Peppermint (Mentha X piperita) is an aromatic herb in the mint family that is a cross between watermint and spearmint. Native to Europe and Asia, it has a long history of use in folk medicine and aromatherapy. As is the case with many herbs, it is peppermint’s oily component that contains the agents responsible for the health effects of which there are many.
Studies have shown that peppermint oil can improve pain management in irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS (Cappello, Spezzaferro, Grossi, Manzoli, & Marzio, 2007). Researchers attribute peppermint’s relief of IBS symptoms, such as constipation and bloating, mainly to its antispasmodic properties. The menthol contained in peppermint has a relaxing effect on the intestinal smooth muscle.
Enteric coated peppermint capsules are great for soothing abdominal cramping, bloating and intestinal inflammation. Enteric coating ensures that the constituents inside the capsule make it to their ultimate destination, which in this case is the intestine (Merat et al., 2010). Oftentimes, capsules can degrade and the oil inside rendered useless by stomach acid within the stomach. Enteric coating ensures that the oil makes it to the intestine without being damaged.
When it comes to menstrual cramping, peppermint is equally effective at supporting in the management of pain (Ali et al., 2015). The oil applied topically is a great place to start. See below for instructions on applying an essential oil blend.
Another great application for peppermint is to mix its essential oil in some olive oil as a tool for children with cramping. This blend can be applied topically to the abdomen, and is safe for kids of all ages. To ensure a skin reaction doesn’t occur, test the oil blend on the wrist of the child in a small amount, and wait for five minutes to see if a rash appears.
Studies show that peppermint in aromatherapy can help fight nausea (Lua & Salihah, 2012). Mints and mint teas may help manage the symptoms of colds and illnesses, including nausea. There is a possibility that a more concentrated form of peppermint oil will provide more effective relief from nausea symptoms, including the more severe forms of nausea that often occur after a surgery (Anderson & Gross, 2004).
Recent research shows that peppermint oil can also improve athlete’s exercise performance, respiratory function, blood pressure and heart rate. The Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition demonstrated that the mint can “relax bronchial smooth muscles, increase ventilation and brain oxygen concentration” (Meamarbashi & Rajabi, 2013). All of these physiological changes are plausible explanations for the increase in exercise performance.
Peppermint oil is one of the most energizing and rejuvenating oils available. Peppermint has frequently been used in aromatherapy as a stimulant, a mood booster, and to improve concentration. If you need an early morning boost of energy, you can add a few drops of peppermint oil into your shampoo. Another application of this oil is to pot a couple drops of it on the back of your neck if you’re in need of a concentration boost.
Ali, B., Al-Wabel, N. A., Shams, S., Ahamad, A., Khan, S. A., & Anwar, F. (2015). Essential oils used in aromatherapy: A systemic review. Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine, 5(8), 601–611. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apjtb.2015.05.007
Anderson, L. A., & Gross, J. B. (2004). Aromatherapy with peppermint, isopropyl alcohol, or placebo is equally effective in relieving postoperative nausea. Journal of PeriAnesthesia Nursing, 19(1), 29–35. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jopan.2003.11.001
Cappello, G., Spezzaferro, M., Grossi, L., Manzoli, L., & Marzio, L. (2007). Peppermint oil (Mintoil) in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome: a prospective double blind placebo-controlled randomized trial. Digestive and Liver Disease: Official Journal of the Italian Society of Gastroenterology and the Italian Association for the Study of the Liver, 39(6), 530–536. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dld.2007.02.006
Lua, P., & Salihah, N. (2012). A Brief Review of Current Scientific Evidence Involving Aromatherapy Use for Nausea and Vomiting (Vol. 18). https://doi.org/10.1089/acm.2010.0862
Meamarbashi, A., & Rajabi, A. (2013). The effects of peppermint on exercise performance. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 10(1), 15. https://doi.org/10.1186/1550-2783-10-15
Merat, S., Khalili, S., Mostajabi, P., Ghorbani, A., Ansari, R., & Malekzadeh, R. (2010). The effect of enteric-coated, delayed-release peppermint oil on irritable bowel syndrome. Digestive Diseases and Sciences, 55(5), 1385–1390. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10620-009-0854-9