Peppermint is one of the oldest natural hybrid botanicals valued for its many health benefits. A cross between spearmint and water mint, it was first cultivated in England in the late 17th century. Its use, however, dates back to the time of the Pyramids, where it was utilized by the Egyptians as remedy for indigestion. Ancient Romans and Greeks also valued peppermint and used it to soothe stomach problems. During the 18th century, the herb grew to popularity in Western Europe and was used as folk remedy for many illnesses including menstrual disorders, morning sickness, nausea, and vomiting. It was even used for treating respiratory infections. Today, peppermint is still widely used for health reasons. Its essential oil, which is extracted through steam distillation, is often marketed as a cure for headaches, as well as an aid against indigestion and respiratory infection.
Amazing Properties of Peppermint Essential Oil
What makes peppermint very unique is that many of its health benefits have been actually studied and proven by scientists. This is the reason it is sold in many different forms, including oil, tablets, and capsules. Its essential oil, in particular, is so potent that it is often prescribed by practitioners of alternative medicine. Peppermint is a very relaxing and cooling herb and contains several properties that help ease inflammation, calm muscle cramps, and hinder bacteria and other microorganisms. It also carries properties that can help relieve pain and prevent infections. Peppermint oil contains menthyl acetate, mention, and menthol. It is the menthol content of the herb that often determines its quality. Japanese peppermint, for instance, contains 85% menthol, which is perhaps the highest concentration found in peppermint varieties. Aside from that, peppermint is also rich in vitamins A and C, copper, inositol, iodine, iron, magnesium, potassium, and sulfur.
Health Benefits of Peppermint Essential Oil
Peppermint essential oil actually has a lot of benefits, and it’s impossible to make them all fit in one article. However, to give you an idea on what this powerful substance can do, here are some of the most common ailments you can treat using peppermint essential oil:
Headache is a very common ailment and can be caused by a variety of reasons. For minor headaches, a good amount of peppermint oil should prove to be a relief. Peppermint can help promote blood circulation and can help relax tense muscles that usually cause migraines and tension headaches. In a study done at the University of Kiel in Germany, researchers found that peppermint oil, along with a combination of other oils, could reduce sensitivity to headache when applied on the forehead, thanks to its analgesic effect.
Peppermint essential oil is also an effective remedy for a sore throat. The cooling effect of its menthol content can temporarily soothe pain while thinning mucus at the same time. The oil also has anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce swelling, providing further relief. Mixing a few drops with honey and lemon drink will greatly help in combatting infection and hastening recovery.
Cough is another ailment peppermint essential oil would prove very useful for. Adding a couple of drops in a diffuser, along with lemon and lavender essential oils would help clear your airways and control coughing. It could also boost your immune system at the same time.
Applying 3 drops of peppermint oil on your forehead, nape, and temples, as well as the soles of your feet, can go a long way when you’re trying to bring a high fever down. While it won’t actually get to the root of the problem and cure the infection that might be causing your fever, it could definitely bring down your body temperature and give you relief with its cooling effects. This is especially useful when you’re trying to avoid aspirin and other drugs for fever.
Whether you’re battling a sinus infection or a simple clogged nose, inhaling diffused peppermint essential oil will definitely clear your sinuses and relieve your itchy throats almost immediately.
Aside from clearing your sinuses, peppermint essential oil can also help treat common respiratory ailments such as bronchitis and asthma. Since it contains menthol, which has a cooling effect, it can be used to clear up the respiratory tract. It can also be used as an expectorant and can provide instantaneous relief for cold and cough. One study also found that peppermint oil could soothe inflammation of the trachea due to its antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory properties. This is the reason you will find peppermint as one of the major components of balms and rubs.
No botanical has been more successfully used for treating indigestion than peppermint. Its essential oil has, in fact, been established as an alternative to popular drugs such as Buscopan. Peppermint oil works by relaxing intestinal muscles, which also helps get rid of gas and bloating. Adding a drop of this essential oil to your morning drink could prove beneficial in improving your digestive health.
For many centuries, peppermint has been used as a natural breath freshener. In fact, studies show that it can perform better at reducing cavities than most chemicals present in many mouthwash brands. Since it has antiseptic properties, it can be used to effectively fight gum disease-causing bacteria, as well as bad breath-causing germs. It’s not a surprise that most brands of toothpaste add peppermint as their main ingredient. The good news is that you can make your own homemade toothpaste and mouthwash with this herb. You can also rinse water mixed with a drop of peppermint oil to freshen your breath.
Urinary Tract Infection
A lot of formal scientific research still needs to be done to truly understand the effects of peppermint oil in treating urinary tract infection, but it is proven to be rich in antibacterial properties and has been used in UTI for a long time now. It can help reduce not only the effects of UTI, but also the risk of a person acquiring it.
If you’re always having problems with muscle pain, you might want to consider a peppermint essential oil massage. Studies show that peppermint oil can provide pain relief when applied topically. This is especially true for Myofascial Pain Syndrome and Fibromyalgia. The same study found that a preparation including peppermint oil, capsaicin, and eucalyptus could do wonders in easing muscle pain.
Poor Blood Circulation
A certain study shows that there is an almost instant increase in blood circulation as soon as peppermint essential oil vapor comes in contact with olfactory nerve endings. Peppermint has stimulating effects, which help include blood circulation, helping oxygenate the organs of the body and increase metabolism. This property of peppermint also helps improve cognitive function and protects the brain against Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and other degenerative diseases of the brain.
Peppermint has potent antiviral properties and can be very useful against a host of other health conditions. It’s effective against mumps, yeast infections, herpes, and even influenza. It can also help dissolve gallstones, as well as ease menstrual cramps. Some folks even use it as remedy for ear problems. Because of its soothing effects, peppermint can also be used in reducing stress and restlessness, and even help treat anxiety and depression. It is also rich in antioxidants and has been found to be useful in helping prevent cardiovascular problems and cancer.
Final Words About Peppermint Essential Oil
Peppermint essential oil has a wide range of uses and a much wider range of health benefits. However, it’s important to keep in mind that using too much of this oil may cause some negative side effects such as heartburn and headache. In addition, it is not advisable to use peppermint if you are allergic to herbs and spices. Before you consider incorporating this substance into your daily life, make sure that you consult a doctor first. Alternatively, you can use it without a health professional’s directions, but see to it that you start with small doses to see how it is going to affect your body. In most cases, a simple skin patch test would be enough for you to determine if it’s safe for you to use or not.