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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6 thoughts on “Essential Oils Should be Avoided by Persons with G6PD Deficiency?

    1. I believe what you are being caution is because of the camphor compound in the rosemary. But I couldn’t find any support document or study on this at this. Based on the clinical studies, the foods or chemicals that should be avoided completely are fava beans, Naphthalene and Aniline dyes. Whereas, the foods or chemicals for which there is no evidence to contraindicate their use are pumpkin unripe peaches, vicia sativa, fenugreek seeds, flower pollen, synthetic cannabinoids, silver sulfadiazine, hoya carnosa, Menthol, Aluminium phosphide, Vicia faba. In this studies, they also didn’t confirm that camphor is one of the contributor. But if you have any information, I am glad you can share with us too.

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  1. My son, now 37 was diagnosed with g6pd when he was an infant.

    I am quite confused about what can be taken in g6pd condition and what not. I have heard about contraindication of pumpkin in g6pd only for the first time from this article.

    As regards my son, he has been using mouthwash with peppermint for years now without any problem. He also consumes pumpkin and nothing adverse was ever noted.

    After browsing the net for a couple of hours, it appears that a g6pd patient can hardly take anything because the list of forbidden food items or items of daily use is increasing every day.

    Could you confirm to me the food items which are absolutely forbidden in g6pd?

    I shall also appreciate if you could share with me the information if tea tree oil, clove oil, cinnamon oil and any other oil (other than the two oils you mentioned in this article) are contraindicated in g6pd because I am planning to prepare a mouthwash at home with some of these oils.

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    1. You can always refer to the medical practitioner advice before using the particular foods or oils for G6PD deficiency. It is sometimes hard to tell who is totally OK with the ingredients as our body is very individual to us, we just based on the cases study and experiences we have. You might have allergy to this particular ingredients and not another ingredients. But others might be allergy to. Therefore, you will need to test and start with minimum quantity and use it with cautions. They are a lot of consideration of it, mouth wash will rinse off, so the quantity amount absorb in the body will not be much compare to leave on product. You can refer https://forestscent.com/2017/10/28/essential-oils-safety/

      I personally allergy to lemongrass when inhalation but when I blend it with other oils such as Lavender, then I am ok with it.

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