Think of peppermint, and we would quickly recall the sweet-flavored peppermint candies or mouth fresheners. But do you know peppermint oil is one of the most versatile oils that offers therapeutic benefits?
What is Peppermint Oil?
People extract trhe oil from “Mentha piperita” or peppermint plant. The plant is a cross between two variants – the water mint and the spearmint. The plant grows abundantly in parts of Europe and North America.
The oil is derived from the peppermint leaves and has a distinct odor and flavor. Peppermint oil benefits are numerous and share its glory with lavender oil. It is used in a variety of health purposes and also to flavor foods and is used in cosmetics and soaps.
Menthol and Menthone are the two key ingredients in the preparation of the oils and are used in relieving pain, gives energy and helps in the prevention of harmful bacteria. Menthol is also the secret behind the cooling sensation and gives the unique sharp flavor and fresh odor to the peppermint.
History of Peppermint Oil
Peppermint is an ancient herb and dates back to early 1500 BC. The ancient Egyptians used to put the dried leaves of peppermint on the tombs most likely for its fresh strong odor.
In ancient Greek mythology, peppermint leaves have been used for its sweet-smelling aroma. In ancient Japan and China, peppermint leaves were used as herbal medicine and also for culinary purposes.
Types of Peppermint Oil
Different versions of the oil are available in the market and are used for different purposes. The three main types of the oil include:
- Peppermint essential oil. These are highly concentrated oils and are derived from the leaves of the peppermint plant. They are used for a number of therapeutic purposes as well as for skincare or aromatherapy.
- Peppermint extracts. These are diluted forms of the oil and are mostly used as a flavoring agent for foods and beverages.
- Peppermint capsules. They are often used as a dietary supplement and helps in the relief of medical conditions such as IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), abdominal pain, bloating, headaches, or the common cold.
Peppermint Oil Benefits and Uses
Peppermint oil uses are innumerable as they offer medicinal uses, work a flavoring agent, and also as cosmetic ingredients. Let us now explore some of the benefits of peppermint oil and how they can be used in our daily living. Find out some of the best peppermint oil health benefits:
Irritable Bowel Syndrome or IBS
Peppermint is extensively used for the treatment and relief of the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome or IBS.
IBS is a gastro-intestinal disorder and can cause chronic abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea, and inflammation.
Peppermint uses in relieving IBS symptoms such as:
- Reduces inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract of the GI tract.
- Relaxes the GI tract muscles and relieves pain.
- Fights with the GI tract infection.
Functional dyspepsia or FD is a condition characterized by severe bloating, pain, and discomfort in the upper part of the abdomen or stomach. The oil along with caraway has been found helpful in relieving the symptoms of acute pain, especially in young children.
Nausea and Vomiting
Research studies have shown that aromatherapy with peppermint essential oil can help in the symptoms of morning sickness during pregnancy.
Inhalation of peppermint oil after surgery can relieve the symptoms of postoperative nausea and vomiting or PONV to some extent.
Peppermint Oil for Pain
Menthol is a quick solution for migraine pain attacks. Peppermint oil or gels can be applied on foreheads and temples for relief of pain from headaches. People often use peppermint tablets to relieve symptoms.
Treatment for Indigestion
Peppermint oil is one of the earliest herbs used for the treatment of indigestion. Peppermint has carminative properties and relieves gas from the stomach and decreases flatulence and abdominal pain.
For quick relief, apply and smoothly massage some peppermint oil on your stomach. Inhalation of this oil is also an anecdote for nausea and vomiting sensation.
Cold and Cough
Menthol is one of the most common ingredients used in the preparation of cough syrups, chest rubs, and cough lozenges. Menthol soothes the throat and decreases the urge to cough.
Peppermint can relieve respiratory problems, common cold and cough symptoms, sinusitis, and nasal congestion.
For nasal congestion, you can add a few drops of peppermint oil along with a carrier oil into a humidifier and inhale for relief.
You can alternatively add a few drops of the peppermint essential oil in boiling water in a glass bowl. Cover your head with a towel and inhale the steam for 10 to 15 minutes. It will reduce headaches and clear nasal congestion.
Down with migraine pain? Can’t make it to the office? Well, here is an easy solution. Peppermint is an excellent remedy for migraine pain and sinusitis.
Migraine pain can persist for a few hours and can bring in nausea and vomiting sensation. You can take a few drops of peppermint oil along with a carrier oil to apply topically on the forehead and on the temples for pain relief. It can also decrease the sensations of nausea.
Peppermint oil has proved to be an excellent stress buster. You can apply some oil on the back of your neck. It will help you relax and soothe your senses.
Feeling anxious lately? Why not try a soothing peppermint bath? Peppermint oil in combination with lavender and geranium oils is perfect for a warm bath. The sweet smell of the essential oils will soothe your muscles and relax your senses. Your body absorbs the essential oils from the warm bath and removes stiffness and refreshes your body and mind.
Peppermint aromatherapy is not only a beauty product but has important medicinal benefits. You can try an aromatherapy spa with some scented candles. It will rejuvenate you and also helps in depression and anxiety.
Peppermint is an energy booster. There are days when we all feel a little low in energy and stressed out. Peppermint oil can improve your mental sharpness and enhance your energy.
A few drops of peppermint oil on the nose can keep you alert and improve your clarity. It can also be applied to the neck and shoulders to relieve anxiety and pressure.
A peppermint diffuser in the workplace or at home can boost the energy levels, improve concentration, remove sleepiness, and enhance the mood. You can also inhale some peppermint oil before a workout or after your whole day’s work. It can relieve fatigue and help you relax.
Peppermint Oil for Muscle Pain
Peppermint oil has anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic properties. This acts as an on-the-spot pain relief agent especially for muscle cramps, inflammation, and spasms.
A combination of essential oils on the skin can increase blood circulation, open up the skin pores, and provide a warm sensation in the area of pain.
Bacteria and Yeast Infection
Peppermint oil has antibacterial properties. It can kill the mouth germs and remove the foul smell from your mouth. It can form a coating on your teeth and protect it from bacteria.
Scientists have found that peppermint can fight bacteria like E. coli, listeria, salmonella, and also staphylococcus aureus. Staphylococcus aureus causes skin infections, meningitis, and pneumonia.
According to the Center for Disease Control, U.S., about 75% of the women are affected by vaginal yeast infection at least once in their life.
Vaginal yeast infections are common and can recur if untreated for a long period of time. Peppermint oil acts as an antifungal agent and can be used for the treatment of yeast infection.
Take a few drops of peppermint oil along with a carrier oil like coconut oil and dilute it with water. Apply the mixture topically on the area of infection. Use it regularly to relieve the symptoms.
Peppermint tea has therapeutic benefits. Though it is not an alternative for treatment, drinking a cup of peppermint tea regularly can ease the symptoms.
Peppermint Oil for Menstrual Cramps
The oil can help relieve menstrual headaches as well as reduce the intensity of menstrual cramps and help you relax.
Peppermint Oil Benefits for Hair
Peppermint oil is good for hair and scalp. The benefits of peppermint as a hair-care product include:
- Reduces itchiness and dryness of the scalp.
- Promotes hair growth.
- Reduces hair loss.
- Maintains the pH balance of your scalp.
- Antifungal remedy for scalp rashes and infections.
- It helps to treat dandruff.
Menthol is a vasodilator and improves blood flow. Hair loss occurs when there is not enough blood flow in the hair follicles. Peppermint essential oils improve the blood flow in the hair follicles and promote the growth of thicker and healthier hair. It can help cure male-pattern baldness and female baldness.
Peppermint is a common ingredient in hair-care products like shampoos and oil. The sweet smell of the oil gives freshness to your hair.
You can prepare your very own peppermint shampoo at home. Just add a few drops of the essential oil in your favorite shampoo or conditioner. Apply it whenever you want.
You can also make a scalp massage peppermint oil at home. Take a carrier oil like coconut or jojoba oil. Add a few drops of peppermint oil and mix it well. Apply it on the scalp and massage for 10 to 15 minutes. Leave the oil on the scalp for a few minutes and then wash it off with a mild herbal shampoo.
Peppermint Oil for Skin
Peppermint oil is an important component of beauty products and offers a myriad of benefits for the skin. The benefits for skin include:
- It helps to rejuvenate dull and dry skin. Peppermint oil gives a healthy and radiant shine to the skin. You can use peppermint toners, masks, and cleansers and get that beautiful healthy shine in your skin.
- Peppermint can treat acne. The oil controls excess oil secretion and can help open up the pores of the skin.
- Promotes blood circulation and helps to get a youthful glow to the skin.
- The cooling effect of peppermint can help in soothing burns, skin irritations, and rashes. You can use it along with essential oils and soothe the pain due to skin burns.
- Acts as an antifungal agent for skin rashes. The oil can cure nail fungal infections.
Peppermint Oil Household Benefits
Peppermint is an antifungal agent and can work as an insect repellant and a cleaning agent. The natural antibacterial properties of the oil can kill common household insects and bacteria. The oil can soothe pain from insect and mosquito bites.
The strong smell of the oil can repel mice and other insects from the house. If you have lots of ant in your house, you can soak some cotton balls in peppermint and leave it at the corners. It will repel the ants and leave a lingering aroma in your house.
To make your DIY insect repellant:
- Add 10 to 15 drops of peppermint oil to a half cup of water. Add half a cup of vinegar and a few drops of dishwashing solution. Mix all the ingredients.
- Apply the cleaner where you find infestation.
- Allow the solution to dry. Then wipe it off with a clean cloth. The smell will help in killing germs. This is especially helpful during rainy seasons when infections are high.
How to use Peppermint Oil?
Always remember to dilute the oil with a carrier oil like coconut oil or with water before applying it on skin. It may cause a burning sensation.
Avoid using the oil around your eyes. Do not consume the oil directly. Keep the oil out of reach of children and infants.
Purchase a brand that is good for your skin. Consult a doctor if you have noticed any side effects from the use of the oil.
Avoid using the oil during pregnancy or while you are breastfeeding.
Peppermint oil has certain side effects such as:
- Rash and flushing sensation.
- Diarrhea and burning sensation in the anus.
- Mouth ulcers.
- Burning mouth syndrome or BMS.
- Inflammation and skin irritation.
- Breathing problems.
An overdose of the oil can cause acute renal failure. Consult a doctor, pharmacist, or a beautician to know about the ideal dosage of the oil.