Peppermint (Mentha × Piperita, Lamiaceae) essential oil is steam distilled from the partially dried herb or newly-harvested flower sprigs; the yellow to olive green oil has a pungent, minty-green odor with a sweet, balsamic undertone and a sweet, clean dry out note.1-3 Menthol, which produces a cooling effect on the skin, is the main constituent, as well as menthone, a ketone affecting wound healing and mucosal secretions.
Considered one of the most important essential oils, peppermint oil affects both mind and body with its refreshing, cooling, stimulating, and uplifting characteristics. While peppermint oil has been used for a variety of conditions, it is most often used as an expectorant, as well as for pain relief (a migraine, sciatica) and digestive issues (nausea, irritable bowel syndrome). However, it has also been used to treat skin conditions such as acne, scabies, and dermatitis. Therapeutic actions include analgesic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, astringent, carminative, decongestant, hepatic, nervine, sudorific, and vermifuge.
One open-label study that evaluated the efficacy of inhaled peppermint essential oil in patients who experienced nausea after cardiac surgery found that a one-time use of the inhaler resulted in 55.8% of the patients having no nausea and 23.5% having only mild nausea.4 Five patients needed to use the inhaler a second time, and four of them were nausea free after the second use. One randomized, controlled trial measured the effects of Colpermin®(Tillotts Pharma AG; Rheinfelden, Switzerland), containing 187 mg pH-dependent peppermint oil, or Lactol®(BioPlus Life Sciences; Bangalore, India) capsules, containing 150 million spores of Bacillus coagulans, on functional gastrointestinal disorder symptoms in adolescent patients. Results showed that Copermin reduced the patients’ duration and severity of pain more than Lactol or placebo. Essential oils are often used in concert together to enhance their effects. A small, randomized, double-blind, controlled pilot trial tested the effects of inhalation of peppermint, basil (Ocimum basilicum, Lamiaceae), and helichrysum (Helichrysum italicum, Asteraceae) essential oils on symptoms of exhaustion and burnout. Results demonstrated that, inhaled several times a day, this combination of essential oils may help with the symptoms caused by exhaustion and burnout.
An article on the herb peppermint was published in HerbalGram in 2006.7
1Rhind JP. Fragrance and Wellbeing – Plant Aromatics and Their Influence on the Psyche. London, UK: Singing Dragon; 2014.
2Lis-Balchin M. Aromatherapy Science – A Guide for Healthcare Professionals. London, UK: Pharmaceutical Press; 2006.
3Goes TC, Ursulino FRC, Almeida-Souza TH, Alves PB, Teixeira-Silva F. Effect of lemongrass aroma on experimental anxiety in humans. J Altern Complement Med. 2015;21(12):766-773.
4Briggs P, Hawrylack H, Mooney R. Inhaled peppermint oil for postop nausea in patients undergoing cardiac surgery. Nursing. 2016;46(7):61-67.
5Asgarshirazi M, Shariat M, Dalili H. Comparison of the effects of pH-dependent peppermint oil and synbiotic Lactol (Bacillus coagulans + fructooligosaccharides) on childhood functional abdominal pain: a randomized placebo-controlled study. Iran Red Crescent Med J. April 2015;17(4):e23844. doi: 10.5812/ircmj.17(4)2015.23844.
6Varney E, Buckle J. Effect of inhaled essential oils on mental exhaustion and moderate burnout: A small pilot study. J Altern Complement Med. 2013;19(1):69-71.
7Engels G, Podroza M, Sierant A. Peppermint. HerbalGram. 2006;72:1,4-5.