Peppermint essential oil is one of the most versatile essential oils. It is considered to be very safe and can be mixed with many other solutions. The oil may be applied topically, inhaled or added in small amounts to foods and beverages. There are some precautions that should be taken but for the most part the oil is safe for human use. Here is a brief overview of how to safely incorporate peppermint essential oil and benefit from its healing properties.
Can you consume peppermint oil?
Peppermint oil is safe to ingest if done correctly. The oil is available in a capsule or can also be directly added to tea or water to help soothe upset stomachs and treat nausea. It is also a common additive in foods such as gum, chocolate or baked goods. It can be added to existing recipes if desired. However, this should only be done in small amounts as most essential oils can be toxic if consumed in large amounts. Anything over a few drops would be considered a high dose when taken alone. If a large amount has been consumed, seek medical help immediately, as it can be deadly.
Can you inhale peppermint oil?
Peppermint oil is great for decreasing sinus pressure and congestion. Research shows that it can be an effective treatment to improve lung conditions and cleanliness. A few drops can be added to a cloth or handkerchief and inhaled this way. The oil can also be added to a pot of water and heated. With a towel placed over your head, you can lean over the pot of warm water and oil and inhale the steam. When inhaling any essential oil, caution should be taken to avoid negative side effects. If you start to feel dizzy or confused, stop immediately. Oils can also be inhaled directly from their bottle but in shorter amounts because of the increased potency.
Can you put peppermint oil on your skin?
Peppermint oil can numb the skin, making it a great natural pain reliever. However, it should be diluted to decrease the risk of irritation or allergic reaction. The oil can be mixed with a carrier oil and applied like a lotion. If using to treat a headache, the oil can be mixed with ethanol or unflavored alcohol. It can be safely added to existing products, like toothpaste, shampoo or lotion. Peppermint oil can usually be applied to the skin up to four times a day. Signs of irritation include redness at the application site, rash or mild itching. If there are signs of irritation, use a carrier oil to help dilute the oil on the skin. Never use water to try to wipe the oil off as it will only make the irritation worse. If there are any concerns about using the oil topically, speak with a medical professional before use.
Can peppermint oil be used on children or infants?
No, peppermint oil should not be used on children or infants. It can be toxic and even deadly if used on a baby, especially if the oil comes in contact with their face or tongue. Peppermint can cause breathing spasms that can be life threatening. It is recommended that a child under the age of eight should avoid peppermint oil. The oil is a common treatment for Irritable Bowl Syndrome (IBS) and a recent study in 2001 followed a group of almost fifty children, all over the age of eight. Of the half that were given peppermint oil capsules to treat their symptoms, three quarters of them showed significant improvement without any dangerous side effects.
Should pregnant women use peppermint oil?
Peppermint oil should not be applied topically during pregnancy. There is simply not enough research to show that this is safe for the fetus. However, many doctors do recommend drinking the oil in small doses in herbal teas to improve morning sickness and other stomach issues during pregnancy. The oil is non-toxic and may be a safer alternative to prescribed nausea medication that is sometimes given in extreme situations. The oil can sometimes increase the risk for heartburn though, which is often a complaint of pregnant women. Peppermint oil should be avoided in women while breastfeeding, due to a lack of scientific research.
Should peppermint oil be diluted?
Most essential oils should be diluted before being applied directly to the skin. Peppermint oil mixes very well with carrier oils for topical application and can easily be added to shampoos or household cleaners safely. If used without being diluted, a test patch should always be done on a small part of the skin to check for allergic reactions or irritation. Peppermint contains menthol which can severely damage skin if over applied.
Precautions to take with peppermint oil
Peppermint oil is often used to treat heartburn. If taken in a capsule, the oil will be coated. Depending on the type of coating used, it can mix with antacids that may be taken at the same time. In some cases, heartburn can increase instead of improving.
Peppermint oil can also have negative effects if mixed with other medications. If using the oil as a natural treatment, be sure to consult with a medical professional if other medications are regularly being taken. The oil can slow down movement of food through the intestines, which can speed up or slow down the absorption of other drugs into the system.
People suffering from gallbladder disease, liver damage or chronic heartburn should avoid the use of peppermint oil.
Peppermint oil should never be applied to the bottom of the feet if undiluted. This is especially true for anyone under the age of twelve.
Signs of overdose when using peppermint oil include slow heartbeat, shallow or slow breathing, abdominal pain that includes diarrhea, nausea or vomiting, blood in urine or the stop of urine production, convulsions, dizziness, twitching or uncoordinated movements and in severe cases, loss of consciousness. Seek medical help immediately if any of these signs occur after the use of peppermint oil. Although they are rare, they are serious.