Peppermint oil is one of the most versatile essential oils out there. It can be used aromatically, topically and internally to address a number of health concerns, from muscles aches and seasonal allergy symptoms, to low energy and digestive complaints. It’s also commonly used to boost energy levels and improve both skin and hair health.
According to a review conducted by the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, peppermint has significant antimicrobial and antiviral activities. It also works as a strong antioxidant, displays anti-tumor actions in lab studies, shows anti-allergenic potential and pain-killing effects, helps to relax the gastrointestinal tract and may be chemopreventive.
It’s no wonder why peppermint oil is one of the most popular essential oils in the world and why everyone should have it in his or her medicine cabinet at home.
What Is Peppermint Oil?
Peppermint is a hybrid species of spearmint and water mint (Mentha aquatica). The essential oils are gathered by CO2 or cold extraction of the fresh aerial parts of the flowering plant. The most active ingredients include menthol (50–60 percent) and menthone (10–30 percent).
You can find peppermint in several forms, including peppermint essential oil, peppermint leaves, peppermint spray and peppermint tablets. Menthol is the most active ingredient in peppermint and it gives the leaves their invigorating and energizing effects. Menthol oil is commonly used in balms, shampoos and other body products for its beneficial properties.
Not only is peppermint oil one of the oldest European herbs used for medicinal purposes, other historical accounts date its use to ancient Japanese and Chinese folk medicine. It’s also mentioned in Greek mythology when the nymph Mentha (or Minthe) was transformed into a sweet-smelling herb by Pluto, who had fallen in love with her and wanted people to appreciate her for years to come.
The many peppermint oil uses have been documented back to 1,000 B.C. and have been found in several Egyptian pyramids.
Today, peppermint oil is recommended for its anti-nausea benefits and soothing effects on the gastric lining and colon. It’s also valued for its cooling effects and helps to relieve sore muscles when used topically. In addition to this, peppermint essential oil displays antimicrobial properties, which is why it can be used to fight infections and even freshen your breath.
Top 15 Oil Uses and Benefits
Some of the many uses and benefits of peppermint oil include:
1. Relieve Muscle and Joint Pain
If you are wondering if peppermint oil is good for pain, the answer is a resounding “yes!” Peppermint essential oil is a very effective natural painkiller and muscle relaxant. It also has cooling, invigorating and antispasmodic properties. Peppermint oil is especially helpful in alleviating a tension headache, in one clinical trial performing as well as acetaminophen.
A study shows that peppermint oil applied topically has pain relief benefits associated with fibromyalgia and myofascial pain syndrome. Researchers found that peppermint oil, eucalyptus, menthol, capsaicin and other herbal preparations may be helpful because they work as topical analgesics.
To use peppermint oil for pain relief, simply apply 2–3 drops topically to the area of concern three times daily or add 5 drops to a warm water bath with Epsom. Combining peppermint with lavender oil is also a great way to help your body relax and reduce muscle pain.
2. Sinus Care and Other Respiratory Benefits
Inhaling diffused peppermint oil can help to unclog your sinuses and offer relief from a scratchy throat. Peppermint acts as an expectorant, helping to open your airways, clear mucus and reduce congestion, and is one of the best essential oils for colds, the flu, cough, sinusitis, asthma, bronchitis and other respiratory conditions.
Mix peppermint oil with coconut oil and eucalyptus oil to make a homemade vapor rub. You can also diffuse 5 drops of peppermint or apply 2–3 drops topically to your temples, chest and back of neck.
3. Seasonal Allergy Relief
Peppermint oil is highly effective at relaxing muscles in your nasal passages and helping to clear out the muck and pollen from your respiratory tract during allergy season. It’s considered one of the best essential oils for allergies because of its expectorant, anti-inflammatory and invigorating properties.
To help relieve seasonal allergies symptoms, diffuse peppermint and eucalyptus oil at home, or apply 2–3 drops of peppermint oil topically to your temples, chest and back of neck.
4. Increase Energy and Improve Exercise Performance
For a non-toxic alternative to dangerous energy drinks, take a few whiffs of peppermint. It will help to boost your energy levels on long road trips, in school or any other time you need to “burn the midnight oil.”
Peppermint oil may also help to improve memory and alertness when inhaled. And it can be used to enhance your physical performance, whether you need a little push during your weekly workouts or you are training for an athletic event.
To boost your energy levels and improve concentration with peppermint oil, take 1–2 drops internally with a glass of water, or apply 2–3 drops topically to your temples and back of neck.
5. Alleviate Headaches
Peppermint oil for headaches has the ability to improve circulation, soothe the gut and relax tense muscles. All of these conditions can cause tension headaches or migraines, making peppermint oil one of the best essential oils for headaches.
A clinical trial from researchers at the Neurological Clinic at the University of Kiel, Germany, found that a combination of peppermint oil, eucalyptus oil and ethanol had a “significant analgesic effect with a reduction in sensitivity to headaches.” When these oils were applied to the forehead and temples, they also increased cognitive performance, and had a muscle-relaxing and mentally relaxing effect.
To use peppermint oil as a natural headache remedy, simply apply 2–3 drops to your temples, forehead and back of neck.
6. Improve IBS Symptoms
Peppermint oil capsules have been shown to be effective at naturally treating irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Peppermint oil for IBS reduces spasms in the colon, relaxes the muscles of your intestines, and can help to reduce bloating and gassiness.
To help relieve IBS symptoms, try taking 1–2 drops of peppermint oil internally with a glass of water or adding it to a capsule before meals. You can also apply 2–3 drops topically to your abdomen.
7. Freshen Breath and Support Oral Health
Tried-and-true for well over 1,000 years, mint oil has been used to naturally freshen breath. This is probably due to the way peppermint oil kills bacteria and fungus that can lead to cavities or infection.
To boost your oral health and freshen your breath, you can add a drop of peppermint oil right to your store-bought toothpaste or add a drop under your tongue before drinking a glass of water.
8. Promote Hair Growth and Reduce Dandruff
Peppermint oil is actually used in many high-quality hair care products because it can naturally thicken and nourish damaged hair. It can be used as a natural treatment for thinning hair, and it helps to stimulate the scalp and energize your mind.
Plus, menthol is a powerful antiseptic agent, so it may help to remove germs that may buildup in your hair. Menthol is even used in anti-dandruff shampoos.
Can peppermint oil regrow hair?
It may actually be one of the best oils for hair growth. An animal study that tested the efficacy of peppermint oil for hair growth on mice showed that after topical application of peppermint for four weeks, there was a significant increase in dermal thickness, follicle number and follicle depth. Peppermint oil was more effective than topical application of saline, jojoba oil and minoxidil, a medication that’s used for hair growth.
To use peppermint oil for hair to promote hair growth and nourishment, simply add 2–3 drops of peppermint to your shampoo and conditioner. Make a peppermint oil spray by adding 5-10 drops of oil to a spray bottle filled with water, or simply massage 2–3 drops of peppermint oil into your scalp while showering.
9. Relieve Itchiness
Research shows that the menthol content found in peppermint oil inhibits itching.
Living with itchiness can be a pain. To help relieve itching with peppermint, simply apply 2–3 drops topically to the area of concern or add 5–10 drops to a warm water bath.
If you are using peppermint on sensitive skin, combine it with equal parts carrier oil before topical application. You can also mix peppermint oil into a lotion or cream in place of the carrier oil. You can also combine peppermint oil with lavender oil for itch relief, as lavender has soothing properties.
10. Repel Bugs Naturally
Unlike us humans, a number of little critters hate the smell of peppermint oil, including ants, spiders, cockroaches, mosquitos, mice and possibly even lice. This makes peppermint oil for spiders, peppermint oil for ants, peppermint oil for mice and other pests an effective and natural rebelling agent. Peppermint oil for ticks may also be effective.
11. Reduce Nausea
To get rid of nausea, simply inhale peppermint oil directly from the bottle, add one drop of peppermint oil to a glass of distilled water or rub 1–2 drops behind your ears.
12. Improve Colic Symptoms
There is research that suggests peppermint oil can be useful as a natural colic remedy.
According to a crossover study published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, using peppermint oil is equally effective as the drug Simethione for treating infantile colic, without the side effects associated with prescribed medications.
Researchers found that the mean crying time among infants with colic went from 192 minutes per day to 111 minutes per day. All mothers reported an equal decrease of frequency and duration of colic episodes among those using peppermint oil and Simethione, a medication that’s used to relieve gassiness, bloating and stomach discomfort.
For the study, infants were given one drop of Mentha piperita per kilogram of body weight once a day for a seven-day period. Before using peppermint oil on your infant, we recommend that you discuss this treatment plan with your child’s pediatrician.
13. Boost Skin Health
Peppermint oil has calming, softening, toning and anti-inflammatory effects on the skin when it’s used topically. Peppermint oil also has antiseptic and antimicrobial properties.
To improve the health of your skin and use peppermint oil as a home remedy for acne, mix 2–3 drops of peppermint with equal parts lavender essential oil and apply the combination topically to the area of concern.
14. Sunburn Protection and Relief
Peppermint oil can hydrate burnt skin and relieve the pain from sunburns. It can also be used to help prevent sunburn.
To help heal your skin after sun exposure and to help protect your skin from sunburn, mix 2–3 drops of peppermint oil with a half-teaspoon of coconut oil and apply it directly to your skin.
15. Potential Anti-Cancer Agent
Although more research is needed in this area, some lab studies indicate that peppermint may be useful as an anticancer agent. One such study found that the compound menthol inhibits prostate cancer growth by inducing cell death and regulating cellular processes.
How to Use It Safely
Peppermint oil is incredibly versatile. It’s safe for both internal and external use in appropriate amounts and can be used with or without a carrier oil to dilute it (when used topically). Here are some safe and effective ways to use peppermint oil in your day-to-day routine:
Diffuse it. Want to feel awake and alert? Try adding about 5 drops of peppermint oil to a diffuser for an energizing scent that easily fills a room. You may even find you start to breathe easier! (Just follow essential oil safety guidelines and breathe it in as the scent diffuses through the room — there’s no need to hold you head over the air coming from the diffuser.)
Cook with it. Using edible essential oils, like peppermint, in cooking is an incredible, natural way to get not only peppermint oil benefits, but also a great minty punch to dishes. Peppermint bark, anyone?
Add it to smoothies or drinks. Many people wonder — Can you drink peppermint oil? Whether it’s a drop in your water or two drops in a smoothie, pure peppermint oil can really give a refreshing kick to a beverage. Plus, it’s a great choice for fighting off bacteria and stomach issues.
Create a massage oil with it. Can you apply peppermint oil directly to skin? Yes! Since peppermint oil soothes, cools and invigorates, it’s the perfect ingredient for massage oil. Dilute several drops in almond or grapeseed oil. For bonus relaxation, add lavender and eucalyptus.
Scrub your feet with it. Tired of cosmetics and personal care products full of unknown, unsavory chemicals? I recommend making your own whenever you can. Peppermint oil makes a great addition to an exfoliating foot scrub to give your feet a treat.
Grow it at home: Growing peppermint is a great way to reap the plant’s benefits at home. The peppermint plant needs a good amount of sun and plenty of water. It won’t tolerate dry conditions. To make peppermint tea with your home-grown leaves, simply add 5-10 leaves to a mug and muddle them. Then pour hot water over the leaves and let it steep for about 10 minutes.
The possibilities are virtually endless. People use peppermint oil in DIY shampoos, hairsprays, lip balms and more.
Source: Dr Axe
Image Source: organicfacts.net