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Peppermint Essential Oil: Uses and Benefits

Introduction to Peppermint oil

Peppermint is used in candy and sweet treats for adults and kids alike, but it also has medicinal uses.

The scientific name is Mentha x piperita, and is often just called "mint". Peppermint originally came from Europe, but can now be found in backyards and gardens all over the world, as well as growing in the wild.

Believe it or not, humans have been using peppermint plant oil for almost ten thousand years….and peppermint, which is a hybrid of two plants, has therefore been referred to as the “world’s oldest medicine.” You'll find it in pretty much every brand of toothpaste, for the clean taste and smell that it adds.

The modern peppermint plant is actually a hybrid of two original wild plants - water mint and spearmint - and has stronger medicinal properties than either of the two originals; the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

New studies are showing that traditional wisdom about this plant was right on target. Read on for more uses and benefits of this wonderful, spicy-smelling essential oil.

Peppermint leaves on a planted, growin peppermint plant, outdoors.

Peppermint leaves on a planted, growin peppermint plant, outdoors.

  • Peppermint Oil [NCCAM Herbs at a Glance]
    Basic information on peppermint oil, including common names, uses, potential side effects, and resources to learn more. From the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

Tummy troubles? Try Peppermint Oil

One of the most useful applications of peppermint plant oil is for gastrointestinal and digestive disorders, including nausea and indigestion.

Have you ever eaten a mint after dinner? Restaurants serve peppermints after a meal not just as a breath and mouth freshener, but also to aid digestion.

More importantly, a study conducted in 2007 showed that 75% of the patients in the study who took peppermint oil capsules for four weeks had a major reduction in irritable bowel syndrome symptoms. That’s great news for those of us who love peppermint sweets, chocolate, and ice cream! (Although it's hard to pretend that the extra sugar and fat in those foods is actually healthy.....)

If you want to read the medical facts in more detail, a link to resources can be found to the right of this text.

Other tips for using peppermint essential oil at home

  • For poison ivy or poison oak rash, apply diluted peppermint oil to soothe the itching;
  • Inhale peppermint oil before a workout to boost your mood and reduce fatigue;
  • Hot Flushes: Breathe in the aroma of peppermint oil for about five minutes. You’ll cool off quickly;
  • Got a stuffy nose from a cold, flu, or allergies? Place a drop of peppermint oil on the tongue and inhale to relieve congestion, or put a few drops in a bowl of warm water with the same number of drops of eucalyptus oil, for a natural decongestant;
  • Paint fume fix: Mix half of a small bottle of peppermint oil into a gallon of paint to dispel the fumes;
  • Remove a tick: Apply a drop of peppermint oil to the tick and it will unlatch itself from the host, without leaving its head behind (a risk if you just pull at a tick);
  • Mix a few drops of peppermint oil in a warm footbath to relieve sore, hot, swollen or over-used feet, or use a foot cream with cooling peppermint essential oil in it.
Mint served in drinks, cooling and refreshing in the summer.

Mint served in drinks, cooling and refreshing in the summer.

How Should I Take Peppermint Oil?

How you take peppermint oil can make a world of difference.

In capsule form, it is much more effective to take it on an empty stomach, since the oil needs to pass through the stomach unimpeded and reach the intestines before it dissolves.

If you've eaten and have a full or partially-full stomach, the oil can be discharged too high up in your digestive system, and not give as much in the way of benefits.

Another way to ingest peppermint is through herbal tea. Peppermint tea is naturally caffeine-free and can be sweetened with a little honey or plain sugar.

Brew 1-2 tablespoons dried (or 3-4 tablespoons fresh) mint leaves per eight ounce cup of freshly-boiled water. You can also buy ready-made peppermint tea bags (I use two per mug, rather than one)

The stronger the tea, the better the effects on your digestion, so don't be afraid to make a dark brew!

Peppermint tea is an amazingly refreshing and invigorating drink, too, perfect for hot afternoons and evenings. Mint tea is common all over the Middle East, particularly after dinner. You can drink mint tea hot, warm or cold, and all are enjoyable.

Keep your garden pest-free with peppermint plants and peppermint oils

Peppermint oil is a safe, natural way to repel pests in your home and garden. The oil’s strong, clear smell deters many household pests. The following spray will repel ants, aphids, plant lice, and types of beetles.

Peppermint oil spray: Fill a quart-sized container with water and add 10-15 drops of peppermint oil. Shake well. Spray leaves of plants or along the sides of buildings to drive away pests.

To discourage mice, put a few drops of peppermint essential oil on cotton balls and place them around your house. Use the scent on areas where mice might enter homes, such as in basements or doorways.

For gophers, moles, and other burrowing animals, try mixing a tablespoon of peppermint oil in a quart of water and then pour or spray on the hole.

Victorian botanical illustration of a peppermint plant.

Victorian botanical illustration of a peppermint plant.

Growing your own peppermint plants

For those who want to grow the peppermint herb at home, be aware of this: peppermint will take over your yard or garden quickly if you don’t contain it!

Easy-to-grow peppermint plants generally do well in shaded areas and need a good water supply.

As soon as the flowers begin to open, collect the leaves and flowering tops to use in your kitchen or medicine chest. Dry the leaves in a warm, dry place for at least a week to prevent mould from forming.

It’s best to use plants from a nursery or garden centre, as shop-bought peppermint plant seeds don’t always grow into true peppermint, but rather into a strangely-scented spearmint plant.

True peppermint plants rarely produce seeds, because they are hybrid plants rather than originals, and therefore tend to be sterile.

Peppermint aromatherapy oil

Peppermint oil is commonly used in aromatherapy products.

Peppermint aromatherapy massage of the stomach and abdomen can relieve symptoms of nausea and indigestion, as can inhaling from a few drops of essential oil in warm water.

Aromatherapy massages aiming to invigorate and energise very often include peppermint oil.

Aromatherapy products frequently blend peppermint oil with one or many of the folloing essential oils, as they are good in combination:

  • tea tree
  • cedarwood
  • rosemary
  • spearmint
  • thyme
  • cypress
  • eucalyptus
  • mandarin
  • lavender
  • lemon
  • lime

Aromatherapy cream for strained or tired muscles and ligaments usually includes peppermint oil, as it warms and encourages blood flow to the area.

Herbal Lore - Peppermint

Did you know that honeybees love the peppermint flower? They produce a sweet-smelling honey from peppermint fields.


People who should avoid peppermint

Infants and children should avoid peppermint oil capsules, and adults should use peppermint essential oil in small doses to be effective.

Possible side effects include allergic reactions and heartburn - neither is particularly common, but anyone who suffers an adverse reaction should obviously steer clear of peppermint oil thereafter.

Be sure to avoid using this potent oil around eyes and nose to avoid burning sensitive skin.

Comments

min t 1 on July 03, 2012:

Ive worked w mint oils for many years, I use it on bits of kleenex or cotton balls scattered around on carpets vacuming them up and freshening up carpets. Try placing the same on your furnace filter-whole house freshener.

It is important to not use full strength spearmint oils on carpets or anything which is of a petroleum base, as spearmints main componant is carvone which is a solvent and while cost prohibitive is a strong paint remover

Peter Geekie from Sittingbourne on June 02, 2012:

Dear plants and oils,

Thank you for an informative hub.

I'm glad to see you avoided suggesting essential oils on pets (cats in particular) as they are toxic and will seriously damage their kidneys and liver.

For us mere humans I would suggest peppermint along with lavender as a must have in the home first aid kit

Kind regards Peter

Voted up and follow

Thelma Alberts from Germany on June 02, 2012:

It is a very informative hub. I love drinking peppermint tea and I´m using peppermint essential oil for my diffuser when I do have colds. It helps a lot. Voted up and useful. SHARED.

Donna Keiffer on March 12, 2012:

I read that spraying peppermint on the tongue, is an appetite suppressant?

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on January 08, 2012:

Great info on peppermint oil. Thanks for sharing.

Voted up.

Jackie on September 12, 2011:

I put peppermint leaves and stems in a sock to help me breathe better

Shannon on September 08, 2011:

I have some stomach trouble, gas and a touch of IBS and everytime after I eat I put a sugar free peppermint in my mouth and it really helps. I get the at the grocery store.

Hope this is news for all!!

Plants and Oils (author) from England on November 29, 2010:

I don't know anything that suggests peppermint helps with hair growth, sorry.

Helen on November 27, 2010:

Could I use peppermint oil for balding hair.....hair grow

Research Analyst on April 07, 2010:

I like peppermint

skye2day from Rocky Mountains on February 15, 2010:

Great Hub Did you win the nubnuggets? I hope so, I would have voted yes big times. Well written and what a blessing to know this natural oil does so much fo the human body and house hold. I am a new fan. I hope you stop over to visit me. I will return soon. I am bookmarking thie fantastic hub.

Hugs + + +

Plants and Oils (author) from England on August 24, 2009:

Thanks RYP! Peppermint is great for all sorts of digestive complaints.

RYPcontent from Chatham, IL on August 24, 2009:

Very thorough, well presented hub...very interesting that peppermint helps IBS!

Plants and Oils (author) from England on August 15, 2009:

Hi Myawn, glad you enjoyed it. I love peppermint too, it's wonderful stuff.

Melody, glad you found it interesting.

Melody Lagrimas from Philippines on August 15, 2009:

This is very informative.

myawn from Florida on August 14, 2009:

Very nice, enjoyed the pepperment oil information. You know so much ,I love peppermint.

Plants and Oils (author) from England on August 08, 2009:

The oil is great, especially for colds and flu, and the plant itself tastes so good in tea, as you say.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on August 08, 2009:

We have always enjoyed growing mint in our garden and definitely keep it in an area where it cannot invade other plants. Love it in salads and tea.

The use of it in oil form is very interesting and intriguing.

Correen on July 26, 2009:

Lots of great info in this hub. Enjoyed the guest comments too!

Plants and Oils (author) from England on July 25, 2009:

Guru - we had some fresh mint in our salad last night, it was lovely.

Pink, it's great as an organic, safe way to discourage rodents without harming cats, dogs, or other pets

Pink Mingos from Mars on July 23, 2009:

I never would have thought it to be great for discouraging mice. I'm always concerned about using anything inorganic because of our own pets! I'm definitely going to try that since mice are one of the few drawbacks of living in the country!

Cory Zacharia from Miami Beach, Florida on July 22, 2009:

Very refreshing hub! I enjoy growing mint on my windowsill. Love to drink peppermint iced tea.

Plants and Oils (author) from England on July 18, 2009:

Chris and Arlene, glad you found it an interesting article. I'm a great fan of mint tea, too.

Plants and Oils (author) from England on July 18, 2009:

Hi Hypno - thanks very much! Glad you found it of use.

Kari, it's very easy to grow mint in a garden, or in pots. And such a distinctive smell, too.

Arlene Culpepper from Louisiana on July 18, 2009:

I brew peppermint leaves in my tea. It is good stuff and this was a great read!

Chris Eddy111 from Ontario, Canada on July 18, 2009:

Good to know, thanks.

Kari Poulsen from Ohio on July 18, 2009:

Thanks for all the great information about peppermint! I remember my mother used to keep it in the garden when I was a kid.

CMHypno from Other Side of the Sun on July 17, 2009:

Hi Plants and Oils, thanks for all the great information on peppermint oil and plants. Congratulations on your HubNugget nomination; I wish you every success!

Plants and Oils (author) from England on July 17, 2009:

Tonie, ticks are such a nightmare to get rid of, it's a great way to clear them off a dog, for example.

Herald and Spider, thanks for reading - mint is a very versatile and useful tool in the household armoury.

Plants and Oils (author) from England on July 17, 2009:

Thanks for your congratulations, emo and ripple! I love peppermint, both as an oil, and in tea and salads.

Plants and Oils (author) from England on July 17, 2009:

LondonGirl, I love mint drinks, too.

Jane, you are right - the challenge is less growing mint, than ceasing to grow mint!

Plants and Oils (author) from England on July 17, 2009:

Hello Jama - mint sorbet is also great after dinner, it really cleanses the palate and helps digestion.

Cam, I'm glad you enjoyed the hub!

Plants and Oils (author) from England on July 17, 2009:

Hello Robie - I adore mint tea, made with fresh mint, and I see I'm not the only one. It's very popular in the Middle East, too.

Hello C.S.Alexis - glad you found it an interesting article, thank you! The smell is wonderful. My parents have some by their garden door, and it's lovely sniffing it as one goes past.

Sandy Mertens from Wisconsin, USA on July 16, 2009:

Very good source of information.

Herald Daily from A Beach Online on July 16, 2009:

I've used peppermint tea for headaches, stomach upsets and to help me sleep. It's great stuff. I've learned a few more uses for it as well, thanks to your hub.

TonieTate from Metro-Atlanta on July 16, 2009:

I always loved peppermint candy and peppermint tea but I had no idea that dropping peppermint oil will cause a tick to unleash itself from the skin. I really enjoyed reading your hub. It is very informative.

Thanks for sharing

Michelle Simtoco from Cebu, Philippines on July 16, 2009:

I've always been drawn to peppermint tea! Thanks for this informative hub as emohealer said...very complete! Thumbs up! Congratulations Plants and Oils for the Hubnugget Nomination! Check the Hubnuggets by clicking this link https://hubpages.com/literature/Published Vote, vote, vote!

Sioux Ramos from South Carolina on July 16, 2009:

Great hub, congratulations on your nomination for hubnuggets! Peppermint is my favorite oil. i put it on the soles of my feet every morning, it is very invigorating, provides energy throughout the day and keeps my digestive system humming. Well presented information, very complete. thanks!

Jane@CM on July 16, 2009:

I like your hub! You are dead on about peppermint spreading! I've kept mine in a container on my deck :)

LondonGirl from London on July 16, 2009:

Mint tea, and mint in cold summer drinks, are great, very refreshing.

Cam Anju from Stoughton, Wisconsin on July 15, 2009:

Cool hub, and good information! :)

I love pepermint and have always, tea, candy, sents, oils.. mmmm. Congrats on your HubNugget wanna-be status! ^_^

Joanna McKenna from Central Oklahoma on July 15, 2009:

I always wondered why restaurants provided after dinner mints. Thanks!

C.S.Alexis from NW Indiana on July 15, 2009:

Just yanked the mint out of my strawberry patch. I love hitting it with the lawnmower every week. Lights up the whole back yard with wonderful smell. Yes I have used this oil for many years... great stuff. You put together a good hub for it, fine job!

Roberta Kyle from Central New Jersey on July 15, 2009:

Great info and well presented. I'm a big fan of peppermint tea-- nice after dinner or before bed. Settles the tummy:-)

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