Proven Uses and Benefits of Peppermint Oil (Peppermint Essential Oil) Backed by Medical Studies

Proven Uses and Benefits of Peppermint Oil (Peppermint Essential Oil)

Peppermint essential oil is a cooling and soothing essential oil that has many health benefits. You can use the antimicrobial and antispasmodic properties of peppermint oil to relieve digestive complaints, get rid of cold symptoms, boost hair growth, and treat toothache. Peppermint oil is also good to rub on sore joints to help relieve pain and inflammation.

There are many different ways that you can use peppermint oil for its health benefits. Peppermint oil can be used with a carrier oil to apply topically. Or, you can put a few drops of peppermint essential oil to use in your diffuser for inhalation. For digestive complaints, you can buy peppermint oil capsules to help relieve stomach upset and excess gas.

In this article, you will learn about what science says as to the many uses of peppermint oil. You will also find practical ways to use peppermint oil for headaches, respiratory infections, improved performance, and better cognitive function.

What Is Peppermint Oil (Peppermint Essential Oil)?

Peppermint essential oil is an antimicrobial oil that is extracted by distillation from the leaves and flowers of the Mentha x piperita plant (Peppermint).

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health says that peppermint is a herb that is a cross of water mint and spearmint. Peppermint oil has been used for centuries to treat various ailments. (1)

Research into the composition of peppermint oil shows that it is made up of various volatile oils. The main compounds that give peppermint oil its cooling and therapeutic properties are menthol and menthone. Peppermint essential oil also contains antioxidant properties. (2)

Peppermint oil is used topically to soothe headaches, muscle and joint pain, and orally to alleviate digestive complaints. Using peppermint oil in recommended dosages rarely causes any adverse effects. (3)

Many people describe the taste of peppermint oil as a sharp minty, cool taste that refreshes your mouth. Spearmint has a milder taste to peppermint as there is less menthol in the plant.

The difference between peppermint extract and peppermint oil is that peppermint extract is usually obtained in an alcohol solution and is not as concentrated as peppermint essential oil.

What Peppermint Oil Is Good for (Peppermint Essential Oil Uses)

Peppermint oil is a commonly-used essential oil that has many uses as an antibacterial, antifungal, antispasmodic and pain-relieving remedy.

There are many scientific studies that back up the reputed health uses of peppermint oil. Some of the ways to use peppermint oil include: (4)

  • Peppermint oil helps relieve pain and symptoms of arthritis due to peppermint oil’s analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties
  • Peppermint oil helps to resolve abdominal spasms and discomfort due to irritable bowel syndrome
  • Peppermint oil can help clear phlegm and mucus from airways because peppermint oil is a decongestant
  • Peppermint oil may help treat colds and other respiratory infections by inhaling it
  • Peppermint oil can help stop skin itching due to the cooling effect of menthol
  • Peppermint oil is used to help relieve tension headaches and migraines
  • Peppermint essential oil helps to freshen your breath because of its antibacterial properties

Benefits of Peppermint Essential Oil

Let’s look in more detail at the many peppermint oil uses and why peppermint oil is good for treating many health issues.

Peppermint Oil Promotes Good Digestive Health

The antispasmodic and carminative properties of peppermint essential oil mean that it is good to alleviate problems with your digestion.

Researchers have found that the active ingredients in peppermint oil help to reduce cramping in the gastric lining. It was found that peppermint oil can inhibit muscular contractions in the colon and gut. Peppermint oil also has a use as an anti-nausea and anti-diarrhea remedy. (5)

Because peppermint oil helps to relax muscles, drinking peppermint tea can lead to heartburn because it can relax muscles at the bottom of your esophagus. This allows stomach juices escape up your esophagus and cause discomfort in your chest. Some studies have shown that consuming peppermint tea every day could lead to gastric irritation and symptoms of heartburn. (6)

How to use peppermint oil for digestion

To help relieve excess gas, digestive spasms, or abdominal discomfort, you can add one or two drops of food grade peppermint oil to your herbal tea.

If peppermint tea causes you some stomach upset, then you can learn about what other herbal teas you can use to boost your digestive health.

Peppermint Oil is Used to Manage Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Using peppermint essential oil to treat symptoms associated with IBS is one of the most common uses for peppermint oil.

Studies on the properties of peppermint oil have found that peppermint oil is an effective treatment for IBS. Peppermint oil helps to reduce stomach upset, abdominal cramping, and soothe the gastrointestinal tract. (7)

A review of 16 clinical trials found that taking 180-200 mg peppermint oil capsules was good for relieving diarrhea, constipation, abdominal spasms, and other symptoms of IBS. (8)

To ensure that the peppermint oil doesn’t result in stomach upset and heartburn, scientists have developed enteric-coated peppermint oil capsules. These help to administer peppermint oil to the small intestine to treat irritable bowel syndrome. (9)

One trial found that using peppermint oil capsules can benefit IBS sufferers in up to 75% of patients in a 4-week period. (9)

How to use peppermint oil to treat IBS

If you want to get relief from symptoms of IBS, you should take peppermint essential oil capsules rather than drinking peppermint tea.

Peppermint oil for IBS is sold in capsules that dissolve in your small intestine. Usually, you should take 50 mg peppermint oil pills with each meal to prevent digestive issues after eating.

Apart from using peppermint oil for improving your digestion, you can learn about many other natural remedies for IBS.

Peppermint Oil May Prevent Nausea and Vomiting

The carminative properties of peppermint essential oil can help to soothe your gastrointestinal tract to reduce feelings of wanting to throw up.

The journal Nursing reported that inhaling peppermint oil can help prevent vomiting and nausea in patients after surgery. The researchers suggested that peppermint oil inhalation should be the first-line anti-nausea treatment after an operation. (10)

One study found that peppermint oil can prevent nausea after chemotherapy treatment. (11)

A systematic review published in 2018 found that pregnant women can use peppermint as an aromatherapy oil to reduce nausea and vomiting in pregnancy. (12)

How to use peppermint oil to reduce nausea and vomiting

If you feel as if you want to throw up or have motion sickness, you can put a few drops of peppermint oil on a tissue and inhale the vapors.

Another way to get the anti-nausea benefits of peppermint oil is to put a few drops in your diffuser. Breathing in the pleasant aroma of peppermint oil will not only calm your stomach but also calm your nerves.

Find out what other natural remedies are good for helping to reduce feelings of nausea.

Peppermint Oil Helps Alleviate Excess Gas and Bloating

If you suffer from flatulence and abdominal bloating after eating, you can use peppermint essential oil to soothe your digestion.

Research on peppermint oil pills found that they can help to reduce a buildup of gas after a meal. Peppermint oil is an antispasmodic essential oil that can prevent bloating, flatulence, and other symptoms of digestive upset. (13)

How to use peppermint capsules for gas and bloating

To help improve your digestive symptoms after eating, you should take a peppermint oil pill 15-30 minutes before your meal. (14)

Other remedies for gas and bloating include consuming ginger, chamomile tea, or probiotics.

Peppermint Oil Is Good for Soothing Headaches and Migraines

Peppermint essential oil is good for pain, especially headache pain. Its cooling and analgesic effect mean that peppermint oil helps to treat pounding, stress-related headaches and migraines.

Research from Germany found that a remedy containing 15% of peppermint oil was as effective as paracetamol or aspirin in treating headaches. (15)

Other studies have found that the effectiveness of using peppermint oil to treat headaches is due to the cooling effect on the skin. Some studies show that the analgesic properties of peppermint oil can be enhanced by adding eucalyptus oil. (16)

How to use peppermint oil to help alleviate headache pain

Mix 2 or 3 drops of peppermint essential oil in a tablespoon of carrier oil such as olive oil. For headache relief, you should massage a few drops of the peppermint oil mix into your temples. You can also rub some peppermint oil on your forehead or behind your ears to ease your headache quickly.

Learn more about the top causes of headache and how to treat headaches and migraines.

Peppermint Oil Can Be Used to Relieve Sore Muscles, Joint Pain, and Nerve Pain

You can help get rid of sore muscles or relieve pain in inflamed joints by massaging peppermint essential oil into your painful areas.

Research from 2017 found that menthol in peppermint oil has medicinal use as a natural analgesic and cooling compound. (17)

One randomized controlled trial found that a natural pain-relieving ointment containing peppermint oil helped to improve neck pain. The cream was massaged into the sore neck daily after showering. (18)

A clinical trial also found that using essential oils in aromatherapy such as peppermint oil increased the effectiveness of acupuncture in relieving shoulder pain. (19)

The Clinical Journal of Pain reported that peppermint oil can help treat neuralgia (pain due to an irritated or damaged nerve). Applying neat peppermint oil helped to soothe nerve pain immediately and was effective for up to 6 hours. (20)

How to use peppermint oil for pain relief

Pure peppermint essential oil might be too concentrated to apply directly to your skin. So, you should mix it with a carrier oil like coconut oil or sweet almond oil. But it’s worth mentioning that in the above study about neuralgia, the researchers used neat (undiluted) peppermint oil.

Make a coconut oil and peppermint oil pain-relief ointment by mixing 6 drops of peppermint oil with 2 tablespoons of warmed coconut oil. Massage the oil into the affected painful areas 2 or 3 times a day.

Another way to relieve muscle and joint pain is to add a few drops of peppermint essential oil to your bath. Fill your bathtub with warm water and add 1-2 cups of Epsom salt and 20 drops of peppermint oil diluted in 2 oz (60 ml) carrier oil. Soak for up to 20 minutes to help relieve sore muscles and stiff joints.

Find out what other essential oils are effective for pain relief.

Peppermint Oil Has Expectorant Properties and it Helps Relieve Congestion

If you have a stuffy nose and upper respiratory infection, the effects of menthol in peppermint essential oil can help to unblock your airways.

Menthol, the main component in peppermint oil, helps to increase airflow in blocked nasal passages. Menthol-related products can help to open up airways and relieve nasal congestion caused by allergies or infections. (21)

Scientific studies have shown that a mixture of peppermint oil, eucalyptus, and camphor has a beneficial effect on the respiratory tract by improving breathing. (22)

How to use peppermint oil to unblock your airways

Make your own homemade peppermint oil vapor rub by combining 3 drops of peppermint essential oil, 3 drops of eucalyptus oil, and a tablespoon of coconut oil or other carrier oil. Rub the peppermint mixture into your chest to let the vapors loosen phlegm in your nose and chest.

You can also try adding 20 drops of peppermint oil diluted in 2 oz (60 ml) carrier oil to your bath to help you breathe easier and relax your muscles.

There are also many other natural remedies for chest congestion that can help to improve your symptoms of a chest infection.

Peppermint Oil Is Antimicrobial and Helps Treat Colds

You could try inhaling peppermint essential oil to help relieve cold or flu-like symptoms due to its antimicrobial properties.

Researchers say that menthol from peppermint oil contains antibacterial and antiviral properties.

Although there is no direct evidence that peppermint oil can treat colds, inhaling the vapors of a few drops of peppermint oil in a bowl of hot water could help to alleviate some of your cold symptoms. (23)

Find out about more essential oils that can help treat your cold-related symptoms.

Peppermint Oil Can Soothe Itchy Skin

If you suffer from conditions that cause your skin to itch, applying peppermint essential oil can cool inflammation and reduce the urge to scratch.

One trial involving 50 patients with underlying health conditions that cause chronic skin itching found that applying peppermint oil reduced skin irritation. The patients used a peppermint anti-itch cream 2 times a day which helped to soothe itching in a 2-week period. (24)

The cooling effect of peppermint oil can also help reduce itching if you are pregnant. One clinical trial involving 96 pregnant women found that a natural remedy containing sesame oil and 0.5% peppermint oil had a significant effect in reducing the severity of skin itching.

How to use peppermint oil to treat skin itching (pruritus)

Make your own anti-itch cream at home by adding 3 or 4 drops of peppermint oil to a tablespoon of carrier oil such as sweet almond oil. Massage the oil into your itchy skin twice a day. Continue using to help manage symptoms of pruritus.

Learn about reasons why you could have skin itching all over your body and what you can do to remedy the itchy sensation.

Peppermint Oil Can Boost Hair Growth

Compounds in peppermint essential oil can stimulate your hair follicles and encourage hair to grow faster.

A lab trial found that applying a peppermint oil mixture increased the number of hair follicles and number of hairs. Hair growth due to the application of peppermint oil was faster than jojoba oil and as effective as minoxidil – a popular drug for hair growth. The researchers concluded that applying peppermint oil to the scalp could be a natural therapeutic remedy for hair loss in humans. (26)

How to use peppermint oil for hair growth

For a daily massage to stimulate new hair growth, add two drops of peppermint oil to one tablespoon of carrier oil such as jojoba oil or coconut oil. Rub it into the scalp and leave for at least 30 minutes (it is a good idea to do a test on a small skin patch to make sure you don’t develop any skin irritation). Make sure the oil mixture doesn’t reach your eyes.

Peppermint Oil Helps Treat Menstrual Pain

If you suffer from pain before or during menstruation, then taking peppermint essential oil extracts can help you deal with abdominal cramping.

Research published in 2016 found that menthol in mint has an analgesic effect when consumed in capsule form. Women using peppermint extracts at the start of their period experienced fewer symptoms of menstrual pain, nausea, and diarrhea. In the study, peppermint oil capsules were better than certain pharmaceutical drugs in relieving dysmenorrhea (painful periods). (27)

The women took peppermint oil capsules for menstrual pain relief 3 times a day at the start of menstruation.

If you frequently have cramping before your period, learn about other natural methods to alleviate menstrual cramps.

Peppermint Oil Helps Protect Brain Health

One of the many benefits of pure peppermint essential oil is that its antioxidant properties help improve cognitive function and protect against the effects of aging.

One study involving 90 women found that taking 900 mg of spearmint extract daily helped to improve alertness, memory, and mood disturbances. The researchers found that compounds in spearmint can improve cognitive performance. (28)

Other studies have shown that consuming peppermint oil can help to improve attention, stimulate the mind, and be more effective at memory tasks. (28)

Another study found that inhaling peppermint aromas helped to increase alertness and enhance memory. (29)

Keep a peppermint oil in your home diffuser to benefit from the brain-boosting properties of peppermint.

You could also try some of these foods and herbs that have been proven to help improve brain function.

Peppermint Oil May Alleviate Mental Fatigue

You can use peppermint essential oil to boost your mental focus and prevent concentration problems.

The journal Nutrients published research in 2018 on the positive benefits of peppermint on the central nervous system. It was found that menthol in peppermint essential oil increases mental performance during demanding tasks. (30)

You may find it useful to rub some peppermint essential oil mixed with a carrier oil on your temples to help improve your concentration levels.

Peppermint Oil Can Boost Physical Endurance

As well as having a positive effect on your mental endurance, menthol in peppermint essential oil helps to increase exercise performance.

One study involving 12 men found that drinking water with 1 drop of peppermint oil (0.05 ml) helped to improve physical endurance. The peppermint oil drink relaxed the bronchial muscles which helped improve breathing and increase brain oxygen concentration. (31)

How to use peppermint oil to give you more energy

You can drink peppermint oil by putting one 1 drop of food grade peppermint essential oil in 500 ml of water. Shake well, and drink the peppermint drink every morning to improve your performance.

There may be reasons why you feel tired all the time. Learn about what you can eat to combat fatigue and boost your energy.

Peppermint Oil for Toothache

The analgesic properties of pure peppermint essential oil are also good for soothing pain caused by toothache.

A report from 2013 found that the anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effect of peppermint oil can relieve a toothache by putting a dab of peppermint essential oil on the cavity. (32)

Because peppermint has a cooling effect on skin and gums, the oil can also help to numb the pain if you put a drop of peppermint essential oil on a cotton bud and apply to your sore tooth.

Find out other natural remedies for toothache.

Use Peppermint Oil for Fresh Breath and to Reduce Oral Bacteria

Peppermint essential oil is a common ingredient in many dental products because it helps to freshen breath and kill off plaque-causing bacteria.

Compounds in peppermint oil such as menthol, menthyl acetate, and menthofuran have therapeutic properties that improve dental health.

Research has shown that some of the peppermint oil uses for improving dental health are antibacterial and antifungal. (33)

Other studies have shown that peppermint is one of the good essential oils to use as an antiseptic against oral bacteria. (34)

How to use peppermint essential oil for good dental health

You can make your own bacteria-removing mouthwash by combining a few essential oils, including using peppermint oil.

In a cup of water, add 2 teaspoons of echinacea tincture, 2 drops of thyme oil, and 3 drops of peppermint oil (use food grade essential oils). Swish the peppermint mouthwash around your mouth to kill off bacteria and reduce gum inflammation. Spit out.

You can also try these natural remedies to remove plaque.

Peppermint Oil can Help Repel Ticks

One scientific study found that peppermint essential oil can be used to repel Dermacentor reticulatus ticks. (35)

How to use peppermint oil to repel ticks

Tick spray for humans: You can make an all-natural tick repellent using peppermint essential oil. In a 8oz. spray bottle filled with water add 5 drops each of peppermint oil, thyme oil and citronella essential oil (dilute them first in 2 tablespoons of carrier oil). Shake well before each application and spray it on your skin to repel ticks and fleas.

Note: Pets are sensitive to essential oils so this tick spray is suggested for humans only.

Other Uses for Peppermint Oil

Use peppermint essential oil for canker sores

Due to its antibacterial properties, you can put a drop of diluted peppermint essential oil on a canker sore to help reduce pain and help the mouth ulcer heal quicker. (34)

Peppermint oil as a pest repellent

There are some studies showing the potential use of peppermint oil as an insect repellent.

One study found that peppermint oil can repel mosquitoes and kill off mosquito larvae. The peppermint oil repellent was effective for up to 2 ½ hours. (35) You can use the same tick repellent recipe using peppermint oil that was mentioned previously.

How to Make Infused Peppermint Oil

Peppermint essential oil is very strong, and some people may find that it irritates their skin even when it is diluted in a carrier oil. To avoid skin sensitivities, you can dilute the essential oil with more carrier oil to create a weaker solution, or you can make your own infused peppermint oil. This oil will not be as concentrated as the peppermint essential oil, but it will still have some of its qualities.

It is very easy to use peppermint to make an infused oil.

For this infused peppermint oil recipe, you will need grapeseed oil, a jar with a sealable lid, and fresh peppermint leaves.

  1. Wash and dry a bunch of fresh mint leaves.
  2. Roughly chop the mint leaves and put them in a jar and lightly crush them.
  3. Warm grapeseed oil in a pan. There should be enough oil to fill the jar.
  4. When the grapeseed oil is warm, pour over the mint leaves, seal the jar and leave to cool in a dark place.
  5. The peppermint oil infusion should be ready after 24 hours.
  6. Strain the peppermint oil mixture through a cheesecloth into a clean jar.
  7. Store in a dark place until ready to use.

Side Effects and Warnings

Using peppermint oil is generally safe for most people when used in reasonable amounts.

As with most essential oils, you shouldn’t put peppermint essential oil directly on your skin. Always dilute peppermint oil with a carrier oil like sweet almond oil, coconut oil, or olive oil.

You can add a drop or two of food grade peppermint essential oil to 500 ml of water. You could also add a drop of food grade peppermint oil when preparing food if you want to add a minty taste to the food.

Regularly consuming peppermint tea or taking non-enteric-coated peppermint oil capsules could result in mild heartburn.

If you are interested to learn more about essential oils you can find useful information in my e-book Magical Aromatherapy. This e-book will help you to discover the power of essential oils and the most effective ways to use them.

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