Peppermint has a pungent, minty aroma that quickly fills a room, leaving a clean, fresh atmosphere. Inhaling the oil can do the same thing to your body, quickly clearing and opening stuffy nasal passages.
Some people have a sensitivity to the oil, and should therefore use half the number of drops in a preparation or substitute spearmint oil, which is not as strong as its mint cousin. Peppermint is also not recommended for those with gallstones or GERD.
According to the “PDR for Herbal Medicines,” peppermint has an antispasmodic effect on digestive tract smooth muscles. Scientific studies have demonstrated that it is effective in treating irritable bowel syndrome.
Peppermint oil has a long history of use in relieving colic in infants and children, according to Louise Tenney. Pregnant women also find it helpful in relieving morning sickness, but UMMC notes that it has not been proven safe for that purpose.
According to Kathi Keville, author of “Aromatherapy: A Complete Guide to the Healing Art,” peppermint oil is a ketone. It can dissolve mucus and fats and it can heal wounds. It has a long history of use treating bronchial coughs, the common cold and respiratory congestion. Menthol, a chief component of peppermint oil, is used commercially in many cold, flu, sinus and cough preparations to ease breathing.
Peppermint oil has a stimulating effect on the sense. Ms. Keville explains that it can intensify brain waves, making the mind clearer and sharper. It works much like coffee, without the side effects of caffeine. Peppermint oil brings oxygen into the blood stream and helps to clear thinking.
Antiviral and Anitmicrobial
According to the “PDR for Herbal Medicines,” peppermint has both antiviral and antimicrobial properties. It may assist in wound healing when applied to abrasions. A variety of oral products like toothpaste, denture cleaners and mouthwashes use peppermint both to clean the breath and to reduce oral viruses and microbes.
According to the “PDR for Herbal Medicines,” peppermint has mild diuretic properties. It can assist in cleansing the body of toxins.
Peppermint oil can also assist in the release of urine by dropping a few drops into the toilet water immediately before sitting down. The vapors from the peppermint oil will dilate the urethra and release urine.
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, the cooling and calming effect of peppermint oil can soothe headaches and ease depression-associated anxiety and menstrual cramps.
A 2010 study reported in the “International Journal of Clinical Practice” demonstrated its efficacy in relieving the symptoms of migraine, including the nausea and vomiting associated with it.
Peppermint repels insects, according to the “PDR for Herbal Medicines.” Several drops of peppermint oil applied to exposed skin effectively repels biting mosquitoes and reduces the number of bites you may receive.
Peppermint oil applied to the skin has a cooling effect. Users have discovered that it can ease fevers when applied to the forehead and body.
References and ResourcesNCCAM: Peppermint Oil
Organic Facts: Health Benefits of Peppermint Oil
UMMC: Peppermint Oil
"Aromatherapy: A Complete Guide to the Healing Art;" Kathy Keville: 2008
"PDR for Herbal Medicines;" Physicians Desk Reference Inc.; 2007
ResourcesPubMed: Peppermint Oil (Mintoil) in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome
PubMed: Cutaneous application of menthol as an abortive treatment of migraine