Peppermint is considered a hybrid mint that is a cross between spearmint and watermint. It is an aromatic herb that can be found in North America and Europe. Peppermint essential oil is typically extracted directly from the leaves of the peppermint plant (Mentha ×piperita) and can be used in numerous ways for a variety of purposes. Using mint plants for medicinal reasons dates back to Ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome. While modern research is ongoing to prove the many health benefits that peppermint oil can provide, there have been numerous personal accounts that peppermint essential oil has beneficial characteristics.
Peppermint oil comes in a variety of different forms. Some of which include:
- Extracts: A diluted form of peppermint oil that can be used to flavor foods.
- Capsules: Typically come in the form of dietary supplements.
- Essential Oils: A concentrated form that can be diffused via aromatherapy or can be diluted and applied topically.
Benefits of Peppermint Oil
Peppermint oil is an essential oil that has been extensively researched concerning its benefits for those who struggle with IBS. IBS, irritable bowel syndrome, is a chronic gastrointestinal condition that can cause abdominal pain, diarrhea, and constipation.
A recent study was conducted to examine the effectiveness of peppermint oil capsules as a treatment for those with IBS. The study found that the participants treated with peppermint essential oil felt as though their abdominal pain and other IBS symptoms significantly improved upon treatment.
The reason for the success of the peppermint oil treatment is mostly unknown; however, there are assumptions that peppermint essential oils can aid in the following:
- Relaxing the muscles of the GI tract
- Having anti-inflammatory properties
- Affecting bacteria found in the GI tract
- Decreasing pain in the GI tract
It is quite common to treat pain caused by tension headaches and migraines with either wintergreen oil or menthol. One study was conducted using a topical menthol solution to treat migraine headaches. Researchers found that upon applying the menthol solution to the forehead and temples, participants experienced a long period of pain relief and far less nausea and light sensitivity compared to a placebo treatment.
A similar study utilized a treatment gel to treat migraine headaches. This gel also contained menthol and was then applied to the skin upon the migraine’s emergence. As a result, there was a notable improvement in the migraine’s severity two hours after topical application.
Peppermint oils is an ingredient commonly used in a variety of cosmetic products despite there being a limited amount of research regarding its benefits when used on the skin. A study was conducted to look into the topical application of peppermint oils to treat chronic itching. This study found that a treatment containing one percent of peppermint oils was successful in easing the severity of the itchy skin along with the length of the itch.