Essential Oil Series: Peppermint

Peppermint essential oil is a “cool” oil. I say cool in quotations because it is a fascinating oil, but it also can elicit mild discomfort if not properly diluted. Peppermint has many known benefits from helping relieve congestion, to helping mild digestive upset. In this post, we will review the benefits of this oil backed with research articles.

Peppermint has frequently been used to treat nausea and vomiting. However, research is beginning to look into whether peppermint essential oil can be used as a treatment for irritable bowel syndrome. Back in 2016, a study was published that showed “patients in the peppermint oil group experienced greater improvement in multiple individual gastrointestinal symptoms as well as in severe or unbearable symptoms, compared to placebo.” This article mentioned that the results look promising for those who experience non-constipating IBS. This study can be found here.

Regarding more evidence on treatment of nausea, a study was done on patients who had nausea following cardiac surgery. The results of the study were: The average nausea rating before the use of peppermint oil was 3.29 (SD, 1.0) on a scale of 0 to 5, with 5 being the greatest nausea. Two minutes later, the average nausea rating was 1.44 (SD, 1.3). Using paired t-tests, these differences were found to be statistically significant (P = 0.000).” Statistically significant means that there is positively enough evidence that the intervention succeeded and “passed the test.” This study can be found here.

Peppermint is also known to help with sinus congestion and opening up the airway. This oil is especially good to have on hand during the changing of the seasons and especially during the spring. This oil acts as an expectorant, and anti-inflammatory. Putting some oil on your chest, under your nose, and on the back of your neck may help. Just be sure to dilute it (if discomfort occurs) when you apply it to you chest or neck as this oil can cause a burning sensation due to its high potency.

Peppermint oil is also a great breath freshener. Adding 1-2 drops to your mouthwash will give you a very sharp and fresh breath smell after brushing your teeth. I do that quite frequently because some toothpaste does not give me that natural fresh breath that I like.

Peppermint essential oil can help with migraines and headaches as well. A study published back in July 2019 showed that peppermint essential oil is slightly more effective than lidocaine (the numbing medication) at treating migraine headaches. This study can be found here.

Another interesting benefit is that peppermint can promote hair growth. Yes, you heard me correctly. In 2014, a study was done and found that peppermint oil caused “prominent hair growth effects; a significant increase in dermal thickness, follicle number, and follicle depth.” This study compared peppermint oil to jojoba oil, saline, and minoxidil, and peppermint oil was found to be overall superior. This study can be found here.

However, just like with regular medicine, essential oils need to be respected. They are highly concentrated amounts of a plant. In order to get the effect of 1 drop of peppermint essential oil, you would have to eat pounds of peppermint leaves. A case study was written back in 2012 of a near fatal case when a woman ingested high amounts of peppermint oil. The study wrote that “strong smell of mint was emanating from her body.” In order for the body to reek of something that strong, she must have ingested quite a bit at one time. They never found out how much peppermint oil she ingested though. This case study can be found here (Peppermint oil is a rather strong oil just by itself, only a drop or 2 is needed when using aromatherapy, topically, or orally [if approved]).

I am not saying this to scare you away from essential oils or peppermint, but rather to be cautious and take them seriously. The safest way to use essential oils is by aromatherapy, then topical, then oral. Always follow the instructions when using essential oils. NEVER ingest oils unless they are approved to do so! As always, consult your healthcare provider before ingesting essential oils as these may interact with any medications one might be on.

As previously stated in the frankincense post, I am extremely picky about what brand of essential oils I use. This is because I believe in purity, quality, transparency, affordability, accessibility, safety, years of experience of the company, and educational information available about essential oils. As a healthcare professional, I have really high standards for oils and where to purchase them. If you have any questions or comments on peppermint or other essential oils, please feel free to comment below or send me a message through the “contact” portion and I will gladly answer them.

The next oil to be studied over for the health benefits will be a surprise. Stay tuned!

Quote of the day: The best doctor gives the least medicines – Benjamin Franklin

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