Peppermint oil is a popular flavoring for many otc items such as toothpaste, tea, gum and other pepper-minty items. It has also been used to treat headaches, skin irritations, anxiety associated with depression, nausea, diarrhea, menstrual cramps, and flatulence. It is also widely used to treat symptoms of the common cold such as sinus and bronchial congestion.
Peppermint oil has been taken internally to help symptoms of indigestion - Peppermint calms the muscles of the stomach and improves the flow of bile, helping the body to digest fats. (Also of interest, Peppermint oil may help the body break down gall stones - hard deposits of fat in the gall bladder which prevent the proper digestion of dietary fats). Peppermint oil should not be taken this way if symptoms of acid reflux are present, as it may relax the sphincter muscle that can allow stomach acid back into the esophagus. Peppermint may also help with bloating and flatulence by relaxing the muscles which help releive these symptoms.
A number of studies have shown enteric coated (will not break down in the stomach) capsules of Peppermint oil to improve symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrom, or IBS. The results we're quite signficant, though there is uncertainty as to the reason for the symptom releif. Peppermint oil may help eliminate 'bad' bacteria which have been implicated as the cause of IBS by some doctors.
Further, peppermint oil may have immediate effects on the symptoms of motion sickness - a drop or two of the oil may be taken directly, in tea, or for children, on a cube of sugar.
It is important to note that many of the studies have been done with extracts of peppermint oil itself, but there is no reason to believe the complete oil will be any less effective, if not more so. It's just science's way of wanting to find out exactly WHY the oil works. Peppermint is a powerful oil - if applying topically, it should always be diluted (it has had wonderful effects on rashes and skin irritations caused partially by being in a hot environment - peppermint oil is considered cooling). If taking internally, dropped into a warm cup of water will prevent one from feeling the oil's somewhat 'spicy' effect - though others appreciate this sharp minty result. As always with essential oils, go slow and have fun.
*The FDA has not evaluated the statements on this website. The information presented here is for educational purposes of traditional uses and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any diseases.