Beloved by the Ancient Egyptians for its ability to soothe indigestion, peppermint has a long history in folk medicine. The plant’s essential oil has been used for centuries for a variety of reasons, from settling an upset stomach to alleviating colds and headaches. If you’re new to the world of essential oils, you may be wondering what the peppermint essential oil uses are and whether it has any benefits.
What is Peppermint Essential Oil?
Peppermint essential oil is extracted from the leaves of the peppermint plant. While it contains more than 40 compounds, menthol is the star of the show.
Peppermint is considered one of the most versatile essential oils because it has so many effects and benefits. It can be used in aromatherapy and applied topically with a carrier oil.
Peppermint Essential Oil Uses
There are many peppermint essential oil uses, including:
One of the most popular ways to use peppermint oil is in aromatherapy. When inhaled, the oil can help with pain, colds, and stress.
Many people find peppermint’s scent to be soothing and refreshing.
Peppermint oil can be added to a diffuser, or you can apply a few drops to a handkerchief for easy inhalation on-the-go.
Like other essential oils, peppermint can be applied topically when diluted with a carrier oil. When applied to the skin, peppermint oil can help with sore muscles, headaches, joint pain, and even itching.
Just mix a few drops with your favorite carrier oil – coconut, jojoba, sweet almond, etc. – to make your own massage oil. Essential oils should always be diluted before being applied to the skin. It’s important to remember that essential oils are very potent, so applying them directly to the skin can cause irritation and other side effects.
Dilution is the only safe way to apply peppermint essential oil safely to your skin. For adults, you’ll want to follow these rules for dilution:
- 10% dilution: 60 drops of essential oil for every 6 teaspoons of carrier oil
- 5% dilution: 30 drops of essential oil for every 6 teaspoons of carrier oil
- 3% dilution: 20 drops of essential oil for every 6 teaspoons of carrier oil
- 2.5% dilution: 15 drops of essential oil for every 6 teaspoons of carrier oil
Peppermint has natural antibacterial properties, so it’s often used as a key ingredient in homemade cleaning products. Its invigorating scent helps your home smell fresh and clean.
Peppermint oil can be added to distilled water to create basic, everyday cleaner for countertops.
The Benefits of Peppermint Oil
The benefits of peppermint oil include:
Respiratory Benefits and Sinus Relief
Peppermint is cooling and invigorating. The compounds in this oil act as an expectorant, which helps open up the airways, clears mucus, and reduces congestion. Inhaling peppermint oil can help clear your sinuses and give you some relief during cold season.
Studies show that peppermint oil has antioxidant, antimicrobial, and antiviral properties, so it can also help fight infections.
To use peppermint oil for sinus relief or respiratory benefits, you can:
- Diffuse the oil
- Apply a few drops (mixed with a carrier oil) to your chest, temples, neck, and back
Peppermint oil can also be used to help alleviate headaches. The compounds in this oil are believed to help improve circulation while relaxing muscles and easing tension.
One clinical trial out of Germany found that a combination of peppermint oil, ethanol, and eucalyptus oil reduced sensitivity to headaches and had an analgesic effect. That same trial found that applying the oil to the temples helped improve cognitive performance while having a mentally relaxing effect.
Due to peppermint oils analgesic effects, it is also great for nerve pain relief.
May Help with Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Peppermint has a soothing effect on the digestive tract. In fact, this is one of the most well-known benefits of peppermint and what much of the research into this plant has been focused on.
Research shows that peppermint oil may help with symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). One review of studies over a 50-year period found that enteric-coated peppermint capsules were an effective and safe treatment for IBS-related pain.
The menthol in peppermint may also contribute to its digestive-soothing properties, according to research. Researchers have concluded that menthol may help reduce abdominal spasms by blocking the movement of calcium in the intestinal membrane.
May Help Ease Nausea
While more research is needed, there is some evidence that peppermint essential oil, when inhaled, may help reduce nausea.
A 2020 randomized clinical trial found that inhaling peppermint oil helped ease nausea and vomiting in patients recovering from heart surgery. The peppermint oil was inhaled as vapor through a nebulizer.
Allergy Symptom Relief
As you know, peppermint oil can help open up your airways and clear away mucous. Not surprisingly, it may also help with allergy symptoms Peppermint oil can help relax the muscles in your nasal passages and clear out the pollen that’s causing your symptoms.
A study published in the European Journal of Medicine Research found that menthol had potential therapeutic efficacy for treating allergic rhinitis, bronchial asthma, and colitis.
For allergy relief, try diffusing peppermint oil or applying a few drops topically to your chest, back, neck and temples.
You can also add a few drops to a pot of water and inhale the steam. Heat the water on the stove until it starts steaming. Place a towel over your head and around the pot to create a “tent” while hovering over the steam. Make sure that the water isn’t too hot and that your face isn’t too close to the water. Use common sense to avoid burning your skin.
Promote Oral Health
There’s a reason why most kinds of toothpaste are mint flavored – it helps combat bad breath. People have been using peppermint oil for more than a thousand years for this purpose. It’s believed that mint can help kill bacteria that lead to infections and cavities.
A study published in the European Journal of Dentistry found that peppermint oil, thyme oil, and tea tree oil exhibited antimicrobial activity against bacteria. Specifically, the combination of oils appeared to be effective against Candida albicans, Staphylococcus aureus, Enterococcus fecalis, and Escherichia coli.
There’s a chance that your toothpaste may already contain peppermint oil, but if not, you can add a drop to your toothbrush before each brushing session.
Promote Skin Health
Peppermint oil can help promote a glowing complexion. Its soothing properties can help ease irritation and its antimicrobial effects can help combat acne.
One review looked at essential oils for the treatment of skin diseases and found that peppermint oil can be effective at reducing dermatitis, blackheads, oily skin, itching skin, scabies, inflammation, and sunburn.
To add peppermint oil to your skincare routine, just add a few drops to your favorite moisturizer or serum.
Peppermint oil’s refreshing and invigorating aroma is just one of its many benefits. During cold season, it can help keep coughs and congestion at bay. It can also help keep your skin looking great, ease IBS symptoms, and promote oral health.
There are so many ways to add peppermint essential oil to your personal care routine. In fact, it’s one of the most versatile essential oils out there. When diluted with a carrier oil, peppermint oil can be applied topically, but it can also be inhaled through a diffuser.