The Truth about Vegetable Glycerine

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There seems to be some doubt floating around out there about whether or not Vegetable Glycerine is a danger to a person’s health when inhaled, as it is with E-cigarettes.  Many articles have been written, and many studies conducted about the way PG, or propylene glycol, affects the body, in answer to many criticisms and misleading statements be anti-tobacco activists.  Because of this, Vegetable Glycerine has been left by the proverbial wayside.  However, there have been enough studies done on VG to determine one undeniable fact; Vegetable Glycerine is one of the most harmless organic liquids that ever comes in contact with a human body on a regular basis.  In fact, it’s already used in so many ingestible products that I can’t possibly list them all here, but to provide a brief example, VG is used as an artificial sweetener in many, many foods, it’s used in packaged foods that need to retain moisture while packaged, and it’s used in almost every dental product on the market, from toothpaste to denture paste.

Once VG, or glycerol enters into the body, either orally, transdermally (through the skin) or via inhalation of vaporized glycerol, it is metabolised in an extremely efficient, simple, and common manner.  Once broken down, glycerol is converted (mostly) into carbon dioxide (which we exhale) and water.  A very small amount is transformed into essential sugars that are also regularly used by the body.

It has been found that Vegetable Glycerine is hypo-allergenic, which is especially important to vapers who happen to be allergic to propylene glycol which is, of course, the other major ingredient in E-liquids.  Studies have also shown that glycerol has very low numbers in other tests concerning the skin, eyes, and upper respiratory system.  It does not cause mutation of cells and/or chromosomal/DNA information, and therefore it is considered to be harmless to the reproductive system.  In fact all of these studies are fairly short and to the point, calling for no further need of research because Vegetable Glycerine is so unarguably low in health risks.  The longest study I’ve been able to find was a 13-week study in which rats were exposed to glycerol inhalation six hours daily and were found to be minimally to mildly harmed in the process.  Essentially, some of the rats experienced a little weight gain due to their bodies’ metabolising of the glycerol into sugars.  This small risk is even smaller in human beings due to the mere size difference.

Even the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has determined that VG/glycerol meets all of their own criteria to be considered completely safe for humans.  Several of the largest pharmaceutical regulating organizations, as well as the pharmaceutical corporations themselves, have labeled VG as harmless.  Also, there seems to have been no reported cases of bad manufacturing and/or shipping practices relating to companies that produce glycerol in bulk for distribution.  So, all of this just goes further to indicate why more studies have not been done regarding the toxicity and other health risks.  That reason, of course, is that the studies that have been done have all found that there is no reason to look further into the issue… even the FDA agrees that VG is harmless whether it’s ingested orally, transdermally, or through inhalation.

As far as the opposition goes (I’m using the term “opposition” loosely here), there is very, very little “evidence” suggesting anything other than “Vegetable Glycerine/Glycerol is harmless to your body.”  Sure, there have been plenty of articles written about it, but if one were to actually read these articles, they would find that they are nothing but typical media fear-mongering.  They all basically amount to the statement, “People say that E-cigarettes are healthy for you… but does inhaling vaporized PG and VG pose a threat to your health?  [so-and-so] from the [such-and-such organization] says, ‘There haven’t been any serious studies done about the effects of using E-cigarettes.'”  What is actually happening is that the ANTZ (Anti-Nicotine and Tobacco Zealots) are hoping that the mere suggestion of possible danger is enough to panic the public into supporting their efforts to derail the E-cigarette industry.  I hope that the American people are smarter than this, but I have a few nagging doubts.

So, to conclude, there is no health risk associated with inhaling atomized, aerosolized, vaporized, etc. Vegetable Glycerine/Glycol/Glycerol.  More than enough studies have been done concerning the health effects of inhaled (or otherwise consumed) glycerol to determine that, in fact, more than enough studies have been done.  All studies regarding this issue lead to one conclusion: There is no need to study this further, this (VG) is a harmless substance.  I applaud the ANTZ for holding out this long against the barrage of scientific evidence that proves what they are dreading… that not only are E-cigarettes an effective way of quitting (or cutting down on) cigarettes, they are actually not very harmful at all, because none of the ingredients contained therein pose any risk to human health.

Sources:

CanadaVapes- Vegetable Glycerine Safety

InformaHealthCare- 2-Week and 13-Week Inhalation Studies of Aerosolized Glycerol in Rats

Inchem.org- SIDS Glycerol Study (pdf)