Together with Frankincense, Myrrh, and Turmeric, mint is one of the most ancient and most well-known plant medicines. Although Peppermint was not described as a unique variety (it is a cross between spearmint and water mint) until 1696, it has taken over the mint category for home therapeutic use in modern times. Most people are familiar with aroma of Peppermint and may enjoy foods (gum, candies, baked goods, beverages) that have been flavored with peppermint oil. Peppermint leaf tea – or a drop or two of peppermint oil in a mug of hot water – is a familiar comfort during times of illness and discomfort. Today, we’ll be talking about Peppermint essential oil and a few of the ways it can be used for support of mind, body, and spirit.
NOTE: 100% pure peppermint essential oil may be diffused, applied topically, or taken internally. Be sure that you know and trust the oil you are using and let me know if you have questions about any of these applications.
THE OIL OF A BUOYANT HEART
While we often think of peppermint as cooling – and it surely is – the essential oil is a powerful emotional support to help with recovery from unbearable anguish, intense despair, heavyheartedness, pessimism, and sadness. It offers buoyancy, optimism, relief, and the strength to face emotional pain. It is meant to be used to give a short breather from heaviness and not as a continual or permanent escape. Peppermint combines very well with uplifting citrus essential oils and blends both for cleansing and energizing the environment and for emotional aromatherapy. Emotional aromatherapy is best achieved by diffusing a few drops of peppermint oil or by inhaling it from the bottle or from the palms of the hands (use a drop or two on one palm, rub your palms together, and carefully cup them over your nose so that the vapor does not irritate your eyes).
CHEMISTRY AND PROPERTIES
The main body systems supported by Peppermint essential oil are the digestive and respiratory systems. These two systems are closely linked. The main chemical constituents in Peppermint are menthol (20-60%), menthone (10-30%), and 1,8 cineole/eucalyptol (1-10%). There are many other constituents, and you will find that Peppermint can help with just about everything from head to toes!
- Energizing and uplifting aroma
- Supports feelings of clear breathing
- Surface and skin cleansing properties
- Cooling and soothing effect on the skin
- Helps to maintain a clean and fresh-smelling mouth
- Insect repellent
- Helps to support healthy cellular function and digestive health (internal use)*
- Energizing and uplifting aroma
- Surface and skin cleansing
- Cooling effect on skin
- Can help soothe skin tissue
- Provides antioxidant support (internal use)
- Surface cleansing properties
- Supports healthy respiratory function (internal use)
Whole oil properties
As mentioned above, Peppermint essential oil (I recommend only doTERRA’s Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade oil) can be safely used aromatically, topically, and internally by most people. It should be diluted with a pure carrier oil to avoid skin sensitivity when applied topically, and especially when applied to children, pregnant women, and the elderly and infirm. Dilution is also important when taken internally by children (internal use is not recommended under age 6) and pregnant women and when applied topically by lactating mothers trying to decrease milk production.
If you use antacids, don’t take them at the same time as peppermint essential oil capsules. They can break down the coating on the capsules and make your heartburn worse. And remember to swallow the capsules, not chew them.
You may think that if a little peppermint oil is good, then a lot is better. Not true. As with medicine, you need the right dose. Too much peppermint oil can disrupt proper digestion of vitamins, minerals, and medicines by your body. Very high doses can be toxic and even cause kidney failure.
WHY IS THERE AN ASTERISK (*) AFTER DIGESTIVE HEALTH (INTERNAL USE)?
Peppermint can provide incredibly powerful soothing to the digestive system when applied topically or taken internally. However, those who experience the symptoms of IBD (inflammatory bowel disease, a group of bowel diseases that cause inflammation in the digestive tract) or IBS (irritable bowel syndrome, involves only the colon and usually causes no ulcers or lesions in the bowel) are often unable to tolerate internal use of Peppermint if taken as drops in liquid, under the tongue, or in a simple veggie cap. This is because the Peppermint oil is being released in the stomach and causes irritation. See the illustration for this post to understand the wide range of acidity/alkalinity in the digestive system. Now you can see why essential oils must pass THROUGH the stomach before being released into the small intestine if they are to provide optimal support and minimal irritation in users with specific conditions.
Several studies show that [Peppermint essential oil] can help with common IBS symptoms like pain, constipation, bloating, and gas. In fact, some research shows that it can be more effective than fiber and at least as good as antispasmodic drugs, also known as muscle relaxants… The research to this point has focused on peppermint oil capsules, not on peppermint leaves like you find in tea. The oil comes from the stems, leaves, and flowers of the plant. There’s no harm in drinking peppermint tea, but only the capsules have been shown to be effective. Plus, with capsules, you know how much peppermint oil you’re getting with each dose.
Make sure to look for enteric-coated capsules. The coating keeps your stomach juices from breaking down the capsules. That way they won’t dissolve until they get to your intestines. Capsules without the coating are more likely to cause heartburn.
When you have IBS symptoms, the nerves in your colon get super sensitive. That’s what causes pain in your gut. The muscles in your colon also tend to overreact, causing even more symptoms. But it looks like menthol can dull those pain receptors and relax the muscles in your colon. That’s a perfect recipe for IBS relief.
The article cited above suggests that even properly coated peppermint oil capsules should probably be avoided for those with gallstones or a swollen gall bladder, a hiatal hernia, or severe gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
ENTERIC COATED CAPSULES
An enteric coating is a medical polymer barrier or other special treatment applied on an oral medication that prevents its dissolution or disintegration in the gastric environment. This helps by either protecting the therapeutic substance from the acidity of the stomach, the stomach from any detrimental effects of the substance, or to release the substance after the stomach (usually in the upper tract of the intestine). In the case of Peppermint oil, all three reasons apply. The coating is called “enteric” because it refers to the intestines.
WHAT IS THE RECOMMENDED DOSAGE?
It varies for children and adults, and there hasn’t been any research for children under 8 (capsules are not normally recommended for children under 6). The maximum would be:
Adults: 0.2ml to 0.4ml of peppermint oil 3 times a day
Children: 0.1ml to 0.2ml of peppermint oil 3 times a day
THE GOOD NEWS
There are many enteric coated peppermint oil products on the market today. As you probably know by now, I only recommend taking essential oils internally if they are produced by doTERRA. I am thrilled to let you know that doTERRA now offers enteric coated Peppermint essential oil capsules. Each capsule contains 0.18 ml of CPTG Peppermint essential oil and can be used safely by adults and children who are otherwise able to take them. Let me know how I can support you with more information about this subject and about how to get this important product into your home.
If you are experiencing digestive issues, there may be some very effective dietary solutions to support your body’s healing in addition to the support given by essential oils and other natural supplements. Wellness Made Simple offers personalized nutritional coaching that includes strategies that are safe, effective, affordable, and easy to implement.
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