Peppermint Oil & Pregnancy

essential oils with mint
Peppermint oil in a blue vial with a basket of peppermint leaves next to it. (Image: botamochi/iStock/Getty Images)

Peppermint oil is extracted from the stem, leaves and flowers of the peppermint plant. It is often used as a flavoring in toothpaste and mouthwash, but is also used in the alternative medical world, as well. Although peppermint oil may appeal to you as a natural remedy for some ailments, you need to examine its safety if you are pregnant.

Peppermint Oil Uses

According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, peppermint oil was used traditionally in ancient Greece as a digestive aid and was also inhaled as a cough remedy. It has also been used to treat irritable bowel syndrome and relieve congestion, headaches and nausea. A woman experiencing the changing hormones of pregnancy may be eager to find relief from some of those issues, especially nausea and headaches.

Common Side Effects

Peppermint oil can cause an allergic reaction if you are allergic to peppermint or menthol, which can be dangerous if the reaction is severe and you are pregnant. Peppermint oil can also cause you to feel flushed and can make heartburn and stomach ulcers worse if you are already suffering from those symptoms.

Dangers

The American Academy of Family Physicians states that peppermint oil can trigger menstruation, the shedding of the lining in a woman’s uterus. This is dangerous for a woman who is already pregnant. It is also potentially toxic when used or inhaled in large doses.

Safe Uses

Peppermint oil is most likely safe for a pregnant woman to use in herbal tea, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. It is also safe in the correct dosage of over-the-counter medications that use peppermint oil as an ingredient, as long as you are not exceeding doses and the medication itself is also considered safe for use during pregnancy.

Recommendations

BreastCancer.org recommends against rubbing peppermint oil on your skin if you are pregnant. Although inhaling peppermint oil is thought to relieve nausea, this has not been scientifically proved. Medline Plus recommends avoiding any form of peppermint oil if you are pregnant.

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