By Sarena-Rae Santos, contributing writer
What is Peppermint
Peppermint, also known as Mentha piperita, is a part of the mint family known as Lamiaceae. This herb is a hybrid between Watermint (Mentha aquatica) and Spearmint (Mentha spicita) (1). Peppermint can grow up to three feet tall and two feet wide at maturity. Typically peppermint has smooth, red stems with broad and oval tooth-like leaves that may be hairy (2). This aromatic perennial herb has a strong, sweet odor and a warm, pungent taste with a cooling aftertaste. The peppermint plant’s fresh leaves are often used in cooking, while the flowers are dried and used to flavor foods. Peppermint is also widely known for its many medicinal properties, primarily in the form of oil.
Health Benefits of Peppermint
Peppermint is a highly aromatic plant valued for its culinary, medicinal, and cosmetic uses, including:
May Ease Digestive Upsets
Digestive upsets are classified as digestive problems such as chronic constipation, food intolerances, Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), and Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBS), among many others (3). Peppermint may alleviate digestive symptoms such as gas bloating and indigestion while inhibiting muscles from contracting. Inhibiting muscles from contracting may ease spasms in your gut associated with digestive upsets (4). A review of 14 clinical trials in nearly 2,000 children found peppermint reduced the frequency, length, and severity of abdominal pain associated with digestive upsets (5). One study found that of 72 people with IBS, peppermint oil capsules lessened IBS symptoms by 40% after four weeks, compared to only 24.3% with a placebo (6).
May Help Relieve Headaches & Migraines
Approximately 45 million, or one in every six Americans, struggle with headaches resulting in more than 8 million new doctor visits and headaches complaints each year (7). Peppermint may help relieve tension headaches and migraines due to its ability to act as a muscle relaxant and pain reliever. Peppermint also provides a cooling sensation (8). Peppermint’s ability to relieve certain headaches is likely due to the menthol in peppermint oil. Menthol increases the blood’s flow and provides a cooling sensation that assists in easing pain (9). In one clinical study of 35 people with migraines, when participants applied peppermint oil to the forehead and temples, the pain was reduced significantly after two hours compared to a placebo oil (10). In another study of 41 people, when participants applied peppermint oil topically to the forehead, they found it to be as effective for headaches as 1,000 mg of acetaminophen (11). Acetaminophen is also linked to many health concerns, including damaging the liver and kidneys, depleting levels of glutathione, cardiometabolic risk, affecting emotional processing, an endocrine disruptor, neurodevelopment consequences during pregnancy, linked to cancer, Steven’s-Johnson Syndrome, and asthma. To learn more regarding acetaminophen, check out 10 Reasons You Should Reconsider Using Tylenol. I highly recommend Earthley’s Pain Potion for these benefits.
May Relieve Clogged Sinuses & Seasonal Allergies
Allergy symptoms such as clogged sinuses occur when your body’s immune system responds to foreign objects by releasing histamines. This results in inflammation and attracts white blood cells to isolate the culprit and fight it off (12). Peppermint may relieve clogged sinuses due to infections, allergies, or the common cold thanks to its antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties (13). Research confirms that menthol, one of the active compounds in peppermint, promotes the perception of airflow in the nasal cavity. As a result, the steam from peppermint tea may help bring a response of more manageable breathing (14).
An antibacterial property is when a substance, or in this case, an herb, can destroy or suppress the growth and reproduction of bacteria (15). Peppermint oil has been recorded to kill bacteria effectively (16), especially in bacteria frequently found in the mouth (17). One study observed peppermint oil could kill and prevent the growth of common food-borne bacteria such as Escherichia coli, Listeria monocytogenes, and Salmonella Enteritidis in pineapple and mango juices (18). In another study, peppermint oil was found to successfully kill several types of bacteria that lead to illnesses in humans, including Staphylococcus and pneumonia-linked bacteria (19).
May Freshen Your Breath
In addition to peppermint’s antibacterial properties and pleasant smell, peppermint can help kill germs that cause dental plaque, which may improve your breath (20). One study found that people who had undergone spine surgery and had received a rinse made with peppermint, tea tree, and lemon oils experienced an improvement in bad breath symptoms compared to those who did not receive the oils (21). Another study found that schoolgirls who were given a peppermint mouth rinse experienced an improvement in breath after one week compared to the control group (22). I highly recommend Earthley’s Remineralizing Tooth Powder for these benefits.
May Improve Sleep
About 70 million Americans suffer from chronic sleep problems or lack of sleep associated with injuries, chronic diseases, mental illnesses, and poor quality of life and well-being, often contributing to chronic conditions such as obesity and depression (23). Peppermint’s ability to relax muscles may help you relax before bed (24). In one study, peppermint oil prolonged the sleeping time of mice (25). Peppermint may also enhance energy levels and diminish daytime fatigue, improving your ability to sleep at night. One study witnessed people experience less fatigue during a cognitive test when given peppermint oil capsules (26).
May Relieve Menstrual Cramps
Around 80% of women experience menstrual cramps or pain at some stage in their lifetime (27). Peppermint may relieve menstrual cramps due to its ability to act as a muscle relaxant. One study found that 127 girls with painful periods who used peppermint extract capsules were as effective as a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (28).
May Aid In Weight Loss
Weight management is a challenge for most people in the U.S., with more than 70% of American adults being overweight (29). Excess body weight is a common contributor to type 2 diabetes, the most common type of diabetes. Being overweight increases your risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke (30). One study found that taking a peppermint oil capsule for healthy people resulted in reduced appetite, which can lead to weight loss, compared to not taking peppermint (31).
Trusted herbalist Richard Whelan states peppermint may dry up milk secretions, so it is best to avoid it in quantity during breastfeeding. Peppermint was found to reduce the absorption of iron by 84% in a test of adult volunteers, so it is best avoided taken at the same time of day as taking iron supplements.
Richard Whelan also states high doses of peppermint oil should be avoided and urges caution for the very young. Aside from that, Peppermint is very safe for pregnant women and the young and old. One of its traditional uses has been to help with painful periods, and consequently, it has been linked to having an action on the womb that has seen some authors advise against its use in pregnancy. There is no evidence to support this, and as it has helped many women with morning sickness during pregnancy and truly is safe to use throughout this time, it should be known as safe (32).
Regarding peppermint essential oil, according to trusted aromatherapist Wendy Robbins, peppermint essential oil should be diluted at the recommended dermal maximum of 5.4%. Additionally, she is very firm on avoiding peppermint essential oil in instances of cardiac fibrillation by those with a G6PD deficiency and applying it near the face of infants/children (33). Finally, peppermint essential oil is safe while pregnant but unsafe for children or breastfeeding.
How to Use Peppermint
You can find peppermint in dried bulk, teas, capsules, powders, extracts, essential oils, and even herbal tinctures. Tinctures always contain the most concentrated amount of herbs. Teas are also options. If you’re a DIY person, some great starter recipes are:
Follow the recommendations of any supplement; some of my recommendations include:
- Earthley’s Castor Oil Detox (Cool) is infused to assist in detoxing your liver, relieving the pain of cysts, reducing joint pain, promoting lymphatic health, and more.
- Earthley’s Christmas Cookie Whipped Body Butter (Seasonal) combines nourishing, organic butters and oils to moisturize the skin. Use this luxurious lotion all over the body to hydrate and protect. Earthley’s scents are 100% natural and made with pure essential oils.
- Earthley’s Christmas Cookie Natural Lip Balm (Seasonal) is as natural as it gets. Three simple, safe, and edible ingredients combine to nourish and moisturize the lips. Natural essential oils are added for a pleasant smell without artificial ingredients.
- Earthley’s Christmas Cookie Lotion Bar (Seasonal) is a lotion to go! Made with the same ingredients as in our Whipped Body Butter, but a little more solid and convenient! Take this deliciously scented bar of moisture anywhere in its convenient metal tin.
- Earthley’s Christmas Cookie Soap (Seasonal) allows you to enjoy the holidays, even in the bath! This delicious, nourishing holiday body and hand soap smell like baking cookies and candy making, with notes of vanilla and peppermint.
- Earthley’s Herbal Throat Spray relieves sore throats without compromising ingredients. This spray is infused with anti-viral herbs and has a pleasant, sweet flavor. Banish sore throats naturally with cooling peppermint while your immune system needs support.
- Earthley’s Liver Love promotes liver health by supporting detox and proper function. The liver is a critical, hard-working organ and this herbal tincture provides 100% natural support.
- Earthley’s Pain Potion is an herbal tincture that helps relieve headaches and other body pains. Earthley combines five herbs to extract their anti-inflammatory, cooling, and soothing properties to help relax muscles and ease the pain. Skip the OTC pills and their dangerous side effects and opt for the natural help that Pain Potion can provide.
- Earthley’s Remineralizing Tooth Powder (Mint) is a 100% natural and fluoride-free option for healthy, clean teeth. This tooth powder is whitening and remineralizing, so it will help improve the look, strength, and health of your gums and mouth. Not recommended for people with metal-based tooth fillings.
- Earthley’s Vaccine Detox is an herbal tincture that helps restore wellness post-vaccination by supporting gut health. Six herbs combine to help heal leaky gut, support liver health, and boost the immune system, while chlorella powder removes heavy metals from the body. Whether you have taken a vaccine recently, or in the past, had a vaccine injury, or are simply looking to detox from the toxins around you, this tincture is for you! Not recommended for people with metal-based tooth fillings.
Disclaimer: This post is not intended as medical advice. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA, and nothing in this post is intended to diagnose, treat, or cure anything. If you have questions, please do your own research or seek advice from a health professional.