Almost everyone is familiar with the aroma of peppermint from its use in breath mints and candies. However, peppermint oil is more than just a flavoring for confectionery treats - it also has antibacterial, antifungal and antimicrobial properties. Peppermint oil may help reduce yeast infections caused by overgrowth of candida. Consult your doctor before using peppermint oil.
About Peppermint Oil
Aromatherapists and herbalists rely on essential oils and herbs to treat and alleviate many common physical and mental complains. Peppermint oil is one of the most widely used essential oils, due to its wide range of uses. The dried or fresh leaves and stems of the peppermint plant, also known as Mentha piperita, are steam-distilled to produce the sweet, minty smelling essential oil. Peppermint oil contains a number of beneficial compounds. One of the main ingredients, menthol, is commonly used as a decongestant and expectorant. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, peppermint oil has a soothing and cooling effect on skin irritations and headaches. Peppermint oil is also used to treat mental health issues like depression and anxiety. It may help symptoms of bloating and flatulence, because it helps relax the muscles in your digestive tract. Additionally, peppermint oil may help reduce infections and alleviate symptoms of yeast infections. You can purchase peppermint oil as an essential oil or as an enteric-coated capsule for oral use, which contains 0.2 milliliters of peppermint oil per capsule.
Benefits for Yeast Infections
Yeast infections can occur on any part of your body, but they most commonly occur in the vagina. Three out of four women will experience a vaginal yeast infection in their lifetime, according to FamilyDoctor.org. The cause of yeast infections is an imbalance or overgrowth of Candida albicans in the vagina. The growth of Candida albicans is usually controlled by acid in the vagina. However, certain factors, such as the use of birth control pills or antibiotics, can throw off this normal balance and lead to an overgrowth of yeast. Peppermint oil may help yeast infections, due to its antifungal properties. In fact, in their book, "Prescription for Natural Cures," Dr. James Balch, naturopathic doctor Mark Stengler, and naturopath Robin Balch report that peppermint oil may also help alleviate cramping associated with Candida. Balch recommends taking one or two enteric-coated capsules with 0.2 milliliters of peppermint oil daily.
Peppermint oil has primarily been evaluated for its effects on Candida in in vitro laboratory studies. A study published in 2001 in the "World Journal of Microbiology and Biotechnology" found that peppermint essential oil had inhibitory actions against Candida. A complete inhibition of yeast growth occurred when a fumigation test was performed. Another study, published in 2008 in the journal, "Mycopathologia" examined the effects of 30 essential oils on the biofilm of the Candida albicans strain. In this study, peppermint oil, which was proven to have antifungal activity, resulted in a 74.16% biofilm reduction of Candida.
While peppermint oil may help symptoms of yeast infections, you should not take essential oils by mouth unless under your doctor's supervision. You should not use peppermint if you have gastroesophageal reflux disease or a hiatial hernia, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Peppermint oil can cause skin irritation if applied directly to the skin in undiluted form. Consult your doctor before using peppermint oil, especially if you are pregnant or nursing or take any medications. Peppermint can interact with certain medications, including cyclosporine and certain medications used to treat diabetes.
Ashley Miller is a licensed social worker, psychotherapist, certified Reiki practitioner, yoga enthusiast and aromatherapist. She has also worked as an employee assistance program counselor and a substance-abuse professional. Miller holds a Master of Social Work and has extensive training in mental health diagnosis, as well as child and adolescent psychotherapy. She also has a bachelor's degree in music.