“...octopamine is found only in insects...”


Sentry is a brand under Sergeant's.

In 2006 Sergeant's announced a deal with EcoSmart Technologies to license their technology for use in pesticides, including insecticides for home use and for flea and tick control with pets.

EcoSmart promotes their use of "natural botanicals".

They have two product lines of their own.

One is branded as EcoPCO, the other is EcoEXEMPT Minimum-Risk Products.

EcoEXEMPT is particularly interesting because all of the products are claimed to qualify as exempt from Federal registration and to be USDA NOP (National Organic Program) compliant.

The lists of qualifying ingredients (here and here) appear very tame compared to conventional chemical pesticides.

It is challenging to uncover precisely what ingredients are actually in the Sergeant's products.

The "exclusive formulations" claim to be harmless to mammals, birds and fish, but that's what was said about fipronil 10 years ago and that has been proven deadly wrong.

The same story has been spun about previous pet products going back decades...

It would be good to know ALL of the ingredients in the new products.

Sergeant's urges customers to carefully read their labels but then haven't made them easy to access online.

Their marketing information emphasizes that the products use extracts from oils of peppermint, cinnamon, clove, lemongrass, and thyme.

These ingredients are positioned as "totally safe for humans and pets"...


Further investigation reveals the product ingredients are not harmless.

Patent information sheds light on how the EcoSmart products work (at least 27 of these patents are relevant).

The oils contain active ingredients that block the neurotransmitter octopamine, in some cases by disrupting the precursor tyramine.

This results in a rapid breakdown of the insect's central nervous system.

The product is highly neurotoxic to insects and to invertebrates in general.

A brochure from Sergeant's claims that octopamine is found only in insects and therefore is safe to use around people and pets.

However, searching PubMed reveals that both octopamine and tyramine are present in humans throughout the brain and body.

• Disruptions are associated with migraines, changes in affect, and changes in cognition.

• They appear to have a modulating effect on other neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin.

• Octopamine specifically has been shown to affect glucose regulation and fat breakdown, to participate in the "fight or flight" response, and to play a role in the regulation of bone growth and regeneration.

• Elevated octopamine has been associated with neuroblastoma (cancer of the nervous system especially affecting infants and children).

• Back in the 1970s and '80s before octopamine was recognized as a true neurotransmitter, elevated levels were highly correlated with hepatic encephalopathy (the liver fails from toxic overload, brain cells are damaged by a build-up of toxic substances in the blood, resulting in personality changes, impaired intellectual ability, awareness, and neuromuscular functioning).

In other words, this new breed of of pesticide has very real ability to harmfully affect humans, pets, and other animals.

This scenario is remarkably like the early days for fipronil — hype over a new pesticide that is lethal to insects but "totally safe for humans and pets" — except this time the products evade EPA and FDA regulation.

There appears to be a regulatory loophole at play here.

The "essential oils" are mentioned in the marketing literature but in fact it is components, modifications, and derivations of the oils that constitute the active ingredients.

These can be derived from sources other than original botanicals.

Furthermore, the ingredients are exempted from EPA pesticide regulation because, in and of themselves, they are considered insecticidally inert at the concentrations used.

Similarly some of the ingredients have GRAS status.

The inventors discovered that combining these ingredients produces a synergistic toxicity that is quite powerful -- low doses, instant lethality, and lethal toxicity lasting up to 2 months.

The patents also cover formulations for use on humans, for instance as insect repellants and lice shampoo.

Similar formulations are patented for use as herbicides.

Other formulations are for termites, roaches, ants, etc. -- practically any pesticide use imagined.

One of the patents covers formulas incorporating an enzyme to inhibit cytochrome P-450.

Some readers may recognize that P-450 plays a critical role in metabolic detoxification pathways. P-450 limitations are a serious problem for people.

One patent even covers formulations for cancer treatment.

Clearly these formulas are toxic in a wide range of applications.

Yet most of these formulations fly underneath EPA and FDA radar because of the starting ingredients and their heretofore unknown synergistic action.

Because the critical ingredients are already exempt it would take years of research (money) and lobbying (more money) to tighten any regulation of them.

Some of the ingredients (menthol and thymol) will be up for review in a few years but that is no guarantee their status will change.

Even if their status changes it wouldn't cover all of the patented formulations.

Here is a post (August 7, 2006, towards bottom of thread) about how Natural Defense affected a person's two cats:

"The next day I relized everytime you pick one of the cats up it would cry.

I also saw that there were sores on their necks.

Their coats were not the normal fluffyness that they usaly are, but they were oiled down and sticky.

They were both realy active before I used the spary and now they are pretty much lathargic.

If I tried to brush tigger clumps of hair would come out. He also has a few bald spots.

Both of their slins were red and irratated.

Zoe just cried alot and had a hard time jumping.

I DID call the company they told me how to fix the cats.

I didn't like what they said but I did it anyway.

They told me to wash the cats in dish soap twice. It did work.

Tigger and zoe are o-kay now I think. We'll give it a few more days I guess.

Well thats what has happened to us.

PLEASE don't let this happen to your pets."

The response to any toxic exposure will vary from person to person (and animal to animal) depending on many variables including

  • Timing
  • Duration
  • Location
  • Pre-existing exposures
  • Current toxic load
  • Genetic variations
  • and more...

A percentage of pets and people will show no immediate or obvious signs that anything is wrong.

Some will tolerate the products better than others.

People concerned about the synergistic affects of toxic body burden will seek to avoid this product and others that are similarly positioned.

Pulvex flea powder DDT advertisement