Peppermint (mentha piperita) is a favorite essential oil for the holidays and winter season. We find peppermint flavored candy, icings on cakes and cookies, and even peppermint flavored toothpaste and mouth wash. It is definitely one of the first choices for a stuffy nose, sinuses and relief from headaches and indigestion. However, there are some cautionary concerns regarding peppermint essential oil that need to be heeded for safety’s sake. Below are some of the concerns. The list is not all encompassing but may be helpful.
1. Never use essential oils undiluted, including peppermint essential oil, on skin and particularly on mucous membranes. Do not use undiluted on broken or hypersensitive skin. Skin sensitization is a main complaint. For typical dilution: For the elderly, children and those with compromised immune function, use up to 5 drops in 2 tablespoons or 1 oz of carrier oil (1%). For body lotions, body oils, use 10 to 12 drops of peppermint essential oil per 2 tablespoons or 1 oz of carrier oil (2%). For sprays, use 10 to 12 drops per 1/2 cup of water. Peppermint essential oil is so strong that you may even want to go with fewer drops of peppermint essential oil than the above typical recommendations for topical application. Try diluting drop by drop to find the right concentration for you. Carrier oil can be almond, coconut, sesame, olive, etc. , as long as the carrier oil is vegetable and NOT petroleum based.
2. Always dilute any essential oils, including peppermint, in salts or unscented bath get for a bath to promote good dispersion of the oils in bath water. Otherwise the essential oil floats on top of the water and is not properly diluted, causing possible skin irritation. 5 to 6 drops per 1/2 cup of salts, etc.
3. Keep peppermint essential oil away from throat and nostrils of infants under the age of 18 months as it may cause a serious choking reflex.
4. Do not use peppermint essential oil if you are afflicted with arythmia or cardiac fibrillation.
5. Peppermint essential oil may increase blood pressure. I have actually seen this with clients.
6. Use with caution if you are epileptic.
An alternative to peppermint essential oil is eucalyptus. There are different types of eucalyptus but I favor eucalyptus radiata for its germ killing properties plus milder scent than some of the others. It has been used successfully for stuffy nose, sinuses and headaches. It does not have the same cautions/contraindications as peppermint essential oil.
Med Essential Oils carries essential oil blends that have both peppermint and eucalyptus. We also provide single oils.
Sinus Aid contains both peppermint and eucalyptus radiata, tea tree, ravensara, rosemary and lemon to support sinus and upper respiratory function. It packs a powerful initial sensation
Euca Calm is peppermint free and contains eucalyptus radiata, eucalyptus smithii, lemon, lavender, cajeput, niaouli, and tea tree to support upper respiratory function and to ease cough. It conveys a gentler initial sensation but is highly effective.
Breathe Free is peppermint free and contains, eucalyptus globulus, eucalyptus radiata, ravensara, lavender, oregano and khella. I often use it to support both upper respiratory and lung function. Very powerful!
Alternatives to both peppermint and eucalyptus include:
Calm Breath – contains lavender, lemon, roman chamomile, melissa and pine needles. This blends works well in supporting respiratory function especially hindered by allergies or nervous coughs.
Breath of Fresh Air – contains may chang, fragonia, khella and helichrysum. It has a pleasant lemony scent and I used it for myself when nothing else would rid me of a residual cough I had from walking pneumonia a few years ago.
As you can see, the world of clinical aromatherapy offers many aids and alternatives. I hope this helps you enjoy a safe essential oil holiday!
Information was garnered from Tisserand & Balacs, Essential Oil Safety, Battaglia, The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy, Sheppard-Hanger, The Aromatherapy Practitioner Reference Manual.