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Peppermint oil overdose

Peppermint oil is an oil made from the peppermint plant. Peppermint oil overdose occurs when someone swallows more than the normal or recommended amount of this product. This can be by accident or on purpose.

This is for information only and not for use in the treatment or management of an actual overdose. DO NOT use it to treat or manage an actual overdose. If you or someone you are with overdoses, call your local emergency number (such as 911), or your local poison center can be reached directly by calling the national toll-free Poison Help hotline (1-800-222-1222) from anywhere in the United States.

Poisonous Ingredient

Menthol is the ingredient in peppermint oil that can be poisonous in large amounts.

Where Found

Peppermint oil is used to flavor various products. It is also used:

  • As a germ-killing (antiseptic) product
  • As a numbing product (anesthetic)
  • In herbal medicine to relieve spasms

Other products may also contain peppermint oil.

Symptoms

Below are symptoms of a peppermint oil overdose in different parts of the body.

HEART AND BLOOD

LUNGS

STOMACH AND INTESTINES

KIDNEYS AND BLADDER

NERVOUS SYSTEM

SKIN

  • Redness

Home Care

Seek medical help right away. Do NOT make the person throw up unless poison control or a health care provider tells you to.

Before Calling Emergency

Have this information ready:

  • Person's age, weight, and condition
  • Name of the product (ingredients and strength, if known)
  • Time it was swallowed
  • Amount swallowed

Poison Control

Your local poison center can be reached directly by calling the national toll-free Poison Help hotline (1-800-222-1222) from anywhere in the United States. This national hotline number will let you talk to experts in poisoning. They will give you further instructions.

This is a free and confidential service. All local poison control centers in the United States use this national number. You should call if you have any questions about poisoning or poison prevention. It does NOT need to be an emergency. You can call for any reason, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

What to Expect at the Emergency Room

Take the container with you to the hospital, if possible.

The provider will measure and monitor the person's vital signs, including temperature, pulse, breathing rate, and blood pressure. Symptoms will be treated. The person may receive:

  • Activated charcoal
  • Blood and urine tests
  • Breathing support, including tube through the mouth into the lungs and breathing machine (ventilator)
  • Chest x-ray
  • EKG (electrocardiogram, or heart tracing)
  • Fluids through a vein (by IV)
  • Laxative
  • Medicine to treat symptoms
  • Tube down the windpipe and lungs to look for damage and burns (bronchoscopy)
  • Tube through the mouth into the stomach to wash out the stomach (gastric lavage)

Outlook (Prognosis)

How well someone does depends on the amount of peppermint oil swallowed and how quickly treatment is received. The faster medical help is given, the better the chance is for recovery.

Survival past 48 hours is often a good sign that recovery will occur. If the kidneys are damaged, they may take several months to heal. Long-term injury to the lungs can also occur.

References

Jeske AH. Complementary and alternative medications and dietary supplements. In: Jeske AH, ed. Mosby's Dental Drug Reference. 11th ed. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier Mosby; 2014:chap h.

Maypole J, Woolf AD. Essential oils. In: Shannon MW, Borron SW, Burns MJ, eds. Haddad and Winchester's Clinical Management of Poisoning and Drug Overdose. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2007:chap 101.

Murray MT. Mentha piperita (peppermint). In: Pizzorno JE, Murray MT, eds. Textbook of Natural Medicine. 4th ed. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier; 2013:chap 105.

Nair B. Final report on the safety assessment of mentha piperita (peppermint) oil, mentha piperita (peppermint) leaf extract, mentha piperita (peppermint) leaf, and mentha piperita (peppermint) leaf water. Int J Toxicol. 2001;20 Suppl 3:61-73. PMID: 11766133 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11766133.

Review Date 10/14/2015

Updated by: Jacob L. Heller, MD, MHA, Emergency Medicine, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.