Where does an aromatherapy beginner start? Which essential oil should I try first? What are the most useful essential oils to have in my collection? Each one has its own set of healing properties and amazing aromas. There are so many to pick from that it can be an overwhelming choice. The vivacious Peppermint essential oil is an excellent place to start. Peppermint essential oil is so incredibly versatile and useful for treating minor everyday health complaints that it is loved by beginners and more experienced practitioners alike. It has an uplifting fragrance that most people enjoy. If you only take a few essential oils with you throughout the day or when travelling, Peppermint essential oil is definitely at the top of the list.
Peppermint essential oil is renowned for its stimulating, analgesic, digestive and cooling properties. It is a must-have in the household due to its multiple uses and benefits such as enhancing mood, easing headaches, relieving muscle aches, clearing blocked sinuses, supporting healthy digestion and treating skin conditions.
Where is Peppermint essential oil from?
Mentha piperita (Peppermint) oilis sourced from India. Peppermint farming stimulates the economy all over the plantation region and it is a big part of the agricultural production. It is usually grown similarly to other herbaceous oils, such as Basil and is grown as an alternative to other food crops as the oil is not perishable.
How is Peppermint essential oil made?
The aromatic leaves of a Peppermint farm can vary from a few square metres to a few acres. Traditionally, the farming is done on family lands in India, which are usually very small to medium farms. The roots are planted in mid-February to mid-March and the harvest period is between May and April. Peppermint plants can grow up to 80cm tall and depending on their growth the local farmers use traditional tools like a sickle, spade or shovel to harvest the plant.
The essential oil is mainly found in oil glands under the leaf and extracted by steam distillation. Plant material is boiled and the rising steam is then collected. Once the steam cools, the essential oil floats to the top of the steam water, also known as a hydrosol. The hydrosol can be used for other aromatherapy or culinary purposes. It is thought that the essential oil of Peppermint was probably not used extensively until it reached Brittan in the 16th Century.
What does Peppermint look like?
A common addition to a herb or vegetable garden, Peppermint will often thrive near a source of water such as a garden tap or a drain. It has beautifully detailed leaves that are a lovely deep green colour and the plant itself tends to grow vigorously when happy. We can enjoy Peppermint by steeping the fresh leaves into boiling water to make mint tea, or by chopping the leaves into salads and dressings. Taking Peppermint in this form can help ease digestive discomfort and help us feel cool and refreshed on a hot, drowsy afternoon. Mint oil is commonly added to toothpaste, lollies and cleaning products.
What does Spanish Marjoram look like?
Spanish Marjoram is a perennial herb growing to over 60 centimetres high - a perennial plant is a plant that lives more than two years. It looks to have a hairy stem and small, silver-green downy leaves with tiny, pinkish white flowers.
What does Peppermint essential oil smell like?
Peppermint essential oil is a very familiar fragrance. It’s cool, crisp scent imparts a sense of freshness, purity and cleanliness
What does Marjoram essential oil smell like?
With a warm, spicy, scent and a hint of camphor, Spanish Marjoram is what is known as a middle note and sits with the herbaceous types of essential oils.
History of Peppermint
Many of our ancient ancestors used Peppermint and understood the medicinal value of the plant. There are references to mint in the texts of the ancient Egyptians and also in the Bible.
Peppermint is mentioned in a Greek mythology story where the mint leaves were used to clean and freshen a table before serving dinner on it. Bunches of mint were dried and hung to keep the home smelling sweet and the herb was also strewn on the floor to repel bugs and rodents.
Many herbal texts mention the use of mint for stomach complaints and to stimulate the mind. Historically, mint was used to freshen the breath too.
Peppermint was a well known and utilised plant and we continue that tradition today using it for similar therapeutic reasons.
What is Peppermint essential oil good for?
Headaches are painful and distracting and can be accompanied by feelings of nausea and brain fog. It is hard to concentrate when we have a bad headache. Peppermint essential oil for headaches may provide quick relief. Apply one or two drops neat to the base of the skull or back of the neck.The oil should provide a rapid analgesic action to sore muscles and the aroma will assist with any feelings of nausea or mental fatigue. Peppermint may also be applied via a cold compress eitheracross the forehead or the back of the neck and changed as the compress warms up.
The scent of Peppermint essential oil is very stimulating and energising. These properties can be useful to temporarily relieve light-headedness or dizziness. Simply inhale straight from the bottle or apply one drop to your collar. Light-headedness can occur for many reasons such as high stress levels, heat or dehydration. Consult a primary health care provider if these symptoms are persistent.
When applied to the skin, Peppermint essential oil initially causes sensations of cooling, probably due to menthol occurring naturally in the essential oil. Peppermint is thought to cause blood vessels to expand which after some time may explain the eventual heating nature of the oil. Either way Peppermint essential oil is an excellent choice for the treatment of muscular aches and pains. For the short term treatment of a small area one to two drops of Peppermint can be applied neat to the area. For longer term treatment, Peppermint can be added to a massage blend either on its own or with essential oils like Eucalyptus, Kunzea, Lavender and Clove Bud.
One of the most powerful and well researched therapeutic benefits of Peppermint essential oil is its action on the digestive system. In fact, many pharmacy grade treatments for IBS contain Peppermint. Peppermint has analgesic, antispasmodic and toning properties that are valuable for the digestive system health. Peppermint is reported to support organs involved in the digestive process such as the stomach, gall bladder and liver. Peppermint also decreases intestinal spasming that can cause stomach pain, abdominal cramping, trapped wind and nausea. Gentle massage, inhalation or cold/ hot compress applied to the abdomen or lower back can relieve digestive symptoms.
Peppermint essential oil is a wonderful remedy to ease symptoms of colds and other respiratory complaints. Peppermint has expectorant, analgesic and antiseptic properties and may help ease the symptoms of fever. Expectorants are used to help thin and expel excess mucus such as with thick phlegm and blocked sinuses. Antiseptics may help fight the germs causing the respiratory infection and analgesics can help ease sore, aching muscles during an illness. Peppermint can be diffused in the ‘sick room’ during the day but should be discontinued at night to encourage rest. A massage blend with Peppermint can be applied to the chest, neck and shoulders to help ease muscle pain and headaches caused by frequent coughing and being generally run down with respiratory complaints.
The powerful aroma of Peppermint essential oil cuts through fatigue and mind fog like a knife. Peppermint helps push us across the finish line when we are exhausted. The stimulating aroma can help a driver to maintain focus on their way home after a tiring day at work or during a long car trip. Peppermint can be diffused in the study room to help a student stay alert and productive before a looming deadline or trying to cram before an exam. Mental clarity can be enhanced with Peppermint essential oil particularly when long term stress or many pressing issues are causing fatigue and indecisiveness. As we know, there is only so long that we can push ourselves beyond our reserves, so we need to make time for proper rest also. Peppermint can simply be inhaled straight from the bottle or used in a car or home diffuser to help us maintain focus, clarity and mental endurance.
Peppermint essential oil uses:
Diffuser:Add 6-8 drops of essential oil to a diffuser and enjoy the Peppermint essential oil benefits.
Quick fix: A few deep inhalations from the bottle can help when you are at work, in the car or anytime you need a quick break.
Shower:Add 2-3 drops to the corner of the shower and enjoy the benefits of steam inhalation.
Foot Bath:Add 2 drops in a dispersant, such as oil, to a bowl of water and soak feet.
Massage:Use a 2.5% dilution; 50 drops in 100ml carrier oil to help ease aching muscles, reduce headaches and help with skin inflammation.
Compress: Add 2 drops of essential oil to a bowl of water. For treating inflammation or to cool down use cold to room temperature water. For aching tight muscles use warm to hot water. Agitate a face washer in the water, wring out excess moisture and apply washer to the affected area. Repeat two or three times as the compress cools down or warms up.
Steam Treatment: For the respiratory system, add 1 drop of essential oil to a bowl of steaming hot water. Lean over bowl and cover back of head with a small towel to trap aromatherapy vapours. Take slow deep breaths. Caution due to risk of burns or scalding and keep eyes covered during treatment as Peppermint steam may cause irritation.
Cleaning:Add up to 20 drops of Peppermint essential oil with 20 drops of your favourite citrus essential oil to a 100ml spray bottle. Fill with half Witch Hazel & distilled water, shake well and use as a surface disinfectant.
Blending:Peppermint essential oil in a blend is like the loudest person in a room; fantastic and hard to ignore. It will drown out other fragrances so it is best to start with one or two drops in your blend and add more at the end if desired. Unless your blend is for a specific therapeutic purpose it is not worth blending with more mildly scented essential oils such as Neroli or Rose as they will become lost in the minty aroma. The menthol in Peppermint essential oil can help to slightly cool the air down during a hot day when diffused. Peppermint blends nicely with Geranium and Lavender giving an interesting fresh fragrance. Try blending with any citrus, herb or spice essential oil such as Clove Bud, Ginger or Lemon.
Contraindications of Peppermint essential oil
There are many plants that belong to this family but for aromatherapy purposes the two most commonly used are Peppermint (Mentha piperita)and Spearmint (Mentha spicata).Peppermint is very powerful and not really suitable during pregnancy or for young children.Thankfully, Spearmint is a more gentle and sweet alternative that can be used instead. Although the chemical composition of Peppermint and Spearmint are different they do share similar therapeutic qualities. So, everyone can enjoy the benefits of essential oils from this plant family.
While Peppermint is usually well tolerated by adults there are concerns with its use around children. There are some reports that using Peppermint oil on a child’s face can cause temporary breathing disturbances. So, to be abundantly cautious, it is recommended to use Spearmint around little ones instead. Due to the very stimulating nature of Peppermint, it is advisable to avoid its use during pregnancy. Also note that Peppermint has a strong cooling and heating action and can therefore cause stinging if used near eyes and discomfort to other sensitive areas. Internal use of essential oils is not recommended unless under the guidance of a suitably qualified practitioner.
Alissa is a fully qualified Aromatherapist with further qualifications in Remedial Massage & Myotherapy. She qualified as an Aromatherapist in 2005 and has worked in hospitals, day spas and in clinical practice. Alissa contributes her extensive knowledge to ECO. and helps with detailed education to our ECO. community. Alissa is passionate about assisting and teaching others how to restore and maintain their health and wellbeing.
These may be the best essential oils for Summer but it is not to say they cannot be used throughout the other seasons of the year if you want to instil a Summer feel. The best thing about essential oils is that you can personalise and choose your desired atmosphere!