Peppermint is popular because it’s fresh, cooling, and remarkably beneficial. Peppermint has several therapeutic properties: antibacterial, antifungal, antirheumatic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, antiviral, astringent, carminative, diuretic, and immunostimulant. The ability of peppermint to simultaneously uplift and soothe is absolutely remarkable. We love peppermint, so we decided to put together a short list of some of our favorite uses that highlight its healthful benefits.
General usage guidelines
Always dilute with a vegetable, seed, or nut carrier oil like coconut, jojoba, or avocado oil. See dilution guidelines. With any internal use, we recommend consulting with an aromatherapist or another naturopathic healthcare provider. Since essential oils are processed by the liver, if you have a compromised liver or liver disease, we strongly recommend working with your healthcare provider before use.
Topical: Apply 1-2 diluted drops onto the area of concern. Add 20-30 drops to 1 oz. of unscented body, skin or hair care products.
Internal: Dilute with a carrier oil or add to milk to evenly disperse essential oil. Once diluted, it can be added to the beverage or food of your choice. Add 2-3 diluted drops to a capsule and swallow. Gargle with 1-2 drops of diluted essential oil.
Aromatic: Diffuse in room diffuser or nebulizer. Inhale from the bottle directly or add a drop to tissue and inhale. Add a drop to palms of hands and cover nose and mouth and inhale. Add a few drops to a bowl of steaming (not boiling) water and place head with a towel over a bowl and inhale. To make an air or cleaning spray, add 10-20 drops to water in a spray bottle and spritz on surfaces or in the air*. Add 5-10 drops to an essential oil inhaler; use the inhaler every 15 minutes or so to alleviate symptoms.
Culinary: Add 1-2 drops to foods, marinades, desserts, & drinks to taste. To preserve therapeutic benefits, do not add to boiling liquids.
Bloating, Indigestion & Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Unless someone has personally suffered from IBS, it is unlikely they understand the extent to which IBS can truly affect an individual’s quality of life. Thankfully, peppermint can offer relief. It can safely relieve symptoms, with one study showing a 50% drop in the total IBS score among 75% of those who tried it (Ehrlich, 2014). Peppermint also reduces spasms of the colon by relaxing muscles in the intestines, which can also relieve bloating and gas. Try adding a drop of peppermint to your water or applying it, diluted, to your abdomen before meals.
Soothes Motion Sickness, Nausea, & Vomiting
Whether setting out on a road trip, getting over the stomach flu or struggling through morning sickness, peppermint can help. Some find relief from nausea by diffusing the oil; others, by drinking a drop in a cup of water or warm hot chocolate; and some, by drinking peppermint tea.
Cooling & Soothing for Achy Muscles & Sore Joints
Peppermint’s cooling effect is both refreshing and relaxing for sore aching muscles. Peppermint can increase circulation and relieve pain, and it feels heavenly on overworked muscle groups or joints. For cooling down, reducing tension, and relieving localized aches and pains, nothing beats a cooling peppermint spritz or pain relieving rub. Try mixing a drop of peppermint with several drops coconut oil to massage into sore joints or muscles. For a spritz, we enjoy this recipe from Natural Living ideas, but there are many great recipes to choose from online.
Headache Relief & Fatigue
Peppermint is uplifting and energizing and is beneficial for physical and mental fatigue. Diffusing or inhaling peppermint can provide a mental boost, helping with memory and alertness, while relieving tension that leads headaches. Try rubbing a few drops coconut oil with a drop of peppermint oil on the back of your neck, forehead and/or temples (being careful to avoid the eyes), to reduce tension, improve blood circulation, and relieve pain.
Cold & Flu Relief
Peppermint can be used to relieve upper respiratory infection symptoms like cough, hoarseness and sore throat (Ben-Arye et al., 2011); while also alleviating congestion and that miserable stuffed-up feeling (Lindemann et al., 2008). Simply diffuse or use peppermint (properly diluted) as a chest rub. When inhaled through the nose it can create a pleasant cooling and ‘opening’ sensation in the sinuses that can help you breathe easier through your nasal passages (Lindemann et al., 2008). You can use a diffuser or add a drop to your palms, then loosely cover your nose and mouth and inhale to clear passageways and promote normal respiratory function.
Improves Oral health & Freshens Breath
According to the National Institutes of Health, more than 75% of microbial infections that occur in the human body are promoted by the formation and persistence of biofilms (Miquel, Lagrafeuille, Souweine, and Forestier, 2016) and the results of one study suggest that a peppermint gargle may be more effective at inhibiting biofilm formation and reducing cavities than chlorhexidine (Rasooli et al., 2008), a chemical regularly added to mouthwash for these purposes. Peppermint has also been found very effective against halitosis (bad breath)(Haghgoo & Abbasi, 2013). For these reasons -and because it tastes great- peppermint is an excellent addition to any oral care routine. Add peppermint to your homemade toothpaste, gargle, or mouthwash recipes for extra cavity protection and to freshen your breath.
Cautions: Do not use peppermint or drink peppermint tea if you have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD–a condition where stomach acids back up into the esophagus), or hiatal hernia. Because peppermint can relax the muscle that separates the esophagus from the stomach, it may worsen symptoms of heartburn and indigestion. Speak with your healthcare professional before using essential oils or herbal products during pregnancy. Avoid using on infants or small children as it may cause spasms that inhibit breathing. Peppermint may make gallstones worse. We do not recommend ingesting essential oils without professional guidance. Follow label recommendations for dilution information before applying topically. Avoid contact with eyes, inside ears and nose. Avoid use with epilepsy.
- Ehrlich, S.D. (2014) Peppermint. http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/peppermint
- Ben-Arye et al. (2011) Treatment of upper respiratory tract infections in primary care: a randomized study using aromatic herbs. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2011:690346. doi: 10.1155/2011/690346. Epub 2010 Nov 1.
- Lindemann et al. (2008) Impact of menthol inhalation on nasal mucosal temperature and nasal patency. Am J Rhinol. Jul-Aug;22(4):402-5. doi: 10.2500/ajr.2008.22.3194.
- Haghgoo, R., & Abbasi, F. (2013). Evaluation of the use of a peppermint mouth rinse for halitosis by girls studying in Tehran high schools. Journal of International Society of Preventive & Community Dentistry, 3(1), 29–31. http://doi.org/10.4103/2231-0762.115702
- Rasooli et al. (2008) Phytotherapeutic prevention of dental biofilm formation. Phytother Res. 2008 Sep;22(9):1162-7. PMID: 18729251
- Miquel S, Lagrafeuille R, Souweine B and Forestier C (2016) Anti-biofilm Activity as a Health Issue. Front. Microbiol. 7:592. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2016.00592