This is a discussion that continues to come up as I work with essential oils and with children. Is it unsafe to use these two oils with the very young? The answer is that you’ll hear different opinions depending on the source. Here’s some clarity for you. Generally most experts agree that ingesting oils for the very young, 2 years and under is not recommended. There is published clinical research showing that high levels of ingestion of eucalyptus (drinking an entire 5ml bottle) can make small children very very sick. There is no published research showing ill effect from diffusing peppermint or eucalyptus with children.
Some schools of aromatherapy suggest that diffusing peppermint and eucalyptus with children under 2 could slow down or negatively impact their breathing because of the amount of menthol and 1,8- cineole present in the oils (these are two of the components in peppermint and eucalyptus).
One very famous aromatherapist named Robert Tisserand, together with Rodney Young published a book entitled Essential Oil Safety. Much of the confusion and polarization on this topic stems from the way that their information has been interpreted.
Some of Robert Tisserand’s information has taken out of context or modified slightly. Here’s the direct quote from his book Essential Oil Safety “The instillation of 1,8 cineole into the noses of young children is clearly not a sensible procedure, but this should not be taken to mean that any preparation containing 1,8 cineole is highly dangerous to children per se.” Instillation means putting drops of essential oil directly into the nasal passage. It does not mean diffusing. Also the contraindication for Eucalyptus cineole rich oils states: “Do not apply to or near the face of infants or children under ten (10) years of age.” (page 273) Which is a little different that stating simply not to use it at all.
Following publication of his book, Robert Tisserand, clarified his position, stating that diffusing peppermint or eucalyptus at a low dose would be safe. Here’s the quote : “Almost as soon as Essential Oil Safety was published I realized that the guidelines for children and inhalation safety were not as clear as they should have been, could have been. The risk is both age-related, and concentration-related, so simple guidelines are a challenge, but let me clarify my position on eucalyptus and other cineole-rich oils. They are safe to diffuse for children, if we are talking about two or three drops in a diffuser for a moderately small bedroom. On the other hand, applying undiluted eucalyptus oil to the face – or even to the feet – of an infant would be unwise and risky. Eucalyptus oil is also safe to use at about 1% in a chest rub for small children.” -Robert Tissenard, Aug 27, 2015.
Currently there is no research to either prove or disprove the point of view that peppermint and eucalyptus could slow down breathing in young children. Personally with my own children, I would feel comfortable diffusing doterra’s peppermint and eucalyptus oils around them in small amounts or in a blend such as easyair/breathe. I would of course pay attention and discontinue use if I observed any issue, but for myself, I feel it is safe if used in this manner.
If you not want use either of these oils on your children – it’s OK! The nice thing with oils is that there is always more than one option. So you could use other essential oils, such as cardamon and frankincense as breathing support for babies/children. Cypress and white fir are two other really good options for breathing support for little ones. White fir, pachouli, and lavender are an alternative to use with fevers in babies/children. If you are truly interested in really diving deep into the current research, then please continue reading, you’ll find links a podcast and an another great article. I LOVE that both of these resources come from people who are in position to speak to this topic with authority.
This 3 hour podcast should help to clarify and answer questions, and is done by Dr. Daniel Leverenz. He is an emergency physician (ER doc) and he spent a tremendous amount of time researching and putting this info together. It’s nice to have someone with this medical background to interpret the scientific evidence on this topic.
The following article, entitled “Is Eucalyptus Safe for Children” is a really good one. It’s written by Jade Shutes, aromatherapist of 25 years and former head of NAHA, National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy. It does a great job of really breaking the issue down in a balanced way.
In the end my suggestion is work within your own level of comfort. I’ve been using doTERRA oils for 4 years now, so my trust is high. Those who are just starting out might have a lower level of trust. In end it really comes down to what you feel comfortable with.
I would love to hear from you. What’s your favourite essential oils to use with your baby?
ps. If you are interested in learning more about using essential oils with your family as a natural health solution, I have a small facebook group of curious mamas where I post little videos each week and share how I use oils in my own family for a more natural wellness lifestyle. If you’d like a special invitation to this inclusive supportive tribe of moms all learning together, please drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know.
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