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What Are the Dangers of Peppermint Oil?

Peppermint essential oil is commonly used by aromatherapists for a variety of purposes. The oil is distilled from the leaves and other parts of the peppermint plant. According to the Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, peppermint oil is traditionally used to calm nausea and indigestion, ease headaches and soothe irritable bowel syndrome. Although peppermint oil is safe in small doses, it can produce unwanted side effects, especially in sensitive or allergic individuals. Consult your doctor before using peppermint oil.

Infants and Children

Infants and children should not be given peppermint oil. Don't apply peppermint oil to an infant's face because it can cause serious breathing problems, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Additionally, children should not be given tea made with peppermint oil as it can cause a burning feeling in their mouths.

Topical Application

Although peppermint oil is generally considered safe for topical application when mixed with a carrier oil, such as grapeseed or canola, the Center for Alternative and Complementary Medicine notes that some people may experience an allergic reaction or a skin rash. Peppermint oil can cause hives or general skin irritation. If peppermint oil is applied to an open wound or cut, you may experience a burning or tingling sensation.

Nursing Women

Nursing women should not use peppermint oil, as it can prevent the production of milk, according to Discovery Health.

Toxicity

According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, peppermint oil is toxic in large amounts. You should immediately contact your local poison control centre if you accidentally ingest a large quantity of peppermint oil.

Digestive Disorders

People who have gastro-oseophageal reflux disease or hiatial hernia should avoid using peppermint oil, as it can increase your symptoms, according to Discovery Health. Peppermint oil and tea can cause acid reflux, making the symptoms of heartburn and indigestion worse.

Drug Interactions

If you are taking any prescription medications, consult your doctor before using peppermint oil. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, peppermint oil can cause interactions with cyclosporine, medications for stomach acid and diabetes as well as blood pressure medications.

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About the Author

Ashley Miller is a licensed social worker, psychotherapist, certified Reiki practitioner, yoga enthusiast and aromatherapist. She has also worked as an employee assistance program counselor and a substance-abuse professional. Miller holds a Master of Social Work and has extensive training in mental health diagnosis, as well as child and adolescent psychotherapy. She also has a bachelor's degree in music.