Peppermint essential oil has been called one of the most versatile oils in the world, sharing the title only with Lavender Oil. It is certainly one of our more popular ingredients, we all love the smell of peppermint, as well as the warm and comfort it’s aroma and flavor brings to drinks and foods, but did you know there is so much more to this herb? Here is a bit of history and some of it’s amazing health benefits.
Peppermint is a perennial herb native to the Mediterranean but has also been cultivated in the USA, Italy, Great Britain, and Japan. It can be identified by its serrated leaves and by its flowers that range in color from light pink to mauve, growing in a conical shape.
Abounding in dermal and oral uses as well as anti-microbial properties, there are countless issues for which it is beneficial, promoting the wellness of body, mind, and overall health. The scent of peppermint can be described as being fresh, sharp and comparable to menthol, and the components of this multi-purpose oil are used internationally in cosmetic, culinary, and health industries.
Extracted from the peppermint herb, the uses of this cherished plant and its benefits have been traced back to Chinese and Japanese folk medicine practices and even to Ancient Egyptian times where dried peppermint leaves were found placed in tombs inside the pyramids.
Peppermint is one of the hundreds of species belonging to the mint family of plants or the mint “genus.” Included in this genus are herbs such as spearmint, water mint, and forest mint. The most active of the components in peppermint are menthol and menthone. Menthol is known to be analgesic and is beneficial for reducing pain such as headaches, muscle aches, and inflammation. Menthone is known to be analgesic as well, but it is also believed to show antiseptic activity.
Its invigorating properties lend the oil its energizing effects. It’s important to note that peppermint essential oil is intense. The entire plant contains menthol, which provides a wonderful cooling sensation while it naturally alleviates discomfort. It also has antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, insecticidal, antispasmodic and carminative properties.
Because peppermint oil has analgesic, anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic properties, it not only can relieve pain and inflammation but can help calm the spasms that cause muscle cramps.
Used cosmetically or topically in general, peppermint acts as an astringent that closes pores and tightens the skin. It’s cooling and warming sensations make it an effective anesthetic that leaves the skin partially numb to pain and calms redness and inflammation.
When used in aromatherapy, peppermint essential oil’s expectorant properties clear the nasal passageway to promote the relief of congestion and to encourage easy breathing.
It is believed to stimulate circulation, reduce feelings of nervous tension, soothe feelings of irritability, boost energy, balance hormones, and enhance mental focus and help provide relief from stress, depression and mental exhaustion due to its refreshing nature. It is also effective against feeling anxious and restless.