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18 October 2021 / Laura Garvin Gomez

Peppermint Essential Oil: History, Uses and Benefits

Peppermint essential oil can soothe the gut, benefit the skin, and repel pests.

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Paddock of mint plants

This versatile herb has been used in food, medicine and cosmetics for hundreds of years.

There are two main variations of peppermint essential oil: piperita and arvensis.

Peppermint Arvensis vs Peppermint Piperita

is more commonly used and has a stronger, more recognisable peppermint smell, whereas has a lighter, slightly sweeter scent.

The differences are slight, however, and they both have the same pain-relieving, skin-soothing, antispasmodic properties that make peppermint such a useful oil.

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What is Peppermint Essential Oil?

Known as either Mentha Piperita or Mentha Arvensis, peppermint essential oil is a sweet and refreshing herb native to Europe and the Middle East. A part of the mint family, it is closely related to other refreshing oils including spearmint and garden mint.

The leaves of the peppermint herb are steam distilled to produce the oil, giving off a sweet and refreshing natural scent with a distinct minty quality.

Peppermint essential oil is pale yellow in colour and contains over 40 different natural chemical compounds. It is these compounds that give peppermint its variety of benefits, with menthol being one of the most potent ingredients in the oil.

The health benefits of Peppermint Essential Oil

Peppermint oil not only has a pleasant and recognisable scent, but it is also full of diverse benefits for the mind and body. Peppermint essential oil can help fight a number of ailments and issues including, but not limited to:

  • Pain
  • Lack of focus or energy
  • IBS and other digestive issues
  • Itchiness and inflamed skin
  • Blocked sinuses
  • Hair loss

Peppermint oil is also known to be a highly impactful spider repellent.

Close up of mint plant

    Using peppermint essential oil for pain

    For thousands of years peppermint essential oil has been employed as a natural painkiller and muscle relaxant.

    Its cooling and antispasmodic qualities are mainly due to the combination of two chemical constituents: limonene, which has anti-inflammatory properties, and menthol.

    Menthol is the main constituent of peppermint oil and has a wide range of benefits, including its ability to act as a pain reliever.

    It has been to be effective in treating tension headaches, and menthol and limonene together are able to soothe inflamed joints and tired muscles.

    also tested the effects of peppermint oil on people with non-cardiac related chest pain and swallowing difficulties. The results showed an improvement in over half of the participant’s pain levels.

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    Does peppermint oil energise you?

     showed that peppermint oil was effective in improving exercise performance and breath flow in athletes, making it a popular choice of essential oil in sports and other physical activities.

    It is theorised that peppermint is so good at energising the body because it is able to relax bronchial smooth muscles and increase ventilation and brain oxygen concentration, in turn clearing the body of blockages and improving overall performance.

    This is what allows peppermint oil to invigorate us and make us more alert and energised.

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    Can peppermint oil be used to relieve IBS symptoms?

    In the last couple of decades, peppermint oil has emerged as an effective treatment against symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.

     found that peppermint oil can cause up to a 50% decrease in IBS symptoms, soothing the gut and reducing pain.

    Menthol’s antispasmodic properties allow it to reduce spasms in the colon, and it is also able to excite the anti-pain channel TRPM8 which temporarily causes the pain-sensing fibres in the gut to become less sensitive.

    Whilst peppermint essential oil can be very useful for anyone suffering any form of gastric distress, it is important to use it safely in order to feel the effects.

    Peppermint oil should not be taken orally unless ingested in capsule form – adding it to water may not disperse it properly and can cause heartburn. All of our essential oils carry a “for external use only” warning and should not be ingested under any circumstances.

    It is also possible to feel the effects of peppermint oil on the gut by diluting it with a carrier vegetable oil and rubbing it on the abdomen.

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    Peppermint essential oil can be good for your skin

    As well as being anti-inflammatory, peppermint oil is also antiseptic and anti-microbial, which makes it great for soothing and cleaning skin. It has a higher SPF value than other essential oils and can therefore help to heal and protect against sunburn.

    The soothing properties of menthol also allow it to treat itchiness –  found that diluted peppermint oil significantly reduced symptoms of pruritis in pregnant women.

    Peppermint can also help to increase blood flow to the skin, stimulating it and helping to improve its appearance when applied topically.

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    How do you use peppermint oil for sinuses?

    Peppermint essential oil can also be used to help treat a number of respiratory conditions including colds and coughs, the flu, bronchitis, and sinusitis.

    Peppermint oil acts as an expectorant, which means that it helps to loosen the mucus in the throat and sinuses so that it can be dispelled.

    This also makes peppermint useful for allergy relief, as peppermint oil can help to clear out pollen from sinuses and relax muscles in the nasal tract.

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    Does the smell of peppermint keep spiders away?

    Peppermint oil is a very popular solution to ‘spider season’, which encompasses the weeks in which spiders come indoors.

    Peppermint oil has been found to be repellent to spiders – it is theorised that this is due to the monoterpenoids in the oil acting as fumigants.

    Mixing a few drops of peppermint oil with a spray bottle of water and spraying in corners can help to deter spiders. You can also discover our full guide for repelling pests here.

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    How to use peppermint essential oil for your hair

    An up-and-coming benefit for this popular essential oil, a number of recent studies have focused their attention on how peppermint can restore and renew the hair and scalp.

    Peppermint oil’s ability to boost circulation can help stimulate blood flow to the scalp, stimulating the hair follicles and allowing for faster growth and thicker hair.

     may also prove peppermint’s efficiency in preventing hair loss, as applying the oil to the hair produced better results than the common drug minoxidil, an FDA-approved hair loss remedy.

    Find out more about how peppermint essential oil can benefit your hair, as well as how to use it, by visiting our peppermint oil for hair blog post. Or learn more about what other essential oils may be beneficial for hair growth and hair health.

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    Other kinds of mint oil:

    Some essential oils in the mint family carry the same or similar properties to peppermint, with slightly varying scents and benefits. 

    These include:

    • SpearmintKnown for being the ‘sweeter’ variety of mint, spearmint has many of the same benefits as peppermint: it relieves pain, improves gastric health, and decongests. It is, however, found to be more relaxing than stimulating peppermint oil.
    • Garden mintGarden mint shares spearmint’s more sugary notes, and is near identical in benefits to peppermint oil.

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    How to use peppermint oil safely

    As with all of our essential oils, we never recommend taking peppermint oil internally – and several healthcare professionals don’t recommend it either.

    In high doses, peppermint oil and other essential oils can be toxic to the internal functions of the body due to their high concentration levels.

    Similarly, peppermint oil should always be patch tested and diluted using a carrier oil, such as sweet almond or jojoba, before use on the skin. This will prevent any potential harm or irritation to the surface of the skin.

    Please note that peppermint oil should never be used on or in the presence of children, as the menthol contained within the oil could cause serious side effects.

    You can learn more about how to use essential oils safely around children here.

    Always consult a doctor before using essential oils during pregnancy or breastfeeding.

    Take extra caution around pets, as peppermint can be toxic to certain groups. You can learn more about how to safely use essential oils around pets here.

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    How to store peppermint

    Store your peppermint essential oil in a cool, dry place and keep away from direct sunlight. Use within 24 months of opening.

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    History of Peppermint Essential Oil

    Peppermint is one of the oldest herbs used for medical purposes, with the earliest recorded uses dating all the way back to 1000BCE.

    It was a key ingredient in much of Japanese and Chinese folk medicine and has been found in several Egyptian pyramids.

    Peppermint has also been referenced in Greek mythology in the form of the nymph “Mentha”, who produced a powerful smell every time she was touched.

    Despite its historical impact, peppermint was not actually discovered in England until some 1600 years after the Egyptians, by biologist John Ray who found the herb growing in his garden.

    Whilst research into the role of aromatherapy in modern medicine is still ongoing, the many benefits of peppermint oil are some of the most well-documented.

    Whether you prefer the scent of peppermint arvensis or peppermint piperita, both are incredibly effective in not only relieving pain and providing bodily comfort, but also invigorating the mind and body and increasing our physical and mental capabilities.

    Shop our peppermint essential oil here.

     Peppermint (Piperita) 10ml Bottle | Nikura

    Product Name

    100% Pure Peppermint (Piperita) Essential Oil
    Botanical Name Mentha Piperita
    Scent Type Herbs
    Benefits & Uses Fresh, Decongestant, Spider Repellent
    Suitable for Diffusers? Yes, this peppermint (piperita) essential oil is perfect for diffusers.
    Suitable for Candles and Soaps? Yes, this peppermint (piperita) essential oil is perfect for candle and soap making.
    Extraction Method Steam Distillation
    Bottle Type Tamper proof and UV resistant

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