Side effects when breathing neem oil

by Jeanine Giardina
(Los Angeles, CA, USA)

What are the side effects of breathing neem oil after spraying the garden? I've been told that breathing neem oil can cause lightheadedness and dizziness. Please advise how it adversely affects humans when breathing it.

Thank you.

PS.: I wasn't able to find the answer through your website.

Comments for Side effects when breathing neem oil

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Spraying neem oil
by: Birgit

If you read that warning on a bottle of a ready made spray it might have been because the spray contained other chemicals as well. Many garden sprays have neem oil as one ingredient, to give it some "green" image, but they also contain chemicals that you'd better not inhale.

I imagine another reason for the funny feeling of lightheadedness or dizziness could be a simple lack of oxygen. You should not inhale any oily spray droplets, no matter what oil. It would certainly lead to some mechanical irritation of the lungs.

If you used pure oil you also used detergent I assume. Detergent is also not something that you want in contact with the tiny alveoles in your lungs.

Ok, the below assumes that you do NOT show an allergic kind of reaction to neem. Allergies/sensitivities are rare but they exist and most problems with neem are due to such a sensitivity.

Neem oil is not volatile and does not give off fumes. You might smell it but you do not usually inhale the oil. If you inhaled a little of the spray itself while you spray it should not harm you unless you belong to the people who show a senistivity to neem or you inhale enough to cause irritation by the particles.

See the page about the safety considerations when spraying neem. I don't address inhalation itself because it usually isn't an issue, but even from the points I do address you can see that as long as you use pure neem oil (diluted in water with an appropriate detergent/soap) there usually is nothing to worry about.

You can spray yourself with the stuff if you like or bathe in it. It's only a 1% or 2% watery solution after all. It shouldn't hurt you. In fact, it's good for your skin.

But do read the fine print on the container if you buy ready made garden sprays. Who knows what might be in them! And do keep in mind that coating your lungs with (i.e. inhaling) any kind of oil or detergent is definitely not a good thing to do!

Side effects of inhaling neem spray
by: DEE

Sorry, but I have to differ with your opinion. Every time (once a week) that I spray the greenhouse plants with neem at the recommended solution level, my lungs have rebelled violently.

Over my mouth and nose I have tried a single layer of fabric, a double layer of fabric, and a regular (commercial) anti-pollution mask to avoid the worst of the spray, all to no avail. Last night, after trying once more in the morning to spray without having a bad reaction, I was awake all night struggling to breathe around the apparent build-up of mucous and/or coating of oil in my lungs.

Today, I have been coughing like crazy to rid myself of whatever is blocking my airways and preventing comfortable intake of oxygen. At one point I was ready to pick up the phone to call 911 because I couldn't get enough O2 to keep from blacking out. The product is regular neem oil with nothing added which our master gardener gets from an organic gardening source, prepared at the rate of one T per gallon of water.

Needless to say, someone else is taking over that job.

To anyone who has had adverse affects to inhalation.
by: Christopher Rowe

As with any substance that is atomized in the air micro particles of the substance has the potential to enter into your airways.

Most of the time our lungs metabolize the particles, however tests have shown that particles 2.5 Microns(PM2.5)in size can begin the subject into wheezing and coughing through a triggered, automatic response.

At this point its hard to say whether its the Neem Oil causing the effects or simply the size of the particles you inhaled.

Whether it be Neem Oil, cooking oil, smoke, or dust the effects can be the same, once the particle is large enough to trigger that coughing response.

There are many other factors that can also cause this response. If the particle, regardless of size, has any kind of inflammatory response to the tissues in the airways it too can cause a response.

Also the most common issue being allergic reaction. Neem Oil is a natural plant based oil with many types of chemicals contained within it that makes it do what it does so well.. If any one of those chemicals does not bode well with your physiology then you may experience the same result.

Take precautions and wear a certified respirator or filtered breathing apparatus when spraying, if you still have a breathing issue its possible the reaction could be trans-dermal, though more unlikely.

Inhaling Neem Mist
by: RNDeb

I thank you all for your comments on this subject.

I was looking for answers for a couple of reasons and believe I have my answer. As for the person who has such a bad reaction to neem spray, it definitely sounds like an allergic reaction. Might be best to get someone else to do your spraying if at all possible. As a medical professional I believe an ounce of preventive maintenance is worth more than a pound of cure!

by: Anonymous

I usually use the neem oil on my dogs for fleas and mosquitoes and it seems to help. I usually bath them first then apply the oil once they are somewhat dry but for some reason I always feel light headed afterwards so I don't know if I will continue to use it.

by: DEE

Well, a week after writing the comments about breathing difficulties, after a week of worsening breathing problems, I had a heart attack. Was it caused by neem? I doubt it. Was it aggravated by limited O2 uptake due to large droplets and/or allergen-triggered mucous formation in my lungs? Probably. Before you react, here is this year's report: I tried spraying the greenhouse tomatoes again for about 20 minutes, being careful to keep the spray localized on the plants and avoiding contact. 10 minutes later I was wheezing and coughing; this afternoon I am doing deep breathing exercises in the fresh salt air to maintain a respectable O2 level, coughing all the while. No more spraying for me... unless, as the expert says, I invest in a heavy-duty respirator!

by: XYZ

I am having small round rashes on my stomach & hand parts. It looks like chapped skin. My doctor gave me Aloevera gel & other cream to apply. But it was no use. Then I decided to take neem leaves in the morning on an empty stomach. The rashes reduced within 2 days. After seeing this result I decided to take neem leaves after food also, this led to cold & asthma.

It also made me difficult to breathe also. So I stopped taking neem leaves. But I have no problem when taking it on an empty stomach? Any advice is welcome.

by: Anonymous

Neem oil is not toxic at all. People in India are using it for centuries. It has many application and in lot of medicinal use. Breathing neem oil will not make you dizzy.

Inhaling Neem accidentally while spraying plants
by: Anonymous

I was not careful enough while spraying Neem on some cucumber bugs. While spraying away from myself, a draft of wind turned the spray toward me and I inhaled some very quickly. The next day I was having lung problems and would cough on exercising , singing, trying to hold my breath, or if I suddenly laughed hard, a choking kind of cough. Eventually a CAT scan was done which showed extensive inflammation of my lungs. This condition persisted 5 months and was not helped by taking an antibiotic course. It seems somewhat improved, but will be going to an allergist in 6 days just to see what she thinks. Barbara

Neem Oil Effects
by: Anonymous

Sprayed citrus trees and inhaled sprayed particulates. I now breathe as if I have asthma or emphysema. I can't be active for anytime more than 10 -15 minutes. Breathing labored to a point of being an invalid. It continues throughout entire day. Is there any info that can help reverse the symptoms?

Response to inhaled in Citrus grove:
by: Anonymous

What my friends and I have done: inhale a big breath of clean air and cough once as deeply as you can. Repeat a couple of times. Take a few cleansing breaths (see any Yoga literature), repeat every couple of hours for a few days. In other words, you are cleaning your lungs out. Be careful to 1) avoid hyperventilation, 2) avoid inhaling any more particulates for a while, and 3) avoid coughing so hard that you irritate your throat and airways.

Neem and breathing
by: Anonymous

I use neem and simple soap and sometimes Rosemary. Consistently, I have severe mucous build up and have terrible breathing problems.

I am athletic, run 6-10 miles a week and now have to have an inhaler when I garden or else I can't breathe.

Sure there is pollen in the garden and I am sure this contribute, but while neam is organic and used in India and the US, it does affect everyone differently.

An Asthma Sufferer
by: Anonymous

I had to use Neem oil recently, and the fumes got in the house. I have asthma and was not directly affected, so good news.

Those who suffered the vapor/droplet problem and it persisted, ask your doctor for what asthma patients use when the paroxysms are really bad, a SHORT course of prednisone. 5 days is NOT bad and it will reduce inflammation.

PURE Neem oil, or with additives?
by: n8tive and PROUD!

After reading all of the comments, I did not see one question in regards to the purity of the Neem oil being used or in question.
Neem purchased from your hardware/garden store is NOT pure. There are additional ingredients and additives (read the label).
PURE Neem oil can be purchased from a vitamin or health food store.
I have severe allergies, asthma, heart disease, COPD. I use Neem oil for insect control. I have used it in closed areas, had it blow back upon me in the wind, get my arms and hands covered with the stuff while spraying..

I don't have any immediate or delayed symptoms after any use of Neem.

Perhaps the above reactions are due to other INGREDIENTS, underlying and unaware health issues? You check the labels on what you eat, check them also on what you expose yourself to!

Breathing Difficulties Caused By Neem Oil
by: Anonymous

After extensive spraying with neem oil I have experienced mucous build-up and breathing difficulties. I was not wearing a mask or respirator. Symptons are similar to pneumonia. I was inadvertently sprayed in the face numerous times. I experienced a slight burning in my eyes but didn't really worry about it too much because I was told that it is safe. The following day my respiratory issues began. It has been a week with only minimal signs of improvement. I have no allergies that I am aware of. I was in perfect health before the exposure to neem oil. While the oil itself may not be toxic I am convinced that breathing the fine particles is the cause of my respiratory problems. Please do not be lulled into a false sense of security by those with a vested interest in promoting this product.

Neem oil
by: Anonymous

After conducting an inhouse pest extermination with neem oil spray, within a short time starting getting light headed, dry reaching and felt like i was going to pass out. I decided to stay clear of the house for 24hours. My health returned to normal. I read from a medical journal a man being taken to the emergency ward after drinking 20ml of Neem oil ending in convulsions but did return to normal health. Follow the return to my house I am still encountering the feeling of nausea and light headedness in my house and when leaving the house symptoms disappearing after a couple of hours. It really has me scratching my head. I've read that the potency of neem oil starts to deteriorate in soil up to 44 days in water its reduced considerably. I assume on household items that the potency will decrease over time. The house is an uncomfortable place at the moment, I believe that it is something i'm touching and absorbing into my skin (not inhaling. I am also assuming that this is not a normal occurence in people in general and that my system may be intolerant to neem oil (Bunnings product). I've decided to wipe down the furniture with detergent which emulifies oils and hopefully break down whatever potency that is left. Any thoughts and suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Are You Using ORGANIC Neem Oil?
by: Anonymous

Is this referring to organic Neem oil OR Neem oil added to other ingredients? Read the bottle and see if it is natural and no other things you cannot pronounce.

side effects of breathing pure neem oil
by: Anonymous

Breathing pure neem oil does not causes dizzines. Its odour is not pleasant to many people, just get material saftey data online, that will give you information.

Neem almost killed me
by: Former Marine

I can handle some chemicals but neem oil nearly killed me. The local Indian store sold it. The neem was thick, greenish and smelled strong. Information said it was helpful for skin so I was using it on my feet. No problem. But once I had it on my hands and decided to use it on my face and neck I had a severe allergic reaction. A rash broke out on my calves, forearms, face and neck. I could not swallow because of the thickness in my throat from tasting the neem oil. I laid in bed and could not swallow. It hurt so bad I was trying to get up out of bed but just lay there wondering if this was going to be it. That lasted all night. My skin rashed up terribly and I was itching and scratching. 2 weeks later it's just now going away. I threw away the bottle of neem oil. I am allergic to it.

good stuff, but... NEW
by: Anonymous

The neem formulation I used irritates my lungs and throat. It dried very sticky on my hands, so I imagine it's very bad to get your lungs gummed up with it, beyond any chemical effect

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