Carrot seed oil -- made from the seeds of the wild carrot plant -- is a different substance from carrot oil, which is extracted from the root. Carrot seed oil is used topically to rejuvenate skin; it has also been utilized internally in folk medicine. Although carrot seed oil has shown beneficial effects in animal studies, clinical trials are lacking. The risks of carrot oil involve the minute amounts of myristicin -- a psychoactive agent -- in the oil. At recommended dosages, myristicin should present no problem. Consult your doctor before using carrot seed oil.
Carrot seed oil is extracted through steam distillation from the seeds of the wild carrot, an annual or biennial herb botanically known as Daucus carota. Wild carrot grows as a roadside weed in temperate parts of the United States, and features feathery leaves; a flat, lacy-looking flower cluster; and a fibrous, inedible root. The orange-brown, sweet-smelling oil currently is used as a fragrance in soaps and cosmetics, as well as a flavoring agent in candies, beverages and baked goods. Carrot seed oil was traditionally used to lower blood pressure, protect the liver, treat cancer and heart disease, and relieve gas and bloating.
Chemical Makeup and Effects
Carrot seed oil contains up to 13 percent alpha-pinene and up to 18 percent carotol. Other contents include daucol, limonene, beta-bisabolene, eugenol, vanillin, various terpenoids, coumarin, and palmitic and butyric acids. Drugs.com -- which provides peer-reviewed medical information to consumers -- credits carrot seed oil with smooth-muscle relaxant action, as well as the ability to protect the liver, dilate blood vessels and lower blood pressure in animal studies. The website adds that carrot seed oil contains a hallucinogen called myristicin, and cautions that ingesting large amounts could cause neurological effects, including hallucinations. Dermaxime.com, a skin care website, endorses carrot seed oil to stimulate cell growth and rejuvenate aged, dehydrated and damaged skin.
In a study published in 2003 in "Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry," researchers found that myristicin -- also found in nutmeg -- had an extraordinarily potent protective effect on mouse livers, accomplished by inhibiting TNF-alpha release from macrophages. In a toxicological evaluation of myristicin published in 1997 in "Natural Toxins," the authors reported that the toxicity of myristicin appeared to be low, with no toxic effects observed in rats at a dose of 4 mg per pound of body weight. Noting that 6 to 7 mg of myristicin can cause intoxication in humans, the researchers thought it unlikely that intake of myristicin from essential oils would cause adverse effects. They added that more studies would be necessary before making a complete risk assessment.
Usage and Considerations
Myristicin in large amounts can cause delirium, disorientation and hallucinations. However, it would be necessary to ingest large amounts of carrot seed oil to be affected by myristicin. Economypoint.org advises no more than 3 to 4 drops three times a day to support a healthy liver. Consult your doctor before taking carrot seed oil, and don't take it if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Don't exceed recommended dosages of carrot seed oil.