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Toxicol Lett. 2004 Dec 30;154(3):217-24.

Toxicity studies on western juniper oil (Juniperus occidentalis) and Port-Orford-cedar oil (Chamaecyparis lawsoniana) extracts utilizing local lymph node and acute dermal irritation assays.

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Department of Biomedical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Oregon State University, 208 Dryden Hall, 450 SW 30th Street, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA.


The essential oil extracts of western juniper oil (Juniperus occidentalis) and Port-Orford-cedar oil (Chamaecyparis lawsoniana) were evaluated for possible dermal toxic effects on mice and rabbits. Mice were tested for their response to both extracts utilizing a local lymph node assay. Western juniper oil extract at 0.5% and 5% concentrations did not show a stimulation index (SI) greater than normal (3.0); however, a 50% concentration did show a positive response at 3.3. Port-Orford-cedar oil extract did not show a positive response at concentrations of 0.5%, 5% or 50%. An acute dermal irritation study using rabbits had a primary irritation index (PII) of 3.3 with 100% Port-Orford-cedar oil extract. This was reduced to a PII of 0.625 when diluted 1:1 with olive oil. Undiluted western juniper oil extract had a PII score of 2.7. While a 5.0% solution had a PII score of 0.3, a 0.5% solution of western juniper oil was a non-irritant. It would appear that animals bedded on wood shavings have contact with essential oils at concentrations far less than the 2% maximum by weight obtained by steam distillation extraction. These concentrations did not elicit a hypersensitivity response.

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