Peppermint essential oil (EO) is a spirit sipped out the flask at a hot summer’s eve bash! It has a whimsical, effervescent aroma that is acceptable to everyone while having surprising and powerful effects. According to the Doctrine-of-Signatures, the fact that mint grows abundantly and spreads vigorously implies that it be used this way. But due to its intense penetrating aroma, I intuited that peppermint EO is something we should always have on hand to use liberally only when we desperately need its over-exuberance; and sparingly when we need its subtle-undertones! Mailhebiau (2009) says peppermint is an EO that aromatherapy cannot do without and offers this characterology:
“ A powerful ‘Over-The-Top’ personality which draws its resources from the extremes of the human soul, embodying simultaneously heaven & earth, paradise & hell--the external purgatory, the paths of which lead to a thousand conflicting destinies, uncertain karmas and futures wherein meld raptures, happiness and suffering, temptations and mastery…. An androgynous man who goes from one extreme to the other depending on the excessiveness’ of his nature…Laughs easily at the folly of the world…Lack of scruples gives him the gift of gab…His virile force upsets only the weak and deceives only the ignorant…His lighthearted nature, exceptional dynamism and insolent luck, refresh as much as they burn…”.
Gary Young, of Young Living essential oils, says peppermint is the EO of choice to decongest and open the hormonal link between the liver, spleen, and pancreas to support metabolic function. Mailhebiau further says that peppermint EO rouses physiological function after illness and toxic allopathic treatments. He says it:
Peter Holmes LAc recommends M. piperita EO for:
Peppermint EO neutralizes lactic acid after muscle strain, and serves as a carrier for other EOs. It is considered such a potent penetrant that it is indispensible in any musculoskeletal blend, increasing penetration multi-fold.
Peppermint is both a mental stimulant, as well as an effective relaxant for nervous insomnia, stress, anxiety & restlessness (Speak Assured). Use it in small doses (just a whiff or brief diffusion of the EO) for a sweeter sleep- an aromatic lullaby if you will. In this regard, peppermint EO is an adaptinogen. If one is chronically depleted, it will not make one more alert or energetic. It will rather, facilitate sleep because this is what the body really needs.
The most popular use of peppermint EO (and herb) is for respiratory and gastrointestinal complaints, notably influenza, Chron’s disease, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). A standards review, by Kefir et al (2009), is well references with research studies on the chemistry, therapeutic action, constituents, toxicology, dose, drug interaction etc. for peppermint EO in this regard:
The Natural Medicine Comprehensive Database categorizes the effectiveness of peppermint EO & herb based on levels of research evidence:
Cautions & Consideration
It is important to always use quality EOs. According to Stewart (2006) low quality peppermint EO is potentially adulterated with synthetic menthol. Products that claim to contain pure peppermint EO may in fact be rectified with synthetic menthol- containing and isomer of menthol. This synthetic product is cheaper and smells the same as whole peppermint EO for all intended purposes. But the menthol isomer is less therapeutic and is metabolized poorly by the body compared to the natural menthol in mints. It can cause gastrointestinal side effects if used in improper dosages.
Pure menthol is a calcium-channel blocker in the lower gastrointestinal tract- it cools and soothes inflammation and spasm. But menthol makes the EO inappropriate for gastro-esophogeal reflux disease (GERD) and hiatal hernia because it relaxes cardiac sphincter tone even more, making these complaints worse. People who take calcium-channel blocking medication such as vermpramil, should take consideration eventhough menthol is not a known calcium channel-blocker to cardiovascular tissue. Peppermint EO is not for infants or during pregnancy.
Peppermint EO is not chemically or aromatically complex. On the contrary, it is quite simple, clear and straightforward. By contrast, its affects can be extreme or subtle; adverse or beneficial; definitively needed or not needed based on the dose and circumstance. Indeed, peppermint “…Is Anything But Monotonous…” (Mailhebiau, 2009).
continued in Peppermint (Part 2)- Bo He
* Check your sources for cautions & considerations, and route & dosing before using EOs. Especially during pregancy; on small children & infants; the elderly & weak; and those with epilepsy & neuro-muscular diseases.