Aromatherapy, also referred to as Essential Oil therapy, can be defined as the art and science of utilizing naturally extracted aromatic essences from plants to balance, harmonize and promote the health of body, mind and spirit. It seeks to unify physiological, psychological and spiritual processes to enhance an individual’s innate healing process
Most Commonly Used Essential Oils
Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile): antispasmodic, menstrual cramps, sedative, relieves anxiety/stress, insomnia, great for children (comforting, soothing), anti-inflammatory
Clary sage (Salvia sclarea): antispasmodic, relieves menstrual cramps, aphrodisiac, relaxing, relieves anxiety/stress, labor pain management
Eucalyptus globulus: expectorant, decongestant, beneficial for flu/cold season, clearing to the mind, energizing, bronchitis (avoid with children under 2, use Eucalyptus radiata instead)
Eucalyptus radiata: expectorant, this eucalyptus species is indicated for children with respiratory congestion, useful for colds and flu, antiviral
Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare var. dulce): digestive, menstrual irregularities, antimicrobial
Frankincense (Boswellia frereana): strengthens the immune system (CO2 extract), soothes inflamed skin conditions, cell regenerative
Geranium (Pelargonium x asperum syn. graveolens): PMS, indicated for hormonal imbalance, antimicrobial, nerve pain
Ginger (Zingiber officinale): digestive, useful to eliminate gas, constipation, relieves nausea, warming emotionally and physically, anti-inflammatory, relieves pain, immune modulator
Helichrysum (Helichrysum italicum): cell regenerative, wound healing, anti-inflammatory, indicated for bruises and swelling
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia): calming, reduces anxiety, wound healing, burns, cell regenerative, insect bites. reduces itchiness, general skin care, great for children, antispasmodic
Lemon (Citrus limon): antiviral, great for cleaning home, cleansing to environments (room spray), uplifting, detoxing
Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus): cleansing, antiviral, insect repellant, use for cleaning, antimicrobial
Mandarin (Citrus reticulata): calming, great for children (can combine with lavender), slightly more warming citrus aroma
Neroli (Citrus aurantium var. amara): relieves and reduces anxiety, antispasmodic, PMS, antidepressant, nourishing, postpartum depression, pregnancy/delivery
Patchouli (Pogostemom cablin): antidepressant, anti-inflammatory, soothes the nervous system
Peppermint (Mentha x piperita): relieves nausea, analgesic for muscular aches and pains, relieves/reduces migraines, energizing, antispasmodic, do not use on children under 30 months of age
NAHA Safety Note for Peppermint Essential Oil:
- Avoid use on children under 30 months of age. The nasal mucosa is an autonomic reflexogen organ, which has a distance action to the heart, lungs and circulation and may lead to sudden apnoea and glottal constriction.
- Direct application of peppermint oil to the nasal area or chest to infants should be avoided because of the risk of apnea, laryngeal and bronchial spasms, acute respiratory distress with cyanosis and respiratory arrest. (The Longwood Herbal Task Force)
- Do not apply undiluted peppermint essential oils to the feet, particularly on infants and children under the age of 12.
- Inhalation of larges doses of menthol may lead to dizziness, confusion, muscle weakness, nausea and double vision. (Natural Standard Research Collaboration, Peppermint oil. Evidence based monograph 2005; Medlineplus)
The information below has been taken from the European Medicines Agency: ASSESSMENT REPORT ON MENTHA X PIPERITA L., AETHEROLEUM
- When used orally, it may cause heartburn, perianal burning, blurred vision, nausea and vomiting. Heartburn is related with the release of the oil in the upper GI tract, which relaxes the lower oesophageal sphincter, facilitating the reflux. The same occurs in the cases of hiatal hernia. This particular undesirable effect is minimized by an appropriate pharmaceutical formulation. **Peppermint essential oil should always be in an enteric-coated tablet or capsule for internal use although even with enteric-coated capsules, anal burning, rashes, headache, muscle tremors, diarrhea, and ataxia have been reported. (AHPA Botanical Safety Handbook)
- People with gallbladder disease, severe liver damage, gallstones and chronic heartburn should avoid the intake of peppermint oil.
- Menthol and peppermint oil caused burning mouth syndrome, recurrent oral ulceration or a lichenoid reaction, by contact sensitivity in the intra-oral mucosa, in sensitive patients.
- When applied on the skin, it may cause allergic reactions, as skin rashes, contact dermatitis and eye irritation.
- Use in infants or children is not recommended, when inhaled, taken by mouth or if applied on open skin areas, on the face or chest, due to the potential toxicity of the product.
- Peppermint oil should be used with caution. Doses of menthol over 1 g/Kg b.w. may be deadly.
Potential Drug Interactions
- Peppermint leaf essential oil has been shown to slow intestinal transit, which may slow the absorption rate or increase the total absorption of coadministered drugs. (Goerg, K.J. and Spilker)
- Peppermint essential oil in large doses internally may inhibit the drug-metabilizing isoenzyme CYP3A4, leading to increased plasma levels of drugs metabolized by that isoenzyme.
- Coadministration of peppermint leaf essential oil (600mg) and felodipine (a calcium antagonist drug used to control hypertension) moderately increased the plasma concentration of felodipine, possibly through inhibition of the drug-metabilizing isoenzyme CYP3A4. (AHPA Botanical Safety Handbook)
- Peppermint oil, menthol, menthyl acetate, and ascorbyl palmitate were moderately potent reversible inhibitors of in vitro CYP3A4 activity. Grapefruit juice increased the oral bioavailability of felodipine by inhibition of CYP3A4-mediated presystemic drug metabolism. Peppermint oil may also have acted by this mechanism. However, this requires further investigation. Ascorbyl palmitate did not inhibit CYP3A4 activity in vivo.
For further research articles see:
A near fatal case of high dose peppermint oil ingestion- Lessons learnt
Acute allergic contact dermatitis of the lips from peppermint oil in a lip balm.
Rose (Rosa damascena): the queen of essential oils, cell regenerative, nourishing the emotions, aphrodisiac, relieves/reduces stress/anxiety, PMS
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis): indicated for respiratory congestion, bronchitis, colds/flu, expectorant, expands and deepens the breath, energizing, clears the mind, sinus congestion, circulatory stimulant
Tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia): antimicrobial, supports/enhances immune system, antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral
Vetiver (Vetiveria zizanioides): cooling, grounding, astringent, useful for varicose veins, calming
Ylang ylang (Cananga odorata): aphrodisiac, antispasmodic, antidepressant, nourishing