Peppermint oil comes from the peppermint plant and is a natural hybrid of water mint ‘Mentha aquatica’ and spearment ‘Mentha spicata’. It was believed to have been cultivated in England in the late seventeenth century. The use of dried peppermint leaves dates back to ancient Egypt as early as 1550 BC (1) and has also been found in pyramids. The Egyptians, Greeks and Romans, were believed to have been using peppermint as a remedy for indigestion and as a stomach soother.
Peppermint oil became popular in Western Europe in the eighteenth century as a common remedy for nausea, morning sickness, menstrual pain and respiratory infections. Due to its cooling, relaxing and soothing properties, peppermint is commonly used to ease inflammation in the tissues, calm cramps and spasms in the muscles. It is known to inhibit bacteria and microorganisms that prevent infection. Peppermint is used in various forms – as flavouring in food and beverages, and also as fragrance in soaps, cosmetics and perfumes. They can also be taken as dietary supplements to treat a variety of health conditions or applied as topical ointments or creams to cure certain skin disorders and irritation.
Benefits of Peppermint Oil
The health benefits of peppermint oil are in abundance. Several studies suggest that peppermint oil capsules have an enteric coating to allow the oil to pass through the stomach and dissolve in the intestines. This helps relieve common symptoms of ‘irritable bowel syndrome’, abdominal pain, bloating, gas and other stomach discomfort. However, peppermint capsules that do not contain the enteric coating may induce or worsen heartburn, nausea and headaches. Scientific studies suggest that dietary supplements containing a proportionate mix of peppermint oil and caraway oil may have pain-relieving and digestive properties. Antioxidant properties in the oil can help prevent the risks of cancer and heart diseases. Other health benefits of peppermint oil are as listed below. (2)
Headaches: A recent study in Germany, reported that ethanol solution containing 10% peppermint oil is as effective in relieving headaches as is 1000 mg of acetaminophen.
Aches and pains: When applied as a topical oil and rubbed on the affected area, peppermint generates a cooling effect on the skin, reduces sensitivity, relaxes muscles, and relives pain.
Relieves diarrhoea: Menthol produces a soothing effect on the stomach lining and helps treat diarrhoea and colon spasms. It also relieves potion sickness, sea sickness and nausea during pregnancy.
Respiratory disorders: Peppermint acts as an ‘expectorant’ that helps loosen mucus in the lungs and also as a ‘decongestant’ that helps relive stuffy nose and sinus. It can also help to effectively treat bronchitis, sinusitis and asthma. (3)
Oral health: Peppermint oil is a potent antiseptic and used as a remedy for bad breath and sore throats. It is also known to prevent tooth decay and gum diseases.
Side Effects of Peppermint Oil
Peppermint oil, when applied or consumed in smaller dosses are safe to use. It is advisable for pregnant and breastfeeding women to refrain from using peppermint oil due to the lack of evidence pertaining to its safety. (4) Always consult your healthcare provider before consuming peppermint oil. When used in combination with certain drugs or existing medications, peppermint oil may induce allergies in some people and increase the risk of side effects. Some of the possible side effects of peppermint oil include:
- Heartburn and gastric reflux
- Allergic reactions in the mouth including mouth sores
- Anal burning during diarrhoea
- Stomach discomfort
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Shubham Pharmachem’s blog & articles have been written with the information gathered from approved medical journals and websites online. Our research and technical team strives to provide relevant information through such articles. We strongly advise readers to not consume or administer any medication without prior consultation with their doctor.
- [online]. Available at: https://www.ladibugsinc.com/history-peppermint/
- [online]. Available at: https://www.encyclopedia.com/plants-and-animals/plants/plants/peppermint
- Pub Med. [online]. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9430014/
Web MD. [online]. Available at: https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/peppermint-oil-uses-benefits-effects