Peppermint Oil: Benefits, Uses, Properties, and Side Effects
Peppermint essential oil is one of the most versatile essential oils you can use, especially, when you are a newbie in the world of EOs. Peppermint oil is used as much for its aroma, as for its topical applications. The well-documented peppermint oil benefits range from alleviating the pain from muscle aches to tackling allergies, low energy levels and offering remedies for digestive disorders.
It has been known to have been used for cooking and as a form of traditional medicine from 1500 BC. The species belongs to the Mint family, also known as genus which includes Water Mint, Spearmint, and Forest Mint.
The aroma of the oil is clean and crisp. It is a well-known “relaxant” and “stimulant.”
However, the medicinal benefits of peppermint weren’t recently discovered. Its history dates back to ancient times. It has it mentions in the Chinese, Greek, and Japanese historical accounts.
Any plant species that finds mention in mythology is an indication of the popularity of the species and Greek mythology has mention of the peppermint plant, proving its popularity.
As this is one among the most popular essential oils, it requires an in-depth narration about the oil, its composition, the right way to use it, the specific benefits, the manner in which it can be used with other oils. That’s exactly what we are going to tell you through this article.
What Is Peppermint Oil?
Peppermint essential oil is extracted from the fresh or partially dried Mentha x piperita plant using the cold extraction method. The plant is commonly known as Peppermint and belongs to the Lamiaceae family.
The composition is approximately around 60% of menthol and 30% of menthone. The aroma of the oil is distinct, very fresh and more like menthol, which makes it a natural choice to use it in humidifiers and diffusers.
The herb peppermint is a natural cross between two types of mint (water mint and spearmint) and is a perennial. Mentha x Piperita is identified by its distinct serrated leaves and conical flowers that straddle the color spectrum from light pink to mauve.
Harvesting is typically carried out in the morning to ensure that the oil content is maximum. One of the reasons for avoiding harvesting later in the day is the harsh sun brings down the oil content.
The period prior to the plant bloom is regarded as the best time to harvest and typically this happens when the climate is hot and dry, like summers.
For thousands of years, peppermint is a commonly used flavoring agent in foods. It has also been used extensively in soaps and cosmetics.
The United States of America is one of the main producers of peppermint and peppermint essential oil. It is particularly produced in the states of Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.
The other principal producers include India, China, England, Italy, and Russia.
Used extensively in aromatherapy, it is popular among professional masseurs and masseuses. The natural ingredients ensure that they give a deep sense of relaxation, along with a gentle warmth that is soothing. The essential oil helps in keeping the environment smelling fresh all day.
Scientific Name Of Peppermint Oil
The botanical name of peppermint is Mentha x piperita.
History Of Peppermint Oil
The history of peppermint is as interesting as its aroma. According to ancient Greek mythology, the name Mentha comes from a nymph named Minthe.
The mythology says that Minthe had a love affair with the underworld God, Hades. Persephone, the wife of Hades, who got extremely jealous, turned Minthe into a plant, threw it on the ground, and crushed her with legs.
But then Hades turned the plant into a herb that people would value until the end of the time.
Pliny the Elder, a Roman naturalist, wrote how Peppermint was a part of ancient Greek & Roman’s religious ceremonies and medicines. It was an important flavoring agent used in dishes and wines.
The peppermint was also used in Chinese and Japanese traditions. It was one of the most commonly used herbs in those traditions.
However, the modern peppermint, which is commercially available today, was hybridized in the late 1600s. An English researcher named John Ray created a hybrid between Mentha spicata & Mentha aquatica. The commercial production took off only around 1750 (5).
The essential oil holds pride of place and is regarded as oil that is at par with Lavender oil. It retraces its history to Chinese, Egyptian and Japanese traditional medicine where the dried leaves of the plant were placed in tombs of the deceased.
Color, Consistency, and Smell Of Peppermint Oil
- The color of peppermint oil typically ranges between clear to pale yellow.
- The consistency of peppermint oil is watery or thin.
- The smell of peppermint oil is fresh, strong, and minty with a slight peppery note.
Properties of Peppermint Oil
The therapeutic properties of peppermint essential oil include:
- Analgesic – Lessens pain sensation
- Anesthetic – Helps to block the sensations of pain
- Anthelmintic – Gets rid of intestinal parasites
- Antibacterial – Inhibits bacterial growth
- Antidepressant – Alleviates depression
- Astringent – Contracts the skin cells and body tissues
- Antigalactagogue – Decrease the secretion of milk
- Antifungal – Prevents fungal growth
- Anti-infectious – Eliminates and prevents infection
- Antiphlogistic – Reduces inflammation
- Anti-inflammatory – Alleviates inflammation
- Antimicrobial – Prevents the growth of microorganisms
- Antiseptic – Kills the microbes and stops further development
- Antispasmodic – Eases spasms, contractions or convulsions
- Antiviral – Inhibits viral growth
- Calmative – Sedative, calming agent
- Carminative – Eliminates flatulence, eases abdominal bloating and pain
- Cholagogue – Helps to discharge bile
- Decongestant – Reduces congestion such as mucus
- Deodorant – Masks or removes unpleasant smell
- Digestive – Helps in the digestion of food
- Emmenagogue – Induces or regularizes menstruation
- Immunostimulant – Stimulates the action of the immune system
- Febrifuge – Reduces fever
- Nervine – Soothes the nerves
- Spasmolytic – Eases smooth muscle spasm
- Stimulant – Increases the overall function of the body
- Stomachic – Good for the stomach; gastric tonic, digestive aid
- Sudorific – Induces sweating
- Tonic – Invigorates, rejuvenates, and restores the bodily functions
- Vasoconstrictor – Constricts the blood vessels
- Vermifuge – Expels parasitic worms
Chemical Compounds In Peppermint Oil
The chemical compounds present in the Peppermint essential oil include Menthol (19.0–54.2%), Menthone (8.0–31.6%), Menthyl acetate (2.1–10.6%), Neomenthol (2.6–10.0%), 1,8-Cineole (2.9–9.7%), (6R)-(þ)-Menthofuran (9.4%), Isomenthone (2.0–8.7%), Terpinen-4-ol (0–5.0%), (1R)-(þ)-b-Pulegone (0.3–4.7%), (þ)-Limonene (0.8–4.5%), Germacrene D (tr–4.4%), b-Caryophyllene (0.1–2.8%), (E)-Sabinene hydrate (0.2–2.4%), b-Pinene (0.6–2.0%), Piperitone (0–1.3%), and Isomenthol (0.2–1.2). (6)
Health Benefits Of Peppermint Oil
Though the peppermint oil benefits are abundant, the most noteworthy ones based on the recent research reports include:
1. Treats digestive problems
Peppermint oil is extensively helpful for almost all the digestive issues that you might face. You can choose peppermint oil for indigestion, flatulence, or IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome).
Researchers have found that abdominal issues decreased significantly with the use of peppermint oil (7).
Add 1-2 drops of peppermint oil in a glass of water and drink it (after meals) to treat indigestion. Scientists have also found the carminative properties of Peppermint essential oil (8).
Mix 1 drop of peppermint oil with 3 drops of cardamom oil and 2 drops of chamomile roman oil. Dilute the blend in 2 tablespoons of coconut oil and massage the abdomen in circular motions to get rid of abdominal pain.
2. Curbs nausea
Nausea mostly occurs when there is a discomfort in the stomach. The sensation of vomiting can occur on several occasions. There is no particular underlying cause for nausea.
If you are a traveler, having peppermint oil in your travel kit would be of immense help.
Researchers have demonstrated that inhaling peppermint oil stopped nausea after gynecologic surgery. Peppermint oil is so much useful during travel especially in hilly regions. However, peppermint oil should not be used during pregnancy as it induces menstruation. (9).
3. Soothes sinus congestion
The little amount of mucus present in the cavities helps to filter the air that we breathe. But when the mucus increases in those cavities, it facilitates the growth of more microbes. It causes infection in sinus cavities – known as sinusitis.
Blend 2 drops of rosemary oil with 1 drop of peppermint oil, 1 drop of tea tree oil, and 1 drop of eucalyptus oil. Take 3 to 4 drops from this mixture and add it in a bowl of hot water. Inhale the steam for about 10 minutes. Make sure you close your eyes tightly when inhaling the vapor.
4. Treats diverticulosis
Diverticulosis is a condition that occurs in the large intestine and usually, happens as people age. The wall of the large intestine develops weak spots as we age. When it is weak, the walls bulge outward to form little pockets called diverticula.
However, the peppermint essential oil clears up constipation and strengthens the wall of the intestinal walls. Thanks to the anti-inflammatory property of peppermint essential oil. It eases inflammation, pain, flatulence, and discomfort (13).
Make an infusion by adding 1 drop of peppermint essential oil to 1 teaspoon of honey. Dilute it in 100 ml of warm water. Filter it through an unbleached paper coffee filter. Take a tablespoon of the filtered mixture and add it to a small glass of warm water. Sip the mixture slowly. It improves the condition significantly.
5. Cures headache
Headaches occur due to various reasons. It may occur due to gastric problems, indigestion, nervousness, tension or it may have no apparent cause.
Different scientists have studied peppermint essential oil for its analgesic properties. It has been found that peppermint oil reduces the sensitivity to headaches. Using the oil also relaxes muscles and increases cognitive performance (14).
To ease headaches, dilute 1 drop of peppermint oil with 1 drop of eucalyptus oil in a tablespoon of carrier oil. Apply it on your temples and massage it.
6. Tones your skin
Peppermint essential oil is studied to have antimicrobial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties. It is also an excellent antiseptic. Researchers claim that topical application of peppermint essential oil significantly reduces scars, blackheads, itchiness, acne scars, and ringworms.
It also helps to tone your skin, makes it soft and supple. In fact, regular use of peppermint oil reduces the early signs of aging (15).
Blend 2 drops of peppermint oil with 1 drop of lavender oil and 3 drops of rosemary oil. Take 2 drops from the mixture and dilute it using 2 tablespoons of coconut oil. Moisturize your skin using this diluted oil blend for a glowing skin.
7. Boosts hair health
Do not worry if you see your hair thinning suddenly. Include peppermint oil in your hair regime. It helps in increasing hair growth, nourishing your hair, and maintaining the texture.
The compound menthol present in it gives a cooling effect when massaged on your scalp. Also, it is an excellent antiseptic. Thanks to the antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties of peppermint essential oil – they help in getting rid of dandruff (16, 17).
For promoting hair health, dilute 2 drops of peppermint oil and 2 drops of rosemary oil in 50 ml of sesame oil. Massage the scalp using the diluted oil and let the oil sit for 20 minutes to an hour. Rinse your hair using lukewarm water and mild shampoo.
8. Enhances oral health
For about 1000 years, both peppermint and peppermint oil are used as a mouth freshener. When used appropriately peppermint oil kills bacteria and fungus in the mouth.
It prevents infection and bad breath. The compound menthol present in the peppermint oil gives a cooling and refreshing effect on your mouth. Research has proved its antimicrobial activity against oral pathogens (18, 19).
You can add 1 drop of peppermint oil in a glass of warm water to rinse your mouth.
9. Heals sunburn
Sunburn varies in degree. If you have a severe burn, then we strongly recommend you to take medical assistance. But when you find it less complicated, then you can opt for self-treatment.
You can treat the redness or soreness by using diluted peppermint oil (20).
It is crucial to decrease your body heat before treating skin burn. Soak yourself in a bath with cold water. Immerse the sunburn area in it. Then add 1 drop of peppermint oil in the bath and relax.
You can also dilute 1-2 drops of peppermint oil in 2 tablespoons of coconut oil. Apply the diluted oil on the skin directly to improve skin health.
10. Repels insects and bugs
Insects and other bugs hate the smell of peppermint oil. Since it is an insect repellent, it is effective against ants, cockroaches, mosquitos, spiders, and mice.
No wonder you will see traces of peppermint oil in most insect repellents that are available in the market today. It is considered as one of the best plant-based oil to repel insects. It provides complete protection against mosquitoes (21, 22).
You can apply diluted peppermint oil on your skin to prevent mosquito bites or diffuse the aroma in the room for this purpose.
Uses Of Peppermint Oil
Peppermint oil has a range of uses, which makes it a must-have product in homes. Depending on how it is intended to be used, peppermint oil can be procured in different presentations.
However, the best option would be to have superior quality peppermint oil in the right quantity that can then be used to mix with other substances to create the right remedy for various uses.
As a versatile product, it can be used to create the right kind of rub, or liquid mix for consumption or topical application or it could also be used in diffusers.
The all-around capabilities of peppermint oil make it an ideal ingredient for use in any of the following options :
- Effective insect repellant
- Soothing massage oil
- Analgesic for pain relief
- Energy booster
- Airway decongestion
- Aromatic properties
What Blends With Peppermint Oil?
Peppermint oil blends the best with:
- Angelica seed oil
- Basil oil
- Bay laurel oil
- Bergamot oil
- Cananga oil
- Chamomile German oil
- Clove Bud oil
- Cypress oil
- Eucalyptus lemon oil
- Eucalyptus Radiata oil
- Geranium oil
- Grapefruit oil
- Ho wood oil
- Juniper berry oil
- Lavender oil
- Lavender (spike) oil
- Lemon oil
- Lemongrass oil
- Lime oil
- Marjoram (sweet) oil
- Myrtle oil
- Niaouli oil
- Orange (sweet) oil
- Oregano oil
- Petitgrain oil
- Pine oil
- Ravensara oil
- Ravintsara oil
- Rosemary oil
- Spruce (black) oil
- Tangerine oil
- Tarragon oil
- Tea tree oil
- Thyme oil
- Tuberose oil
- Ylang-ylang oil
How To Use Peppermint Oil?
It is important to use peppermint essential oil that is not adulterated with corn-mint oil. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has given GRAS status for peppermint essential oil. It means that peppermint oil is safe for its intended use, given that the oil is free from solvents.
- Topical Application: Peppermint essential oil can be a dermal irritant in undiluted form. Always make sure you use the oil in higher dilution. It is always best to perform a patch test before using it on the skin.
- Aromatherapy: For aromatherapy benefits, always diffuse the oil using a diffuser or a vaporizer. Make sure you do not use the oil in a congested place.
- Ingestion: Peppermint essential oil is considered safe to use as a flavouring agent in foods. It is better to consult a doctor if you are under any medication.
Side Effects Of Peppermint Oil
The use of essential oils should always be in moderation. Overuse and abuse are two sides of the same coin. Therefore, care needs to be exercised while using any substance, regardless of its herbal or organic qualities.
- Peppermint essential oil may sometimes be a dermal irritant to sensitive individuals.
- The oil can be taken internally but there are a few reports that state that taking it internally can worsen conditions like acid reflux, heartburn, and GERD.
- Pregnant women should avoid using the oil, as it stimulates menstrual flow.
- Avoid contact with mucus membrane because it can cause irritation.
- Avoid using the oil on kids.
- Do not use the oil if you are suffering from epilepsy.