Can Essential Oils Cause Seizures?

Can Essential Oils Cause Seizures? 7 Studies and a Safety Guide

Posted on Posted in Essential Oils Basics

If you suffer from seizures you know you have to be careful with every single natural remedy you use. On a certain level, Aromatherapy can be of help too. There are many great parts about it, but there are some dangerous parts also. Can essential oils cause seizures?

 

Normally, most essential oils are not dangerous for a person with a good health. But for someone suffering from seizures, some essential oils can really worsen their condition. To answer whether the essential oils can cause seizures or not, I’ve done a thorough research.

 

I found some studies that support both the good side of Aromatherapy and its bad side. It really depends on the essential oil you want to use to protect your health from seizures.

 

Some EOs (essential oils) can help you relax, thus lower the intensity of the seizures. Or control how often the seizures occur. While other essential oils can worsen all phases of a seizure and even cause more of them.

 

Further on, in this article I will detail those essential oils that are good to use when you suffer from seizures. I found studies that back them up so it will be interesting to see what exactly happens when you use essential oils for epilepsy.

 

I will also tell you about those essential oils that are not recommended for epilepsy. They should totally be avoided. I have found studies that support the fact that some essential oils are not recommended. Let’s see whether the essential oils can cause seizures or not.

 

Can Essential Oils Cause Seizures

 

Can Essential Oils Cause Seizures? A Little Bit About Seizures

 

 

Aromatherapy is a well-known practice among those who prefer natural remedies. It implies the use of essential oils. We know that essential oils are very powerful substances. That is why we have to use vegetable oils to dilute their power. A good essential oil dilution keeps our body safe from any unwanted effects.

 

But even if they’re natural, a few essential oils can also be harmful, especially if you suffer from seizures.

 

Seizures manifest themselves through convulsions. A convulsion is a sudden spasm of the body. Convulsions can be violent or mild. Their cause is not always known with accuracy, but they’re usually caused by:

 

  • Head injuries
  • Genes
  • Dementia
  • Lupus.

 

Seizures can also be started or worsened by certain toxins in the blood. This is where our topic gets interesting.

 

Can essential oils cause seizures? Essential oils contain both benefic and toxic compounds. Some of them contain concentrations of toxic compounds that are too small to have a serious effect on a normal person. But other essential oils contain high concentrations of convulsants.

 

Convulsants are substances that induce epileptic seizures or convulsions. The convulsants that some essential oils contain are called:

 

  • Camphor: found in Spike Lavender (Lavandula latifolia). Rosemary essential oil and Sage essential oil (Salvia officinalis).

 

*Note: Spike Lavender is not the same as pure Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia). And Sage essential oil is not the same as Clary Sage essential oil (Salvia sclarea). All of these 4 essential oils have different chemical components and properties. Clary Sage is a lot milder and less dangerous than Sage essential oil.

 

  • Fenchone: found in Fennel essential oil (Foeniculum vulgare)
  • Pinocamphone: found in Hyssop essential oil (Hyssopus officinalis)
  • Thujone: found in essential oils like Wormwood, Tansy and Sage (again!)
  • Cineole: Rosemary essential oil
  • Pulegone: Pennyroyal essential oil and Wild Mint
  • Sabinyl acetate: Savin essential oil

 

These chemical components present a high risk of inducing seizures or convulsions. People that already suffer from them should always pay close attention to what remedies they use.

 

Generally speaking, low and moderate doses of essential oils that don’t contain these components are safe for most people suffering from epilepsy. If you ever want to give essential oils a try, then keep on reading. I will also talk about the essential oils you can use if you suffer from seizures.

 

Always do your research and investigate everything about the oil you’ve chosen. Ask for your medic’s approval or advice when you want to use essential oils. And never neglect your normal anti-seizures medication.

 

Can Ketones Help With Seizures and How?

 

You’ve probably heard about the ketogenic diet. It’s one of the popular diets recommended for people suffering from epilepsy. It usually gives good results, especially in children. The ketogenic diet relies a lot on ketones.

 

What are ketones? They are the result of your body consuming fat instead of carbohydrates for energy. They’re acids that can also be toxic if too many accumulate in the body. Ketones are very dangerous for people who suffer from diabetes, but they can help those suffering from seizures.

 

How? A diet that’s rich in fats (the ketogenic diet) will produce enough ketones that will ultimately reach the brain. They will boost the production of chemicals that decrease or slow down the activity of the neurons.

 

They can also help the brain use all that energy in a more efficient way. All these situations can lead to a decrease in the number and frequency of seizures. This is the most popular theory so far.

 

That is why many people that consumed Coconut oil say it helps them reduce their seizures. However, the method of using ketones in epilepsy is still being studied. But studies and experiments so far have shown positive results.

 

Can Essential Oils Cause Seizures

 

Essential Oils You Could Use When You Suffer From Seizures

 

There are people whose bodies are resistant to all seizures medication. Because of that, they turned towards Aromatherapy – the use of both vegetable oils and essential oils. Can essential oils cause seizures or not? Some can indeed cause convulsions and start seizures. But there are also essential oils that can be used to aid epilepsy patients.

 

Some found Aromatherapy to be helpful. But remember, each body is different! Always ask for a doctor’s advice before taking radical measures when it comes to anti-seizure medication.

 

You can still use the following essential oils if you suffer from seizures. Especially, if they’re triggered by stress:

 

Jasmine essential oil – has uplifting effect thanks to its scent. It stimulates the release of serotonin, which makes a person more energetic and in a good mood. Jasmine oil also has mild sedative effects for the mind and body, which can help with seizures.

 

Roman Chamomile essential oil – is also good at removing bad feelings and depression. It totally relaxes and calms down the body and mind. Roman Chamomile oil can also help calming down nervous hyper-reactions.

 

They are usually the ones that trigger spasms or convulsions. Roman Chamomile has the ability of keeping the nerves in place and in good health at the same time.

 

Ylang-Ylang essential oil – has strong antidepressant properties. It is recommended in chronic stress and nervous breakdowns. Ylang-ylang is especially good after a shock or seizure. It can also strengthen the nervous system, protecting it from further damage.

 

Can Essential Oils Cause Seizures

 

Lavender essential oil – is widely known and used as a calming essential oil. Besides its many uses, Lavender essential oil can have a positive effect over the nervous system. It means the oil can release nervous tension and exhaustion. But it can also increase mental activity and regulate the heart beatings.

 

Clary Sage essential oil – is another good antidepressant that relieves anxiety. Clary Sage oil can calm down convulsions because of its mild sedative effects. It can also help with spasms by relaxing nervous impulses. Clary Sage can help with vertigo and hysteria too.

 

Frankincense essential oil – has good sedative effects, especially on the mind. It should be used right before you feel a seizure or stressful period of time coming up. It reduces the blood pressure so your nasal passage stays clear and allows relaxation to settle in.

 

Studies That Found Essential Oils to Have Anti-Seizure Effects

 

Can essential oils cause seizures? Some researchers asked themselves this question and decided to do some tests. Lucky us!

 

I found that all their tests and studies were performed on lab mice. They are all published on the US National Library of Medicine website.

 

First study refers to essential oils administration in mice. They were injected doses of PTZ (Pentylenetetrazol) one hour after the essential oils were injected too. PTZ is a substance/drug that causes convulsions.

 

The administered essential oils on mice managed to reduce their seizures and even avoid them.

 

This study shows that the highest rate of survival was among mice that were given Peppermint and Lavender oils. At the opposite side, were the mice that were given Oregano essential oil with 100% mortality rate.

 

Second study refers to the anti-seizure activity of Angelica root essential oil. The oil is also known as Archangelica officinalis.

 

Mice were given doses of Angelica root essential oil for their weight. Then, some were injected with PTZ, while others were electroshocked.

 

It was found that Angelica root essential oil was able to suppress the length of electroshock and PTZ induced seizures. The entire experiment was a success, Angelica EO showing visible anti-seizure effects.

 

Third study refers to the anti-convulsant activity of Black Cumin essential oil – Bunium persicum (Boiss)

 

The plant grows in Iran and it is known for its medicinal properties. Mice were electroshocked and injected with PTZ, just like in the study of Angelica root oil.

 

Black Cumin essential oil showed it was able to prevent the induced seizures, in doses higher than 1 ml/kg. In the end, scientists concluded that Black Cumin essential oil may prove useful in controlling grand mal and absence seizures.

 

The fourth study in this field is a human experiment. Dr. Tim Betts, at the University of Birmingham, UK, used essential oils on a few patients that suffered from epilepsy.

 

The patients were massaged with different essential oils. The purpose was to make their brain think of relaxation when they would smell that essential oil and stop the seizures.

 

Final results showed that an epileptic person might get fewer seizures if they practiced and trained their brain enough. The relaxation might be triggered by simply smelling a specific essential oil.

 

In this experiment the most successful oil was Jasmine, but it may not work the same for everyone. That would only be because of personal fragrance preferences.

 

After everything we’ve seen so far, can essential oils cause seizures? Again, only some essential oils can, and you’re about to discover which ones. But we also know now that there are other essential oils that can help people with seizures.

 

Essential Oils You Should Avoid When You Suffer From Seizures

 

Some essential oils can be very toxic, we’ve established that. They can be so, especially if a large dose is used, or if they’re taken internally. Because of that, there are a number of essential oils that are usually associated with seizures and convulsions.

 

It’s the substances they contain that are known to cause seizures. If you are suffering from seizures or any type of convulsions you should talk to your doctor before using any of the following essential oils.

 

Again, these toxic essential oils can damage existent conditions if taken in high amounts. But in small doses, they can also help with a lot of other conditions.

 

The essential oils that should be avoided by people who suffer from seizures are:

 

  1. Borago officinalisBorage essential oil
  2. Cinnamomum camphoraCamphor essential oil
  3. Eucalyptus globulusEucalyptus essential oil
  4. Oenothera biennisEvening Primrose essential oil
  5. Foeniculum vulgareFennel essential oil
  6. Hyssopus officinalisHyssop essential oil
  7. Mentha pulegiumPennyroyal essential oil
  8. Rosmarinus officinalisRosemary essential oil
  9. Salvia officinalisSage essential oil
  10. Juniperus sabinaSavin essential oil
  11. Lavandula latifoliaSpike Lavender essential oil
  12. Hypericum perforatum John’s Wort essential oil
  13. Tanacetum vulgareTansy essential oil
  14. Thuya occidentalisThuja essential oil
  15. Pinus species – Turpentine essential oil
  16. Artemisia absinthiumWormwood essential oil

 

Except Evening Primrose oil, which is a carrier oil, the rest of the oils are essential oils. Can essential oils cause seizures? Yes, many of them can, but not all!

 

The 16 essential oils from above can induce seizures because they have high amounts of convulsants like cineole, camphor, thujone and fenchone. Pulegone, sabinylacetate and pinocamphone are also powerful convulsants.

 

The oils I mentioned above are among the traditional essential oils that are contraindicated in epilepsy.

 

Studies That Show How Other Essential Oils Can Cause Seizures

 

One study refers to 3 reported cases of plant-induced seizures. 2 adults and 1 child suffered from seizures caused by the absorption of toxic essential oils. Researchers mention that there were no other causes of epilepsy found. Only the adults responded well after the medical treatment.

 

These cases suggest that high doses of convulsants can indeed induce seizures.

 

Can Essential Oils Cause Seizures
Sweet fennel seeds

 

Another study refers to the power of fennel essential oil to start seizures.

 

The case involved a woman of 38 years that suffered from epilepsy. She had her own anti-epileptic treatment. But after she ingested an unknown quantity of fennel oil in a bunch of cakes, she was unconscious for about 45 minutes.

 

A third study refers to those patients that keep their epilepsy well under control, but who still get sudden breakthrough seizures.

 

The use of essential oils that have the potential of causing seizures should never be used in a temporal lobectomy. There’s been one reported case of a breakthrough seizure. It happened after using certain essential oils on the body after a lobectomy was performed.

 

All these studies or experiments that have been reported by the US National Library of Medicine suggest that people should always inquire about the use of all essential oils they want to use when they suffer from epilepsy.

 

In the end it all comes to a lot of research. You have to find out how good an essential oil is for epileptic people. This doesn’t mean you can’t use herbs or essential oils anymore. As you can see, some of them can really be helpful for your seizures or post recovery.

 

You just need to do your research before using an essential oil you’re not sure about. Always check out with your doctor also! And find trustworthy sources for your essential oils information.

 

Can essential oils cause seizures? Yes they can. At least 16 essential oils have been known to induce seizures and convulsions in patients for over a decade, and that should not be taken lightly.

 

You have them all here if you ever need to check back, but the list stays open. I will update it if something new has been discovered.

 

Have you ever used any of the allowed essential oils for your epilepsy?  Your experience with them would be most appreciated.

 

 

 

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11 thoughts on “Can Essential Oils Cause Seizures? 7 Studies and a Safety Guide

  1. My husband last night suffered a convulsion. He had been operated from a cerebral tumor 10 years ago I after that he never had problems again, untill last night. And we have drunk fennel tea. I suspdcted then some relation between the crisis an the tea. And it s true. I never imagined something like this could happen. I am regularly drinking this tea since two weeks ago because I visited an ayurveda physisian and she recomended me the tea because my stomach disorders. But I am also a scientist with some knowledge about essential oils. So after the crisis of my husband I was affraid of the tea. By one hand I feel guilty because I made the tea for him to share with me. But on the other side, after the tomography we are happy that nothing bad is going on in his brain again. All was an accident. He had left the anticonvulsivants several years ago when he was allowed by a physisian. Finnally, I never thought a simple tea could be so powerful as to make me live again all the nightmare of feeling my husband seriously ill again.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us, Liza.
      Some plants have quite powerful properties, especially if we’re predisposed to them.
      I am glad to hear your husband is ok now 🙂

  2. I have a friend that sent me a sample of peppermint essential oil to try out she sent some tips to try one being used as a breath freshener I tried that tip it was a bit strong I writing to ask if I should continue trying the tips I’m taking seizure medication and don’t want it too effect my meds what do you suggest for me to do?

    1. Hi Joyce,

      I would not recommend using Peppermint essential oil anymore.
      It contains pulegone, among other constituents. Pulegone can trigger seizure attacks, so be careful.
      You should talk to a doctor to see if he recommends a certain safe dosage for your condition.

      Take care, Joyce and hope to see you around! 🙂

      1. Pulegone (peppermint) is not mentioned in the article as being a seizure trigger. Is this new and should be added to the list?
        Can you send the research/article links to me?
        Thank you!

        1. Actually, pulegone (a neurotoxic agent found in several oils, including Peppermint) is mentioned in the article 🙂

    1. Hi TJ,

      Like I said in the article, Frankincense essential oil is good for seizures. It is very relaxing and could help preventing some episodes.

      But I already mentioned all that in the article. Was it something more specific you wanted to know about the oil?

  3. Can Panaway from Living Young Oil trigger seizures. I have them and don’t want to trigger any more! Thanks so much for any info. I take keppra for seizures.

    1. Hi TJ,

      From what I know, PanAway contains Peppermint among others. Peppermint can trigger seizures.

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