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.