The Potent Benefits of Peppermint + How to Use It

Amber bottle of peppermint essential oil with fresh peppermint leaves in the background by The Healthy RD

Mentha piperita, or the peppermint plant, has been used for centuries as a medicinal herb and in cooking.  Peppermint is found in many cleaning products, teas, candies, and stomach medicines today. 

Peppermint oil is also steam extracted into essential oil from the leaves for its health benefits.  Experts in essential oils always have this powerful oil on hand.   Here are 10 potent peppermint essential oil uses.  You will most certainly find a use for it right away.


Peppermint Health Compounds

Peppermint essential oil contains many beneficial compounds.  These include:

  • menthol
  • menthone
  • cineole
  • pinenes
  • menthyl acetate

Peppermint essential oil is a highly concentrated form of the plant.  One drop contains more than 20 cups of peppermint tea equivalents in compounds! Choosing peppermint oil that uses steam distilled and pure guarantees it has only pure peppermint.  Many “natural” oils have chemical solvents in them.

Peppermint Health Benefits

Peppermint essential oil is no stranger to health benefits in research.  The National Library of Medicine today has over 1300 research citations related to peppermint alone.

Important: Choose Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade Oils only or food-grade essential oils.

How to Use Peppermint: Diffuse it for Focus and Memory

Peppermint oil aroma improves 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 was also able to reduce daytime sleepiness.

A blend of peppermint, basil, and helichrysum essential oils reduced mental burnout and fatigue symptoms as well.

Tip: Diffuse peppermint oil throughout the day to increase your alertness and reduce fatigue.

Add Peppermint to Water for Exercise and Lung Health

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

Exercise and lung capacity 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

Bronchitis and Peppermint Oil

Cineole, one of the components of peppermint and eucalyptus, was able to reduce bronchitis symptoms and coughing symptoms.

Cineole also improves symptoms of asthma, including lung function and quality of life.

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

How does it help the lungs?

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

Use 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, reduces functional abdominal pain,  and reduces post-operative nausea.

Peppermint oil also improves esophageal, gastric, small bowel, gallbladder, and colonic function.

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

Use Peppermint for Headaches

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

Tip: 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.


Use Peppermint to Reduce Itching

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

Tip: 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

Use Peppermint for Pain Relief

Chronic neck pain is reduced by the essential oil combination that includes peppermint,  marjoram, black pepper,  and lavender. marjoram, black pepper, lavender, and peppermint in a clinical study of 60 patients.

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.

Tip: 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 balding.

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

Tip: 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 (23).

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 little beadlets to help improve your bad breath.

Repel Spiders and Bugs with Peppermint Oil

Peppermint oil, diluted in water, is able to repel spiders and other creepy crawlies. I know because it worked for me.

Tip: 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!

How Does Peppermint Work?

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

Menthol activates TRPM8: a voltage-gated ion-channel protein: this allows the entry of calcium ions on sensing the change in temperature.

Whenever there is a drop in temperature, the voltage on TRPM8 changes so that it allows calcium ions to flow into the nerve cell. 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.

Other Potential 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

My friend and wise colleague, Calene Van Noy, RD described peppermint well:

One memorable time, Peppermint oil came to the rescue was when my 12-year-old son started dry heaving at Yellowstone while we walked along the boardwalk among the hot springs that smelled strongly of sulphur.  I was thinking – no way I want my son to throw up amongst all the visitors right on the boardwalk – so I quickly pulled my peppermint out of my handy essential oil key-chain and with a couple of breaths of it -he was fine. Phew- disaster averted. We’ve also diverted the car-sickness disaster a few times as well – don’t leave on a car-trip without it!


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 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.

Essential Oil Tip:

Some essential oils also have natural antihistamine benefits!

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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