What is Peppermint?
Peppermint comes from an easy-growing perennial that features oblong spikes of mauve-colored small flowers and fragrant, slightly hairy leaves. It can grow up to three feet tall and thrives in well-drained, moist soil. It's often found wild near ponds or streams.
Peppermint is a favorite herb of gardeners everywhere, thanks to its many uses. However, the plant can become quite unruly, and is considered an invasive species in various parts of the world, including Australia, New Zealand, and the Great Lakes area down through Florida in the US. 
The plant hails originally from the Middle East and Europe, but is now grown for mass production purposes in many places, including the United States, China, England, India, Italy, and Russia.
The plant is actually a hybrid between spearmint (Mentha spicata) and water mint (Mentha aquatica).  You may hear it referred to as Brandy Mint.
As an herb, peppermint has enjoyed a long history of use that dates back to Greek mythology. It is said that 'Mentha,' the genus peppermint falls under, comes from the nymph Minthe.
Minthe was turned into a plant by the jealous Persephone, wife of Hades, with whom she had almost had an affair. Persephone meant to make Minthe a lowly plant for people to walk on.
In response, Hades softened the spell. He transformed Minthe into an herb that would release its sweet smell when people touched it, one that people would use and cherish for eternity. 
The descriptor 'piperita' comes from the familiar and unique peppery smell of peppermint.
The dried herb produces approximately 0.3-0.4% volatile oil, which is high in menthol, menthone, and menthyl acetate, along with a bit of 1,8 cineole.
Like pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium), peppermint oil contains pulegone. Pulegone is a known hepatotoxic carcinogen, and is why pennyroyal should not be used at home.
The pulegone content in peppermint is not as high as it is in pennyroyal, and so can be utilized for aromatherapy purposes. However, it is wise to stay away from the minty oil during pregnancy.
The oil is clear to pale yellow in color. It is sometimes adulterated with the inferior Japanese mint oil, otherwise known as cornmint (Mentha arvensis).
Peppermint oil blends well with other mints, like spearmint (Mentha spicata), and bergamot mint (Mentha citrata), citrus oils like lemon (citrus limon) and lime (Citrus aurantifolia), floral oils like lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) and tuberose (Polianthes tuberosa), and many more.
Peppermint Essential Oil Uses
The peppermint plant has been used for centuries. Pliny, the Roman philosopher, wrote of mint's affinity with the digestive system. He spoke of it increasing the appetite, saying, "The smell of Mint does stir up the minde and the taste to a greedy desire of meate." 
Pliny also thought that binding the plant to a crown worn on the head was thought to stimulate the mind as well as the soul. Peppermint was often featured during meals, both as an adornment on the tables and as in a flavoring in food and wines.
Pliny, Aristotle, and Socrates all agreed that mints were anaphrodisiac in nature and discouraged intercourse. The Greeks, however, disallowed the use of the herbs by their soldiers, because they thought the opposite.
Pliny taught that mints stopped acid fermentation of milk and kept it from coagulating.
Mint was used to scent bathwater, and in cultures where different fragrances were used to scent different parts of the body, mint was designated to the arms.
In 1240 AD, the Icelandic Pharmacopoeias listed the herb as a remedy. Monks used it as tooth polish around this same era, and cheese makers used it to keep mice away from their wares.
Approximately five centuries later, peppermint was listed in the London Pharmacopoeia as a remedy for afflictions ranging from headache to venereal diseases. It was also still being used for teeth, as well as becoming popular as a confectionary flavoring.
Today, there are many uses that follow in the ancient traditions.
Flavoring and Fragrance
Essential oils have been used in the food and beverage industry for well over a century. Valerie Worwood points out in The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy that the United States alone uses almost 10 million pounds of spearmint and peppermint annually in the following capacities:
- 55% toothpaste
- 30% chewing gum
- 10% candy
- 5% pharmaceuticals and toiletries
Surprisingly, the aromatherapy market is a small use of the oil in the grand scheme of things.
Peppermint oil has GRAS status from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States, which stands for generally recognized as safe. It is widely used in the food and beverage industry.
The oil is also used extensively for its menthol in the cigarette industry. Menthol is likewise used in cosmetics, body care products, perfumes and colognes, and more.
Many people mistakenly believe this means that any essential oil with this status is safe to take internally at home. This is not true. What it means is that they recognize it as safe within the limits necessary for the intended use.
In commercial preparations, this equates to much less than even a single drop in something in a home environment. For instance, peppermint is used in flavoring gum. However, even in a single piece, you would have much less than a drop.
It is important to note that peppermint essential oil is not the same as mint extract.
Essential oils are pure volatile oils from the plant, with no additives, and are much stronger than extracts. Using a pure plant oil like an extract in a recipe would be way too much.
Extracts, on the other hand, are essential oils added to propylene glycol, glycerol or ethyl alcohol. They may also contain water, sweetener, or food coloring. 
There is only a small percentage of actual essential oil in extracts, so again, extracts are not nearly as strong as volatile oils, and the two cannot be used interchangeably in the kitchen.
As a Supplement
Because this oil has so many healing and beneficial qualities, it is natural to wonder if you can ingest peppermint essential oils?
When you consider a single drop of peppermint oil equals approximately 26-28 cups of peppermint tea, you can begin to see it isn't wise to haphazardly add drops of any oils in water to drink, to another liquid, or straight on your tongue.
There are many oils, peppermint included, that interfere with medications. For instance, mint oil interferes with iron absorption, among other things. People that have not studied the chemical compositions of oils are often not aware of these issues and dangers.
While there are ways to safely use oils internally, do not do it without the advice of a professional that has been trained on this method in conjunction with your physician.
That being said, you can purchase peppermint oil capsules in stores and online. They are often recommended for various uses, from digestive issues like irritable bowel syndrome and heart burn, to weight loss. The ingredients usually include the oil along with a carrier like coconut oil.
On Examine.com, the daily dosing of peppermint oil is 450-750 milligrams, divided. In the pills, this would equal 0.1-0.2 milliliters of oil in each capsule, or about two drops depending on the size of the dropper. 
If you have been advised by a professional that you can or should take the oil in this manner, and you make your own, use only organic pure peppermint oil from a reputable distributor that can verify the constituents by testing each batch.
They should have no problem showing you this information, and you should verify that the chemicals in the oil are those that only occur naturally in nature. They should also be at the normal range for that particular oil.
Peppermint water is listed in the British Pharmacopoeia. There is also a Traditional Herbal Remedy Certificate listed from June 23, 2009 that was granted to Viridian Pharma Ltd. The listed uses are digestive complaints and are based on traditional uses of the drink. 
Peppermint can be added to unscented or homemade lotions to produce a cooling effect on the skin. This can be especially helpful for feet, to calm aches after a long day, and to control odor.
Peppermint oil is a cooling remedy for skin. Add a few drops to a basin of water and use it to sponge the person down, directly on skin wherever possible.
Other oils that can be used are lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), eucalyptus (E. radiata), or either chamomile (Anthemis nobilis / Matricaria recutita).
Peppermint has long been used for upset stomach. The herb can be drank as a tea, and diffusing the oil is quite helpful. You can also add a drop to a tissue or cotton ball and inhale as necessary.
As a Massage Oil
For sore muscles, adding a few drops of peppermint essential oil can be a relief. Tisserand recommends a dermal limit of 5.4%, which means you can use up to 25 drops in a tablespoon. However, less is more with essential oils. Start with a 2% dilution, or nine drops in a tablespoon.
Peppermint oil is great for skin where oil is a problem. The antibacterial qualities of the oil can calm breakouts. For an astringent, add five drops of peppermint oil to a cup of witch hazel. Shake well, and dab on oily areas twice a day.
Peppermint is a refreshing and stimulating addition to natural shampoos and hair oils. It imparts a cooling, tingling sensation and can help with hair loss and oiliness. How to use for hair:
- 3 drops Palmarosa (Cymbopogon martinii)
- 2 drops Ginger (Zingiber officinale)
- 2 drops Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
- 2 drops Peppermint (Mentha piperita)
You can add this blend to three and a half ounces of natural, sulphate-free shampoo. Mix the oils together first, then add the blend to the shampoo, mixing well before use.
Alternatively, put this blend in a dark glass bottle with an orifice reducer. To use, add one drop to a hair-nourishing carrier oil like Argan (Argania spinosa) or Camellia Seed (Camellia japonica) and rub into the scalp.
Peppermint oils' decongestant qualities are good for sinus relief and to thin out mucus. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to get a bowl of steaming water, and add 3-5 drops of the oil to the bowl.
Get a towel, and put it over the back of your head as you lean over the bowl. This traps the steam and allows for better inhalation. Stay about 12 inches from the water.
If you start to feel weird, stop immediately. Otherwise, stay like this for up to ten minutes, slowly breathing in the vapors through your nose for about five seconds, then exhaling through the mouth.
In a Bath
There is not much in life that is more relaxing than an aromatherapy bath. Lavender and peppermint oil are both wonderful additions. You can add 5-8 drops to a teaspoon of a carrier oil, a handful of epsom salts, shampoo, or even aloe vera gel prior to adding to the water.
For particular issues with digestion, like flatulence or constipation, add up to five drops to a teaspoon of carrier oil and rub over directly on stomach areas where the discomfort is felt prior to getting into the water.
Peppermint Essential Oil Benefits
The health benefits of pure peppermint oil have a long history of anecdotal evidence.
Antiseptic & Anti-infectious
Using peppermint oil in a carrier like witch hazel or distilled water makes an excellent wound wash with both antiseptic and anti-infectious qualities.
It is an analgesic oil as well, and is good for pain. However, if there is ever any burning sensation on the skin, discontinue use and swab the area with a carrier oil like Sweet Almond (Prunus amygdalus var. dulcis) Jojoba (Simmondsia chinensis), or Coconut (Cocos nucifera).
Calms Itching From Bug Bites
Preparations that include peppermint oil can help alleviate the intense itching from mosquito and other bug bites. The next time the itching is too much, try dabbing this solution on the bite:
- 1 teaspoon Apple Cider Vinegar
- 1 drop Basil Linalol (Ocimum basilicum ct. linalool)
- 1 drop Peppermint (Mentha piperita)
- 1 drop Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia)
Eases Muscular Aches and Pains and Reduces Tension
Peppermint is excellent in easing muscular aches and joint pain, even from arthritis. The oil is analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, is a vasoconstrictor, and has a cooling sensation on the skin.
In 2014, researchers at Hungkuang University made an ointment that included peppermint to determine whether it had any effect on neck pain. The experimental group showed an increased range of movement and a decrease in overall pain, showing the oil to be effective. 
You can make an easy liniment at home to rub on sore muscles by adding a ½ teaspoon of peppermint essential oil to ¼ cup alcohol, like vodka.
Keep this in a glass bottle away from sun and heat. Rub into the muscle or joint whenever needed. Just be sure to shake it well first to disperse the oil throughout the solution.
Enhances Physical Performance
In 2013, researchers showed that the volatile oil of peppermint had a positive effect on male athletes. They believe the oil increased ventilation and concentration of brain oxygen levels, relaxed the smooth muscles in the bronchii, and decreased blood lactate levels. 
There is a reason that peppermint is used in toothpaste and other oral preparations, as well as chewing gum. For double duty, you can add a couple drops to baking soda to polish teeth and freshen the breath. As an added bonus, it can help relieve toothache as well.
Headaches vary wildly in their causes and severity. Strong oils can make headaches worse for some people. However, many people find relief with the use of peppermint.
You can simply inhale the oil or diffuse it. You can also mix two drops of peppermint oil with a teaspoon of a carrier oil. Rub this on the temples and the base of the head at the neck area.
Settles Digestive and Abdominal Problems
This is an area where both the oil and peppermint herb itself really shines. It is good for so many ailments in this area, such as:
- Bilious attacks
- Heartburn and Indigestion
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Liver Health
- Motion Sickness
- Pelvic Pain
- Stomach Upset
There are a wide variety of ways to use the oil for the above. Here are some recipes that show the versatility of this oil.
Sniffing peppermint oil is often enough to calm the stomach upset of trips.
Diarrhea Massage Blend:
- 1 tablespoon Fractionated Coconut Oil (FCO)
- 4 drops Peppermint (Mentha piperita)
- 3 drops Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
- 2 drops Chamomile, Roman (Anthemis nobile)
- 2 drops Eucalyptus Radiata (E. radiata)
Massage clockwise on the abdomen as soon as the diarrhea starts. You can use this twice per day until symptoms subside.
- 1 tablespoon Sweet Almond (Prunus amygdalus var. dulcis)
- 4 drops Peppermint (Mentha piperita)
- 4 drops Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
- 3 drops Sweet Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare var. dulce)
Gently massage the abdomen with the blend a couple times a day as needed. Use circular, clockwise movements.
- 1 tablespoon Grapeseed Oil (Vitis vinifera)
- 4 drops Sweet Orange (Citrus sinensis)
- 3 drops Sweet Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare var. dulce)
- 3 drops Peppermint (Mentha piperita)
Gently rub this blend over the chest and abdomen area. Repeat daily until symptoms subside.
Menstrual Cramp Massage
- 1 tablespoon Argan Oil (Argania spinosa)
- 3 drops Clary Sage (Salvia sclarea)
- 3 drops Sweet Marjoram (Origanum majorana)
- 3 drops Peppermint (Mentha piperita)
- 2 drops Rose (Rosa damascena)
If rose oil is not available, you can omit it. During times when cramping is bad, rub this blend gently over the abdomen. You can do this right before getting into a bath, or afterwards if so desired.
Softens Chapped Lips
There are numerous oils that are beneficial for lips, peppermint being among them. Other oils you can use are Chamomile, Roman (Anthemis nobilis), Frankincense (Boswellia carterii), Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens), and Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia), among others.
Add up to five drops total of an oil or blend to a teaspoon of carrier oil or aloe vera gel and apply to the lips.
Side Effects, Dangers, and Warnings
Peppermint oil has countless uses and benefits, but it doesn't come completely without risk. Some people with sensitive skin may have a reaction to the oil in topical preparations, and the scent has given others headaches and lightheadedness.
According to WebMD, these side effects of internal or external use can occur as well: 
- Anal burning
- Mouth sores
They also warn pregnant women to avoid the oil. Drug interactions are an issue as well, as supplements can interfere with prescriptions. They can make them stronger, react badly with them, or block them from working at all.
This is why it is important to never take oil internally on your own without consulting your doctor.
Use This Infographic On Your Blog
Peppermint Essential Oil Research, Facts, and Studies
Peppermint is one of the most popular essential oils, as the sheer amount of research available shows.
Mint oil is one of the most used through the ages medicinally, too. According to The Society of Historical Archaeology, essence of peppermint was patented by John Jupiter in 1792.
The square glass vials that held the medicine have been found on Indian burial grounds, old military posts, fur trade posts and more, dating from the late 18th century through the early 19th.
The oil within was used as medicine, in the production of peppermint spirits, peppermint water, and menthol crystals. 
This healing tradition continues today. A search for peppermint essential oil on PubMed brings back over 400 results. 
Here are some of the most interesting of those results.
Alleviates Post-Exercise Fatigue
When testing swimming-induced exercise fatigue in rats, peppermint essential oil was shown to significantly reduce the after-effects of physical exertion. 
Repels House Flies
In 2017, researchers set out to determine the efficacy of essential oils in repelling house flies. They tested mentha oil from peppermint, lemongrass oil (Cymbopogon citratus), orange oil (Citrus sinensis), and eucalyptus oil from E. globulus.
They discovered that the most effective was the menthol oil, followed by menthol and lemongrass mixed, with orange in the middle and eucalyptus coming in last. 
Enhances Skin Permeation of Quercetin
Quercetin is extremely beneficial for the skin and helps with conditions like dermatitis. However it is not very water-soluble, does not permeate the skin easily, and is pH and light unstable.
Researchers found that microemulsions prepared with essential oil decreased instability and increased skin permeation over that of aqueous emulsion preparations. This makes it more beneficial in topical applications. 
Testing in 2017 showed that certain essential oils can be as effective as DEET in preventing the landing and subsequent feeding by adult Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. These are the same mosquitos responsible for chikungunya, dengue, and yellow fever.
Treating Irritable Bowel Disease
Peppermint oil has long been used to calm digestive complaints. People suffering from IBS have many negative gastrointestinal symptoms like distension and pain, constipation or diarrhea, and more.
Peppermint is thought to be an antispasmodic by affecting calcium channels and the smooth muscle, and is carminative because of menthol's effects on the esophageal sphincter. The herb also has various effects on the gastrointestinal tract besides these mechanisms.
Because of this, it is believed that peppermint oil can be a beneficial source of relief for people suffering from irritable bowel syndrome. 
Bed Bug Treatment
Bed bugs are notoriously hard to eradicate. Many regular preparations do not work, and people whose homes are infested are often willing to try anything to get rid of the bugs, no matter how crazy it is.
In a test study from 2014, a preparation that included clove and peppermint oil, called Bed Bug Patrol, killed over 90 percent of bed bug nymphs. However, the solution has yet to be tested in actual infested areas outside of a laboratory setting. 
Peppermint oil has been used as a remedy for many ailments throughout centuries. Many of these cures center around digestion. It is useful for flatulence and colic, indigestion, irritable bowel syndrome, and much more.
There are many studies that illustrate the efficacy of peppermint oil, ranging from repelling house flies to easing exercise-induced fatigue.
When choosing a peppermint oil, always make sure that you are getting it from a reputable company that has no problem showing you testing results proving what is in the particular batch of oil you are purchasing.
This particular mint oil is relatively safe, but should not be used during pregnancy. People taking multiple medications should check to make sure that peppermint will not interfere with their actions.
While the oil can be safe to ingest in small amounts, you should never do so without first checking with your doctor.
While this is a lengthy article, there is no way that every benefit or warning of this oil could possibly be listed. When trying to decide whether it will be effective for whatever ailment, just be sure to do your research if it is not addressed here.
Correct selection and use of essential oils is crucial to ensure that you enjoy the best benefits of oils, without any of the downsides. Remember, some essential oils can be very potent and powerful. We therefore highly recommend this book to all of our readers: Essential Oil Safety: A Guide for Health Care Professionals 2nd Edition