Harnessing the Power of Peppermint: Discover its Amazing Benefits

Amber bottle of peppermint essential oil with fresh peppermint leaves in the background by The Healthy RD
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The peppermint plant has been used for centuries as a medicinal herb and in cooking. Peppermint, with its refreshing aroma and lively flavor, has long been a beloved herb for culinary and medicinal purposes.

Beyond being a delightful addition to dishes and beverages, peppermint boasts an array of impressive health benefits that have been cherished for centuries.

From soothing digestive issues to enhancing brain function, this versatile herb is packed with powerful properties that can positively impact our overall well-being.

Peppermint is also readily found in many teas, candies, health products, and stomach medicines today so it is handy to use. 

This article explores the numerous advantages of peppermint and delves into the science behind its remarkable effects on our physical and mental health.

 Peppermint Benefits Overview

Peppermint contains many beneficial compounds for health.  These include:

  • menthol
  • menthone
  • cineole
  • pinenes
  • menthyl acetate

Not surprisingly peppermint oil is no stranger to health benefits in research. 

The National Library of Medicine today has over 1300 research citations related to peppermint alone.

Because peppermint has many components, it has many actions at play.  Here are a few.

The menthol in peppermint activates a substance called TRPM8. This is a voltage-gated protein in the body that allows us to sense temperature change.

Whenever there is a drop in temperature, the voltage on TRPM8 changes so that it allows calcium to flow into our nerve cells. This triggers the current to flow from the membrane of the nerve cell and you then sense coolness.

By bringing down the perceived temperature, peppermint helps to bring down inflammation.

Menthol’s pain-relieving and alertness properties are associated with its ability to keep neuronal sodium ion channels healthy as well.

Menthol likely can exert its effects directly on the central nervous system.

Peppermint for Focus and Memory

The aroma of peppermint is bright, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it may help improve focus and memory. Research shows that it works.

For example, Peppermint oil aroma improved memory as shown in a randomized clinical study of 144 participants.

Peppermint oil also improves gross speed, net speed, and accuracy on a typing test.  Long used for its invigorating properties, peppermint reduces daytime sleepiness.

Peppermint for Exercise and Lung Health

Some research is emerging to show that peppermint also helps improve exercise tolerance and even may help improve lung capacity.

Peppermint essential oil added to water, about 1 drop of oil per day, during exercise, enhances athletic ability according to a study of young men. It helps enhance exercise by increasing power, time to exhaustion, and improved respiratory and heart rate as well as blood pressure.

Exercise and lung capacity also improved within minutes of peppermint essential oil compared to placebo in yet another study.  For example, exercise, lung and heart measurements, blood pressure, heart rate, and breath rate all improved.

Tip: Add 1 drop of peppermint oil to water for a great exercise boost.

Peppermint for Bronchitis and Asthma

Peppermint has long been used for its ability to reduce mucus and reduce inflammation. Research now shows that it is true.

This fascinating plant helps with lung health in the following ways.

Cineole, one of the main components of peppermint and eucalyptus, reduces bronchitis symptoms and coughing symptoms according to a double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial in people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

This compound in mint also improves symptoms of asthma, including lung function and quality of life according to a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.

Menthol from mint also improves lung capacity and reduces coughing when exposed to lung irritants and reduced coughing.

Peppermint helps with the relaxation of bronchial smooth muscles, increases ventilation and brain oxygen concentration, and decreases blood lactate.

Peppermint Oil Gelcaps for Digestive Issues

A recent review paper of clinical trials found that peppermint essential oil helps irritable bowel syndrome in over 175 patients. It also reduces functional abdominal pain,  and reduces post-operative nausea.

According to research, peppermint oil also improves esophageal, gastric, small bowel, gallbladder, and colonic function.

Early research even shows that peppermint oil reduces pain associated with gastrointestinal spasms.  This is likely because menthol relaxes smooth muscles.

It also reduces abdominal fullness, and bloating also known as non-ulcer dyspepsia.

Peppermint essential oil benefits infographic by The Healthy RD

Peppermint for Headaches

Peppermint oil is a safe, effective, and natural treatment for headaches.  It works as well as over-the-counter headache medications such as acetaminophen.

Apply 1 drop of diluted peppermint oil to each temple.  Be careful to avoid the eye area.

If you have skin sensitivity, try drinking some peppermint tea or diffusing it instead of using it topically.

 

Peppermint to Reduce Itching

Topical application of peppermint oil improves skin condition and reduces itching in patients with chronic itching conditions.

Peppermint essential oil can provide instant relief when applied topically to the area of concern.

However, be aware that skin sensitivity to peppermint is fairly common, so if you develop a rash or sensitivity, do not use peppermint oil topically.

Related post: Eczema: Best Foods to Eat

Peppermint for Pain Relief

In a study of 60 patients, chronic neck pain was reduced by the essential oil combination that includes peppermint,  marjoram, black pepper, and lavender. marjoram, black pepper, lavender, and peppermint.

A case report of a woman with postherpetic neuralgia found pain relief with continued use of topical peppermint oil.

Other case reports have shown muscle pain relief with the use of topical peppermint ointment, including relief of TMJ.

You can add peppermint oil to areas of discomfort for immediate relief but use caution with skin sensitivity.

Learn more about nerve pain relief in my blog 19 Helpful Essential Oils for Nerve Pain.

Peppermint May Help Grow Hair

Early research shows that peppermint essential oil is a safe, natural alternative to help reduce balding.

In an animal study, peppermint oil was more effective than prescriptive hair regrowth solutions for stimulated hair production.

You can add peppermint oil to your usual shampoo for potential hair benefits. But, do not use peppermint oil if you have sensitive skin.

Peppermint May Help Reduce Colic

An easy way to calm a baby may be with essential oils. Always make sure to carefully dilute according to safe guidelines. Read more here from Aroma Tools.

Use 1-2 drops of peppermint oil in 2 Tbs. of carrier oil for babies.

Diluted peppermint oil reduced symptoms, both frequency and duration, of colic in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. However, do not use peppermint oil if a rash or sensitivity develops.

I suggest using it in a diffuser to avoid skin sensitivity.

Peppermint Reduces Bad Breath

With a drop of peppermint oil on the tongue, using high-quality oil, you can ditch the gum and mints that are full of chemicals!

Peppermint was able to kill bacteria and candida that cause bad breath: these include Staphylococcus aureus,  Enterococcus fecalis, Escherichia coli, and Candida [R].

Peppermint is anti-inflammatory and is rich in antioxidants.  It may help improve skin health and oral health.

Tip: You can dilute the peppermint oil or get peppermint oil in gel caps to help improve your bad breath.

Repel Spiders and Bugs with Peppermint Oil

Peppermint oil, diluted in water, can repel spiders and other creepy crawlies.

Simply dilute and spray around the perimeter of your home or affected areas.  You can also place 5 drops on cotton balls and place them in window wells and common points of entry for bugs.

Peppermint oil may repel mosquitos too!

Other Potential Peppermint Benefits

Peppermint oil is very dynamic and can be used for benefiting the following conditions as well:

  • Asthma
  • Sinusitis
  • Loss of Sense of Smell
  • Emotional Balance
  • Allergies
  • Food Cravings
  • Autism
  • Fevers and Hot Flashes
  • Improving Milk Supply
  • Motion sickness

Peppermint Dosing

Research studies use doses of 90 mg or 0.2-0.4 ml of oral peppermint.  Topical peppermint is applied per drop to affected areas.

Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade (CPTG) peppermint essential oil has the following main constituents: menthol, menthone, alpha pinenes and beta pinenes, menthyl acetate, plus many other healthful components. Interestingly, linalool is also rich in lavender, which has calming effects too. 

Peppermint Precautions

  • Peppermint at high doses orally can have side effects, including kidney toxicity. You only need a drop or two for health benefits.
  • Do not use peppermint oil if you have an allergy to this plant
  • Although peppermint is generally safe to be added to foods, always check with your healthcare provider before making changes to your health routine as it may interact with your medications or conditions.
  • Pregnant women should not use peppermint in high concentrations.
  • Peppermint oil may stimulate bile flow, so it shouldn’t be used in people with gallbladder issues unless under medical supervision.

Summary

In conclusion, peppermint offers a wide range of benefits that make it an excellent addition to our daily lives for most people.

From its ability to improve digestion and relieve headaches to its potential to boost energy and mental clarity, this versatile herb has proven itself as a valuable ally for our overall well-being.

Whether used topically, ingested as a tea or essential oil, gel cap, or simply enjoyed as a refreshing flavor, peppermint continues to impress with its numerous health-enhancing properties.

So why not take advantage of all the wonderful benefits that peppermint has to offer?

Incorporating this natural remedy into our routines can be a simple yet effective way to promote better health and vitality.

The information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration or any other medical body and is shared for educational purposes only. Consult your doctor or healthcare provider before making changes to your supplement regimen or lifestyle.

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