Vegetable Glycerin Toxicity Used In Herbal Formulas Creates Health Problems

Hello Everyone,                                                       

Byron White

I am often asked about the use of vegetable glycerin in herbal formulas and in food and cosmetics. There are concerns about its use and the following article discusses why we do not use or recommend the use of vegetable glycerin formulas or products.

To your Health- Byron White


Vegetable glycerin is being used as a base and/or extraction method, in some herbal formulas and other products, but is it the best way to go in creating formulas and products?   

In my experience and in research, it is not a suitable option.  Please read on to learn why…


6th of July, 2012:
FDA Notification to Industry
Products using oils, glycerin, or protein that were derived from the Jatropha plant may have toxic effects.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is notifying the regulated community that oils, glycerin, and proteins commonly used in the production of human and animal food, medical products, cosmetics, and other FDA-regulated products may contain toxins if they are derived from the Jatropha plant.


Why BWF’s use grape alcohol instead of vegetable glycerin?

  We use organic grape alcohol in our formulas for several reasons. It is free of toxins and gluten and is well tolerated by sensitive individuals. It also offers excellent extraction of herbs and absorption qualities when the herbal formula is taken internally.

Vegetable glycerin in products can be toxic, made from GMO vegetables (corn and beet are common GMO’s), and have multiple side effects… because of vegetable glycerin’s possible toxicity and side effects as well as clinical experience, we don’t use it in any of our formulas.

In my clinical practice, results are what matter and when we tested vegetable glycerin based formulas with people with chronic illness they ‘never tested well’, often being beyond balance. People would tell us they have allergic or toxic reactions to other formulas with a glycerin base. There are many forms and sources for vegetable based glycerin, some more toxic than others.

Those with Lyme disease and other chronic illness, such as chronic fatigue syndrome, viral infections, chemical sensitivity, liver problems, biotoxins, neurotoxins, environmental illness, mold, fungal and candida may be more prone to reactions.

Vegetable glycerin in my experience is not a good extracting agent for most herbs and does not support the absorption of the herbs in the body as alcohol does. It is most often used in essential oil products and not in herbal formulas for this reason.

We avoided the use of vegetable glycerin in our formulas for these reasons see below…


  •   Some  vegetable glycerin, such as propylene glycol, have been associated with severe side effects.  Kevin Woodward states in his book “Veterinary Pharmacovigilance,” propylene glycol is toxic to dogs, cats, horses, cattle and other animals.
  • Allan B Wolfson and his co-authors, in the book “Harwood-Nuss’ Clinical Practice of Emergency Medicine, say “ingesting propylene glycol at high doses of the substance, can result in central nervous system disorders, renal failure and even fatalities in humans”.

Mucous Membrane Irritant

  •    D. R. Price in the book “Do You Have Kitchen Disease,” states that vegetable glycerin can cause irritation to mucous membranes.
  • Shirley Price and Len Price state in the book,  “Aromatherapy for Health Professionals,” vegetable glycerin irritates the mucous membranes of the genitourinary, respiratory and alimentary tracts, which may cause diarrhea, aches, irritation of the upper airway, wheezing, swelling of the tongue and gastroenteritis.

Genetically Modified (GMO)

Have the vegetables used to make the vegetable glycerin been genetically modified? Often this is not listed on the products, but recommend you find out before ingesting them. GMO’s can be very detrimental to your health and beet and corn are common sources.

Allergic Reactions…

Vegetable glycerin can cause allergic reactions, especially if you are sensitive to oils. Vegetable glycerin compounds can contain sulfides. Sulphides can cause breathing problems, such as asthma. Some products contain preservatives that are added to extend their shelf lives. Other symptoms reported, include itching, nausea, dizziness, diarrhea, shortness of breath and hives.

Skin Reactions

   Vegetable glycerin and glycols are known skin irritants, according to the book “Clinical Practice of Emergency Medicine.” When vegetable glycerin comes in contact with your skin, it can and often does cause skin allergies.”

Other Precautions and concerns:

Vegetable glycerin can irritate your respiratory system and gastrointestinal tract. If inhaled, it can irritate the mucous membranes in the lungs and cause wheezing, swelling of the tongue and upper respiratory tract infections. Does this sound like something you would like to be ingesting or giving to your child?

Oral vegetable glycerin has been known to upset the stomach and result in nausea and contributes to inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, called gastroenteritis. As a practitioner or person using the formula with glycerin, it also makes it more difficult to know what is a reaction coming from the glycerin and what is a response to the formula, not to mention the effects from the toxicity.

In case of severe reactions to vegetable glycerin:

Glycerin can be hidden in your food or personal care products under other names. Suggest avoiding herbal formulas and products containing vegetable glycerin, glyceritol or glycol alcohol.

An allergic reaction can, if vegetable glycerin is taken internally, have more severe symptoms. If you are suffering from an allergic reaction, suggest contacting poison control immediately or head to your nearest emergency room.


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