When it comes to essential oils, one can get lost in a sea of opinions.
To be able to give accurate information to those who ask about the essential oils in a few of MadeOn's products, I consulted with Robert Tisserand, author of the huge and hefty (700+ page) book, Essential Oil Safety. Read about his review of our Bug Block here.
Let's dig into peppermint oil safety, the ingredient in our Peppermint Lip Balm.
Here's a quote from Mr. Tisserand's book:
Peppermint oil is a low-risk skin allergen, and no use restriction for skin reactivity is needed. It is clear from both acute and sub-chronic data that peppermint oil is neurotoxic in high doses.
Let me interject that his reference refers to high inhalation doses, oil taken internally, peppermint oil applied directly to the skin or situations where a patient already suffering from essential oil sensitivities reacted to a 5% dilution.
Peppermint oil has GRAS status. GRAS stands for "Generally Recognized as Safe" according to the FDA. Because peppermint oil content can vary based on where it was harvested, I checked to make sure my supplier's peppermint oil falls within ISO standards (International Organization for Standardization). As long as one purchases from a reputable source, this shouldn't be a problem, but it's easy to go the extra mile to check percentages of pulegone and menthone content of the peppermint oil used in a product. I checked, and we're well within the guidelines recommended within ISO standards (it would take a lot more peppermint oil to be taken internally before the body would show any signs of neurotoxicity.)
So as long as we're not drinking peppermint oil, we're safe. But what are the guidelines for the oil added to skin care products?
Here are the guidelines recommended by The Commission E. Monograph (a German advisory board):
- 5-20% in oily and semisolid preparations [in my (Renee's) opinion, this would mean lotion bars and lip balms]
- 5-10% in aqueous-alcoholic preparations
- 1-5% in nasal ointments
- 6-12 drops as an average daily oral dose [Renee: okay, so maybe a bit in a drink is okay]
Our peppermint lip balm is within the safety guidelines above.
There is one warning for children, however:
If peppermint oil is instilled into the noses of young children, a neurotoxic dose could be attained. (Robert Tisserand)
Even though I personally read the above statements, and all of Mr. Tisserand's extensive research, to mean that peppermint oil used in a lip balm is safe for people of all ages, you will have to evaluate your own comfort level and interpretation when using it. You will find varied opinions on the internet, but from what I've read, it stems from situations where a child has direct access to pure, undiluted peppermint oil.
The bottom line: when used in cosmetic formulations within a particular guideline for dosage, peppermint oil is safe for people of all ages. MadeOn follows the guidelines for both peppermint oil to lip balm formulation ratio, and safety amounts of pulegone (that comes from the soil the plant is grown in) and menthofuran that constitutes the oil. But it's your call, and your comfort level.
(Final safety note: if you suffer from cardiac fibrillation, or have a G6PD deficiency, you should avoid it all together.)