Perhaps you may have seen or heard of the perceived positive health claims of something called food grade hydrogen peroxide (hydrogen peroxide 12%, 17%, or 35%). If you don’t read any further, let us give you our very strong opinion. Don’t buy it! Don’t try it! Don’t bring it in your house! End of discussion. Please read on and you’ll see all the reasons why.
Many people are familiar with the dark brown plastic bottle of hydrogen peroxide in your medicine cabinet; this product is a 3% solution. This antiseptic can be applied to the skin for those scrapes and scratches we’re prone to get. You have probably used it safely as a gargle or mouth rinse. Hydrogen peroxide in low concentrations can also be found in several other items in your home, such as:
- hair products
- laundry stain removers
- toothpaste and other teeth whiteners
Food grade hydrogen peroxide, on the other hand, is a concentrated product that this commercially available. It is intended to be used to clean and disinfect food; however, when it’s use is advocated as a medical remedy, it is supposed to be diluted into much lower concentrations.
While on the Internet searching for medical information, you may have inadvertently stumbled across numerous websites offering a long list of medical ailments that are touted to be treated or cured with peroxide. Just a few examples include arthritis, HIV, cancer, multiple sclerosis and a variety of infections. These websites typically use the term “oxygen therapy” to describe the benefits of hydrogen peroxide. Instructions for administration often include directions to dilute the food grade peroxide with distilled water to a concentration of 3.5% or less — which is equal to or less than what you have in your medicine cabinet already.
So what makes food grade peroxide so dangerous?
- First, we will address the minor toxicity of an accidental ingestion of antiseptic peroxide (the kind you have in your home). If one of your kids were to drink a couple swallows of the antiseptic peroxide, minimal affects will be observed such as nausea with a few episodes of vomiting. If your child were to consume peroxide with concentrations levels of greater than 10%, he/she is at risk for serious injury, even death.
- A common recommendation found on some of these websites, is the instruction to store these products in the refrigerator or freezer, which we find incredibly outrageous. You shouldn’t be surprised that numerous case reports have been published describing unintentional poisoning because adults or children have mistaken one of these containers for water or another beverage.
- At higher concentrations, hydrogen peroxide is a strong “oxidizer” capable of causing severe burns and tissue destruction to anything it comes in contact with, i.e. eyes, skin, and gastrointestinal tract. Even as little as one swallow of food grade peroxide may cause serious injury to the gastrointestinal tract , which is evident by marked abdominal pain, bloating, bloody vomiting and stomach ulcerations and perforations.
- Ingestions or intravenous injection of food grade peroxide can cause life-threatening complications resulting from the formation of oxygen gas bubbles in the blood vessels. This may cause seizures, stroke-like symptoms, irregular heart beat, cardiac arrest, and low blood pressure.
- Another alarming hazard associated with food grade peroxide is that if spilled, and allowed to dry on a combustible surface, it can start a fire. Yikes!
Now that we have described a whole host of terrible things that can happen from just a taste of this product, the question that still lingers –Is food grade peroxide really affective for the purported health claims? According to the FDA, this product is unapproved, illegal, dangerous, and have no proven clinical benefit.
Now you can see why we think the possession of food grade peroxide is so hair-raising. Again, don’t buy it and if you have it, get rid of it! We consider this product so dangerous that ALL calls made to the Illinois Poison Center (IPC) concerning ingestion of food grade peroxide are immediately referred to the nearest emergency room for treatment.
If you have any questions about the safe use or misuse of hydrogen peroxide products, feel free to call the IPC at 1-800-222-1222.
By Tony Burda and Megan Prasse