by Katharine Koeppen, RA
Earlier in the month, I posted on Aromaceuticals' Facebook page regarding a phone call I received from a distraught mother who made improper use of undiluted peppermint on her baby. The child had an unusual seizure shortly after application of the essential oil and was hospitalized. He had no prior history of seizures, and all physicians treating the child could find no medical explanation for the incident, commenting that they had never witnessed a seizure of that type or duration. None of the physicians were familiar with aromatherapy, and they dismissed the possibility that the mother's essential oil application might have brought on the seizure. Given what I know about peppermint essential oil phytochemistry and safe usage of essential oil, I have to strongly suspect that peppermint contributed toward the baby's seizure.
Anyway the post went viral, resulting a huge number of Facebook comments, e-mails and phone calls, both positive and negative. I stand by my post.
However, I have concerns about the number of people who've read it and still insist that peppermint essential oil is completely harmless and no proof exists that the oil can cause any type of adverse effect when improperly (or even properly) used. There were quite a few untrained people who commented that they regularly use various essential oils undiluted topically or via ingestion, and who were either unaware or simply did not believe that contraindications or cautions should be observed when using these oils. There seems to be some disbelief that there is any legitimate published information on essential oil safety issues.
Contraindications, cautions and adverse effect reports to essential oil use certainly exist, and they certainly have been published. This information is readily (and quickly) available to anyone who wants to look for it. When I wrote a previous blog post on Adverse Reactions to Peppermint Oil, I used the following resources:
Aromatherapy & Palliative Care (class manual), Harris
Essential Oil Safety: A Guide for Health Care Professionals, Tisserand & Balacs
Expanded German Commission E Monographs
Plant Aromatics: Adverse Effects on the Skin of Aromatic Plant Extracts (Vol. 4), Watt
Just for fun, today I did a quick 5 minute search online which yielded the following published studies on PubMed:
There is plenty of published information concerning cautions, contraindications and adverse effects to other commonly used essential oils. So start reading, and be safe!