Peppermint Essential Oils: Uses, Benefits, History, & More

Peppermint Essential Oil in Bottle

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Peppermint oil can be found at many specialty health stores and online outlets (including Amazon, Etsy, and others). It is one of the most common essential oils on the market.

Derived from the leaves of the peppermint plant, it can be used for many purposes including as a digestive aid, cold and sinus relief, and as an acne treatment.

People have been using peppermint oil as a natural remedy for various ailments for a millennia. The process to refine it can be simplified so if you’d like, you can make your own.

In this post, we break down how peppermint essential oils are made, clinically-researched benefits, and unproven benefits.

How Peppermint Essential Oils Are Made

The first step is to harvest the leaves. You’ll want to look for dark leaves with little to no bruising. These are typically found near the top of the plant. It’s best to the collect the leaves as early in the day as you can. If you don’t have access to a peppermint plant, you can find peppermint in your local supermarket.

Peppermint Leaves

Once harvested, spray the leaves down with cold water and leave them to air dry. Once dry, cut or crush the leaves; this releases their natural oils. Next place the leaves into an airtight glass jar.

You’ll need to select a carrier oil for this part. Carrier oils such as coconut and olive are some of the more common selections. Pour the carrier oil into the jar, submerging the leaves. Seal the jar and store it out of the sunlight.

Peppermint Essential Oil

After 24 hours, strain the mixture and add more leaves. Repeat this process for the next five days. On the fifth day, strain the oil into a fresh container and store at room temperature.

The Benefits of Aromatherapy

Learn More About the Benefits of Aromatherapy

For more information on how aromatherapy may benefit you, read our in-depth article. We took a deep dive and looked at published information, including numerous studies on the subject.

Read more: the benefits of aromatherapy.

Clinically-Proven Benefits

As one of the more common essential oils, there have been studies conducted to assess the benefits of peppermint oil.

Digestive Remedy and IBS Aids

Studies have shown that peppermint oil provides relief from a number of gastrointestinal ailments. A study, published by the US National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health, demonstrates the effects peppermint oil ingested in capsule form. Compounds in the oil relax the intestine and stimulates bowel movement.

Upon completion of the study a large portion of participants reported a reduction in pain by close to half.

Further research into peppermint and menthol has shown it to be a successful aid to those suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome. IBS patients experience extreme stomach pain as a result of increased sensitivity in the nerves lining the colon. The cooling properties of menthol has been shown to provide relief in this instance. Additional studies also shows its ability to increase metabolic rate by breaking down food faster.

Aids in Hair Growth and Acne Prevention

Peppermint oil is a common ingredient in shampoos and lotions recommended for balding or thinning hair. Studies show that it stimulates blood flow, and helps with dry or irritated scalp. It also increases oil secretion in the skin, helping to fight and prevent acne.

Hot Flashes

Studies have found that peppermint oil, when in the form of a spray, can reduce the effects of hot flashes in women. This could be due in part to its qualities as a natural relaxant. Though only 41% of the focus group reported an improvement, researchers stand behind its benefits over the standard water-based spray.

Headache Relief

In an effort to test the effectiveness of peppermint oil versus traditional acetaminophen, researchers conducted a comparison study. They observed participants of a broad age range (18-65) comparing the effects of these drugs against a placebo group. Their conclusion showed that peppermint oil, when applied topically to the forehead was just as successful in relieving headache tension as acetaminophen.

Untested (AKA Claimed) Benefits

The Treatment of Herpes Simplex Virus

The Asian Journal of Pharmacology studied the effects of peppermint oil on drug resistant strains of the virus. They identified that when applied topically (in a cream on the skin) the lipophilic properties of the oil would allow it to penetrate the skin. It could be treatment for recurring instances of the virus.

Chemotherapy Aid

Breast Cancer patients suffer from nausea and hot flashes as a result of Chemotherapy. As mentioned in an above study, peppermint oil does assist in easing hot flashes. However, it is also believed to aid in the nausea suffered as a result of the treatment.

Best Uses for Peppermint Oil

Aromatherapy

Peppermint essential oil is one of the more common selections in aromatherapy. They are often diffused in gaseous form to aid in stress management. Oil molecules travel through the limbic system to the brain. There, they trigger the parts of the brain related to emotion and stress. The result is a release of dopamine – the chemical associated with happiness.

Pain Relief

As mentioned in some of the above studies, menthol, a component of peppermint oil is a natural relaxant. It is common to see it applied in therapeutic massage when combined with another carrier oil. The oil penetrates the skin and stimulates a release of lactic acid within the muscle, alleviating pain and tension.

Cold and Sinus Relief

Peppermint oil is naturally antiviral, antimicrobial and antioxidant. These qualities make it a helpful, natural alternative to common cold medications. It can provide relief of cough and sore throats symptoms when applied topically or inhaled. Some doctors recommend adding peppermint oil to a bowl of hot water, holding your head over it and covering it with a towel. The menthol in the oil breaks down blockage an alleviates pain of irritation by allowing the muscles to relax.

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