Peppermint, or Mentha piperita, has a long, rich, and interesting history. As a hybrid of two other herbs, spearmint and watermint, its peppery nature is what makes this herb unique. The plant grows in moist areas all throughout North America and Europe but is thought to have originated in the Mediterranean.
Historically, peppermint was used in ways that may be unfamiliar to us. Greeks used peppermint sprigs to adorn themselves and their tables during feasts. Romans helped get rid of pests by spreading peppermint on their floors. There’s evidence of philosopher Aristotle referring to pepper as an aphrodisiac. In contrast, Alexander the Great supposedly denied the use of peppermint among his soldiers because he believed it would lead to erotic thoughts and turn them into weakened fighters. Arabs would use peppermint in their drinks during socials to build up their virility.
From those ancient examples alone, you can see how versatile the peppermint plant is and continues to be today – especially medicinally (which we’ll get into shortly)!
Peppermint Comes in Many Forms
You can get peppermint in many forms, including:
- Whole leaf
- Tea (dried or fresh)
- Essential oil
How is Peppermint Essential Oil Made?
In comparison to many oils on the market today, peppermint is one of the most popular. The peppermint plant’s oils contain menthol and menthone which give you that fresh, cooling sensation that you find in so many toothpastes, balms, lozenges, gums, and rubs.
How to Make Peppermint Oil
Making peppermint oil is quite a simple process and you can start with only three things: fresh peppermint leaves, a glass jar with a tight lid, and a carrier oil with the peppermint’s fragrance.
Once you have what you need, follow these five steps:
- Wash and muddle the peppermint to help release its oils.
- Place the muddled peppermint leaves in your glass jar with the carrier oil (e.g., grapeseed oil). Once the leaves are submerged in the oil, tightly seal the jar and let it sit for a full day.
- After twenty-four hours, strain the oil, add more muddled peppermint leaves, and reseal the jar for another full day.
- Repeat this process for five days.
- At the end, completely remove all peppermint leaves and strain the oil into whatever you want to keep your oil in. Keep it in a cool, dark place.
Why is Peppermint Oil So Powerful?
When it comes to scientific studies, researchers have found this plant to help cure nausea and soothe muscle spasms that negatively impact the stomach lining and colon. But what makes this oil so powerful is its ability to treat nearly every other health problem you may have. While some of these treatments are merely anecdotal, they seem to continue to help people. So, let’s get some research going to back these beneficial peppermint oil claims already!
18 Peppermint Oil Uses for Healing
1) Stomach Problems (Colonic Spasms, IBS, Upset Gut)
If you’re suffering from colonic spasms, indigestion, or a general upset stomach, peppermint can offer relief and help you pass gas more easily. Before meals, have a cup of peppermint tea or add a drop of peppermint oil to a glass of water. This should help prep your stomach before you eat.
Peppermint oil has improved IBS symptoms such as stomach pains, bloating, constipation or diarrhea, and excessive gas.[5,6] Ask your doctor about taking peppermint capsules to treat IBS naturally without the use of potentially harmful drugs.
2) Pain Relief (Headaches, Sore Muscles, Achy Joints)
Tension headaches or migraines can be agonizing and the last thing you want to do is start eating painkillers. Peppermint helps improve circulation and relax tense muscle. One study in Germany found that peppermint oil (among others) reduced peoples’ sensitivity to headaches. To get similar relief, massage a couple of drops into your forehead or temples.
Peppermint oil can also soothe back aches and sore muscles, according to one study. A topical application can give your pain relief and you can find some DIY oil rubs here.
If your joints are killing you, some people mix peppermint oil with lavender oil to create a cooling relaxant. This allows you to stay warm and dry while feeling the sensation of cold relief where you feel the most pain.
However, if you find the smell to bothersome or too strong, you can always try this natural wearable acupressure! This Aculief product can be worn on your hand as an alternative to painkillers!
3) Poor Oral and Dental Hygiene
This method is likely on of the oldest ones: you can use pepper oil to freshen your breath naturally. In comparison to commercial mouthwash chemicals, studies found that peppermint oil remedies sometimes performed better. This homemade toothpaste will help freshen your breath naturally, or you can put a drop under your tongue followed by a glass of water.
4) Respiratory Issues
If you’re going through anything like a cold, flu, or allergies, we know how you feel. Being congested is horrible. Fortunately, peppermint oil helps open your airways and decongests you. There are a couple of ways to get relief! You can try this homemade vapor rub or drop a few drops into a bowl of hot water. The peppermint-infused steam will also help you breathe better.
Using these methods for people with asthma might also be beneficial. Peppermint oil contains rosmarinic acid which can help inhibit the chemicals that cause inflammation in people with asthma.
5) Hair and Skin Health
Peppermint oil doesn’t just make your hair smell good. It stimulates and rejuvenates your scalp, too! Just add a few drops to your favorite shampoo and conditioner. Because it’s an antiseptic, peppermint oil is also ideal to have handy if you’re battling dandruff or lice.
Using peppermint oil on skin can have anti-inflammatory effects, along with a cool, soothing sensation. A topical combination of peppermint and lavender oil can improve acne, eczema, and other skin conditions. But make sure to dilute it a bit if your skin is particularly sensitive.
6) Stress, Anxiety, and Nervous System Problems
Peppermint oil has been shown to boost energy and mental alertness. These effects make it ideal for people suffering from stress, nervous disorders, and mental fatigue. Add drops or peppermint oil into your essential oil diffuser and let it work its magic. Let the aroma fill your favorite room and the soothing fragrance calm you. (This essential oil diffuser is a game-changer!)
7) Cancer-Related Treatments
Medical researchers have explored the benefits of peppermint in cancer patients, specifically by using menthol. This compound can inhibit prostate cancer growth and some studies even show that peppermint protects against DNA damage and cell death caused by radiation.
What to Look for In a Good Essential Oil
This section could be turned into a book, but we’ll keep it brief! When you’re shopping around for a quality essential oil, you should ask yourself these questions because while peppermint oil uses can be extremely beneficial, it only works with the right:
- How will this essential oil be used? Whether you’re ingesting (via a carrier oil), inhaling it, or applying it topically, you should verify its purity. You don’t need harmful, impure substances on or in your body.
- Who will be using this essential oil? You won’t always benefit from or react to an oil the same way your family member or friend will. There is the potential for essential oils, if used incorrectly, to cause adverse effects.
- Where did this essential oil come from? The term “therapeutic grade” sounds legitimate, right? In reality, it’s simply a marketing term and not a regulated designation. As a rule of thumb, you should be able to access its organic or wild-crafted growing conditions, statement of purity, country of origin, the part of the plant used, method of extraction, and the Latin name of the plant (to make sure it doesn’t include any additives).
- Does a trusted source approve this essential oil? You won’t always have access to an aromatherapist or naturopathic doctor, so be sure to research the supplier you’re using. And it doesn’t hurt to request safety and quality reports!
On that note…
We’ve scoured the internet for one of the best quality, Naturopathic Doctor-approved peppermint essential oils on the market so you don’t have to. Oh, and if you’d like to put your green thumb to work and make some peppermint oil yourself, here is a high-quality carrier oil with its own set of health benefits. Enjoy!
You could try this acupressure device for your hand too if essential oils happen to not be your thing.
Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and is for information only. Essential oils are very highly concentrated and potent and it is important to always check the specific safety data provided. Keep out of reach of children, the elderly, and pets. For external use only. Avoid contact with mucus membranes and eyes. If any essential oils have contacted your eye, wash out with a vegetable oil such as olive oil, not water.
Some oils may cause skin irritation in people with sensitive skin. It is recommended to perform a patch test before use. To patch test, place one drop on the back of your wrist and leave for an hour or more. If irritation or redness occurs wash the area with olive oil, then cold water and do not use the oil. We do not recommend the ingestion of essential oils except while under the care and direction of a qualified health practitioner.
 Blumenthal M, Goldberg A, Brinckmann J, eds. Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Monographs. Austin, TX: American Botanical Council; Newton, MA: Integrative Medicine Communications; 2000.
 Onstad D. Whole Foods Companion. White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green Publishing Co.; 1996.
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