Health Benefits of Peppermint Essential Oil

Peppermint essential oil is highly concentrated and comes from the leaves and flowering parts of the peppermint plant, Mentha x piperita. Peppermint is a naturally occurring cross between the spearmint and watermint plants. The oil is sometimes referred to by the name of its main chemical component, menthol. 

Peppermint’s distinctive taste and smell make it a popular ingredient in certain foods and scented products. People have also used peppermint to treat digestive problems for thousands of years.

In addition to being ingested, peppermint oil can be used topically or in aromatherapy. Topical application may help to soothe chronic itches.

The smell of peppermint oil may help reduce nausea, particularly in patients who have had recent surgery. However, the results are mixed. Peppermint oil may have no more effect than a placebo on postoperative nausea. 

Nausea in pregnant women may also not be affected by it. When compared to a placebo in a recent study, aromatherapy using peppermint did not appear to have a significant effect on nausea and vomiting.

Health Benefits

You can consume peppermint essential oil through capsules or as liquid drops. Oral dosing should follow the quantity and methods advertised because too much can be harmful. You should always consult a doctor about the use of supplements.

Taking small amounts of peppermint oil has several potential benefits, including:

Antioxidant Properties

Antioxidants help fight against free radicals, which can damage the growth and development of cells in the body. Like several other mint species, peppermint has proven to have some antioxidant properties.

Antimicrobial Properties

Peppermint oil may also have mild antibacterial properties. 

A small study also proved the oil to have mild antifungal properties. However, of the oils tested, peppermint had the lowest impact on fungus, specifically on Candida yeast.

Relief from Headaches

When applied topically to the forehead and temple area, peppermint essential oil may help reduce the pain related to migraines and tension headaches

Relief from IBS Symptoms

While the reason for this health benefit is unclear, peppermint essential oil appears to help relieve symptoms in people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). A meta-analysis of twelve studies concluded that peppermint oil was a safe and effective therapy that helped reduce pain and other symptoms in people with this condition.

Reduction in Spasms During Certain Medical Procedures

According to a small study, peppermint oil administered by a doctor during an endoscopy helped reduce the patient’s spasms. 

A similar study on the use of peppermint oil during barium enemas produced similar results.

More research is needed to determine the full health benefits of peppermint essential oil. To date, the most extensive research and most recommended application involve the treatment of IBS symptoms.  

Continued

Health Risks

Pregnant or breastfeeding women should avoid oral dosing of peppermint oil. Not enough is known about its potential effect on fetuses or nursing infants.

Essential oils do not undergo the same rigorous testing that traditional medications do. You should be careful in using them. Some risks of using peppermint essential oil are:

Poisoning

Misuse can cause serious discomfort or even poisoning. 

Possible side effects of consuming peppermint oil include nausea, heartburn, dry mouth, and abdominal pain. Allergic reactions are rare but also possible.

Heartburn

When capsules are taken with over-the-counter antacids, the risk of heartburn may increase. The antacid can cause the protective coating on a peppermint oil capsule to break down too quickly.

Amounts and Dosage

In the small amounts commonly taken, peppermint oil appears to be safe for most people. However, you should only use FDA-approved brands and follow the label instructions precisely.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on November 06, 2020

Sources

SOURCES:

Arabian Journal of Chemistry: “Antibacterial and antioxidant activities of Mentha piperita L.”

BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies: “The impact of peppermint oil on the irritable bowel syndrome: a meta-analysis of the pooled clinical data.”

Clinical, Cosmetic, and Investigational Dermatology: “Effectiveness of topical peppermint oil on symptomatic treatment of chronic pruritus.”

Clinical Radiology: “Spasmolytic effect of peppermint oil in barium during double-contrast barium enema compared with Buscopan.”

Cochrane Systematic Review: “Aromatherapy for treatment of postoperative nausea and vomiting.”

Gastrointestinal Endoscopy: “Peppermint oil reduces gastric spasm during upper endoscopy: a randomized, double-blind, double-dummy controlled trial.”

International Journal of Clinical Practice: “Cutaneous application of menthol 10% solution as an abortive treatment of migraine without aura: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossed-over study.”

Journal of Reproduction & Infertility: “Effect of Aromatherapy with Peppermint Oil on the Severity of Nausea and Vomiting in Pregnancy: A Single-blind, Randomized, Placebo-controlled trial.

Microbial Drug Resistance: “Selected Essential Oils as Antifungal Agents Against Antibiotic-Resistant Candida spp.: In Vitro Study on Clinical and Food-Borne Isolates.”

Molecules: “Chemical Composition and Antioxidant Properties of Essential Oils from Peppermint, Native Spearmint and Scotch Spearmint.”

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: “Peppermint Oil.”

Nursing: “Inhaled peppermint oil for postop nausea in patients undergoing cardiac surgery.”

Poison Control: “Essential Oils: Poisonous when Misused.”

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