Frequently (and not so frequently) Asked Questions
BRIEF: Could you explain the toxicity of erucic acid to humans?
I'd like to know about the toxicity of erucic acid to humans.
Feeding the oil causes deposition of lipid in liver, in some cases in heart muscle and degeneration of the kidneys and myocardial damage in some species. It reduces growth in all species. Its therapeutic use in certain genetic disorders of lipid metabolism is interesting, but controversial. Humans are presumed to be subject to the myocardial lipidosis exhibited by other animals fed this stuff, but I don't know of any human cases. This presumably toxic substance was included in the controversial, but allegedly successful treatment of a boy with a rare disease of fatty acid metabolism, a mixture now dubbed Lorenzo's Oil. There was a major motion picture made of this story.