Peppermint Oil: Four Surprising Utilities

For several centuries, the oil obtained from the peppermint plant has been a vital element of several medications and there are sufficient reasons for this too. Peppermint oil is not only intense but also highly aromatic. In addition to being an established analgesic, carminative, and expectorant, peppermint oil possesses strong anti-inflammatory properties and, it is widely used to treat gastrointestinal (GI) problems like indigestion as well as stomach spasms. However, this oil is used in mild doses for these purposes. There is evidence indicating that peppermint oil can also be used for treating irritable bowel syndrome {IBS}.

Generally, peppermint oil has been extensively used in the form of an internal medication. However, it also offers a number of cosmetic benefits; for instance, it is especially effectual in augmenting the health of our mouth, skin, hair, and nails.

Mouth care

Peppermint oil possesses antiseptic, antibacterial, and antimicrobial properties. Therefore, it effectively kills several harmful microbes that may be present in our mouth and eventually lead to tooth decay. It has been found that menthol, an active element present in peppermint oil, is effective in treating foul breath.

You may use peppermint oil to prepare an effective mouthwash. Add three to four drops of the oil to a little amount of clean purified water and gargle with this solution for anything between 30 seconds and one minute. For best results, you may add one teaspoon of baking soda to the solution as this will enhance its tooth whitening attributes.

Skincare

Individuals who want their skin to appear more youthful and healthy will find peppermint oil very beneficial. This oil is a proven astringent and possesses the ability to put off blockage of the skin pores. In fact, peppermint oil has been proven to be a very effectual natural therapy for acne. It contains elevated levels of menthol, which aids in keeping the skin cool and make the dull patches brighter. Applying peppermint oil to the face helps to cleanse the waste and dirt build-up.

A solution prepared by adding peppermint oil to water is ideal for external use on the skin all over the body. You may also add other ingredients beneficial for the health of the skin like aloe vera gel and apple cider vinegar to augment the potency of the solution.

Haircare

Many commercial shampoos and conditioners enclose peppermint oil as an active ingredient and there are important reasons for this. This oil possesses significant invigorating and regenerative actions, which may aid in alleviating scalp irritation, encourage new hair growth as well as revitalize the existing hair. In addition, application of peppermint oil to the scalp results in a cooling sensation, making the entire head feel stimulated and refreshed.

You can prepare an effective natural shampoo at home by blending peppermint oil (10 drops), olive oil (three tablespoons), baking soda (10 tablespoons), and aloe vera gel (6 ounces) with purified water (7 ounces). You can store this home-made shampoo in a bottle for use when necessary. It is much more nourishing compared to commercial shampoos and does not contain any chemicals that may deplete the natural oils from the hair.

Nail care

Many people across the world are affected by fungal nail infections like ringworm and athlete’s foot. While such problems hardly ever raise medical concerns, they definitely are cosmetic problems and may be responsible for obstinate itching and other bothersome symptoms. Since peppermint oil possesses anti-fungal attributes, it can effectively deal with fungal nail infections. Just apply peppermint oil to the infected nails once or twice every day till the problem disappears.

Peppermint Essential Oil

Peppermint (Mentha × Piperita, Lamiaceae) essential oil is steam distilled from the partially dried herb or newly-harvested flower sprigs; the yellow to olive green oil has a pungent, minty-green odor with a sweet, balsamic undertone and a sweet, clean dry out note.1-3 Menthol, which produces a cooling effect on the skin, is the main constituent, as well as menthone, a ketone affecting wound healing and mucosal secretions.

Considered one of the most important essential oils, peppermint oil affects both mind and body with its refreshing, cooling, stimulating, and uplifting characteristics. While peppermint oil has been used for a variety of conditions, it is most often used as an expectorant, as well as for pain relief (a migraine, sciatica) and digestive issues (nausea, irritable bowel syndrome). However, it has also been used to treat skin conditions such as acne, scabies, and dermatitis. Therapeutic actions include analgesic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, astringent, carminative, decongestant, hepatic, nervine, sudorific, and vermifuge.

One open-label study that evaluated the efficacy of inhaled peppermint essential oil in patients who experienced nausea after cardiac surgery found that a one-time use of the inhaler resulted in 55.8% of the patients having no nausea and 23.5% having only mild nausea.4 Five patients needed to use the inhaler a second time, and four of them were nausea free after the second use. One randomized, controlled trial measured the effects of Colpermin®(Tillotts Pharma AG; Rheinfelden, Switzerland), containing 187 mg pH-dependent peppermint oil, or Lactol®(BioPlus Life Sciences; Bangalore, India) capsules, containing 150 million spores of Bacillus coagulans, on functional gastrointestinal disorder symptoms in adolescent patients. Results showed that Copermin reduced the patients’ duration and severity of pain more than Lactol or placebo. Essential oils are often used in concert together to enhance their effects. A small, randomized, double-blind, controlled pilot trial tested the effects of inhalation of peppermint, basil (Ocimum basilicum, Lamiaceae), and helichrysum (Helichrysum italicum, Asteraceae) essential oils on symptoms of exhaustion and burnout. Results demonstrated that inhaled several times a day, this combination of essential oils may help with the symptoms caused by exhaustion and burnout.

An article on the herb peppermint was published in HerbalGram in 2006.7

References

1Rhind JP. Fragrance and Wellbeing – Plant Aromatics and Their Influence on the Psyche. London, UK: Singing Dragon; 2014.

2Lis-Balchin M. Aromatherapy Science – A Guide for Healthcare Professionals. London, UK: Pharmaceutical Press; 2006.

3Goes TC, Ursulino FRC, Almeida-Souza TH, Alves PB, Teixeira-Silva F. Effect of lemongrass aroma on experimental anxiety in humans. J Altern Complement Med. 2015;21(12):766-773.

4Briggs P, Hawrylack H, Mooney R. Inhaled peppermint oil for postop nausea in patients undergoing cardiac surgery. Nursing. 2016;46(7):61-67.

5Asgarshirazi M, Shariat M, Dalili H. Comparison of the effects of pH-dependent peppermint oil and synbiotic Lactol (Bacillus coagulans + fructooligosaccharides) on childhood functional abdominal pain: a randomized placebo-controlled study. Iran Red Crescent Med J. April 2015;17(4):e23844. doi: 10.5812/ircmj.17(4)2015.23844.

6Varney E, Buckle J. Effect of inhaled essential oils on mental exhaustion and moderate burnout: A small pilot study. J Altern Complement Med. 2013;19(1):69-71.

7Engels G, Podroza M, Sierant A. Peppermint. HerbalGram. 2006;72:1,4-5.

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