At first glance, you might not see much of a connection between fries and antifreeze. Do a little research, though, and you’ll discover a common ingredient between the two – propylene glycol.

Propylene glycol puts the ‘anti’ in ‘antifreeze.’ It serves the same purpose in food, cosmetics and medication – retaining moisture while preventing freezing.

The FDA and CDC insist small amounts of the chemical are safe for humans. As a result, you’ll find it in everything from fries to ice cream, iced tea, boxed cake, anxiety-reducing medications and shampoo.

You won’t find it in Europe, though; several governing bodies there have banned it outright in food production.

What do they know that the American government doesn’t?

A lot, it turns out.

The Scope Of Ignorance


In its report on propylene glycol, the CDC says it poses no major health concerns. Ironically, though, the report also states:

No studies were located regarding respiratory, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, musculoskeletal, hepatic, renal, endocrine, dermal, ocular or body weight effects.

In other words, there hasn’t been all that much research into the chemical’s health effects. As a result, the CDC is giving it the green light – despite all we do know about the chemical.

Negative Health Effects Of Propylene Glycol

#1 – It May Damage Your Kidneys And Liver


Propylene glycol lives in several IV medications, including the anxiety treatment drug Lorazepam. Researchers have found that people who use this medication long enough suffer kidney malfunction. Eventually, the organ stops processing compounds at its normal rate.

Researchers have also noted propylene glycol’s tendency to be dangerous for people with liver problems.

#2 – It’s Likely Dangerous For Infants

Those who insist on propylene glycol’s safety tend to argue that the human body metabolizes it quickly so, therefore, it’s not there long enough to cause damage.

That’s not quite true.

Adult bodies do metabolize propylene glycol fairly quickly. That said, it still does a lot of damage before leaving your body. That damage is magnified in infants, whose bodies don’t metabolize propylene glycol quickly.

As Dr. Axe reports, the term ‘infant’ in this case may apply to children as old as four whose

#3 – It May Cause An Allergic Reaction


You can find propylene glycol in corticosteroids, a class of anti-inflammatory medications. One study reports that this placement is “an often unrecognized cause of allergic contact dermatitis.”

In other words, many people experience a brief allergic reaction in response to the chemical in certain medications. This further raises questions about the chemical’s safety.

#4 – It Can Cause Mental Illness

Researchers warn e-cigarette users about the presence of propylene glycol in e-cig fluid. Why? Because it causes a whole host of mental issues, including:

  • Hyperactivity
  • Behavioral changers
  • Depression
  • Ataxia (in extreme cases)

And yet, we put it in and in our bodies. Makes perfect sense.

How To Avoid Propylene Glycol

Staying away from this chemical is not always as easy as looking for the words ‘propylene glycol’ on an ingredient label.

It also goes by these names:

  • Propane-1,2-diol
  • E1520
  • A-Propylene Glycol
  • 1,2-Dihydroxypropane
  • Methylethylene glycol

Keep an eye out for those terms on the ingredients labels of the following items.

Cosmetics such as:

  • Shampoo
  • Body wash
  • Skin cream
  • Deodorant
  • Baby wipes

Foods like:

  • Salad dressing
  • Soda
  • Frozen dessert
  • Flavored coffee
  • Icing

As far as medication with propylene glycol goes, please speak with your doctor or pharmacist to find out if your prescription contains it.

I encourage you to have a look at our natural remedies archive to learn about ways to potentially replace any propylene-containing medicine you may be taking.

Want to learn about more American food ingredients that have been banned in other countries? Check out this post!

Please share this post to raise awareness about the health risks associated with propylene glycol.

Dr. Axe