Peppermint oil has been used in civilizations dating back to ancient Greece. The oral form is acknowledged for improving the symptoms of gas, bloating and pain from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). It has also been used to dissolve gallbladder stones and shown benefit in combating dyspepsia, a cause of upset stomach and heartburn. Simply applied to the skin, peppermint oil can help relieve tension headaches and pain from muscle tightness.

Derived from the ground parts of the peppermint plant, this herb is available in several different forms. The oil can be topically applied. Peppermint oil in enteric-coated capsules allows it to withstand the acid in the stomach and be released in the small intestine. Peppermint tea is also a tasty option.

Peppermint oil relaxes muscles. The gastrointestinal tract is lined with smooth muscle, which must work in a coordinated fashion to move food from the mouth through the digestive tract to the rectum. With IBS, the coordination of muscle contraction can be abnormal or irregular, causing a lot of pain, bloating and abdominal distention. By taking capsules, peppermint oil is released in the intestines, causing relaxation of the muscles and easing discomfort. It has proven benefit for adults and children eight and older, who suffer from IBS. Those with an upset stomach or heartburn may also experience positive effects. One must be careful here, as relaxation of the esophagus and stomach may increase heartburn symptoms for those with gastroesophageal reflux problems. Swallowing liquid peppermint oil is certain to cause irritation of the esophagus.

Tension headaches often result from tense muscles where the neck meets the skull and temples. Due to its muscle relaxing effects, topical peppermint oil is beneficial to this condition.

Dosages:

  • Enteric-coated capsules. Adults, (0.2-0.4 mL) three times a day, between meals. Children, (0.1 mL) three times a day, between meals.
  • Topical oil. Applied to forehead and temples, as needed, for discomfort.
  • Peppermint tea. Use as needed for abdominal discomfort, bloating and gas. Use after overeating to help with discomfort. Ideally, steep and consume in a covered beverage.

Can you obtain these benefits through peppermint candy?It a candy or gum contains real peppermint, it may actually be more harmful than helpful. Peppermint in the upper GI tract may lead to relaxation of the muscle between the stomach and esophagus, leading to acid reflux. Those who suffer from acid reflux or heartburn should restrict their use of peppermint from these sources.

Can you cook with peppermint oil?Small amounts for flavoring is fine. You can actually jazz up a glass of water with a couple drops of peppermint oil.

Can you apply peppermint oil to other aches, such as back pain?Absolutely. The application of topical peppermint oil can be used for any sore muscles, as way to promote relaxation and ease the pain of muscle spasm.