Pleasantly suitable for an abundance of oral and topical uses, peppermint may be the most versatile essential oil in the world along with lavender. Literally, there are few body, health, and mind issues that it cannot help.
Peppermint essential oil gives a cooling sensation and has a calming effect on the body, which can relieve sore muscles when used topically. It also has antimicrobial properties so it can help freshen bad breath and soothe digestive issues.
Peppermint is a hybrid species of spearmint and water mint (Mentha aquatica). The essential oils are gathered by steam distillation of the fresh aerial parts of the flowering plant. The most active ingredients include menthol (35–45%) and menthone (10–30%).
Clinically speaking, peppermint oil is recommended for its anti-nausea benefits and soothing effects on the gastric lining and colon because of its ability to reduce muscle spasms.
Not only is peppermint one of the oldest European herbs used for medicinal purposes, other historical accounts date its use to ancient Chinese and Japanese folk medicine. It’s also mentioned in Greek mythology the nymph Mentha was transformed into an herb by Pluto who had fallen in love with her and wanted people to appreciate her for years to come.
The health benefits of peppermint oil have been documented back to 1,000 BC and have been found in several Egyptian pyramids.
Peppermint Oil Benefits
Some of the most common benefits of peppermint essential oil include:
- Reduces stomach aches
- Freshens breath
- Relieves headaches
- Improves mental focus
- Clears respiratory tract
- Boosts energy
- Releases tight muscles
- Cost-effective natural solution to replace pharmaceutical drugs
Top 29 Peppermint Oil Uses
Ready to start harnessing the health benefits of peppermint? If so, here are 25 ways to use this incredible herb:
1. Muscle Pain Relief – Peppermint essential oil is a very effective natural painkiller and muscle relaxant. It is especially helpful in soothing an aching back, sore muscles, and melting away a tension headache. A study shows that peppermint oil applied topically can help relief pain associated with Fibromyalgia and Myofascial Pain Syndrome. The study found that peppermint oil, eucalyptus, menthol, capsaicin and other herbal preparations may be helpful. calyptus, menthol, capsaicin and other herbal preparations (1). Try my recipe for homemade muscle rub to ease muscle pain.
2. Sinus Care –Inhaling diffused peppermint oil can oftentimes immediately unclog your sinuses and offer relief to scratchy throats. Peppermint acts as an expectorant and may provide relief for colds, cough, sinusitis, asthma, and bronchitis.
3. Joint Therapy –When your joints get achy, applying some pure peppermint oil mixed with lavender oil can cool muscles like an ice bath, but help you to stay warm and dry. You better have it ready after exercising.
4. Reduce Hunger Cravings –Inhaling peppermint essential oil can stave off the munchies and can help you feel full faster. If you can’t have a diffuser with you at dinnertime, try applying a couple drops on your temples or chest, or take a couple of deep sniffs from the bottle.
5. Natural Energizer –For a non-toxic alternative to dangerous energy drinks, take a few whiffs of peppermint. It will perk you up on long road trips, in school or any other time you need to “burn the midnight oil.” For those with chronic fatigue syndrome, peppermint oil may improve focus and concentration.
6. Improve Your Shampoo –Add 2-3 drops of peppermint essential oil to your regular morning shampoo and conditioner to stimulate the scalp, energize your mind, and wake up! Because it is a powerful antiseptic, peppermint can also help remove dandruff and lice. Try my homemade rosemary mint shampoo, a safe and economical shampoo for you and your family.
7. Allergy Relief –Peppermint oil is highly effective at relaxing muscles in your nasal passages and can help clear out the muck and pollen during allergy season. Diffusing peppermint along with clove oil and eucalyptus oil can also reduce allergy symptoms.
8. ADHD Support –Try spritzing some peppermint oil on your child’s shirt before study time or placing a drop on her tongue or under her nose for improved concentration and alertness.
9. Anti-Itch –Whether you’re battling a rash or poison ivy, applying some peppermint oil mixed with lavender oil is certain to cool and soothe any itch.
10. Fever Reducer –Because of peppermint oil’s cooling effects, it is an excellent natural treatment to bring down a fever especially in children. Simply mix peppermint oil with coconut oil and rub it on a child’s neck and on the bottom of their feet to help stabilize a fever instead of aspirin or other drugs.
11. Natural Bug Repellant –Ticks aren’t the only bugs that hate peppermint oil. In fact, ants, spiders, cockroaches, mosquitos, mice, and even lice will be repelled. Follow this recipe and make your own natural bug floor cleaner!
12. Skin Health -Peppermint oil has calming effects on skin inflammation. You can mix peppermint oil into lip balm and body lotion for a nice cooling sensation. Try myLavender Mint Lip Balm to nourish lips throughout the year. Mixing peppermint and lavender essential oils can improve eczema and psoriasis when applied topically.
13. Acne Treatment -According to medical studies peppermint has anti-microbial properties so is an excellent ingredient to help cure acne naturally.
14. Headache Cure -Peppermint oil has the ability to improve circulation, heal the gut and relax tense muscles. All of these conditions can cause tension headaches or migraines making peppermint oil an excellent natural treatment. A study from researchers at the Neurological Clinic at the University of Kiel, Germany, found that a combination of oils, including peppermint oil had “significant analgesic effect with a reduction in sensitivity to headaches.” The oils were applied to the forehead and temples for pain relief (2).
15. Hair Growth -Peppermint oil is used in many high quality hair care products because it can naturally thicken and nourish damaged hair. Simply add some peppermint oil to your current shampoo or make your own homemade rosemary mint shampoo that can help stop hair loss and thinning.
16. Sunburn Relief -Peppermint oil can hydrate burnt skin and relieve the pain from sunburns. You can mix peppermint oil with a bit of coconut oil and apply it directly to the affected area, or make my natural homemade sunburn spray to relief pain and support healthy skin renewal.
17. IBS Treatment -Peppermint oil taken internally in capsule form has been proven to be effective at naturally treating IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). One study found a 50% reduction in IBS symptoms with 75% of patients who used it (3).
18. Improve Bloating and Indigestion -Peppermint oil has been established as a natural alternative to drugs like Buscopan to reduce spasms of the colon. It works by relaxing the muscles of your intestines, which can also reduce bloating and gas. Try peppermint tea or adding 1 drop of peppermint oil to your water before meals.
19. Freshen Breath and Reduce Cavities -Tried and true for well over 1,000 years peppermint has been used to naturally freshen breath. According to studies, peppermint oil performed better than the mouthwash chemicals chlorhexidine at reducing cavities. You can make homemade toothpaste, mouth wash, or add a drop under your tongue followed with glass of water to freshen breath.
20. Reduce Nausea -A medical study found that peppermint oil reduced nausea that is induced by chemotherapy better than standard medical treatments. Simply adding a drop of peppermint oil to water, or rubbing 1-2 drops behind your ears, or even diffusing it can help to reduce nausea.
21. Respiratory benefits -Peppermint essential oil has the ability to open your airways and act as a decongestant. Mix it with coconut oil and eucalyptus essential oil to make my homemade vapor rub to help reduce the symptoms of asthma and bronchitis.
22. Colic -Medical research has discovered using peppermint oil is equally effective as the drug Simethione for treating infantile colic, without the side effects associated with prescribed medications. Peppermint oil is an essential part of my natural remedies for colic.
23. Teething -Peppermint oil is a great natural remedy to relieve the pain associated with teething in infants. Simply mix peppermint oil with coconut oil at a 1:1 ratio and rub on the gum area.
24. Balance hormones and relieve symptoms of PCOS -A recent study found that peppermint oil may have hormone balancing effects and be therapeutic for polycystic ovarian syndrome. The study confirmed that spearmint has antiandrogen properties, and researchers believe initial results warrant further studies (4).
25. Cancer treatment -Clinical research indicates that peppermint contains the compound menthol, which inhibits prostate cancer growth. Also, studies found peppermint protects against radiation-induced DNA damage and cell death (5).
26. Aromatherapy bath – Peppermint oil has relaxing properties. This makes it a very good stimulating agent and can revitalize your body. As mentioned above, combining it with Epsom salt can help relieve muscle pain, but even if you do not have muscle pain it is a great way to relax! Adding peppermint oil to a warm bath can help sooth your body and relax your mind. Peppermint oil mixed into your bath helps relieve tension from your body!
27. Nail care – Fungal nail infections, such as athlete’s food and ringworm, affect many people around the world. Though they are seldom a medical concern, they are a cosmetic one and, of course, often cause persistent itching and other undesirable symptoms. Fortunately, peppermint oil can treat fungal nail infections due to its considerable antifungal properties. Simply apply the oil to the affected area once or twice daily until the infection heals.
28. Stopping Hiccups – Applying peppermint oil to both sides of the vertebrae on your neck will help you get rid of the annoying hiccups.
29. Herpes treatment – Peppermint oil was found to have a beneficial effect on drug-resistant herpes simplex virus when applied topically. Because of its lipophilic nature, peppermint oil is able to pass through the skin, making it an ideal treatment against recurrent herpes infection (9). Using peppermint oil on shingles rash also improves pain induced by the disease.
30. Blood circulation -The stimulating effects of peppermint oil have been shown to increase blood circulation. Studies have shown that as soon as the essential oil vapor touches the end of the olfactory nerve endings, there is an almost instant increase in pulse rate and blood circulation. The stimulating effect of increased blood circulation helps to oxygenate the body’s organs and increase metabolism, as well as oxygenate the brain. This leads to higher cognitive function and protection against neutrally-degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia. Furthermore, increased blood circulation can prevent diabetic patients from complications they are already at risk of due to their glucose level imbalances.
Peppermint Oil Studies and Research
At the time I wrote this article, there were 302 scientific studies referring to peppermint essential oils and 2297 about menthol. Believe me when I tell you, the research out there is air-tight! If you make it a point to incorporate this powerful remedy into your daily routine, I promise you that your life will change in more ways than you can imagine.
Take for instance, a 2012 study out of Clayton State University that tested peppermint oils ability to reduce postoperative nausea and vomiting. Generally occurring as a common side effect of general anesthesia, about one-third of all people undergoing surgery suffer from these conditions at various degrees of intensity.
For Moms who just had a C-section, this can be especially devastating as it is very likely to interfere with breastfeeding and could prevent them from that wonderful bonding experience with their baby.
The study tested evaluated how 35 Moms responded to this ancient aromatherapy and discovered that peppermint essential oil was not only quite effective in reducing post-operative nausea and vomiting, it “significantly lowered” the sickness levels of participants compared to women who received standard anti-nausea medications.
More than just aromatherapy, just one drop of peppermint oil rubbed on the stomach or taken internally can calm indigestion in no time flat. The powerful ability of peppermint to help with gastrointestinal concerns has just been tapped by the scientific community.
New research has found peppermint can improve antibiotic resistance and help heal your body from the overuse of prescription antibiotics and other chemicals that affect your body. This is probably part of the reason it is so effective in treating IBS.
A combined medical study of all the literature on peppermint’s ability to cure irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) was just published this July and, of the nine studies combined they stated:
“Peppermint oil was found to be significantly superior to placebo for overall improvement of IBS symptoms and improvement in abdominal pain.” They concluded,
“Peppermint oil is a safe and effective short-term treatment for IBS.”
Peppermint Oil To Repel Bugs
Growing up in mosquito country, one of my favorite uses for peppermint oil is definitely to repel bugs!
A study that was published out of Israel last year compared how 7 different commercial bug repellants fared against each other. As you’d expect it, the All-Natural Essential Oil Mosquito Repellent (which is a blend of cinnamon, eugenol, geranium, peppermint, and lemongrass oils) was tied as the most effective mosquito repellant with OFF!® (which is loaded with toxic chemicals like DEET). A further study showed that peppermint oil resulted in 150 minutes of complete protection time against mosquitos, with just 0.1 mL of oil applied on the arms (6). The researchers noted that after 150 minutes, the efficacy of peppermint oil decreased, and needed to be reapplied.
One final way I would encourage you to use peppermint is as part of your diet. Here are some of my favorite peppermint recipes:
Concerns and Potential Interactions
Peppermint oil is likely safe when taken by mouth in amounts commonly found in food, and when used topically (7). Ingesting peppermint oil may cause side effects for some that include heartburn, flushing, mouth sores, headache. Some prescription medications and over-the-counter medications may adversely interact with peppermint oil. Enteric-coated peppermint oil supplements may cause rapid dissolving leading to heartburn, nausea, and rapid absorption of some medications. Take necessary precautions.
The following medications carry a “moderate” potential for interaction with peppermint oil:
Neoral, Sandimmune, Elavil, Haldol, Zofran, Inderal, Theo-Dur, Calan, Isoptin, Prilosec, Prevacid, Protonix, Diazepam, Valium, Soma, Viracept, Cataflam, Voltaren, Ibuprofen/Motrin, Mobic, Feldene, Celebrex, Elavil, Warfarin/Coumadin, Glucotrol, Iosartan, Cozaar, Mevacor, Nizoral, Sporanox, Allegra, Halcion.
The following medications carry a “minor” potential for interaction with peppermint oil:
Over-the-counter and prescription antacids including Tums, Rolaids, Ripan, Bilagog, Amphojel, Tagamet, Zantac, Axid, Pepcid, Prilosec, Prevacid, Aciphex, Protonix, Nexium.
Natural supplement precautions:
Peppermint can reduce the absorption of iron when taken simultaneously. If taking iron supplements and peppermint oil, allow at least 3 hours between the two. Peppermint oil also increases the absorption of quercetin when taken at the same time; allow at least 3 hours between taking these together.
How about you? What do YOU use peppermint essential oil for?
FUN FACTS about Peppermint and its oil:
- Peppermint oil is produced by specialized cells on the underside of the leaves.
- The best time to harvest and collect the oil is on a sunny day as flowering is just beginning. This is when menthol is at its peak.
- Peppermint plants grow to be 18 – 36 inches tall and about 24 inches wide.
- The US produces 70% of the Worlds peppermint supply.
- Peppermint is the most extensively used volatile oil, both commercially and medicinally.