The hybrid mint, Peppermint, is a cross between the two prevalent mints – watermint and spearmint. Erstwhile native to the Mediterranean, it is now cultivated all across the world. Its popularity soared due to its versatility. The peppermint essential oil has a multitude of therapeutic benefits. It is, in fact, one of the most sold products in the essential oils segment. However, its popularity did not soar overnight. Its usage can be dated back to the early eras of Egyptian and Roman civilizations.
It derives most of its characteristics from the active ingredients Menthol and Menthone, and minor ingredients menthofuran and limonene. Peppermint oil is used in cosmetics, perfumes, and aromatherapy, and to treat specific health conditions. So, what are its benefits?
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What are the health benefits of Peppermint Essential Oil?
The effect of peppermint in treating nausea is a no brainer. In ancient times, conditions like nausea and dizziness were treated by crushing the leaves of certain plants and smelling it. Peppermint leaves have a fresh minty fragrance that has a calming effect when inhaled.
Reduces fear and anxiety
Peppermint oil is extensively used in aromatherapy. It is a relaxant that reduces anxiety caused by stress and the consequent fear. Pain thresholds are also increased after aromatherapy.
Useful during headaches
The menthol in peppermint has a cooling effect which reduces or treats nausea. This same property is used against migraine induced headaches. Headaches due to stress can easily be brought under control with peppermint oil.
Clears respiratory tract
Nasal congestion due to common cold is quite common. Peppermint opens up the sinuses and allows better flow of oxygen. Peppermint oil is used to clear nasal and chest congestions. When the oil is topically applied on the chest, it relaxes the windpipes and allows the flow of oxygen.
Peppermint essential oil is also used in making cuisines due to its aroma. It also helps to relax the stomach muscles thus aiding digestion. One of the common digestive issues is irritable bowel syndrome or IBS. It is a disorder that affects the large intestine thereby causing gas, bloating, diarrhea and cramps. Menthol is scientifically proven to give relief from stomach issues, especially gas. Menthol is the main component present in peppermint. Hence, peppermint oil can be used in lowering the discomfort caused by IBS.
Several types of itching can be stopped or its effect mitigated by topically applying peppermint oil mixed with a carrier oil. Itches caused by insect bites, or due to other underlying diseases can be treated with peppermint oil.
Good for hair health
The active ingredient in peppermint, menthol is an efficient vasodilator. This property increases the blood flow in the body, including the scalp. Hair loss is at times attributed to lack of blood flow to the hair. Hence, it can rejuvenate hair growth in some people. The other properties of peppermint oil are anti-inflammatory and antiseptic. These properties can be utilized to control dandruff and inflammations of the scalp. It regulates the imbalances of oil secretion in the scalp. Regular use can balance the presence of oil in the hair thereby maintaining hydration. It is also used to cleanse the scalp.
Better focus and cognition
A study was conducted to find the effect of peppermint on cognitive abilities. It concluded that peppermint fragrance boosted mental skills, memory and focus considerably. The relaxation that peppermint oil brings about is the key reason why mental abilities are enhanced.
Useful during Premenstrual syndrome
Some of the symptoms of Premenstrual syndrome are mood swings, depression and tiredness. This is where the aroma of peppermint comes in handy. Inhaling the scent boosts energy levels and uplifts the mood. And as mentioned earlier, it can be used to lower the effects of nausea. Topical application on the stomach can lower digestive issues as well.
Besides its antiseptic and anti-inflammation properties, it also has analgesic properties which provide relief from pain. It can provide relief when topically applied at joints and muscle cramps. Weightlifters, bodybuilders or anyone who works out in a gym experiences sore muscles. Peppermint essential oil can be applied to get relief from the soreness. It also reduces pains caused from headaches.
Eliminates bad breath
Peppermint has been used to give a minty fresh breath since ages. This flavor can be found in every other toothpaste, chewing gum or mouthwash. The menthol in peppermint kills bad breath causing bacteria in the mouth and stops its formation for a few hours. It has been clinically proven that halitosis can be reduced with peppermint.
Useful in dental care
Plaque formation is one of the common and embarrassing worries faced in dental health. The antibacterial and antiseptic properties of peppermint oil are effective in battling gum problems and bad breath. It is also used to clean teeth and therefore used in manufacturing toothpastes.
Peppermint oil for cold sores
The herpes simplex virus causes cold sores, which are small yet painful blisters. It can be recurring at times. The antiseptic properties of peppermint oil soothe the region with the blisters. Some drugs are ineffective against different strains of the virus; but peppermint oil can work on the strains resistant to the drugs.
Manufacturing soaps and perfumes
Due to its antibacterial and antiseptic properties, peppermint oil is used to manufacture soaps, creams and face washes. It is extensively used in the manufacture of other cosmetic products as well. The minty aroma is widely made use of in perfumery.
Lastly, peppermint is also used as an insect repellent and bug killer. Most insect repellants in the shops are high in toxins and chemicals. Peppermint is thus an effective alternative to get rid of the bugs such as cockroaches and ants.
These are some of the many benefits of peppermint essential oil. This oil is used for a wide range of applications, most of it pertaining to health and lifestyle. But, just like every other essential oil, this oil should not be considered as a replacement for modern medicine.