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Read the label. It doesn’t list any health benefits. It says harmful or fatal if swallowed.


Turpentine is a solvent and a poison, but some people are drinking it as a medicine. Scott Gavura wrote about it 2 years ago and concluded, “There’s no reason to consume turpentine and multiple reasons to avoid it completely, with the primary reason being that it’s a poison.”

Scott’s article mentioned an MD who advocates turpentine to cure the fake illness chronic Candida, and who had been stripped of her license. That MD was Jennifer Daniels. It would be bad enough if she only recommended it for Candida, but she also claims to have discovered that turpentine is the Fountain of Youth, a miracle cure that reverses disease and aging and is good for pretty much whatever ails you. That’s ludicrous.

The facts

The Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database (which I consider to be the most reliable source) says, “There is insufficient reliable information” to evaluate its effectiveness for any medical use. It rates turpentine as “possibly safe” when used topically and appropriately, “possibly unsafe” when applied to large areas of skin, and “likely unsafe” when used orally for medicinal purposes; 2 ml/kg is toxic, and 120-180 ml is potentially lethal in adults.

The NMCD goes on to explain that turpentine is a central nervous system depressant, a pulmonary aspiration hazard, a skin irritant, and might cause abortions. It can have a decongestant effect when inhaled. Many adverse reactions are reported from ingestion, including headache, insomnia, coughing, vomiting, hematuria, albuminuria, urinary tract inflammation, coma, and death. Inhalation can cause inflammation and bronchial spasms. Applying it to the skin can lead to kidney and central nervous system damage.

A drug information website has an extensive monograph on turpentine. It says, “Turpentine has been used experimentally in a bath for the treatment of disseminated sclerosis and sexual dysfunction. It also has been studied for its antibacterial activity and inhibition of osteoclast activity. Turpentine is utilized in experimental models of inflammation to induce a systemic inflammatory immune response in animals.” It warns against using it during pregnancy and lactation, stresses that it is highly toxic (fatal poisonings have occurred with ingestion of as little as 15 mL, just 3 teaspoonsful) and has caused skin tumors in animals. It provides a bibliography with pertinent citations.

The discovery

Jennifer Daniels tells the story of her discovery in a radio interview. She asked her African-American patients if their slave ancestors had a miracle cure that cured everything and was cheap; several of them mentioned turpentine and sugar. So she tried it for herself. She put turpentine on 3 sugar cubes and washed them down. Right after ingesting it, she says:

I think my IQ went up like 50 points, I could just feel it, all this mental energy and understanding and clarity, just like when I was 10 years old, everything was very clear and focused. I said WOW what a feeling. I did some math problems, I said this is pretty good.

She had heard that turpentine could cause seizures, so she figured out the maximum safe dose by stopping at a dose where she felt a little twitch, “even softer than a twitch.” Then she gave it to her mother, who began to feel better in less than a minute (!). It relieved pains that her mother had had for 30 years. Other family members served as guinea pigs and appeared to benefit. So with no further ado, Daniels started using it on all her patients.

The published evidence she relies on

In that same interview, Daniels talks about a review article from France with 100 references that supposedly support the use of turpentine for parasites, cancer cells, pathogenic bacteria, fungus, yeast, rheumatism, MRSA, sciatica, nephritis, constipation, increasing membrane permeability, etc. It doesn’t say what she thinks it says.

Using turpentine: The treatment plan

First you have to hydrate. Then you have to have three bowel movements a day, which you can supposedly achieve by taking her Vitality Capsules, which (unlike everything else on earth) contain “no chemicals.” If you don’t have three bowel movements a day, the Candida can’t get out of your body and will “shift through your left hip to your right hip, your right hip to your stomach, and your stomach to your shoulder. It’s gonna play musical chairs all over your body.” Then you have to follow her diet instructions (organic, no GMOs, no “dead food,” and many more restrictions). Only then can you do the Candida Cleanse.

She says you must avoid steroids, antibiotics, and chemotherapy, because they prevent cell repair and yeast will move in to eat up the dead cells. She advises patients to stop all their medications if they can (potentially dangerous advice).

She says in the last days of her practice, she stopped using antibiotics. She would not admit seriously ill patients with pneumonia to the hospital, but would dose them with turpentine and send them home. She thinks children with high fevers will recover in less than 24 hours if given turpentine. When her daughter badly injured her ankle, she gave her a teaspoon of turpentine and ¼ cup of castor oil. “She drank it, she pooped, all the pain was gone.”

More strange and unsupported claims

  • “Liver time is 1-3 AM; lung time is 3-5 AM.”
  • “Vitality Capsules clean out the bile ducts and the gall bladder system as well as the small intestine, large intestine, and it also promotes circulation.”
  • Children should start getting turpentine in castor oil when they reach 30 pounds, to prevent Candida and parasites.
  • You should keep taking turpentine at least once a month for the rest of your life.
  • Turpentine improves eyesight; users were able to throw away their reading glasses.
  • “if I want thicker hair and less gray hair, then I’m gonna use minerals, small willow flower, and shou wu.”
  • Turpentine improves diabetes by healing the pancreas. It will allow Type I diabetics to lower their insulin dose.
  • It resolves tinnitus.

To her credit, she does get a few things right; for instance, she realizes that “rope worms” are not actually worms. On the other hand, she is anti-vaccine: “There is no vaccine or injection Dr. Daniels recommends.”

A spy troll is shocked

David McAfee infiltrated the closed 640-member Facebook group “Parasites cause all disease – turpentine cure” and was appalled at what he found. People were seeking support for the horrible side effects they were experiencing from turpentine. They were hoping to cure everything from scabies to herpes to “electromagnetic hypersensitivity.”

One woman who was using turpentine and castor oil complained that when she did enemas a lot of red liquid came out. Another list member told her not to worry because it was probably just old and damaged intestine wall coming out!

Some of the comments following McAfee’s exposé article were amusing:

  • “Sometimes you just roll your eyes, mutter darwinism to yourself and move on.”
  • “I’m a believer in alternative medicine-trust me, these people aren’t into alternative, they are idiots. Anyone with half a brain knows not to ingest a solvent. Dear god, where does this stupidity come from?”
  • “There is in my family a story about the medical use of turpentine. It dates from the time of my grand-father or great-grand-father. It was suggested as a topical treatment for hemorrhoids. It was not suggested in good faith. Folks could have a very crude sense of humor in those days too.”

What about science?

Daniels is a graduate of Harvard and of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. Surely she learned about science at those prestigious Ivy League schools. One can only wonder how she came to disregard science and go her own way. She says she reads research studies but does not believe them: “I’m not much of a fan of research because every research project I’ve been involved with, I’ve been asked to falsify data.” That certainly is an unusual experience, and I can’t help but wonder if she reported the fraud/misconduct. She could have had a great career as a whistleblower.

Her words and actions show that she does not think like a scientist. Here are just a few revelations from her Confidential Underground Report: Top Secret; The Candida Cleanser.

  • She assumed the existence of some folk remedy that was a miracle cure that would cure everything. Considering all the many different causes of different illnesses, this is not a reasonable assumption.
  • She experimented on herself and assumed that the dose that seemed to work for her would work for everyone. If that were true, drug companies could dispense with phase 2 trials and just give the drug to one person.
  • She describes immediate results, too soon for a medication to be absorbed and have any effect; she doesn’t recognize that this is almost certainly a placebo response.
  • She doesn’t put her belief that turpentine is effective to any kind of test.
  • She wonders how long you could take it every day without experiencing side effects. So she takes it daily for a week, notices no adverse effects, and says “I decided that was long enough for the purposes of science.” Wow! Wouldn’t Big Pharma love to hear that all they needed to do to demonstrate the safety of their drugs to the FDA was to have one person take a drug for a week and say they hadn’t noticed any symptoms?
  • Without any further testing, she immediately moves on to treating other people with turpentine.
  • She makes all kinds of claims unsupported by any evidence, for instance:
    • Breads, meats and dairy are all full of parasites.
    • “Trail mix is an abomination and has destroyed the health of many a health nut.”
    • “It has been my observation [emphasis added] that one should be having at least three bowel movements a day.”
    • “There is no medication that turpentine interacts with.”
    • “Censorship is so severe that it is difficult to find information on turpentine in print.”
  • She makes dangerous recommendations: laxatives and daily enemas, stopping prescription medications, avoiding immunizations, and many more.

No longer practicing, but…

On her website, it says “Dr. Daniels is a former medical doctor who had her medical license suspended due to not prescribing enough drugs and truly healing her patients.” I don’t believe that; no medical board has ever suspended a doctor’s license for healing their patients or for “not prescribing enough drugs.” According to the New York medical board website, she surrendered her license less than 6 years after it was granted. Apparently she was uncooperative, refusing to share her patient records with the board, and from her comments online it seems she was deliberately trying to hide her many questionable treatment methods from the authorities. By voluntarily surrendering her license, she avoided any further investigation or board actions.

No longer able to practice medicine, Daniels has moved to Panama, where she is making a living producing books, radio shows, CDs, and videos; selling supplements; and advising clients as a health coach. She is available for “Holistic Mentoring Consultations;” you can schedule a consultation online and will be able to speak to the doctor directly. What she is doing may not be illegal, but she is still in a position to harm people with bad advice.

Conclusion: not recommended

Not only is turpentine not the Fountain of Youth, it has not been proven effective for any health condition. Jennifer Daniels is not a reliable source of health information. She fails to understand the need for scientific testing, relies on testimonials and beliefs instead of facts, and demonstrates poor judgment. She makes claims that are bald assertions not supported by any evidence. She is offering dangerous advice, not just about turpentine but about vaccines and other things.

Posted by Harriet Hall

Harriet Hall, MD also known as The SkepDoc, is a retired family physician who writes about pseudoscience and questionable medical practices. She received her BA and MD from the University of Washington, did her internship in the Air Force (the second female ever to do so),  and was the first female graduate of the Air Force family practice residency at Eglin Air Force Base. During a long career as an Air Force physician, she held various positions from flight surgeon to DBMS (Director of Base Medical Services) and did everything from delivering babies to taking the controls of a B-52. She retired with the rank of Colonel.  In 2008 she published her memoirs, Women Aren't Supposed to Fly.