5 Science-backed Benefits Of Peppermint
From relieving tension headaches and menstrual cramps, to reducing fatigue and improving concentration, this multi-tasking essential oil has a plethora of health benefits
A native plant to Asia and Europe, this aromatic herb from the mint family is often used in breath mints, tea, candies, and drinks. Peppermint oil is also used as a fragrance in cosmetics, skincare, and soaps. For thousands of years, its leaves and its essential oil have been used for a variety of health purposes (its oil is what gives the plant its characteristic smell and flavour).
Peppermint essential oil is highly versatile and can be used for a variety of therapeutic practices, bringing relief to many common ailments. Its many uses go beyond just hair, skin, and beauty. Here are five great ways to include peppermint essential oil into your wellness routine:
TO FRESHEN BREATH NATURALLY
When you wake up in the morning, there’s nothing like brushing your teeth with a minty toothpaste to freshen up instantly! But there’s another reason behind the use of peppermint flavouring in mouthwashes and toothpastes – peppermint has antibacterial properties that help kill the germs that cause dental plague and bad breath.
To make a DIY mouthwash that’s non-toxic and au natural, mix together three drops of peppermint essential oil, one teaspoon of baking soda, one teaspoon of coconut oil, and half a teaspoon of baking soda, with half a cup of water.
IMPROVE IBS SYMPTOMS
Living with irritable bowel symptom (IBS) can be an inconvenient and painful condition. As it turns out, peppermint essential oil is an effective aid for those with stomach woes. Research led by Dr Gerry Mullin, Co-Director and Associate Professor of Medicine at John Hopkins School of Medicine, found that enteric-coated peppermint oil is an effective and safe treatment for the relief of abdominal pain and IBS symptoms. Not only does peppermint oil have antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and aesthetic properties, it also contains L-menthol (which blocks calcium channels in smooth muscles, preventing contractions and gut spasms).
In another study of 72 participants with IBS, peppermint oil capsults reduced IBS symptoms by 40 percent after four weeks, compared to only 24.3 percent using a placebo. Additionally, peppermint essential oil can also help with other gastrointestinal issues such as acid reflux, indigestion, gas, and bloating.
TO IMPROVE ENERGY LEVELS
Peppermint oil is an incredibly invigorating stimulant that can help increase your ability to concentrate when you’re feeling mentally fatigued or unable to focus. For an instant pick-me-up when you’re feeling tired or jet-lagged, simply take a quick whiff of this refreshing oil to boost energy levels.
In fact, why not make your own energising body rinse? All you have to do is mix three drops of peppermint essential oil with a tablespoon of lemon juice and a cup of fizzy water. Apply this refreshing mixture to your body using a bath sponge just before stepping out of the shower, rinse off with water, pat dry, and you’ll be raring to go!
FOR EASING TENSION HEADACHES
Peppermint oil contains menthol, an active ingredient which provides pain relief through the central and peripheral nervous systems. “Menthol decreases the sensation of pain by desensitising pain fibres,” explains Dr Sara Crystal, MD, a neurologist and headache specialist. Menthol also increases blood flow and provides a cooling sensation, which adds to the feeling of relief.
The next time you feel a tension headache coming on and find yourself about to pop a pill, consider nipping it in the bud with peppermint oil instead. Try inhaling peppermint essential oil directly from the bottle. Alternatively, dilute a few drops of it in a carrier oil (like coconut oil), and massage the blend into your temples or forehead.
FOR THE RELIEF OF MENTRUAL CRAMPS
A 2016 Iranian study found that peppermint extract was effective in significantly lowering the intensity and duration of pain in participants suffering from dysmenorrhea (period cramps caused by uterine contractions). Peppermint essential oil is also an analgesic and a muscle relaxant, which helps to relieve menstrual cramps.
Before applying, mix a few drops of peppermint and lavender essential oil into a carrier oil like coconut oil or extra-virgin olive oil, then massage a small amount into your lower abdomen.