedness on her first go-round, one of the possible side effects associated with ingesting turpentine is "dizziness and brain fog."

One online reviewer who shared her own experience giving this remedy a shot noted, "On my third dosage, though, I got the measuring spoons mixed up and not thinking I used a tablespoon of gum spirits. Ended up taking more then a teaspoon but not quite the whole tablespoon. I ended up feeling a little drunk."

And while adult deaths from drinking turpentine are rare, that doesn't make it safe.

Swallowing or breathing in fumes can result in hydrocarbon poisoning, symptoms of which may include:

  • Coughing
  • Choking
  • Fast breathing
  • A burning feeling in the stomach
  • Blue skin (due to low oxygen levels in the blood)
  • Sleepiness
  • Trouble breathing — it can take several hours for this to happen
  • Poor coordination (clumsiness)
  • Seizures (when your body moves or jerks out of your control)
  • Coma (when you’re unconscious and can’t be woken up)

And as far as the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) is concerned, they deem turpentine, “Immediately Dangerous to Life or Health Concentrations.”

This stuff isn't remotely messing around. Even the vapor can irritate your mucus membranes. DO NOT WANT.

 

4. Some believe turpentine is the best possible way to fight the common cold.

Tiffany says: “The government doesn’t want you to know that if you have a cold, just take some turpentine with some sugar or castor oil or honey and it’ll go away the next day.”

Science says: If you have a cold, the government asserts that it prefers you not risk killing yourself.

Instead, they say you should make sure to stay hydrated and use an over-the-counter medication like Tylenol to keep down any fever and to treat aches and pains.

 

5. Some believe turpentine is the BEST way to stay "regular."

Tiffany says: "It will make your body pass 'the best doo-doo of your ... life.'”

Science says: Yup, that's a 10-4. But the stuff isn't detoxing you, unless you count, you know, the turpentine leaving your system as detox.

Turpentine irritates your stomach lining, which in turn can lead to diarrhea.

There are better ways to have a satisfying poop that don't involve doping yourself with literal poison. Just ask the fine folks at MiraLAX.

 

RELATED: 9 Science-Based Reasons You Need More Coconut Oil In Your Life, Stat

 

Rebecca Jane Stokes is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York with her cat, Batman. She hosts the love and dating advice show, Becca After Dark on YourTango's Facebook Page every Tuesday and Thursday at 10:15 pm Eastern. For more of her work, check out her Tumblr.

Author
Blogger