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peppermint essential oil ~ what does the research say?

Peppermint essential oil... does it actually work?

This is a question I get ALL the time. I absolutely LOVE peppermint (Mentha piperita) and use it almost daily. What for? Let's take a look at what the research says...


  • Peppermint oil applied under the nose reduced both the intensity and frequency of headaches. It also decreased patients' pain at a similar level to lidocaine (a pharmaceutical analgesic) (1,2,3)

  • Peppermint essential oil drops caused a significant decrease in the frequency, severity and duration of migraine attacks as well as reduced accompanying symptoms (4)

Cognitive enhancement

  • Peppermint essentials oils can help improve concentration and memory and make you feel more alert and awake (5,6)


  • When patients were given peppermint post operatively it decreased both their perception of nausea and their desire for anti-nausea drugs (7)

GI dysfunction

  • When patients with dyspepsia were given peppermint both for short term and long term treatment it was very effective at reducing their GI symptoms (8)

  • Peppermint oil has been shown to be effective in relieving irritable bowel syndrome (8)

  • Peppermint can be used for digestive disturbances such as heartburn, gas, and cramps (5)

Athletic performance

  • After oral administration of peppermint essential oil, 30 male university students were tested on various physical tasks including grip strength, jump height and length as well as reaction time. There was significant improvements in ALL of these variables for the students that took peppermint in comparison to the students that didn’t (9)

Mosquito repellent

  • The essential oil from peppermint is an excellent mosquito repellent that was effective against dengue fever. After the oil was applied, the patients had 100% protection from mosquito bites for 150 minutes (10)


  • Peppermint essential oil is effective at killing many different types of bacteria and could be used as a natural antibiotic (11,12,13)


  • Menthol, a constituent in peppermint has been shown to act as an anti-fungal (14)


  • Peppermint essential oil has been shown effective against Herpes Simplex virus and may be used as a topical agent during an infection (15)

  • One study showed it reduced herpes plaque formation by 99% (6)


  • When comparing the essential oils: lavender, peppermint, rosemary, lemon, grapefruit and frankincense, the highest antioxidant activity was measured in peppermint (16)

Topical pain relief

  • When peppermint was applied to the skin it significantly reduced measures of pain (8)

Hot Flashes

  • A study done on women undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer showed that peppermint helped reduce their side effect of hot flashes (17)


  • Peppermint oil is used in conventional medications that aid breathing difficulties. It can help clear congestion including a stuffy nose (5)

Cancer therapy adjunct

  • Peppermint is currently being researched for it’s ability to decrease the negative effects of radiation therapy (18)

In my opinion, there is more than enough research out there about the various benefits of peppermint. It deserves all the credit that people give it for its true abilities.

FYI: There are various situations in which peppermint is NOT to be used.


- High doses can be toxic (nausea, vomiting, allergic reactions, dermatitis, tachycardia) (6)

- Gallbladder disease, obstruction, inflammation, stones (6)

- Liver damage (6)

It is important to be aware of this!

Please remember this post is purely educational :)


1) Rafieian-kopaei, M., Hasanpour-dehkordi, A., Lorigooini, Z., Deris, F., Solati, K., & Mahdiyeh, F. (2019). Comparing the effect of intranasal lidocaine 4% with peppermint essential oil drop 1.5% on migraine attacks: A double-blind clinical trial. International journal of preventive medicine, 10.

2) Göbel, H., Heinze, A., Heinze-Kuhn, K., Göbel, A., & Göbel, C. (2016). Peppermint oil in the acute treatment of tension-type headache. Schmerz (Berlin, Germany), 30(3), 295-310.

3) Göbel, H., Fresenius, J., Heinze, A., Dworschak, M., & Soyka, D. (1996). Effectiveness of Oleum menthae piperitae and paracetamol in therapy of headache of the tension type. Der Nervenarzt, 67(8), 672-681.

4) Mohammadtaheri, F., Gheysari, R., & Akhlaghdoost, M. (2016). the effectiveness of oral peppermint extract on migraine. Anesthesiology and Pain, 7(1), 1-12.

5) Neeraj, T., Prakash, A., & Seema, Y. (2013). Antimicrobial activity and medicinal values of essential oil of Mentha piperita L. Int J Eng Innov Technol, 2(8), 214-8.

6) Alankar, S. (2009). A review on peppermint oil. Asian Journal of Pharmaceutical and Clinical Research, 2(2), 27-33.

7) SINCLAIR, D. R., CHUNG, F., & MEZEI, G. (2000). Can Postoperative Nausea and Vomiting Be Predicted?. Survey of Anesthesiology, 44(1), 3-4.

8) McKay, D. L., & Blumberg, J. B. (2006). A review of the bioactivity and potential health benefits of peppermint tea (Mentha piperita L.). Phytotherapy Research: An International Journal Devoted to Pharmacological and Toxicological Evaluation of Natural Product Derivatives, 20(8), 619-633.

9) Meamarbashi, A. (2014). Instant effects of peppermint essential oil on the physiological parameters and exercise performance. Avicenna journal of phytomedicine, 4(1), 72.

10) Kumar, S., Wahab, N., & Warikoo, R. (2011). Bioefficacy of Mentha piperita essential oil against dengue fever mosquito Aedes aegypti L. Asian Pacific journal of tropical biomedicine, 1(2), 85-88.

11) Mahboubi, M., & Kazempour, N. (2014). Chemical composition and antimicrobial activity of peppermint (Mentha piperita L.) Essential oil. Songklanakarin J. Sci. Technol, 36(1), 83-87.

12) Imai, H., Osawa, K., Yasuda, H., Hamashima, H., Arai, T., & Sasatsu, M. (2001). Inhibition by the essential oils of peppermint and spearmint of the growth of pathogenic bacteria. Microbios, 106, 31-39.

13) Saeed, S., Naim, A. S. M. A., & Tariq, P. E. R. W. E. E. N. (2006). In vitro antibacterial activity of peppermint. Pakistan Journal of Botany, 38(3), 869.

14) Edris, A. E., & Farrag, E. S. (2003). Antifungal activity of peppermint and sweet basil essential oils and their major aroma constituents on some plant pathogenic fungi from the vapor phase. Food/Nahrung, 47(2), 117-121.

15) Schuhmacher, A., Reichling, J., & Schnitzler, P. (2003). Virucidal effect of peppermint oil on the enveloped viruses herpes simplex virus type 1 and type 2 in vitro. Phytomedicine, 10(6-7), 504-510.

16) Yang, S. A., Jeon, S. K., Lee, E. J., Shim, C. H., & Lee, I. S. (2010). Comparative study of the chemical composition and antioxidant activity of six essential oils and their components. Natural product research, 24(2), 140-151.

17) Dyer, J., Ashley, S., & Shaw, C. (2008). A study to look at the effects of a hydrolat spray on hot flushes in women being treated for breast cancer. Complementary therapies in clinical practice, 14(4), 273-279.

18) Baliga, M. S., & Rao, S. (2010). Radioprotective potential of mint: a brief review. Journal of cancer research and therapeutics, 6(3), 255.

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