Evidence from Egyptian pyramids and modern medical centers reveals the health benefits of peppermint as an essential oil, says Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture practitioner Michelle Goebel-Angel of Chicago’s Raby Institute for Integrative Medicine.
Peppermint’s potent aroma is a great afternoon pick-me-up, while its distinctive cooling sensation eases pain when applied to the skin, according to the expert. Alternatively, drops of the essential oil can be added to tea or water to support digestion. Peppermint oil capsules and tablets are also sold in online and retail stores.
Post editors asked Goebel-Angel about buying—and taking advantage of—the healing herb. Always check with your doctor when starting a new treatment.
Where can you get therapeutic peppermint essential oil and how can consumers identify the best product?
Quality is always important when using essential oils to achieve therapeutic results, rather than to simply enjoy the fragrance. First, look at stores for AFNOR-grade oils. These products meet a set of standards set in Europe by AFNOR (Association French Normalization Organization Regulation) and help buyers differentiate between therapeutic-grade essential oils and lower grade oils.
Then, read the ingredient list. Most essential oils have added artificial scents, fillers or preservatives. One brand that does not is Young Living (YL)—a top, if not the best, brand in the world. Because YL oils are so therapeutic, training must be done in order to understand their uses and contraindications. As a result, you cannot find them in stores. Young Living experts can be found online or locally, if you ask around.
How can people use peppermint oil for health?
Here are three benefits of peppermint, and how to reap them:
- An organic mental energizer. To enhance focus and clarity, place a drop of oil on the nape of the neck and around the temples, inhale oil directly, or use a diffuser and take in its aroma daily.
- A natural analgesic. To ease joint or muscle pain, rub a drop on the sore areas. For headache or migraine pain, place a drop on the temples or nape of neck.
- A digestive aid. To relieve diarrhea, bloating or gas, directly rub one or two drops on abdomen in a clockwise motion. For an upset stomach or heartburn, place a drop in water and drink. For nausea related to pregnancy* or cancer care, inhale daily, diffuse, or place a drop in water and drink.
*Pregnant women should consult with an expert before using any essential oils.
What precautions should people keep in mind when taking peppermint?
It’s always best to work with an expert when using powerful essential oils. For most people, small doses of peppermint are fine to take with prescriptions or OTC meds. Important precautions include: Avoid contact with eyes, sensitive skin, fresh wounds or burns. If a skin reaction should occur, use a carrier oil (such as almond or coconut oil) to dilute the affected area. Do not wash with water and soap. Begin slowly, as overuse can create heartburn. Do not apply to infants under 18 months of age.
What qualifies peppermint to be called the “world’s first medicine?”
Peppermint, a natural hybrid of water mint (Mentha aquatica) and spearmint (Mentha spicata), was first cultivated in England in the late seventeenth century. However, the herb has been used as a remedy for indigestion since Ancient Egyptian times. In fact, dried peppermint leaves were found in Egyptian pyramids dating back to 1000 B.C. The ancient Greeks and Romans valued the herb as a stomach soother. During the eighteenth century, peppermint became popular in Western Europe as a folk remedy for nausea, vomiting, morning sickness, respiratory infections, and menstrual disorders. Due to its hardy nature and growth around the world, peppermint was readily available and provided quick relief for common ailments.