water dropLast week I had the privilege of doing another interview on the subject of essential oils with Dr. Holly Lucille during her amazing Mindful Medicine show on RadioMD. I was really happy when Dr. Holly’s producer suggested peppermint oil to highlight because it has always been one of my favorite essential oils. As you can imagine, I totally geeked out researching peppermint’s various properties and uses.

BioChem Break (For Those Interested):

Peppermint oil contains mostly menthol menthone, menthyl acetate, menthofuran 1,8 cineol and pulegone. These compounds, in synergism with the essential oil, give peppermint a wide array of applications. These include use as a digestive aid, respiratory support, cognitive benefits, the creation of an unfriendly environment for viruses and bacteria, antioxidant activity, and more. Perhaps, though, it is most well-known for its efficacy in digestive complaints (1-13).

Peppermint Oil to the Digestive Rescue

Peppermint oil has been researched in vitro and in clinical trials for its efficacy in relieving digestive issues (1-13). In fact, a 2005 literature review of 16 different trials concluded that peppermint oil, may be a first choice option “in IBS patients with non-serious constipation or diarrhea to alleviate general symptoms and to improve quality of life.” (3)

Due to the fact that we can rub therapeutic and quality grade peppermint oil directly on our bellies, we don’t have to worry about messing with enteric-coated capsules of peppermint. As swallowing a pill at a time when digestion is acting up can be the last thing someone wishes to do. Furthermore, I’ve found with my clients that rubbing the oil on the belly prevents the side effect of heartburn from burping up the capsules.

Peppermint oil has also been also shown to calm spasms and to relieve functional disorders of digestion in the intestine and esophagus. (7-11) It also helps alleviate symptoms of colic in infants (12) and  has been shown in some trials to assist with nausea. (13-14)



1. Creating an unfriendly environment for viruses to thrive

Peppermint has demonstrated suppressive activity against the herpes virus in vitro and to may assist with dealing with postherpetic neuralgia pain. (15-17)

2. Respiratory support

Peppermint has expectorant properties (1,8 cineole which is an oxide) and may have antihistamine effects (18). Furthermore, one study showed, that when inhaled, it may help with exacerbations of symptoms associated with tuberculosis. (19)

3. Studied to prevent food born infections (20) and has anti-microbe properties  (21)

4.  Cognitive support (22)

5. Headache relief (23)

6. Antioxidant and radiation protection (24-26)

7. Dental health (27-28)


My 3 Favorite Ways to Use Peppermint Oil

1. I place 1 drop in 8 oz of water and sip it throughout the day. I alternate or combine it with my lemon to keep my belly happy and my mind clear, cheery, and focused.

2. I place 1 drop on my belly after eating out to prevent any digestive issues from unknown cross-contamination of food sensitivities.

3. I place 1 drop on my tongue (this is not for the weak) to freshen my breath and keep my mouth clean and my teeth strong!

Bonus: I’ve seen fevers drop with 1 drop peppermint mixed with a carrier oil on the bottom of little one’s feet.



  1. M S Alam, P K Roy, A R Miah, S H Mollick, M R Khan, M C Mahmud, S Khatun. Efficacy of Peppermint Oil in Diarrhea Predominant IBS – A Double Blind Randomized Placebo – Controlled Study. Mymensingh Med J. 2013 Jan ;22(1):27-30. PMID: 23416804
  2. Cappello, M Spezzaferro, L Grossi, L Manzoli, L Marzio. Peppermint oil (Mintoil) in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome: a prospective double blind placebo-controlled randomized trial. Dig Liver Dis. 2007 Jun;39(6):530-6. Epub 2007 Apr 8. PMID: 17420159
  3. H G Grigoleit, P Grigoleit. Peppermint oil in irritable bowel syndrome. Phytomedicine. 2005 Aug;12(8):601-6. PMID: 16121521
  4. J H Liu, G H Chen, H Z Yeh, C K Huang, S K Poon. Enteric-coated peppermint-oil capsules in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome: a prospective, randomized trial. J Gastroenterol. 1997 Dec;32(6):765-8. PMID: 9430014
  5. R M Kline, J J Kline, Di Palma J, G J Barbero. Enteric-coated, pH-dependent peppermint oil capsules for the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome in children. J Pediatr. 2001 Jan;138(1):125-8. PMID: 11148527
  6. Mayo Clinic. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Health Center. Irritable Bowel Syndrome. http://www.webmd.com/ibs/features/irritable_bowel_syndrome?page=2
  7. Pimentel M1, Bonorris GG, Chow EJ, Lin HC. Peppermint oil improves the manometric findings in diffuse esophageal spasm. J Clin Gastroenterol. 2001 Jul;33(1):27-31. PMID:11418786
  8. M J Sparks, P O’Sullivan, A A Herrington, S K Morcos. Does peppermint oil relieve spasm during barium enema? Br J Radiol. 1995 Aug;68(812):841-3. PMID: 7551780
  9. T Asao, H Kuwano, M Ide, I Hirayama, J-I Nakamura, K-I Fujita, R Horiuti. Spasmolytic effect of peppermint oil in barium during double-contrast barium enema compared with Buscopan. Clin Radiol. 2003 Apr;58(4):301-5. PMID: 12662951
  10. Masahiko Inamori, Tomoyuki Akiyama, Keiko Akimoto, Koji Fujita, Hirokazu Takahashi, Masato Yoneda, Yasunobu Abe, Kensuke Kubota, Satoru Saito, Norio Ueno, Atsushi Nakajima. Early effects of peppermint oil on gastric emptying: a crossover study using a continuous real-time 13C breath test (BreathID system). J Gastroenterol. 2007 Jul;42(7):539-42. Epub 2007 Jul 25. PMID: 17653649
  11. B May, S Köhler, B Schneider. Efficacy and tolerability of a fixed combination of peppermint oil and caraway oil in patients suffering from functional dyspepsia. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2000 Dec;14(12):1671-7. PMID: 11121917
  12. João Guilherme Bezerra Alves, Rita de Cássia Coelho Moraes de Brito, Telma Samila Cavalcanti. Effectiveness of Mentha piperita in the Treatment of Infantile Colic: A Crossover Study. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012 ;2012:981352. Epub 2012 Jul 12. PMID: 22844342
  13. Anderson, L., Gross, J. (2004). Aromatherapy with peppermint, isopropyl alcohol, or placebo is equally effective in relieving postoperative nausea. Journal of Peri-Anesthesia Nursing, 19, (1), 29-35.
  14. Z Tayarani-Najaran, E Talasaz-Firoozi, R Nasiri, N Jalali, Mk Hassanzadeh. Antiemetic activity of volatile oil from Mentha spicata and Mentha× piperita in chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. Ecancermedicalscience. 2013 ;7:290. Epub 2013 Jan 31. PMID: 23390455
  15. Silke Nolkemper, Jürgen Reichling, Florian C Stintzing, Reinhold Carle, Paul Schnitzler. Antiviral effect of aqueous extracts from species of the Lamiaceae family against Herpes simplex virus type 1 and type 2 in vitro. Planta Med. 2006 Dec;72(15):1378-82. Epub 2006 Nov 7. PMID: 17091431
  16. A Schuhmacher, J Reichling, P Schnitzler. Virucidal effect of peppermint oil on the enveloped viruses herpes simplex virus type 1 and type 2 in vitro. Phytomedicine. 2003;10(6-7):504-10. PMID: 13678235
  17. Simon J Davies, Louise M Harding, Andrew P Baranowski. A novel treatment of postherpetic neuralgia using peppermint oil. Clin J Pain. 2002 May-Jun;18(3):200-2 PMID: 12048423
  18. T Inoue, Y Sugimoto, H Masuda, C Kamei. Effects of peppermint (Mentha piperita L.) extracts on experimental allergic rhinitis in rats. Biol Pharm Bull. 2001 Jan;24(1):92-5. PMID: 11201253
  19. V A Shkurupi?, O A Odintsova, N V Kazarinova, K G Tkrachenko. [Use of essential oil of peppermint (Mentha piperita) in the complex treatment of patients with infiltrative pulmonary tuberculosis]. Virol J. 2009 Jan 20;6:8. PMID: 17128800
  20. Liang, R. et al. Physical and Antimicrobial Properties of Peppermint Oil Nanoemulsion. J. Agric. Food Chem., 2012, 60 (30), pp 7548–7555. DOI: 10.1021/jf301129k
  21. Peppermint, cinnamon bark and lavender essential oils may be useful as antibiotic resistance modifying agents. Phytomedicine. 2013. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23537749
  22. Mark Moss, Steven Hewitt, Lucy Moss, Keith Wesnes. Modulation of cognitive performance and mood by aromas of peppermint and ylang-ylang. Nutr Cancer. 2006;55(1):53-62. PMID: 18041606
  23. Gobel, H., Schmidt, G., Soyka, D. (1994). Effect of peppermint and eucalyptus oil preparations on neurophysiological and experimental algesimetric headache parameters. Cephalalgia, 14, 228-34.
  24. Eun-Jung Park, Su-Hwa Kim, Byung-Joo Kim, Sung-Young Kim, Insuk So, Ju-Hong Jeon. Menthol Enhances an Antiproliferative Activity of 1alpha,25-Dihydroxyvitamin D(3) in LNCaP Cells. J Clin Biochem Nutr. 2009 Mar;44(2):125-30. Epub 2009 Feb 28. PMID: 19308266
  25. Hanaa A Hassan, Hani S Hafez, Mona S Goda. Mentha piperita as a pivotal neuro-protective agent against gamma irradiation induced DNA fragmentation and apoptosis : Mentha extract as a neuroprotective against gamma irradiation. Cytotechnology. 2013 Jan ;65(1):145-56. Epub 2012 Sep 21. PMID: 23011739
  26. Ravindra M Samarth, Meenakshi Samarth. Protection against radiation-induced testicular damage in Swiss albino mice by Mentha piperita (Linn.). Basic Clin Pharmacol Toxicol. 2009 Apr;104(4):329-34. PMID: 19320637
  27. Iraj Rasooli, Shojaedin Shayegh, Massoud Taghizadeh, Shakiba Darvish Alipoor Astaneh. Phytotherapeutic prevention of dental biofilm formation. Phytother Res. 2008 Sep;22(9):1162-7. PMID: 18729251
  28. Shojaedin Shayegh, Iraj Rasooli, Massoud Taghizadeh, Shakiba Darvish Alipoor Astaneh. Phytotherapeutic inhibition of supragingival dental plaque. Nat Prod Res. 2008 Mar 20;22(5):428-39. PMID: 18404563

Disclaimer: This information is applicable ONLY for therapeutic, Grade A essential oils. This information DOES NOT apply to essential oils that have not been AFNOR and ISO standardized. There is no quality control in the United States and oils labeled as “100% pure” need only contain 5% of the actual oil. The rest of the bottle can be filled with fillers and sometimes toxic ingredients that can irritate the skin.

These references are not specific for any essential oil brand or company, please check the original study for the source.

This information is for information purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prescribe for any illness.

Images courtesy of istockphotos.com