Epilepsy, Rosemary and Aromatherapy
Which essential oils are safe to use and how to calculate when they are not!
WARNING: this article is quite long but does contain some important information regarding the safe use of essential oils
We had a phone call today from a very concerned client of ours who we treasure dearly. She was quite upset and wanted to discuss our use of Rosemary Essential Oil in our Breathe Easy Pulse Point Potion.
You see she had been talking to a friend and was recommending that she use Breathe Easy Pulse Point Potion for her hayfever. Now, as an epileptic, her friend had read that epileptics can not use Rosemary essential oil as it would bring on a seizure!
Of course our client was concerned that her friend could not now use the Breathe Easy Pulse Potion because it contained Rosemary Essential Oil. We understand the concern as there is so much mis-information as well as half and near-truths that surround the use of essential oil out in the public arena.
Lets look at the established science
As usual it is always best to go to the science behind an issue - and in this case the scientific literature is quite definitive - there are three cases where ingesting (ie taking by mouth - drinking) high monoterpene essential oils has brought on seizures. Rosemary is considered a high monoterpene essential oil.
In the first case a 54 yr old woman drank a mouthful of Sage essential oil - every week - for several years and experienced burning of the esophagus, dizziness and increase heart rate... then one day she took an even higher dose - and had a seizure. She ended up in hospital and recovered fully from her experience... and she never resumed drinking Sage oil!
The other two cases also involved drinking pure, undiluted essential oils in reasonably large doses - by large we are talking around 5 ml for a young child of 3 for several days!
Another research paper (Ref 2 below) looked at injecting several high monoterpene essential oils into mice to study the effects. The essential oils used were sage, hyssop, thuja and cedar. Experimenting on mice they determined that the subclinical oral dose for the most potent - ie the dose where there is no detrimental clinical effect on the brain - is 0.08 grams per kilogram of body weight for hyssop essential oil and 0.3 grams per kilogram for Sage Essential Oil.
Taking the most potent oil - Hyssop Essential oil- that means a child of 20kgs would not receive a detrimental dose to the brain if they absorbed into their body anything under 1.6grams of pure hyssop oil (about a 1/4 teaspoon) or 6grams (just over a teaspoon) of Sage Essential Oil. Note we are talking about absorbing or ingesting the oil...NOT applying it to the skin!
Now Rosemary essential oil is not mentioned in this particular study but as it contains monoterpenes ( the active ingredient that researchers were concerned about) in even lower concentrations than common Sage essential oil we can deduct that
ingesting a teaspoon of Rosemary oil (5ml) for a 20 kg child would still be considered subclinical. This is equivalent to over 20ml of Rosemary essential oil in an Adult weighting 80 kgs!
Of course I would NEVER suggest that you drink any essential oil diluted or undiluted - the burning of the esophagus would not be pleasant!
Breathe Easy Essential oil, pulse point potions and RosemaryNow lets look at the formula for Breathe Easy. Each
Calculating the actual amount of rosemary oil absorbed into the bodyAs a worst case scenario let us look at calculating the dose amount of rosemary oil absorbed into the body after applying undiluted Breathe Easy Essential Oil to the skin at the temples and neck ( not something we usually recommend) equivalent to 3 drops of essential oil blend.
AND THIS IS FOR the UNDILUTED, PURE ESSENTIAL OIL BLEND not our Pulse Point Potion!!!
When you consider that the pulse point potion contains only 15% of the rosemary essential oil as found in the Breathe Easy EO Blend - you can see that the amount of rosemary oil that can be absorbed when using the Breathe Easy Pulse PointPotion is significantly less than even these calculated doses!
We really are very concerned about the health and well being of our clients and we are very concerned that they receive the very best, accurate and most up to date information at all times.
I spend an inordinate amount of time researching and scouring scientific publications and journals to ensure that each formulation, each product and what we do at moon haven is safe for use by our clients.
We have found that there is a huge amount of hearsay and unsubstantiated half truths and misconceptions regarding the use of aromatherapy circulating on the net. Like chinese whispers - these misconceptions are repeated and passed on - from one person to another until they take on a life of their own and accepted as the gospel truth.
So we have found that when trying to work out what is the actual truth in a situation - it is best at all times to go to the scientific research and look to what is the actual proven case as defined by the scientific community.
And as you can see the amount of Rosemary essential oil in our Breathe Easy Essential Oil Blend and Pulse Point Potions is significantly within the safe use limits for use by the general public and epileptics alike!
So please use these wonderfully helpful products if you suffer from hayfever, headaches or even hangovers.
References: 1. Journal of Neurology Volume 246, Number 8, 667-670, DOI: 10.1007/s004150050429 Plant-induced seizures: reappearance of an old problem P. R. Burkhard, Karim Burkhardt, Charles-Antoine Haenggeli and Theodor Landis 2.Clin Toxicol. 1981 Dec;18(12):1485-98. Toxicity of some essential plant oils. Clinical and experimental study. Millet Y, Jouglard J, Steinmetz MD, Tognetti P, Joanny P, Arditti J.