Peppermint essential oil is definitely one of my favorites. I use it whenever I feel upset or whenever I need to concentrate. And these are just a few of its benefits.
So let’s see all the peppermint essential oil uses, benefits, and properties below.
Properties of Peppermint Essential Oil
The botanical name for peppermint is Mentha piperita.
There are also a few mint essential oils on the market. You can easily find spearmint (Mentha spicata) and bergamot mint (Mentha citrata) essential oils for sale.
So do a quick check for the botanical name on the bottle before buying peppermint oil.
Color & Smell of peppermint oil
This essential oil has a colorless to a very light yellow color. And I think you already know what peppermint oil smells like. It’s fresh, crisp and minty!
What is in peppermint oil?
Peppermint essential oil contains menthol, which makes up about 50% of the oil, menthone (about 15-30%), menthyl acetate, menthofuran, 1,8 cineole (or eucalyptol), neomenthol, z-caryophyllene and germacrene-D.
There may also be traces of alpha-pinene, beta-pinene, limonene, pulegone, sabinene and isomenthyl acetate.
These compounds (especially menthol) are responsible for all the amazing peppermint essential oil benefits, which we’re going to get into now.
Peppermint Essential Oil Benefits
The benefits of peppermint essential oil include:
- relieves headaches
- improves mood
- boosts concentration and memory
- fights cancer cells in vivo
- reduces inflammation
- kills bacteria, fungi and viruses
- kills and repels insects
See all the proof of these benefits now.
It relieves headaches
You can definitely use peppermint essential oil for headaches and migraines. And there’ve been a few studies that agree.
In a 1994 study, researchers looked at the effects of peppermint essential oil for headaches. They asked 32 healthy men with tension headaches to apply one of four test variations of peppermint, eucalyptus, and ethanol mixtures to their foreheads and temples.
The results showed that the 10% mix of peppermint essential oil and ethanol significantly relieved their headaches. And the researchers went on to suggest the oil cooled and relaxed the temporal muscles (or the muscles on the side of your face from your temples to your jaw), thereby relieving the headaches of the participants.
So you see? You can use peppermint essential oil for headaches, migraines, and general pain. It’ll cool you down and calm your stressed muscles.
It is good for concentration and mood
The same study (mentioned above) also proved peppermint was great for improving concentration. So you can try this little mixture when you’re studying!
The peppermint-ethanol mix also made participants feel LESS excited, anxious, sensitive, irritated, annoyed and depressed. Now that’s a mood booster!
It helps memory
A 2008 study also showed peppermint oil caused significant improvement in the particpants’ overall quality and accuracy of memory.
Way to go peppermint!
It may protect against cancer
There’s new research suggesting peppermint and its essential oil can be used to help fight cancer.
One 2006 study published in Mutagenesis (Journal) explored this in mice. The study found peppermint essential oil reduced the number of tumors. Peppermint also protected cells from radiation and prevented them from mutating in any way.
So the study basically showed peppermint oil may have anti-tumor, chemoprotective, anti-mutagenic, and antioxidant. It’s that awesome! But note this is not a clinical study. So we can only say peppermint essential oil MAY be anticancer.
Here’s another peppermint essential oil benefit: it is anti-inflammatory. And there are many studies that clearly explain how and why. The oil shows good effects for both acute and chronic inflammation. This means it can clear up redness and inflammation immediately AND over an extended time.
And the anti-inflammatory properties are the reason why peppermint oil is used in coughs, colds and flu products and medicines. It cools you down, calms your insides and reduces internal swelling.
It kills bacteria
There are a lot of recent studies (at least twenty!) that prove peppermint oil kills bacteria.
And one study published in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy went a step further. It showed peppermint oil at 0.5% to 2% concentrations were enough to kill resistant bacteria and stop them from multiplying. That concentration equates to about one or two drops per teaspoon of carrier oil or water or alcohol. It’s potent stuff!
Menthol and menthone were found to be the main bacteria-killing compounds in peppermint oil.
Peppermint essential oil is antiviral
You can find studies from as far back as the sixties that prove peppermint kills viruses.
A recent one was done on the herpes simplex virus. The study showed that just a trace of peppermint (like 2 drop to 5 litres of carrier) was able to kill off a lot of the virus. That’s why the study recommended peppermint oil for recurring herpes infections.
It’s also antifungal
This shouldn’t come as a surprise – peppermint oil works on fungi and mold too! And a 2003 research paper actually proved the vapor of peppermint oil killed fungi. So one whiff and fungi will die!
The main anti-fungal ingredient was found to be menthol.
Another study published in 2012 also showed just a little bit of oil is enough to kill a wide range of fungi. The researchers went on to suggest using peppermint for treating fungal infections.
Here’s the final peppermint essential oil benefit. It kills bugs including the mosquitoes that cause dengue and yellow fever.
Now dengue fever is nasty business! I’ve had it. It wasn’t pleasant at all. It left me really weak. And, with dengue fever, you don’t really build up resistance against the virus. It can hit you like a ton of bricks every time you’re re-infected.
It’s not easy to counteract dengue fever. There aren’t any specific antiviral treatments. The best way to prevent it is to deal with what spreads it: the Aedes aegypti mosquito.
Here is where peppermint essential oil comes in. Peppermint oil is a great mosquito repellant. A 2011 study published in the Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine clearly proved this. The researchers added 0.1mL of the oil to participants’ skin and exposed them to adult female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. The participants did not get bitten for 150 minutes. That means the oil completely repelled mosquitoes for two and a half hours!
This makes peppermint oil perfect to use in place of commercial insect repellent that contain harmful chemicals.
Now, peppermint oil isn’t just good for repellent purposes. It also kills mosquito larvae. So you can control the mosquito population and stop them from infecting you with just one simple essential oil!
Peppermint Essential Oil Uses
Peppermint oil is a great addition to your diffuser and massage blends. Plus it blends particularly well with spicy, floral and citrus oils. So you can use peppermint with eucalyptus, geranium, grapefruit, lavender, lemon, marjoram, rosemary and tea tree essential oils.
Remember you should do a skin patch test before using this oil on your skin. And you should not exceed a 5% blend.
Peppermint oil tends to give a cooling, slightly burning sensation on the skin. So using less is better with peppermint oil.
Essential oils are no joke. So take the necessary precautions when using peppermint oil. For instance, don’t ingest undiluted peppermint essential oil and keep it out of the reach of kids and pets.
There is one reported case where a woman ingested large quantities of peppermint oil in a suicide attempt. She went into a coma. But after medical intervention, she was stabilized within 8 hours and became conscious by 24 hours.
The report shows that while peppermint oil has little side effects; it can be dangerous when too much is ingested.
And, like with all essential oils, always check with your doctor before using this oil especially if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Where to buy peppermint essential oil