Peppermint Oil and my Mom

This is a story about how using peppermint oil affected my mother.

A few years ago, my mom, who was in her seventies, had been getting little strokes which affected the top of her throat so she found it quite difficult to swallow certain foods such as lettuce. Then she had a major stroke and was bed ridden. She had quite a problem clearing her throat, always feeling like it was blocked up and afraid that she wouldn’t be able to breathe. She would try to cough up whatever was in the way, but it continued being a difficult and uncomfortable problem. A second problem was that my mom had become extremely sensitive to any smells, be they cigarette smoke, someone’s perfume etc. She would get quite agitated and insist that the offending person leave.

One day when I was there, and my mom was having quite a difficult time with this, I said to my sister, (who was her major caregiver), “Too bad I didn’t have some peppermint oil, it might help this.” And my sister said, “I think I have some.” She got it out and she applied it to my mom’s throat and upper chest area.

Well. Maybe she put on too much oil; certainly the smell was too much for my mom. “What’s that smell? Get that smell away. Take away that smell right now!” and she really became quite agitated. So we tried to remove it, blew a fan in the room to take away any peppermint in the air, you have to realize that it’s not that it was that strong, my mom just was very sensitive to any smells of any kind. But we got a little worried because my mom became so agitated. It took about 20 minutes before my mom settled back down and we were like, “Ok, guess we won’t do that again.”

My mom died about 9 months later, and when my sister and I were going through her things, I said, “Remember when we did that with the peppermint oil?” “Yeah.” “Well, I think it actually helped her, she never had problems with swallowing and feeling like her throat was blocked up any more after that, did she?” And my sister said, “I know, it helped.” Did we go a little over the top with the oil? I think it's good that we used it; yes, she was a bit agitated for a few minutes, but it gave her a better quality of life during the time left before she died.

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