Essential Oils Should be Avoided by Persons with G6PD Deficiency?

It is now very common to hear people say about G6PD deficiency, such as “My child has G6PD deficiency… what foods to avoid?”

Yes, G6PD deficiency is prevalence in worldwide, affecting 10% of the world population with approximately 400 million people. In Malaysia, around 1 in 10 children are G6PD deficiency.

What is G6PD deficiency?

6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency is a common genetic enzyme deficiency. This enzyme deficiency will increase the vulnerability of red blood cells to oxidative stress.

If the G6PD deficiency person is infected or expoused to oxidative stimuli drugs or chemical agents, the red blood cells will damaged in large scale and it will lead to acute haemolysis. Excessive bilirubin produced during acute haemolysis will cause liver overloaded and resulted in jaundice.

G6PD deficiency has another name called favism, I believe the name is derived from fava beans where acute heomolysis can be triggered by consumption of fava beans.

It is interesting to know that The Greek philosopher, Pythagoras actually has warned his followers against the dangers of eating fava beans. According to Frank, “Fava beans are presumed to cause oxidative damage by an unknown component, possibly vicine, convicine, or isouramil”.

Effects of G6PD Deficiency

Haemolytic anaemia, a condition in which red blood cells are destroyed and removed from the bloodstream before their normal lifespan is over. (https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/ha)

Neonatal hyperbilirubinemia, is a higher than normal level of bilirubin in the blood. Bilirubin is a by-product of the breakdown of red blood cells. This condition can cause a yellow discoloration of the skin and the whites of the eyes called jaundice. (http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/neonatal+jaundice)

Essential Oils Should be avoided by Persons with G6PD Deficiency

Currently there is no cure for G6PD deficiency. To prevent exposure to oxidative stimuli which will triggered acute haemolytic, you should avoid essential oils with naphthalene-related compounds, such as menthol and camphor. So far I only noticed two essential oils are listed in publication.

There are:

Essential Oil Name Contains
Peppermint Mentha piperita 40% menthol, 19% menthone
Cornmint Mentha arvensis 60 – 80% menthol

Menthol has caused liver problems in people who are G6PD deficiency.  And according to Price & Price (1999), Menthol in peppermint oil has caused breathing to stop in young children, and has caused severe jaundice in babies with G6PD deficiency.

Kindly read more on my previous article in peppermint vs cornmint.

References:

Buckle, J, 2014. Clinical Aromatherapy: Essential Oils in Practice, Elservier Health Sciences.

Bowling, A.C., Optimal Health with Multiple Sclerosis: A Guide to Integrating Lifestyle, Alternative, and Conventional Medicine, Demos Medical Publishing

Frank, J. E. 2005. Diagnosis and Management of G6PD Deficiency, Vol. 72. American Family Physician. http://www.aafp.org/afp/2005/1001/p1277.pdf

Maria Lis-Balchin (2006), Aromatherapy Science: A Guide for Healthcare Professionals, Pharmaceutical Press.

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