Peppermint oil uses date back to ancient Greece and beyond.
In fact, according to the New World Encyclopedia, peppermint is often regarded as the world’s oldest medicine (1). Today, peppermint oil’s uses cover everything from cough drops to pain creams.
Peppermint oil is produced from the peppermint plant. While the peppermint plant is actually complex in terms of the compounds that make it so effective, we’re going to focus on menthol.
Peppermint essential oil and extract usually contains around 40% menthol, supplying its signature scent, flavor, and cooling effects.
Using Peppermint Essential Oil
Essential oils are unique in that they can bypass the blood-brain barrier through aromatherapy. On the other hand, compounds larger than 1000 amu’s (atomic mass units) are unable to pass through the blood-brain barrier. Essential oil molecules, however, can be as small as 68 amu’s (2)!
This makes essential oils uniquely capable of addressing certain conditions simply by inhaling them or applying them to your skin.
Because peppermint essential oil can cause irritation in sensitive individuals, children and those with sensitive skin should always dilute it in a carrier oil before topical application. Coconut oil, olive oil, avocado oil, almond oil, jojoba oil, and castor oil are some of the carrier oils you can use.
35 Peppermint Essential Oil Uses
Some of the uses below involve ingesting essential oils. Before swallowing essential oil of any kind, you must consult your naturopath and choose high-quality food-grade essential oils. If you have any doubt about the quality of your essential oil, simply don’t ingest it.
1. Cooling down
In need of a cool breeze on a windless day? Applying a drop of peppermint oil to the back of your neck and temples (be sure not to get the oil too close to your eyes!). The menthol in peppermint acts on the cold receptors in your skin without actually changing your internal temperature. Just make sure to stay hydrated too to replenish any fluids you lost from sweating.
This is probably the most well-known use for peppermint oil, and one of the best researched. By applying peppermint oil to the forehead, temples, and back of the neck (if needed), you can reduce or eliminate the symptoms of even the worst tension headache.
Diluted peppermint essential oil reduced headache symptoms just as effectively as Tylenol in clinical trials, and nearly twice as fast (3)! Tylenol takes an average of 30 minutes to take effect, while peppermint oil relieves headaches in less than 15 minutes.
Anyone who has ever had a migraine knows that migraines are not “just a headache”. Peppermint oil may just be the holy grail of natural migraine treatments. In clinical trials, the menthol in peppermint oil proves incredibly effective in relieving migraine pain (4).
Additionally, and unlike traditional migraine treatments, peppermint oil relieves the other symptoms of migraines with no side effects! For example, peppermint oil alleviated the nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound that accompanies most migraines. For best results, combine the topical application of peppermint essential oil with lavender essential oil.
4. Bad Breath
One of the oldest natural remedies for bad breath (aka halitosis) is to chew on peppermint leaves. While this is still practiced in some parts of the world, the accessibility of peppermint essential oil makes things a bit more convenient (and eliminates pesky peppermint leaf pieces that get stuck in your teeth)!
Peppermint oil works on bad breath in a few different ways. First of all, the powerful, wonderful-smelling compounds in peppermint instantly freshen your breath. Long term, peppermint oil a powerful antifungal and antiseptic, so peppermint oil will kill the germs that contribute to bad breath in the first place.
To use, simply place a drop of peppermint essential oil on or under your tongue for instant minty freshness.
5. Dental Health
While we’re on the subject of fresh breath, let’s discuss peppermint oil’s benefits in terms of dental health. Peppermint is a popular flavor for mouthwash and toothpaste is not just because of the flavor, but also for its health benefits. As mentioned above, peppermint has powerful antifungal and antiseptic properties that prevent and destroy bacteria growth. Where peppermint oil really excels, however, is in killing the anaerobic bacteria that causes gum disease (5).
Peppermint essential oil is also an effective natural painkiller for toothaches and gum pain! Apply directly on location for tooth pain, and inhale before and after oral surgery for extra anti-inflammatory benefits.
6. Breathe Easier
Peppermint works as both a decongestant and expectorant, which is especially beneficial when you have a head cold. Unlike the go-to OTC decongestants, this treatment won’t further dehydrate you when you’re already sick.
Apply 1-2 drops of peppermint oil under your nose and/or on your chest to help relieve congestion. If you have sensitive skin, it is suggested you dilute with a carrier oil before application.
These DIY peppermint and eucalyptus shower discs will clear your sinuses up and have you breathing easy in no time.
Peppermint consistently outperforms prescription nausea treatments in clinical studies, without any side effects. As mentioned earlier, peppermint oil is extremely effective in treating nausea and pain associated with migraines. When used to treat nausea associated with chemotherapy, operations, motion sickness, and morning sickness, peppermint oil is one of the best treatments known to man (6,7,8).
To prevent or alleviate nausea, rub 1-2 drops behind your ears and around your nose or chest, and/or diffuse into the air.
There are conflicting reports on the effectiveness of using peppermint oil to treat heartburn and acid reflux. The difference seems to be in how the oil is used, though. When ingested, peppermint oil may cause the esophageal sphincter to relax, which could make acid reflux worse (9).
When applied topically to the throat and sternum, however, peppermint oil can be incredibly effective in treating heartburn. You may want to dilute with a carrier oil if the essential oil is too strong on its own.
Peppermint leaves and peppermint oil have been used as a digestive aid as long as records of the plant have been around. You can drink peppermint tea or chew the leaves, but drinking 2-3 drops of peppermint oil in a glass of water is just as effective.
Start your day off right with this recipe to improve digestion, prevent reflux, and decrease gas:
- 1-2 drops of peppermint essential oil
- 1/2 teaspoonful of organic apple cider vinegar
- Local raw organic honey (to taste)
- Combine all ingredients in a cup with hot water to make a tea.
- For best results, drink every morning before breakfast.
10. Reduce GI spasms
In a study published by the American Academy of Family Physicians, peppermint oil was found to reduce colon spasms and discomfort associated with barium enemas, colonoscopies, and endoscopies (10). In these instances, peppermint oil works by relaxing the smooth muscle found in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract (11).
For best results, use peppermint oil with the application of the enema or on the scope itself. Depending on how extensive the procedure is, peppermint oil was found to be more effective than the traditional medication used (12).
Using peppermint as a treatment for gas works because it acts as both a preventative agent before/after meals and a treatment after gas symptoms appear (13). Since peppermint oil is more concentrated than the leaves, it is also more effective.
Compared to some of the leading prescription and over the counter treatments, peppermint oil is gentler, more effective way to prevent and relieve gas. As the muscles of your intestines relax, gas is can work its way out more easily. This muscle relaxation also has the benefits of reducing the pain and discomfort associated with gas (14).
To use peppermint oil as a treatment for gas, there are a few options. Drink peppermint oil in water, apply directly to the abdomen, or put a few drops in a veggie capsule with a carrier oil and take it like a pill.
12. Energy Boost
Peppermint essential oil aromatherapy is one of the most popular natural treatments for chronic fatigue. In clinical studies, peppermint essential oil consistently improves concentration, memory, focus, and fatigue (15). Using one method of application – internally, aromatically, or topically – over another does not appear to make a difference. However, there does seem to be a positive mental association with being able to smell the oil through topical application and inhalation.
When peppermint oil crosses the blood-brain barrier through inhalation (aromatherapy), it the amount of oxygen and other energizing nutrients to the brain. Increased oxygen provides a boost of energy and mental alertness, without the side effects of common stimulants.
To provide the best mental and physical energy boost, diffuse or inhale peppermint essential oil throughout the day.
13. Mental Focus
Continuing along the theme of increased energy and concentration: peppermint oil is extremely effective in stimulating the hippocampus. The hippocampus is mainly responsible for memory, but plays a role in other key functions such as mental clarity (16).
The University of Cincinnati found that peppermint oil increased concentration and alertness during academic testing (17). In a similar study, Wheeling Jesuit University conducted a similar study on the stimulating effects of peppermint while driving (18). Participants were not only more alert but also less irritable when they used peppermint oil!
To boost mental focus: apply peppermint oil to the palms of your hands and inhale often, diffuse, and/or apply topically to your chest, temples, and the back of your neck.
14. Keep cool during exercise
Peppermint-flavored mints and lozenges rely on the cooling effects of menthol to bring in a nice cold breath when you inhale (19). You can experience the same effects by putting a couple of drops of peppermint oil in your water bottle during exercise. Just make sure the brand of oil you’re using is safe for ingestion.
15. Loosen tight muscles
Combine peppermint essential oil with a carrier oil and massage onto tight and tired muscles. In addition to relieving sore muscle pain with its analgesic properties, peppermint oil will help your muscles relax. It will be easier to stretch out your muscles and draw oxygen-rich blood to the area for a faster recovery.
16. Relieve muscle pain
We’ve touched on peppermint oil’s pain relieving properties a few times already. The menthol in peppermint oil is an incredibly effective analgesic (pain killer). Unlike traditional OTC and prescription pain relievers, peppermint oil acts faster and without side effects.
Peppermint oil is also being studied as a form of pain relief for hard to treat chronic pain conditions. Clinical studies show that peppermint oil applied topically is particularly effective for individuals with fibromyalgia and myofascial pain syndrome (20). Simply combine a few drops of peppermint oil with a carrier oil and massage on location.
17. Relieve Nerve Pain
Nerve pain is one of the most intense invisible ailments that can plague the human body. Finding an effective treatment that isn’t equally as debilitating makes the condition even more difficult to deal with.
Luckily, peppermints analgesic properties extend to nerve pain. Combined with other essential oils, these effects are magnified! With consistent application to prevent the nerves from getting too excited in the first place, you may actually find yourself pain-free!
18. Reduce sugar cravings
Sugar lights up the same pleasure center of your brain that cocaine does. And similar to the drug, individuals can become addicted to sugar. The good news is that you can retrain your brain and your taste buds to overcome a sugar addiction (21). In the meantime, peppermint oil can help you deal with sugar cravings.
Apply peppermint essential oil to your temples and wrists when you have a craving, and diffuse throughout the day. You may want to start and end each day with this routine to avoid sugary breakfasts and late-night unhealthy snacking.
19. Allergy relief
Allergies are quite the nuisance, seasonal or not. Use peppermint oil aromatically to help open your sinus passages and allow for proper drainage. For best results, combine peppermint, eucalyptus, lavender, and lemon oils in a diffuser to relieve even the worst allergy symptoms.
20. Fever reducer
Menthol to the rescue again! The cooling effects of menthol are more than just a sensation. When you have a fever, applying peppermint oil to the neck, forehead, and bottom of the feet will cool your body down. When applying to children, make sure to dilute heavily using a carrier oil.
21. Scalp health
When you visit a professional salon with dandruff issues, you’ll almost certainly be treated with a shampoo and conditioner containing peppermint oil. Dandruff has several individual causes, but each one results in a pH imbalance that leads to a dry and flaky scalp.
To remedy dandruff at home:
- Add approximately 20 drops of peppermint oil for every 8 oz. of your favorite natural shampoo and conditioner
- Combine 2-3 drops of peppermint oil with a carrier oil (jojoba or almond, preferably) and massage onto a clean scalp
22. Cancer treatment aid
Research in the area of cancer treatments with peppermint is relatively limited, but they are consistent. In addition to relieving nausea from radiation and chemotherapy, peppermint oil can actually affect the cells inside the body. Studies show that peppermint oil protects DNA from being damaged by radiation, and the menthol in peppermint inhibits cancer growth (22,23).
23. Teething relief for babies
Peppermints side effect-free analgesic effects are perfect for a teething baby. Given the sensitivity of young ones, be sure to dilute with a carrier oil. Rub directly on the baby’s gum for relief.
24. Eczema, psoriasis, and bug bites
Though eczema, psoriasis, and bug bites have different causes, the end result is the same: irritated, red, and itchy skin. In the case of peppermint oil, here is one application that requires a companion to work well: lavender oil.
Lavender oil is very soothing, and one of the best oils for just about any skin condition. Peppermint oil provides a cooling sensation to calm the itching, just as using a cold compress does. Mix with a carrier oil to keep the area hydrated and itch-free.
In addition to its antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, peppermint oil is a natural astringent. You can add peppermint essential oil to your current routine, or make your own all-natural essential oil face wash suitable for any skin type. As a bonus, you’ll receive the calming, concentration-boosting aromatic benefits of peppermint oil at the same time.
Here’s how to make it:
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 tablespoon unscented glycerin soap
- 5 drops lemon essential oil
- 5 drops peppermint oil
- In a saucepan bring the water to a boil. Remove the pan from heat.
- Add soap, stirring well until it dissolves.
- Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature.
- Add the lemon oil and peppermint and stir until well blended.
- Bottle up in a dark-colored glass container.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is one of the most inconvenient, painful, and sometimes embarrassing GI conditions known to man. It is also one of the most common functional disorders – with an estimated 10-15% of Americans living with it at any given time. Given peppermint oil’s known benefits on the GI tract, it’s not surprising that it comes up as a valid treatment option.
There are countless clinical research studies documenting the benefits of peppermint oil as a treatment for IBS. The majority of them come to the same conclusion: even among modern medical treatments, peppermint oil is at the top of the list for effectiveness (24). It helps reduce pain, gas, relax the GI tract, and diarrhea with exceedingly rare side effects (25).
The best results are achieved by ingesting peppermint oil in capsule form (roughly 200 mg daily) and applying topically to the abdomen as needed.
27. Sore throat
Menthol is a popular ingredient in lozenges because of the respiratory benefits (discussed earlier) and its analgesic properties. Whether your sore throat is caused by a cold or shouting too much at last night’s concert, peppermint oil will help soothe the ache.
You can ingest the peppermint oil in cold water for a refreshing drink, in warm water as a tea, or put a few drops directly on your tongue. Bonus: fresh breath! Again, be sure that any oil you drink is labeled as safe for ingestion.
28. Insect Repellent
Put simply: insects DO NOT like peppermint oil. The strong scent is so irritating to them that you can reduce pests in your home by simply having a peppermint plant growing. Peppermint oil is obviously much stronger than the plant since it is so concentrated, but this can be a good thing if you have a black thumb. Also, unlike commercial insect repellants, peppermint oil is safe for children and pets (27)!
Put a few drops of peppermint oil on a cotton ball and place one in every area of your house where insects may find a way in. Peppermint oil is effective against ants, spiders, beetles, and just about every other insect you can think of. When you leave the house, make your own bug spray with this simple essential oil recipe. It’s DEET free and just as effective!
DIY Insect Repellent
- Peppermint, peppermint, and rosemary essential oil
- Natural Witch Hazel
- Distilled or boiled Water
- Vegetable glycerin (optional)
- Fill spray bottle (I used 8 ounce) 1/2 full with distilled or boiled water
- Add witch hazel to fill almost to the top
- Incorporate 1/2 tsp vegetable glycerin if using
- Add 30-50 drops of essential
Follow this link for more healthy ways to keep bugs out of your house.
29. Flea and Tick Repellant
While we’re on the subject of bugs, let’s not leave out our 4-legged friends. Cats and dogs can absorb oils through their fur, but since they are (usually) small, any application will need to be heavily diluted. You can use the below DIY recipe for your dogs and other large animals. Spray their coat every 2-7 days, depending on how often you brush and bathe your pet.
- 6 – 7 drops each of:
- Peppermint essential oil
- Thyme essential oil
- Eucalyptus essential oil
- Citronella essential oils
- 8 oz. glass spray bottle for storage and application
- Fill the rest of the bottle with distilled water and shake well before spraying
Cats, in particular, are very sensitive due to their small size, so you can’t spray their coat directly. Instead, if you find your cat has fleas or ticks, dip the comb you’re using to remove them in the above solution (2x dilution) before brushing through their fur.
Peppermint is antimicrobial, antibacterial, and antifungal (28). Use a peppermint oil spray anywhere you may be concerned about fungus growth. You could spray everything from shoes and closet space to plants in your garden.
Peppermint oil is also a particularly strong and gentle alternative for toenail fungus. Apply to your toenails and the bottom of your feet daily as a preventative treatment. To treat an existing fungal infection, you can apply several times per day. Dilute as necessary for sensitive skin.
31. DIY bathroom Spray
Everyone uses the bathroom, but not everyone needs to smell what happens in there. Rather than spending money on expensive toilet sprays, make your own essential oil spray for a fraction of the price.
Here’s how to make it:
- 1 tsp rubbing alcohol
- 30 drops essential oils (lemongrass, peppermint, and orange work well)
- 1 mini spray bottle
- Combine the ingredients and shake it up.
- Simply spray the toilet water before doing your business to keep odors at a minimum. Make one to keep in your purse for when you use public restrooms too!
32. Sugar scrub
A peppermint oil sugar scrub is both relaxing and rejuvenating – especially when used on your feet! You’ll reap all of the antibacterial and antifungal benefits while exfoliating your skin. This recipe is also a perfect gift to give to a friend or family member for an at-home spa experience.
Just combine all ingredients in a leak-proof glass container:
- ½ cup organic cane sugar
- ½ cup coconut oil
- ½ tablespoon vitamin E oil
- 5-7 drops of peppermint oil
- Optional: 5 drops lemon and/or lavender oil
33. Rodent repellent
The only difference between repelling insects and rodents with peppermint oil is the amount needed. Since rodents are obviously bigger, you’ll need to almost soak cotton balls in the oil before placing them around your home. Use 5-10 drops on each cotton ball and place them where mice are most likely to enter your home.
As mentioned earlier, peppermint oil is naturally antibacterial and antifungal. Herbalists and alternative medicine practitioners use peppermint leaves and peppermint essential oil to treat urinary tract infections (UTI) (29). Scientists are currently conducting studies to identify why it works for UTIs.
Due to peppermint oil’s stimulating effect on skin, it’s not advised to apply peppermint oil directly on your nether regions. Instead, drink peppermint oil with water or tea, use a couple of drops in bathwater, and apply a compress with peppermint oil on your abdomen above the bladder.
35. Decrease breast milk production (weaning)
The ingestion or topical use of just about anything mint while breastfeeding is not recommended as it is known to cause a decrease in milk production. Avoiding minty foods and drinks can be very inconvenient when a mother is still lactating. However, when mom and/or baby are ready to wean, using peppermint oil can help speed up the process.
There are not currently any published studies that indicate how or why peppermint seems to have this effect on milk production (30). The knowledge and experience of countless mothers over the last millennia reiterates the saying “mother knows best” (31).