Can You Actually Be Allergic To Peppermint Oil?

Take a stroll in the supermarket, and you'll find peppermint oil is included in many products such as toothpaste, gum, essential oils, skin lotions, candy, and even ice cream. Even though research has shown this oil may be beneficial in naturally relieving pain, headaches, or nausea, peppermint oil can have adverse effects in some individuals due to the substances the plant carries (via Healthline).

This oil comes from the peppermint plant, and consists of over 40 chemical compounds such as menthone, menthol, and more, according to a 2014 study published in Avicenna Journal of Phytomedicine. The problem here is while some of these compounds are anti-inflammatory and antibacterial, others can cause an allergic reaction (per Healthline).

While it's extremely rare, severe reactions do occur. For instance, one case published by the Allergy, Asthma & Clinical Immunology reports an older male went into anaphylactic shock five minutes after eating a peppermint candy. Another similar case was reported in 2011, after a woman started experiencing heightened asthmatic symptoms whenever she chatted with someone who had previously ate mint. Healthline explains that mint allergies occur through sensitization, which is when too many antibodies (our natural bodyguards) try to fight a foreign substance.

How to tell if you're allergic to peppermint oil

When your body overproduces antibodies, you run the risk of experiencing allergic reactions. In regards to peppermint oil, Healthline shares that allergies can develop by touching, smelling, or eating the mint. If you're allergic to peppermint oil, symptoms can develop immediately after contact. An allergic reaction after ingesting peppermint would consist of symptoms like itchy throat, swollen lips or tongue, tingling mouth, and stomach pain. These signs are similar to other food allergies.

If you were to touch a mint plant and experience an allergic reaction, this is called contact dermatitis. According to Healthline, some symptoms include itchiness, redness, hives, swelling, or pain. Researchers believe the biggest chemical offenders in contact dermatitis are menthol, mentha citrata, and mentha longifolia (via DermNet).

Lastly, anaphylaxis is the last and most severe tell-tell sign that you're severely allergic to peppermint oil, points out Healthline. Some signs are difficulty breathing, weak pulse, fainting, and trouble swallowing. Keep in mind, this condition is life-threatening and it's important to seek medical attention right away, even if an EpiPen has been administered. If you're concerned about mint allergies, talk to your physician, who can provide allergy testing.