Neem oil is a popular natural insecticide and fungicide that has been used for centuries to control plant pests and diseases. While it is generally considered safe for use, there are still some risks associated with handling and using neem oil.
One of the most common questions people have is what happens if you inhale neem oil? In this article, we’ll explore the potential risks and side effects of inhaling neem oil, as well as provide tips on how to safely handle and use this powerful natural remedy.
So, if you’re curious about the effects of neem oil on your respiratory system, keep reading!
What Happens If You Inhale Neem Oil?
Inhaling neem oil can cause irritation to the respiratory system, especially for those who are sensitive to the oil or inhale a large amount of it. While neem oil is not volatile and does not give off fumes, it is still important to take precautions when using it.
If you accidentally inhale a little bit of the spray while applying it, it should not harm you unless you are sensitive to neem or inhale enough to cause irritation by the particles. However, if you inhale a large amount of neem oil mist or dust, it can cause respiratory irritation, coughing, and difficulty breathing.
It is important to note that neem oil has low toxicity via all routes of exposure, including inhalation. This means that while inhaling neem oil can cause irritation, it is unlikely to cause serious harm or toxicity.
What Is Neem Oil And How Is It Used?
Neem oil is a natural pesticide that is derived from the seeds and leaves of the neem tree (Azadirachta indica). It has been used for centuries in tropical forests in Burma, India, and Sri Lanka as a botanical insecticide. With the growing interest in organic and less-toxic pesticide options, neem products have become readily available at most garden centers.
Neem oil can be used for certain insect and fungal disease issues in the garden. It kills insects by suffocating them with oil that blocks their breathing openings, and it is most effective against immature insects. Mature adult insects are not typically killed and may continue to feed and reproduce. Therefore, close monitoring of pest lifecycles is necessary for timing a neem oil application.
Neem oil can also be used to manage some fungal disease issues, such as powdery mildew. It works by preventing the germination and penetration of fungal spores into leaf tissue. However, neem oil won’t “cure” a plant that is already infected with a fungal disease, but it can help limit the spread of the disease to healthy tissue.
Neem oil products are often labeled for a variety of crops such as herbs, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and ornamental plants. Regardless of the type of plant being treated, neem oil can damage plants by burning their foliage. Therefore, it is important not to use it on recent transplants or otherwise stressed plants. Additionally, while plants must be completely covered with neem oil for the pesticide to be effective, it is a good idea to test the product on a small area first to ensure that no toxicity symptoms occur before applying it to the entire plant.
While neem oil has significant insecticidal properties, it also treats bacterial and fungal diseases. Gardeners can also use neem oil to prevent viral disease vectors. While actual anti-viral properties are in question in peer-reviewed studies, it’s easy to see how an integrated pest management strategy that includes neem oil can assist in controlling diseases on ornamental plants, indoor plants, or garden plants in general.
Is Inhaling Neem Oil Harmful?
Inhaling neem oil can be harmful if a person is sensitive to the oil or inhales a large amount of it. The oil can cause respiratory irritation, coughing, and difficulty breathing. However, it is important to note that neem oil has low toxicity via all routes of exposure, including inhalation. This means that while inhaling neem oil can cause irritation, it is unlikely to cause serious harm or toxicity.
It is also important to take precautions when using neem oil to minimize the risk of inhaling it. Applicators should wear protective clothing and avoid spraying in windy conditions. Additionally, it is recommended to avoid spraying near people or animals and to wash hands thoroughly after applying the oil.
Potential Risks And Side Effects Of Inhaling Neem Oil
While neem oil is generally considered safe, there are potential risks and side effects associated with inhaling it. For instance, neem oil can cause irritation to the eyes and skin. This is because azadirachtin, a component of neem oil, can be very irritating to the skin and stomach.
Moreover, inhaling neem oil can also lead to respiratory irritation, coughing, and difficulty breathing. This is particularly true for those who are sensitive to the oil or inhale a large amount of it. It is therefore important to take precautions when using neem oil and to avoid inhaling it as much as possible.
In rare cases, neem oil poisoning can occur in adults. Symptoms of neem oil poisoning include vomiting, seizures, metabolic acidosis, and toxic encephalopathy. However, these cases are rare and most people can use neem oil safely.
It is worth noting that children should not be exposed to neem oil via inhalation or ingestion. Taking neem seeds or oil by mouth is likely unsafe for children and can cause serious side effects such as vomiting, diarrhea, drowsiness, blood disorders, seizures, loss of consciousness, coma, brain disorders, and even death.
How To Safely Handle And Use Neem Oil
To safely handle and use neem oil, it is important to follow the label instructions carefully. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
1. Wear protective clothing: The label may require applicators to wear protective clothing, such as gloves, long-sleeved shirts, and pants. This can help minimize skin contact with the oil.
2. Avoid inhaling neem oil: While neem oil is not volatile and does not give off fumes, it is still important to avoid inhaling the mist or dust. Use a mask or respirator if necessary.
3. Wash hands thoroughly: After using neem oil, wash your hands well with soap and water. This can help prevent accidental ingestion or skin contact.
4. Minimize exposure: Try to minimize your exposure to neem oil by using it in well-ventilated areas and avoiding contact with eyes and mouth.
5. Follow up with reapplication: Neem oil takes time to build up effectiveness, so it is important to follow up with another light application in 7 to 10 days.
6. Wash fruits and vegetables: If you use neem oil on crops that you plan to eat, make sure to wash them thoroughly before consumption.
By following these guidelines, you can safely handle and use neem oil without risking harm to yourself or others.
Other Uses And Benefits Of Neem Oil
Aside from its use as an insecticide, neem oil has a wide range of other uses and benefits. It has been used as a folk remedy for centuries and is known for its many bioactive properties. Neem oil is high in fatty acids, limonoids, vitamin E, triglycerides, antioxidants, and calcium, which make it extremely beneficial for the skin.
Neem oil has been used in beauty regimens and skin care to treat dry skin and wrinkles, stimulate collagen production, reduce scars, heal wounds, treat acne, and minimize warts and moles. It may also be used to treat the symptoms of psoriasis, eczema, and other skin disorders.
In addition to its cosmetic uses, neem oil has been used in traditional medicine to treat various ailments such as fever, coughs, gastrointestinal problems, and infections. It has also been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce swelling and pain.
Furthermore, neem oil is biodegradable and non-toxic, making it an eco-friendly alternative to synthetic pesticides. It does not pollute ground water or cause toxic runoff into streams and nearby bodies of water. Neem oil can be used safely with total peace of mind.