There is a bit of hesitancy in the world of essential oil usage around the use of various essential oils with children. Two popular oils in particular, eucalyptus and peppermint, are the ones currently in the spotlight. If you have been asked by customers if these oils are safe to use with children, we offer the following insights to help you answer their questions and address their concerns.
Correct use is key
Both eucalyptus and peppermint essential oils are incredibly diverse and have a significant amount of usage that is appropriate and very applicable for beginning users. With that in mind, we know a lot of incorrect use occurs with beginners as they are learning about how to safely handle the essential oils.
We take safety very seriously, which is why in our education around oil use we include many cautionary statements regarding safe use and appropriate dilution. Much like with other oils, the main concern with safety of these oils is in their over-use. Not staying within recommended dilution ranges, using them inappropriately or using them in ways that are not recommended, can all take any oil use into the category of ‘unsafe.’
The concerns with peppermint and eucalyptus
The controversy lies in the constituents: 1,8 cineole in eucalyptus (both radiata and globulus) and the menthol constituent found in peppermint. When exposed to high amounts, some small children have experienced breathing complications. With the right dilution, both oils can be safely used in low amounts in diffusion and in topical application, at the right ages.
Tips for safe use
Here are some tips to help guide customers concerned about using peppermint and eucalyptus with children:
- Experts* recommend using peppermint essential oil at or below a .5% dilution (3 drops in 1 ounce of a carrier) as a maximum for children over the age of 3 and up to the age of 6, for both topical use and diffusions. Under the age of 3, use of peppermint essential oil is not recommended.
- Experts recommend using eucalyptus essential oil at or below a 1% dilution (6 drops in 1 ounce of a carrier) as a maximum for children over the age of 3 and up to the age of 6. Under the age of 3, use at or below a .5% dilution is safe for topical use and diffusions.
- For new users and folks wanting to use essential oils with small children, it is always recommended that you advise them to notify or work with a knowledgeable healthcare provider to help guide safe use. All children’s use should be considered differently than adult use with all essential oils.
- With any essential oil, following a carefully formulated recipe for a specific use is ideal for beginners.
- Whenever possible, encourage customers to do a bit of research beyond the internet, which is full of misinformation and misguidance around essential oils.
- One of the best ways to use essential oils is in diffusion — which is a safe application for most of us.
- As always, keep essential oils out of reach of children as a good general safety measure.
*Robert Tisserand of the Tisserand Institute has outlined more specific safety guidance that we follow in regards to use of these oils with small children, in addition to the insight and experience from our own aromatherapists on staff who participate within the professional aromatherapy community. We encourage all retailers to obtain a copy of Essential Oil Safety - Second Edition by Robert Tisserand and Rodney Young to have on hand to help guide evidence-based safe use.