Peppermint Oil and Its Many Health Uses

Peppermint oil is an essential oil used in aromatherapy, and to treat certain kinds of ailments or diseases. It has been used for thousands of years and evidence of its use has even been found in Egyptian tombs.

Where does peppermint oil come from?

It is made from the peppermint plant, which is a perennial herb. The peppermint plant is originally from the Mediterranean area and is also grown in the U.S., UK and Italy. Peppermint oil is made from the peppermint plant through the process of steam distillation using either fresh or dried plants. It takes a lot of the plants to get the oil, as the yield is only about one percent.

Peppermint Oil Plant

What is peppermint oil used for?

Peppermint oil is a versatile, non-toxic and non-irritating oil. Its therapeutic uses are many, including using it to treat several health conditions, as well as using it in aromatherapy.

Considered cool and refreshing, the oil is said to be very stimulating and thus it heightens mental processes and helps people to think more clearly.

It also is used to calm the digestive system and has been used to treat gastric problems such as spastic colon, craps, irritable bowel syndrome, colic, nausea, and farting. It also has uses for treating respiratory conditions such as sinus infections and chest congestion.

It has also been used to help treat headaches and other aches and pains such as toothache, neuralgia, aching feet, painful periods, rheumatism, and muscle pain. Other uses include treatment for vertigo, stress, fainting, cough, asthma, pneumonia, bronchitis, cholera and tuberculosis.

It is also used to treat skin problems such as itchiness, inflammation, ringworm, dermatitis, acne, scabies and sunburn.

Peppermint Oil Leaf

What Side Effects might it cause?                

Peppermint oil has been known to cause skin or mucus membrane irritation, heartburn, allergies, blurred vision, nausea, vomiting, and peri-anal burning. In severe cases it caused interstitial nephritis and acute renal failure.

It should not be used around the eyes, or by pregnant women since it is sometimes used to start menstruation or kids under seven years old, or by people who have a hiatal hernia, gallbladder disorders or gastroesophageal reflux (GERD).

In what form is it used?

Peppermint oil has been used in many forms. Here is information on some of these:

Vaporized Mist

This oil is sometimes used in vaporizers. The mist is inhaled and is said to help aid the concentration, as well as help relieve headaches, nausea and cough and to keep away insects.

Bath Oil

When mixed into a warm bath, peppermint oil has been used to treat things such as pain, bowel problems, circulation problems, achy feet, inflammatory conditions, and mental tiredness.

In Mouthwash/Toothpaste

When Peppermint oil is added to mouthwash it helps with bad breath, as well as in the treatment of gum disease.

Lotions or creams

It has been made into a lotion or cream will help sunburn patches, get rid of red and inflamed skin, itchy skin, and it cools the skin since it has vasoconstriction properties.

Soap/Shampoo

It has also been made into a cool and refreshing soap or as an additive to shampoos.

Gum/Ice cream/tea/other foodstuffs

It has also been used as a food flavoring additive.

Scientific Research Proves Peppermint Oil’s health benefits

Peppermint oil has been the subject of many scientific studies. It contains valuable nutrients such as manganese, iron, folate, magnesium, potassium, calcium, coppy, Vitamins A and C, and omega-3 fatty acids.

Some of the most well-known medical studies using this oil were in the study of using it for treating irritable bowel syndrome.  A test done with 175 irritable bowel sufferers showed that compared to a placebo, peppermint oil capsules gave high relief for the cramps, bloating, etc seen with IBS.

Seventy-nine percent of the users got relief for stomach pains, 83 percent got relief from bowel issues, 83 percent got relief from bloating, 79 percent got relief from farting and gas, and children over eight years old who were treated with peppermint oil reported a high increase in relief from pain. Several other tests using peppermint oil and IBS patients had similar results.

The dose for adults was between 0.2 to 0.4 mL of oil, given three times a day in the form of enteric-coated capsules.

Colon Spasms

It has also been used in trials for testing it as a treatment for colon spasms during times when patients must be given a barium enema. The test results showed that about 41 percent of those given peppermint oil out of 383 patients didn’t have any colon movement during the exam versus only 13.4 percent of those who got a placebo.

Another similar trial involved 141 patients and in that one the results were even more dramatic, with 60 percent having spasms versus 35 percent of a control group.

Other Trial Results

Scientific testing has also been done using this oil to treat bloating or gastrointestinal spasm or other forms of dyspepsia. The trials showed that taking capsule of this oil helped to relax the lower esophageal sphincter, and equalize the pressure in-between the stomach and the esophagus, thus reducing the bloat or pressure on the abdomen.

Trials have also proven that peppermint oil can help get rid of tension headaches using a topical form of it. One trial featured 32 people, in which those who applied a preparation of this oil got significant relief.

Another test used 41 people who used topical peppermint oil, as well as some of them taking acetaminophen. Ten percent of those using the oil got relief in only 15 minutes, which was about the same as those taking the acetaminophen.

All in all, peppermint oil has many uses for health and well being and is a well-tested and usually safe product.