Skip to main content

Frequently (and not so frequently) Asked Questions

Simple keyword search (one or two words only)

 


BRIEF: Is Tonka bean flavoring poisonous?


QUESTION:
I have been using a flavoring which was purchased in Mexico. It does not quite smell like vanilla, but bottled as vanilla. It is a clear liquid. Is Tonka bean flavoring poisonous? and what are the symptoms. I have been experiencing inner- ear type symptoms, double vision, ringing in ears, pain in pallete and teeth, dizziness, feeling of falling. I have just had an ENG test for vestibular disorder, and it is negative.I have gone to a neruologist, and maybe I have a toxicity to something. My Chiropractor suggests toxicity testing. Do you have any suggestions?

ANSWER:

All sorts of things are sold in Mexico as vanilla extract; I wouldn't touch any of them with a ten foot pole. One of the favorite ones turns out to be a dangerous anticoagulant (produced from coumarin) and the other symptoms you describe are the same as that experienced by animals eating 7-hydroxycoumarin (from buckeyes, for example). The vanilla substitute you purchased, tonka bean (Dipyeryx odorata) extract, is a rich source of this dangerous class of compounds and has been banned for flavor use in the US since 1954. I hope you have a rapid recovery.