- Peppermint oil is derived from the peppermint plant — a cross between water mint and spearmint — that thrives in Europe and North America.
- Peppermint oil is commonly used as flavoring in foods and beverages and as a fragrance in soaps and cosmetics. Peppermint oil also is used for a variety of health conditions and can be taken orally in dietary supplements or topically as a skin cream or ointment.
Peppermint oil has been tried for a variety of digestive problems including:
- Irritable bowel syndrome
Dietary supplements containing peppermint oil are also used by some people for:
- Morning sickness
- Cramps of the upper gastrointestinal tract and bile ducts
- Bacterial overgrowth of the small intestine
- Inflammation of the mouth and throat
- Sinus and respiratory infections
- Menstrual problems
- Liver and gallbladder problems
Skin preparations containing peppermint oil are used by some people for:
- Muscle pain
- Nerve pain
- Inflammation of the mouth
- Joint conditions
- Allergic rash
- Bacterial and viral infections
- Repelling mosquitoes
In addition, peppermint oil vapor is sometimes inhaled to treat symptoms of colds and coughs. Also, some doctors add peppermint oil to a barium solution to relax the colon during barium enemas.
According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, several studies suggest that enteric-coated peppermint oil capsules — which allow the oil to pass through the stomach so it can dissolve in the intestines — may help relieve common symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome such as abdominal pain, bloating, and gas. Non-enteric coated forms of peppermint oil, however, actually may cause or worsen heartburn and nausea.
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Tension headaches
- Relaxing the colon during barium enemas or radiologic procedures
- In most adults, the small doses of peppermint oil contained in dietary supplements and skin preparations appear to be safe. Pregnant and breastfeeding women, however, should avoid such products because little is known about their safety during pregnancy and lactation.
Possible side effects of peppermint oil include :
- Allergic reactions such as flushing, headache, and mouth sores
- Anal burning during bouts of diarrhea
Although enteric-coated peppermint oil capsules may reduce the risk of heartburn, their protective coating can break down more quickly and increase the risk of heartburn when taken at the same time as prescription and over-the-counter medications that decrease stomach acid and which are often used for heartburn or acid reflux. It’s best to take such drugs at least two hours after taking enteric-coated peppermint oil products. A stomach condition called achlorhydria, in which the stomach doesn’t produce hydrochloric acid, also may hasten the coating’s breakdown. So people with the condition are advised against using peppermint oil.
- Peppermint oil has many mild to moderate interactions. Consult your doctor before using peppermint in any form. For more information on what interacts with peppermint oil see: Peppermint Interactions
Source: WebMD, “Peppermint Oil”, www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/peppermint-oil-uses-benefits-effects