Peppermint: it’s a smell we associate with crisp cleanliness, like fresh breath and chewing gum. But why did we start using peppermint for these purposes? And where does the peppermint essence come from? In this article, we’ll explain everything about the origins, uses, and benefits of peppermint essential oil.
To begin, it’s important to understand that peppermint oil comes from the peppermint plant. This plant is quite easy to grow in warm to cool climates. Like all mints, it contains the chemical menthol, the one that evokes a familiar crisp and cool sensation when you smell it. Peppermint essential oil is extracted from the leaves of this plant for medicinal and personal uses. 100% pure peppermint essential oil is quite potent, so it is often diluted or used in small quantities.
Peppermint Essential Oil Uses
- Aromatherapy. Peppermint has relaxing and soothing properties. You can inhale it directly or enjoy the scent produced from an essential oil diffuser or burner. This oil blends well with many different scents, especially citrus and woodsy ones. For example, peppermint essential oil blends well with orange, grapefruit, lemon, eucalyptus, tea tree, lavender, and frankincense essential oils.
- Peppermint oil promotes healthy breathing. Many products for nasal or chest congestion contain peppermint oil, because the menthol helps the body relax and expel excess mucus.
- Peppermint oil improves circulation. This is especially important if you suffer from headaches. The peppermint oil, whether inhaled or applied topically with a carrier oil, will help relieve the tension that produces those painful headaches.
- Many personal care products, like shampoo and toothpaste, contain peppermint essential oils. While they are not as potent, the peppermint oil still produces that cool, clean sensation. It makes your hair smell good while soothing a dry or irritated scalp. Some studies show that peppermint essential oil promotes hair growth, so look for more of those products in the future.
- Peppermint oil may also have positive health benefits for heartburn and other internal problems. We’ll talk about the uses and warnings of taking peppermint oil in the section below.
Is Peppermint Oil Edible?
This question is difficult to answer, as research in this field is still ongoing. Some people claim to eat it or take capsules for medicinal purposes. Peppermint essential oil has been commonly taken internally for various stomach and intestinal disorders. Irritable bowel syndrome is one such ailment that is temporarily treated by peppermint oil. It has also shown effectiveness when taken before a colonoscopy, as it helps relax and soothe the intestines.
You have to take caution when using this oil in food and drinks. Food-grade peppermint oil is your best bet for eating and it should be measured in small doses. It may be labeled as peppermint extract, but be careful when shopping for this product, as it sometimes contains synthetic blends or artificial flavors. That means the oil is not always organic or pure. With that in mind, peppermint oil can be used in candies, baking brownies or cakes, and in cocktails. As always, follow the advice and heed any warnings on the packaging. If you only want a bit of the fresh peppermint flavor, you can always use the plain leaves in a tea or garnish.
Does Peppermint Oil Repel Insects?
Yes, mosquitoes, flies, and other bugs are all repelled by this oil. It may be the strength of the menthol that keeps them from biting. There are some mosquito-repellent peppermint oil products on the market, but you can also try a homemade repellent. Mix a few drops of peppermint oil with a carrier oil, like olive or coconut oil, and apply it to the skin. You may want to test a small amount first if you have sensitive skin. You can also create a peppermint oil bug spray to make application easier.
Peppermint essential oil has also been used to eliminate other pests, like fleas and even mice. Ask your veterinarian for a peppermint essential oil product or treatment if you want to use it on a pet.
Where to Buy Peppermint Essential Oil Products
A quick internet search will reveal a plethora of essential oil products available for purchase. Peppermint oil is particularly popular. If you are looking for the pure oil, companies like Young Living, Doterra, and Plant Therapy sell high-quality peppermint oil. Doterra even has specialized blends that combine peppermint essential oil with other oils to cure certain ailments. Of course, you can always buy essential oil on Amazon or at traditional stores like Walmart, Target, or your local health food store.