Essential Oil – Peppermint

From the desk of our Clinical Aromatherapist – Mikki Anderson

Peppermint or Mentha x piperita

Peppermint is widely used in food, cosmetics and medicines. It has been proven helpful for many therapeutic purposes. Peppermint is on the FDA’s GRAS (generally recognized as safe) list and whole herb peppermint has but a few side effects.

As always, the best method for delivery is by inhalation.  Although our Clinical Aromatherapist does not promote internal use of most essential oils, she tells us Peppermint is one oil (when used VERY sparingly) that can be taken internally, and it can also be used diluted on the skin.

Peppermint Essential Oil is one of the “basic necessities” for a first aid kit. It is one of the oils often recommended (applied topically in low dilution for easing migraines or other headaches (especially those stemming from digestive problems); it helps clear congestion in the sinuses; it can ease indigestion (one drop on a sugar cube, or in a spoonful of honey).

Peppermint oil helps expel gas from the stomach and intestines, stomach cramps and indigestion. Again, only 1 drop in a glass of water with a little honey will do the trick!!

In the case of infections such as feverish colds or influenza, peppermint oil helps loosen mucus and cools and reduces the fever.

Mentally, it clears the brain, helps concentration, is a restorative in cases of mental fatigue, and a mental stimulant. Obviously not an oil to use in the evening when you are seeking sleep, but great in the car to help keep the driver alert. It is a great remedy for car or air sickness. Peppermint is the ideal remedy for all digestive disorders, including nausea and vomiting.

In a massage, it helps stimulate the lymph system. It is also an analgesic and aids with treating sore muscles and joint pain. In skin care, a very weak dilution (less than 1%) is helpful for easing itching or irritation. Be very careful…a higher dilution is irritating.

Peppermint may be either cooling or warming depending on the dilution used. In low dilutions (less than 2%) it is very cooling. In HIGH dilutions, greater then 5%, it will be warming (a rubecacient), and serve as a counter-irritant in pain relief blends. One or two drops of peppermint added to a bath is wonderfully cooling.

The cooling and pain-relieving action of peppermint is extremely soothing to hot, tired and aching feet and legs.  Use 1% oil diluted in a spray or gel to apply to legs and feet.  Do not rub in…let it naturally dry after spraying on.

WARNING: Peppermint cools by constricting the capillaries and needs to be used in extremely low dilutions. It is also an irritant. One or two drops in a bath is sufficient. Use a 1% dilution for massage or other skin applications. Also, recent research indicates that the use of Peppermint Essential Oil may aggravate GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease-type of heart burn). It is contraindicated in cases of gallbladder inflammation.