Peppermint oil is a very popular essential oil and is widely in aromatherapy, flavouring and fragrance. It is used in products like mint gums, toothpastes, bath preparations, mouthwashes, etc. Peppermint oil is extracted from the leaves of Mentha x piperita, a hybrid plant – a cross between water-mint (Mentha aquatica) and spearmint (Mentha spicata) and belongs to Lamiaceae family.
Peppermint is also known as Mentha balsamea Wild and Brandy mint. It is also known Menthe poivrée in french, Pfefferminze in german, Menta peperita italian, Yerba buena in spanish and Na’na, Lammam in Arabic.
Peppermint is a perennial plant that grows up to 30 to 90 cm in height. The plant is vivid green in colour with the leaves having deep red veins and coarse toothed edges. The plant has gorgeous purple coloured flowers and can survive and grow in almost any kind of habitat. Peppermint grows quite fast and once it grows it spreads quickly too.
The scent of this herb is fresh, sharp and gives a cooling sensation.
Peppermint plant is native to Mediterranean region and now a days is widely grown in United States, Italy, Japan, United Kingdom and India.
Following are some other plants in the Mentha genus which are known for essential oils.
- Spearmint (Mentha spicata L.) with its more sweet-green aroma
- Fieldmint or Cornmint (Mentha arvensis L.) with its less sweet but delicate fresh aroma
- Horsemint or Hungarian peppermint (Mentha longifolia [L.] Hudson, syn. Mentha sylvestris L.) from Balkan countries and South Africa, highest in menthone and therefore very pungent and less sweet.
- Bergamot mint or Orange mint (Mentha x citrata L.) with its fresh-citrus minty aroma
- Applemint or Woolley mint (Mentha suaveolens Ehrh.) with its very sweetgreen aroma
- Pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium L.) with its drier, earthy-pungent, minty aroma
History of Use of Peppermint
Peppermint is one of the oldest and among the highly beneficial herbs. Evidence shows that the peppermint was used in ancient times in Japan, China, Egypt and India.
The use of peppermint is found in Chinese and Japanese history and folklore. Traces of peppermint have also been found in Egyptian tombs inside pyramids. Among many ancient texts, peppermint finds mention as a part of culinary and herbal medicine since about 1500 BC. Interestingly, Greek mythology also mentions peppermint in the form of a tale about a nymph “Mentha” or “Minthe” that was transformed into a sweet and aromatic herb by Goddess Persephone.
Extraction of Peppermint Oil
Peppermint oil is extracted by steam distillation of the aerial parts of the plant. The oil is extracted just before the onset of the flowers.
Approximately 70–100 kg of the semi-dried herb yields 1 kg of peppermint oil.
Peppermint Oil Characteristics
Peppermint oil is a fluid, colourless oil with a clean, fresh, minty scent that is distinctly penetrating. Following are some of the characteristics of the peppermint oil.
|Botanical Name||Mentha piperita|
|Colour||Colourless to Pale Greenish Yellow|
|Aroma||Warm followed by cooling sensation, Sharp and Pungent|
Composition of Peppermint Oil
Peppermint oil is high in ketones, monoterpenols, and oxides. ISO standard 856 defines the composition of peppermint oil.
|Components||Min (%)||Max (%)|
|Menthyl acetate b||2.0||8.0|
The main constituents of peppermint oil is menthol followed by menthone. While menthol is known to be anti-inflammatory, menthone is known to be antiseptic and energizing.
The composition of essential oil is affected by many factors as outlined in the the article here. In case of the peppermint oil, the variability in the compositional profile is affected a lot during ontogenesis. The emergence of the flowering stem, appearance of flowers, and development of fruits may result in qualitative and quantitative alterations. For example, at the beginning of shoot development, the herb contains menthone (above 30%) as main compound, while the ratio of menthol is usually the same or even lower. During shoot growth, the proportion of menthol starts to increase, and at harvest time in a good quality plant material, it reaches more than 40%.
Difference with Spearmint Oil: Spearmint oil is mainly composed of carvone, menthol, limonene, and menthone; while, peppermint oil is mainly composed of menthol, menthone, menthylacetate, and eucalyptol.
Adulteration of Peppermint Oil: Peppermint oil is adulterated with synthetic menthol, menthol from corn-mint oil and fractions of peppermint terpenes.
Blending with Peppermint Oil
The blend of peppermint oil and lavender oil is particularly beneficial. The blend is particularly useful for treating skin ailments, soothing digestive system, curing headache, or assisting with any other physical challenge.
Mix one drop of peppermint and three drops of lavender in one tablespoon carrier oil. Spread this over the area in need: the abdomen for upset stomach, temples and back of the neck for headache, lower abdomen for cramps or flatulence, muscles or joints in pain, and anywhere on the skin as needed. Peppermint will clear the mind, refresh and uplift your spirits, energize you, and cool down anger.
Properties of Peppermint Oil
Peppermint oil has analgesic, antimicrobial, anesthetic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, astringent, carminative, decongestant, emmenagogic, expectorant, nervine, stimulant and vasoconstrictor.
- Peppermint oil is analgesic in nature and works well to reduce inflammation and pain relating to joints, muscles and headaches. It effectively relieves muscle spasms.
- Peppermint has antimicrobial properties and that makes it useful as cleaning and deodorizing agent.
- Peppermint oil is an adaptogenic oil, meaning that it acts to regulate excess conditions and can have a relaxing or invigorating effect depending on the circumstance for which you are using it.
- Peppermint oil helps in relaxing tension and to relieve fatigue while increasing alertness.
- Peppermint’s antiseptic and antibacterial properties are effective for treating minor cuts or abrasions to prevent infection.
- Peppermint oil has been reported to repel insects like ants and mosquitoes. In fact, one published research study showed peppermint oil to repel insects like the Dengue-fever-infecting mosquitoes.
- Peppermint oil has astringent properties that make it useful as blood cleaner a powerful cleanser in home or work environment.
- Peppermint is antiviral, antimalarial, antifungal, and anti infectious. It acts specifically against Bacillus subtilis, Candida albicans, Diplococcus pneumoniae, E. coli, Beta-hemolytic streptococcus, Klebsiella, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Proteus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Staphylococcus aureus, among others.
- Peppermint relieves pain, prevents the formation of intestinal gas, breaks up mucus and relieves sinus congestion, and relieves or reduces symptoms of nausea and vomiting. It is antispasmodic (due to the effect of menthol on calcium in the body), choleretic, cholagogic (promoting the flow of bile from the gallbladder into the duodenum), carminative, disinfectant, analgesic, and diaphoretic (promoting increased perspiration).
- Its decongestant properties make peppermint one of my first choices for relieving congestion of any kind, including sinus congestion. Inhale peppermint oil’s lovely sweet, fresh, penetrating, candy-cane scent for immediate relief of congested sinus cavities.
- Research studies have also shown that the use of peppermint can reduce some symptoms of IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). Another study for stomach pain supported peppermint’s use showing that enteric-coated peppermint oil capsules improved IBS symptoms in children.
Usages of Peppermint Oil
Peppermint oil has a history of medicinal uses and benefits in healthcare and daily use. Peppermint oil possesses a fresh sharp menthol odor and a pungent taste followed by a cooling sensation. It also has a variety of therapeutic properties and is used in aromatherapy, bath preparations, mouthwashes, toothpastes, and topical preparation.
- Flavouring: Peppermint oil finds wide application in the flavoring of chewing gums, sugar confectionery, ice creams, desserts, baked goods, tobacco, and alcoholic beverages. It is also frequently employed in the flavoring of pharmaceutical and oral preparations.
- Aids Digestion: One of the best known usages of peppermint oil is as a digestive aid. The organic compounds present in peppermint soothe the digestive tract muscles, calms muscle spasms and prevents ailments such as indigestion, nausea, diarrhoea and bloating.
- Stimulates Attention: Peppermint oil is also useful for focusing the mind and improving memory. Peppermint is excellent for mental fatigue and depression. It helps in eliminating nervousness and anxiety and promotes wakefulness. It can end a headache, migraine, vertigo, or faintness. Research has shown peppermint oil to be effective for relieving migraines and tension headaches resulting from weak or poor digestion.
- Reduces Inflammation and Pain: Peppermint oil is known for its analgesic properties and eliminating muscle tension. It is particularly useful in soreness of muscles and joints. Add peppermint oil to a foot bath to relieve swollen ankles and feet.
- Fights Infection: Peppermint oil is also well known for having anti-fungal, anti-parasitic and antimicrobial qualities. Since it contains high quantities of menthol, it helps in easing symptoms of cold, flu and various other respiratory illnesses.
- Skin Ailments: Due to its antiseptic properties and cooling effects, peppermint can be used to cool and soothe skin irritations caused by rashes, burns and even seasonal dryness.
- Repellent: According to studies, peppermint oil is very effective at repelling mice.
- Aromatherapy: Peppermint oil is very popular in aromatherapy due to its vitalising, refreshing and cooling properties. In aromatherapy, expectorant properties of peppermint oil help in clearing nasal passages to relieve congestion. Furthermore, it helps in stimulating circulation, soothes tension and works in boosting energy, balancing hormones and increasing mental focus. When used diluted or inhaled the oil reduces nausea and sickness. Its anti-inflammatory properties and action to constrict and narrow the blood vessels make it excellent for cooling inflamed, hot conditions like hot flashes and tired and achy legs, hands and feet.
How to Use Peppermint Oil
- Peppermint oil can be used in a diffuser for reducing stress and restoring energy. Place 3 drops of peppermint oil, 3 drops of lavender oil and 6 drops of sweet orange oil in a diffuser. Experience relaxation and soothing calmness of this unique blend.
- Make an interesting air freshener with peppermint oil. Mix together 4 drops of peppermint oil, 4 drops of wild orange oil and 1 tablespoon of real vanilla extract. Mix them into 8 oz of water and pour into a spray bottle. Use as a wonderfully scented air freshener.
- Take 3-5 drops of peppermint oil and mix with 1 tablespoon organic almond oil. Massage this oil mix on your lower abdomen to ease digestion or on your lower back to experience relief from back pain.
- Make refreshing mouthwash that is effective in maintaining oral hygiene. Take 4 oz filtered water. Add 2 teaspoons baking soda, 2 drops of tea tree oil and 2 drops of peppermint oil. Add this mix to a clean glass jar. Use it as a mouthwash 1-2 times a day.
- Melt ¼ oz beeswax in a double boiler. Add 2 oz olive oil, 10 drops of eucalyptus essential oil, 10 drops of peppermint oil and 10 drops of wintergreen essential oil. Massage this oil mix on chest and experience relief in respiratory problems.
- In case of tired feet, blend three or four drops in one tablespoon of distilled water or gel, apply to legs and feet, and let dry naturally.
- In case of sunburns, add one or two drops in aloe vera gel to reduce the pain from a slight sunburn.
- Make bug repellent by blending 6-7 drops each of peppermint oil, eucalyptus oil, tea tree oil, rosemary oil and citronella oil. Add oils blend to 8 oz of filtered water, mix and store in a spray bottle. Use this spray on your carpets, pets and surrounding to keep away pests.
- In case of mice, add a few drops of peppermint oil to a bucket of water and scrub the floor or any other area to eliminate or severely curtail the habitation of mice.
Safety With Peppermint Oil
Peppermint oil is to be used in extremely weak dilutions. For example, in a blend for infants and children up to seven years old, and the frail elderly, 1 or 2 drops per ounce (2 tablespoons/30 ml) of carrier base is sufficient. In a blend for older children and adults, use 2 to 3 drops per ounce of carrier oils.
Due to its strong cooling action, peppermint should not be used by children under two and a half years of age. Do not use if you’re pregnant or nursing, or with children under five years old. Consult your healthcare provider if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or being treated for other health challenges.
Store in a dark glass bottle, tightly capped, in a cool place. Keep out of reach of children. Shelf life of peppermint oil is five years.
The above statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This information is for educational purposes only, it is not intended to treat, cure, prevent or, diagnose any disease or condition. Nor is it intended to prescribe in any way. This information is for educational purposes only and may not be complete, nor may its data be accurate.