The C.A.M. Report
Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Fair, Balanced, and to the Point
  • About this web log

    This blog ran from 2006 to 2016 and was intended as an objective and dispassionate source of information on the latest CAM research. Since my background is in pharmacy and allopathic medicine, I view all CAM as advancing through the development pipeline to eventually become integrated into mainstream medical practice. Some will succeed while others fail. But all are treated fairly here.

  • About the author

    John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.

  • Common sense considerations

    The material on this weblog is for informational purposes. It is not medical advice or counsel. Be smart, consult your health professional before using CAM.

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    Contact dermatitis from lip balms that contain peppermint oil

    Researchers at McMaster University, in Hamilton, Ontario,  describe 4 patients with allergic contact cheilitis (inflammation of the lip) following exposure to peppermint oil contained in a lip balm product.

    First, the details.

    • Each patient developed inflammation of their lips and the skin around the lips.
    • The lip balm they used contained potential sensitizers such as propolis, lanolin, coconut oil, almond oil, peppermint oil, and vitamin E.
    • They were tested with a patch test for allergens.

    And the results.

    • The patch-test results showed that peppermint oil was the most likely cause of the allergic reaction in these patients.

    The bottom line?

    Peppermint oil is not commonly reported as a cause allergic contact cheilitis. In 1995 researchers from Glasgow Royal Infirmary, in the UK reported a series of patients with contact sensitivity to peppermint.

    “However,” the authors concluded, “with the widespread use of lip balms containing peppermint oil, more cases of peppermint oil-induced allergic contact cheilitis may be expected.”

    MedlinePlus tells us, “Allergic/hypersensitivity reactions may occur from using peppermint… by mouth or on the skin, including throat closing (laryngeal spasm), breathing problems (bronchial constriction/asthma symptoms), or skin rash/hives/contact dermatitis. People with known allergy/hypersensitivity to peppermint leaf or oil should avoid peppermint products.”

    8/5/10 22:04 JR

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