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It is a common misconception that, being natural, herbs are safe and they do not cause any side effect. While natural substances can cause side effects in some people, improper and excessive use may also result in adverse effects. Humans have been using various types of herbs, throughout the centuries; for culinary, medicinal, and spiritual purposes. Owing to the popularity of herbs across the globe; nowadays, commercial preparations, like soaps, toothpaste, and cosmetics, are also manufactured with herb extracts as ingredients.

Peppermint and Peppermint Oil

Peppermint is considered one of the world's oldest herbal medicines. This is backed by archaeological evidences, which suggest that the use of peppermint dates back to at least 10,000 years. It is believed that, this herb has excellent antimicrobial, antioxidant, antispasmodic, and anti tumor properties. Peppermint is very popular for its medicinal properties, and is used to treat indigestion, respiratory problems, headache, nausea, stomach and bowel spasms, fever, and pain.

Peppermint essential oil is extracted through steam distillation of fresh or partly dried peppermint plant, especially the leaves. This oil is widely used in aromatherapy. Peppermint essential oil is also popular for its therapeutic benefits. It contains chemical components, like menthol, cineole, menthone, methyl acetate, limonene, and methofuran. According to some recent studies, peppermint is very effective in reducing the colicky abdominal pain associated with irritable bowel syndrome. Like any other essential oil, peppermint oil side effects are also not uncommon, especially in those who use it improperly or excessively.

Side Effects

Peppermint oil is highly concentrated and potent. It is not toxic and does not cause any skin irritation, in low dilutions; but some people can be sensitive to this product. Given below are some of the common side effects of peppermint oil.
  • In some people, peppermint oil may cause a slow heart rate. Hence, those with heart diseases must be cautious, while using products with this oil.
  • Another side effect is allergic reaction to menthol, which involves congestion of airways. So, people with allergies must avoid use of this essential oil.
  • Skin irritation is one of the commonly reported side effects. It could be like rashes, hives, burns, or contact dermatitis.
  • When used as injections, peppermint oil can cause side effects, like serious lung damage. Some of the users developed pulmonary edema, after taking peppermint oil injection.
  • Oral consumption of this essential oil may cause headaches, dizziness, heartburn, anal burning, and muscle tremor.
  • If used in large doses, peppermint oil can cause brain damage, seizure, and muscle weakness.
In short, peppermint oil may cause side effects in some of the users. It has been observed that, most of these side effects are mainly caused by improper use, especially in case of self-medication. However, peppermint oil is not recommended for pregnant ladies, infants and kids, and people affected with heart disease, gallstones, and some other health problems.

Consult a qualified herbal practitioner, if you want to use peppermint oil for medicinal purposes. He is the best person to guide you about the proper dosage and duration of use. It is always better to seek the opinion of your doctor, before starting any herbal treatment. If you experience any of these side effects, you must discontinue use of this essential oil, and seek medical attention. Peppermint oil, which has numerous medicinal properties, must be used properly; and in accordance with the instructions of a qualified herbal practitioner.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.