Certified Clinical Aromatherapist, Nutritionist and Natural Products Formulator
Question: Do eucalyptus (Eucalyptus spp.) and peppermint (Mentha × piperita) essential oils have to be avoided in children’s products?
Answer: A major constituent of several commonly used eucalyptus species is 1,8 cineol, and menthol is a major constituent of peppermint (Mentha × piperita) essential oil. It is true that essential oils which contain a high percentage of 1,8 cineole and/or menthol should not be applied to the faces of infants and children. While it’s also true that caution is advised, the skillful use of these essential oils can be quite beneficial, especially for respiratory illness and disease.
If eucalyptus (Eucalyptus spp.) and peppermint (Mentha × piperita) essential oils’ adverse event reports are examined, it will quickly become apparent that these events are the direct result of indiscriminate use. Using a professionally formulated, properly diluted essential oil blend which includes eucalyptus (Eucalyptus spp.) and peppermint (Mentha × piperita) essential oils in minor percentages is quite different than indiscriminately using these single essential oils.
The recommended use level for pure eucalyptus (Eucalyptus spp.) in products intended for children aged three years and up is approximately 1% diluted in carrier, depending on the expert safety source consulted. Let’s use narrow-leaved peppermint (Eucalyptus radiata) essential oil as an example. This species contains an average of 60-70% 1,8 cineole. If 'Sample Blend A' contained 10% of narrow-leaved peppermint (Eucalyptus radiata) essential oil and then it was to be diluted to 2% in carrier oil, the resulting blend would contain only 0.2% eucalyptus essential oil and a maximum 0.14% of 1,8 cineole which is well within accepted safety recommendations.
The recommended use level for pure peppermint (Mentha × piperita) essential oil in products intended for children aged three years and up is approximately 0.5% diluted in carrier, depending on the expert safety source consulted. Let’s use peppermint (Mentha × piperita) essential oil as an example. This species contains an average of 30-50% menthol. If ‘Sample Blend B’ contained 1% of peppermint (Mentha × piperita) essential oil and then it was to be diluted to 2% in carrier oil, the resulting blend would contain only 0.02% peppermint (Mentha × piperita) essential oil and a maximum of 0.01% menthol which is well within accepted safety recommendations.
It should be noted that respiratory disease is a leading cause of death in children worldwide. Safe and effective children's products containing 1,8 cineole and menthol have been on the market for hundreds of years and many studies attest to their safety and efficacy when used in responsible doses. Even water can kill if used irresponsibly. Why would we completely avoid the safe and effective use of essential oils which can help with respiratory disease, just because we have to be mindful of their safety guidelines? That line of reasoning is absurd and could be compared to advising parents against bathing their children in water.
Eran Ben-Arye,?Nativ Dudai,?Anat Eini,?Moshe Torem,?Elad Schiff,?and?Yoseph Rakeover, Treatment of Upper Respiratory Tract Infections in Primary Care: A Randomized Study Using Aromatic Herbs, Evid Based Complement Alternat Med.?2011; 2011: 690346. Published online 2010 Nov 1.?Accessed from: doi:?10.1155/2011/690346
Ben-Arye, E., Dudai, N., Eini, A., Torem, M., Schiff, E., & Rakover, Y. (2011). Treatment of upper respiratory tract infections in primary care: a randomized study using aromatic herbs.?Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine: eCAM,?2011, 690346. Accessed from: https://doi.org/10.1155/2011/690346
Horváth, Györgyi and Kamilla Ács, Essential oils in the treatment of respiratory tract diseases highlighting their role in bacterial infections and their anti-inflammatory action: a review, Flavor and Fragrance Journal. Published online 26 May 2015. Accessed from: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1002/ffj.3252
Fischer, J., & Dethlefsen, U. (2013). Efficacy of cineole in patients suffering from acute bronchitis: a placebo-controlled double-blind trial.?Cough (London, England),?9(1), 25. Accessed from: https://doi.org/10.1186/1745-9974-9-25
Yadav N, Chandra H (2017) Suppression of inflammatory and infection responses in lung macrophages by eucalyptus oil and its constituent 1,8-cineole: Role of pattern recognition receptors TREM-1 and NLRP3, the MAP kinase regulator MKP-1, and NF?B. PLoS ONE 12(11): e0188232. Accessed from: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0188232
Brown SK, Garver WS, Orlando RA (2017) 1,8-cineole: An Underappreciated Anti-inflammatory Therapeutic. J Biomol Res Ther 6: 154. doi:10.4172/2167-7956.1000154. Accessed from: https://www.longdom.org/open-access/18cineole-an-underappreciated-antiinflammatory-therapeutic-2167-7956-1000154.pdf
Juergens, U.R., Dethlefsen, D., Steinkamp, G., Gillissen, A., Repges, R. and Vetter, H., Anti-inflammatory activity of 1.8 -cineol (eucalyptol) in bronchial asthma: a double-blind placebo-controlled trial, Respiratory Medicine, Vol. 97 (2003) 250-256. Accessed from:
Worth, H., Schacher, C., & Dethlefsen, U. (2009). Concomitant therapy with Cineole (Eucalyptole) reduces exacerbations in COPD: a placebo-controlled double-blind trial.?Respiratory research,?10(1), 69. Accessed from: https://doi.org/10.1186/1465-9921-10-69
Millqvist, E., Ternesten-Hasséus, E. and M. Bende, Inhalation of menthol reduces capsaicin cough sensitivity and influences inspiratory flows in chronic cough. Respiratory Medicine. Volume 107, Issue 3,?March 2013, Pages 433-438. Accessed from: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rmed.2012.11.017
Tisserand Institute website, Tisserand, Hana, Are eucalyptus and peppermint oils safe for young children? Accessed from: https://tisserandinstitute.org/learn-more/kids-inhalation-safety/