Note to readers: Ancient Wisdom is a series of guides that shines a light on age-old wisdom that has helped people for generations with time-honoured wellness solutions to everyday fitness problems, persistent health issues and stress management, among others. Through this series, we try to provide contemporary solutions to your health worries with traditional insights.
Peppermint, the wonder herb, has diverse medicinal and culinary uses. A natural cross between two types of mint – water mint and spearmint, peppermint is known for its pain-relieving properties as well as its role in digestive health. Peppermint even had a great significance thousands of years back in ancient times. The magical herb was used in ancient Greece, Rome, and Egypt for treating digestive disorders and other health conditions. In this edition of Ancient Wisdom let’s find more about peppermint oil and how it’s being used in modern times for wellness, culinary and medicinal purposes.
Cooling, sharp, minty, pungent, peppermint oil has a strong healing effect on our body, senses and mind. It’s the fifth-most produced essential oil in the world. In Ayurveda, peppermint is known for balancing all the three doshas. It can energise you instantly, relieve headaches and joint pain in a jiffy.
What is peppermint oil?
Peppermint is an aromatic herb in the mint family. Peppermint essential oil can be extracted from the leaves of the peppermint plant and is used for a variety of purposes. The main chemical components of peppermint oil are menthol and menthone.
Peppermint oil’s uses in ancient times
Like many herbs, peppermint was used extensively for medicinal purposes in ancient India, Rome, Greece as a flavouring agent, natural pain reliever and as an energising drink during the day. It was also added to desserts.
“Throughout time, peppermint cropped up in different cultural, literary and religious contexts. Peppermint has been on the menu for centuries. It has been used to flavour sauces and soups, meats and meals. While it has sometimes been used in seasoning salads and other foods, peppermint is most often known for its use in sweets and desserts. With its cooling effect, peppermint has historically been used to invigorate the mind and help stave off daytime sleepiness,” says Vaibhav Jain, Co-founder, Aayush Bharat.
Peppermint oil uses
Peppermint oil has a wide variety of uses as per Jain.
Pain relief: Peppermint oil can treat frequent headaches, arthritis pain
Menstrual cramps: Peppermint oil is helpful in getting rid of menstrual cramps
Natural mouth-freshener: Peppermint oil can help get rid of bad breath
Cosmetic use: Peppermint oil can reduce skin allergies, treat skin infections
Health benefits of peppermint oil
Jain shares health benefits of peppermint oil:
1. Headache and migraine
If you are tired of frequent headaches, then peppermint oil is a solution to your problem. Stress and tension cause a headache and peppermint oil helps to effectively treat headaches and migraines by reducing nausea and its cooling and relaxing effect helps people suffering from a constant headache and migraines.
How to use
Mix a few drops of peppermint oil to a teaspoon of carrier oil like jojoba oil and apply on your temples and behind the back of your neck for instant relief.
2. Cough relief
Peppermint oil is known for its antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory property. It also acts as an expectorant. This property of peppermint oil is due to the presence of menthol, which helps to clear the respiratory tract and give instant relief from nasal and chest congestion. Therefore, this oil is mostly used in cold rubs and balms.
How to use
Use it as a cold rub or inhale its vapours for relief from cough and nasal congestion.
3. Treatment for nausea
Peppermint oil is a good remedy to cure nausea because it has a relaxing and soothing effect. Peppermint oil gives instant relief from nausea and headaches due to its anti-inflammatory property and its cooling effect.
How to use
Apply peppermint oil in diluted form on your forehead or gently inhaling this oil can give relief from nausea.
4. Treat mouth ulcer
Mouth ulcer is lesions inside the mouth which can be very painful making it difficult to talk, eat or drink. Peppermint oil is considered very effective in treating mouth ulcers.
How to use
Apply diluted peppermint oil with a cotton swab on the affected part and let it remain for 15 minutes. Spit out the peppermint oil and rinse your mouth well.
5. Treat stomach ache
Peppermint oil helps the muscles of the gastrointestinal tract to relax and stimulates the flow of bile, which facilitates the process of breakdown of fat and allows the food to easily pass through the gut. This helps in acid reflux and has a cooling effect of the stomach. This oil also provides relief from heartburn.
6. Gas relief
Peppermint oil is a natural carminative, thus effective in treating indigestion and bloating. Peppermint oil helps to relieve flatulence from the stomach and intestines by relaxing the abdominal and intestinal muscles and provides relief from spasms in the colon. It helps to alleviate stomach ache by decreasing bloating and gas
How to use
Mix 2-3 drops of peppermint oil to a carrier oil such as olive oil and apply on your stomach.
7. Joint pain relief
Peppermint oil has got both analgesic and anaesthetic property which helps to soothe the inflammation and pain in the joints. Joint pain may be caused due to conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Peppermint oil effectively treats all kinds of pains such as knee pain, back pain, and neck pain.
How to use
Combine peppermint oil and eucalyptus oil (8 drops) is equal quantities and mix it with a carrier oil such as moringa oil (known to have anti-inflammatory properties) and massage on your joints.
Peppermint oil is a miracle oil and is a one-stop solution to all your skin problems. Peppermint oil makes your skin healthy and more radiant.
Let’s discuss some skincare benefits of peppermint oil.
Peppermint oil is very effective in treating acne because it exhibits 3 main properties- prevents bacterial growth, has a cooling effect and decreases the production of testosterone 5 ALPHA- reductase hormone. Acne is caused due to excess oil and sebum production by the skin and it clogs the pores, causing breakouts on the skin. Testosterone 5 ALPHA- reductase hormone is responsible for the production of excess oil and sebum. The cooling property of menthol helps to reduce inflammation.
Who should not use peppermint oil
Diabetics: Use of peppermint oil is not recommended for people suffering from diabetes, as it lowers the blood sugar level and increases the risk of hypoglycaemia.
People with GERD disease: Peppermint oil is not recommended for people suffering from GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease).
People under medication: Peppermint oil should not be taken with an antacid. Peppermint oil has the tendency to react with other drugs, so people already under medication should avoid using peppermint oil.
Pregnant women: Pregnant and nursing women and people under medical care should not use peppermint oil unless advised by their doctor.
Kids and pets: Peppermint oil usage should be avoided for kids and pets.
How to use peppermint oil
“Using peppermint in concentrated form, or an overdose or an allergy to peppermint oil can lead to several side effects as well. Always remember to use essential oils as per recipes and guidance from an expert source,” says Jain.
He suggests the following:
- Do a skin test before use. Before you apply the peppermint oil as a liquid to your skin, dilute it with a carrier oil and put a small amount behind your ear. Wait 10-15 minutes. If you do not develop a rash, irritation, or feel a burning sensation, you can then use the oil on the rest of your body.
- If you experience any adverse skin issues, you may be allergic to the oil or your skin may be too sensitive for the oil. If your skin is sensitive to peppermint even with the carrier oil, then an alternative method might be better for you.
- Never apply undiluted essential oils directly to your skin.
Hope you enjoyed reading the fourth part of our series on Ancient Wisdom. Part 5 which discusses benefits of amla for diabetes and other health issues will be out on September 20 (Wednesday). Stay tuned.