Peppermint Oil: Four Surprising Utilities

For several centuries, the oil obtained from the peppermint plant has been a vital element of several medications and there are sufficient reasons for this too. Peppermint oil is not only intense but also highly aromatic. In addition to being an established analgesic, carminative, and expectorant, peppermint oil possesses strong anti-inflammatory properties and, it is widely used to treat gastrointestinal (GI) problems like indigestion as well as stomach spasms. However, this oil is used in mild doses for these purposes. There is evidence indicating that peppermint oil can also be used for treating irritable bowel syndrome {IBS}.

Generally, peppermint oil has been extensively used in the form of an internal medication. However, it also offers a number of cosmetic benefits; for instance, it is especially effectual in augmenting the health of our mouth, skin, hair, and nails.

Mouth care

Peppermint oil possesses antiseptic, antibacterial, and antimicrobial properties. Therefore, it effectively kills several harmful microbes that may be present in our mouth and eventually lead to tooth decay. It has been found that menthol, an active element present in peppermint oil, is effective in treating foul breath.

You may use peppermint oil to prepare an effective mouthwash. Add three to four drops of the oil to a little amount of clean purified water and gargle with this solution for anything between 30 seconds and one minute. For best results, you may add one teaspoon of baking soda to the solution as this will enhance its tooth whitening attributes.

Skincare

Individuals who want their skin to appear more youthful and healthy will find peppermint oil very beneficial. This oil is a proven astringent and possesses the ability to put off blockage of the skin pores. In fact, peppermint oil has been proven to be a very effectual natural therapy for acne. It contains elevated levels of menthol, which aids in keeping the skin cool and make the dull patches brighter. Applying peppermint oil to the face helps to cleanse the waste and dirt build-up.

A solution prepared by adding peppermint oil to water is ideal for external use on the skin all over the body. You may also add other ingredients beneficial for the health of the skin like aloe vera gel and apple cider vinegar to augment the potency of the solution.

Haircare

Many commercial shampoos and conditioners enclose peppermint oil as an active ingredient and there are important reasons for this. This oil possesses significant invigorating and regenerative actions, which may aid in alleviating scalp irritation, encourage new hair growth as well as revitalize the existing hair. In addition, application of peppermint oil to the scalp results in a cooling sensation, making the entire head feel stimulated and refreshed.

You can prepare an effective natural shampoo at home by blending peppermint oil (10 drops), olive oil (three tablespoons), baking soda (10 tablespoons), and aloe vera gel (6 ounces) with purified water (7 ounces). You can store this home-made shampoo in a bottle for use when necessary. It is much more nourishing compared to commercial shampoos and does not contain any chemicals that may deplete the natural oils from the hair.

Nail care

Many people across the world are affected by fungal nail infections like ringworm and athlete’s foot. While such problems hardly ever raise medical concerns, they definitely are cosmetic problems and may be responsible for obstinate itching and other bothersome symptoms. Since peppermint oil possesses anti-fungal attributes, it can effectively deal with fungal nail infections. Just apply peppermint oil to the infected nails once or twice every day till the problem disappears.

Peppermint Essential Oil

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

References

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.

The Aromatics of Peppermint Oil

Menta Piperita

 Peppermint (botanical name Menta Piperita) is basically a hybrid plant – a cross between the spearmint and watermint. Although the herb is native to Europe, presently it is grown across the globe. This perennial herb possesses numerous therapeutic properties that were identified and used by the Indians, Egyptians, and Chinese since the ancient times. In order to avail the detoxifying attributes of the peppermint, the ancient Romans used to make wreaths with this herb and wear them as crowns during festivities. Owing to its sharp and spicy fragrance, peppermint is well accepted by most people.

The peppermint plant usually grows up to a height of 30 cm to 90 cm. The plant has smooth stems that are squares in cross section. The rhizomes or subterraneous roots of the plant are fleshy and travel far and wide, while the bare roots are fibrous. The plant bears deep green leaves with reddish veins that are 4 cm to 9 cm in length and 1.5 cm to 4 cm in width. The peppermint plant bears purplish blooms that have four-lobed corolla in whorls around the stem. The plant usually blossoms between mid and late summer.

The essential oil extracted from peppermint not only has a soothing effect, but it also rejuvenates the skin and is tremendously resourceful for domestic use. The oil possesses a clearing aroma that is effective in fighting fatigue and, at the same time, very stimulating. Use of this essential oil enhances the capability to concentrate as well as brings clarity of thoughts and decisions. Peppermint essential oil is said to be inspiring and revitalizing.

 

It may be mentioned here that irrespective of the herb, all essential oils are prepared solely using the herbs or the plants. This denotes that the essential oils do not enclose any outside element, such as moisturizer, which could dilute their attributes or potency. As a result, whenever bottles containing essential oils are opened, they exude an exceptionally strong smell.

 

Peppermint essential oil is beneficial for people enduring headaches, asthma, cramps, fainting, colic, flatulence, nausea, and fevers. It is known to be highly effective in relieving pains associated with these conditions. This oil also has the potential to alleviate the symptoms of insomnia, distress, tension, anxiousness, lethargy and/ or vertigo (light-headedness).

 

The essential oil extracted from peppermint can be used in various ways. Some of the different uses of peppermint essential oil are briefly mentioned below.

Provided you have a water spritzer (a container for two different liquids or drinks), fill it up with water and add a few drops of peppermint essential oil to it. If the bottles are small, you need to add just 15 to 20 drops of the oil, while you may add 20-30 drops of oil in medium-sized bottles. Shake the mixture of oil and water thoroughly and gently spray it on your bedding, curtains and also carpets as an alternative to a room deodorizer.

Get a small pot filled with water for boiling over a stove top. Add three to five drops of peppermint essential oil to the water and inhale the aromatic vapor. While doing so, ensure that you take deep and slow breaths enabling the mixture to infuse your lungs.

In aromatherapy, peppermint can be effectively used as a massage oil to alleviate a number of conditions. However, as in the case of any essential oil, remember to dilute the peppermint essential oil blending it with any suitable carrier oil before use. In fact, the moisturizers present in carrier oils help to make the skin smooth and softer – supple to touch. As the concentration of peppermint essential oil is extremely high, only a few drops (one to three) of it need to be added to a little amount of carrier oil.

These days, there are several stores that sell ceramic oil burners meant for aromatherapy. Generally, these ceramic oil burners have the appearance of archetypal, glass milk bottles, but are smaller having a small, detachable, saucer-shaped lid, underneath which one can position a tea-candle. When you have lit the candle, replace the lid and pour in a small quantity of peppermint essential oil in the lid. As the candle will heat the oil in the lid, the sharp and spicy aroma of peppermint will infuse the air. This will help to refresh your senses.

Peppermint-Oil

 

You may also put in two to three drops of peppermint essential oil on a handkerchief and fold it before placing it under a pillow. While the delicate aroma of the oil will not be too intense for your nose, it will help in ensuring sound sleep.

As mentioned earlier, peppermint essential oil possesses numerous therapeutic properties and is, hence, used to treat a number of conditions. Its health benefits are many and some of them are briefly discussed below.

  • Since peppermint oil possesses potent antiseptic properties, it is very helpful in dental care. This oil not only helps to get rid of foul breath but also aids the gums and teeth to fight germs. Therefore, it is hardly surprising that peppermint essential oil forms the active ingredient in toothpaste. In addition, like clove oil, peppermint essential oil is highly effective in healing toothaches.
  • The essential oil extracted from peppermint is also effective in alleviating digestive problems while promoting digestion. On many occasions, people add a few drops of peppermint essential oil in a glassful of water and drink it following a meal with a view to facilitating digestion. The digestive properties of peppermint essential oil make it an excellent tonic for those enduring poor appetite. This oil also possesses carminative properties and, hence, is effective in expelling gas formed in the stomach and intestines, thereby, providing relief from flatulence and bloating. In addition, this essential oil is also useful when one is suffering from an upset stomach or motion sickness. Initial research has established that a blend of peppermint essential oil and caraway oil can also be used to effectively treat heartburns.
  • Peppermint essential oil is also a good home remedy to cure a headache and nausea. Topical application of watered down peppermint oil on the forehead is helpful in providing relief from headaches.
  • As in the case of the majority of the essential oils, peppermint essential oil also has the aptitude to alleviate tension, depression as well as mental exhaustion. These actions of peppermint essential oil are attributed to its ability to revitalize and refresh. This oil is also helpful in providing relief from nervous anxiety and restiveness. It is also known to be an effective remedy for insomnia.
  • Peppermint essential oil is rich in menthol content and, hence, is helpful in clearing the congestion in the respiratory tract. It also possesses potent expectorant properties which help it to draw out mucus and phlegm from the lungs, providing instant, albeit provisional, relief in several respiratory problems, such as cold and cough, sinusitis, nasal congestion, bronchitis and even asthma. Owing to these actions of peppermint essential oil, it is widely used in several formulations for cold rubs. Massaging or rubbing the cold rubs enclosing peppermint essential oil on the chest helps to get rid of nasal congestion as well as blockage of the respiratory tract almost instantly.
  • The essential oil extracted from the peppermint plant also possesses analgesic properties and, hence, it can be used topically to get relief from pains and aches. Peppermint essential oil encloses calcium antagonism which is believed to facilitate in providing relief from pain. This oil also has a cooling nature, which is effective in bringing down high temperatures during fever.
  • It is important to note that peppermint essential oil is highly effectual for colonoscopy, gastroscopy, and also during double-contrast barium enema (the inducement of a barium salt suspension into the rectum and colon before taking an X-ray). In such cases, peppermint essential oil is applied intraluminally (a lumen inside the space of a tubular structure, such as an artery or intestine). Presently, scientists are studying the additional benefits of the oil’s anti-spasmodic properties.
  • Peppermint essential oil is also known to augment blood circulation throughout the body.
  • It has been found that the essential oil extracted from the peppermint plant possesses the property to relax the muscles. Also, relaxing the stomach muscles helps in alleviating irritable bowel syndrome. Initial findings of several types of research have proved this action of the oil, but the scientists are yet to determine the precise manner in which it works.
  • As mentioned before, peppermint essential oil contains high amounts of menthol which is beneficial for the health of the skin. Owing to the presence of menthol, using this oil topically on the skin brings forth a cooling effect. In addition, this oil nurtures dry skin and removes the problems associated with oily skin.
  • Peppermint essential oil also helps to fortify the immune system, thereby, enhancing the body’s capability to fight against diseases. In addition, this essential oil also helps to safeguard the body against several ailments.
  • Peppermint essential oil is also extremely beneficial for our hair. It brings forth a calming effect when applied to the head and facilitates getting rid of dandruff and lice. In addition, peppermint nourishes the hair follicles and makes the hair appear glistening.
  • Although researchers are still trying to ascertain the anti-cancerous properties of peppermint essential oil, it is generally believed that this oil is helpful in treating cancer. However, peppermint essential oil is said to be effective in curing tuberculosis.
  • Many herbalists recommend the use of peppermint essential oil for people suffering from urinary tract infections (UTI). Nevertheless, it needs to be mentioned that the scientists are yet to ascertain the use of peppermint essential oil for this purpose.

General properties

  • antibacterial
  • antiseptic
  • antispasmodic
  • carminative
  • stimulant
  • stomachic
  • tonic

Blends well with

General uses

  • abdominal pains
  • acne
  • anorexia nervosa
  • bites
  • bruises
  • colic
  • coughing
  • mouth thrush
  • mouth ulcers
  • nausea
  • painful menstruation
  • stings
  • stress
  • swollen gums
  • toothache

Precaution

Although the essential oil extracted from peppermint possesses several therapeutic properties, it is said that this oil negates the efficacy of a number of homeopathic medications. Similar is the case for the essential oil derived from eucalyptus.