Peppermint oil refers to the liquid extracted from the leaves and flowers of the hybrid peppermint plant, a cross between the watermint and spearmint herbs. The oil contains higher amounts of menthol than spearmint, giving it a sharper minty taste.
The main compounds of peppermint oil are menthol and menthone, which gives the oil its cooling and therapeutic properties. It also accounts for most of peppermint oil’s health benefits.
While people have used peppermint oil for a long time, studies about its effect on the upper digestive tract have been limited. One study, in particular, focused on the relaxing effects of peppermint oil on the digestive system, particularly when it comes to irritable bowel syndrome.
For this study, the researchers investigated whether peppermint oil was effective in treating problems in the upper digestive tract, in particular, the esophagus. Referred to as esophageal motility disorders, problems in the esophagus -- the tube which connects the mouth to the stomach -- can cause difficulty in swallowing (dysphagia) and chest pains.
The researchers enrolled 38 participants for their study. They administered commercially available peppermint tablets to the participants before eating. For those who had dysphagia, the researchers gave them two tablets before eating, while those who experienced chest pain were given tablets as needed. Participants measured their experience afterward using a five-point Likert scale.
The study’s findings were mostly positive. Twenty-four participants reported improved symptoms after eating -- with 12 patients reporting feeling “much better.”
Researchers concluded that peppermint oil can provide sympathetic relief in some patients who experience dysphagia and chest pain.
Aside from relief from chest pain and dysphagia, peppermint oil offers other benefits as well. If you're planning to apply peppermint oil directly to the skin, make sure to mix it with a carrier oil as applying undiluted oil can lead to skin irritation.
Here are some of peppermint oil’s health benefits:
According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, peppermint oil can be safely consumed orally. They are usually available in the form of tablets and capsules. They are usually taken two to three times a day before meals, but it is best to follow the instructions on the label.
In the right dosage, any person can enjoy the health benefits of peppermint oil. But in very large doses, peppermint oil can be toxic. This is important to remember, since taking it in moderation every day can help relieve chest pain, but the opposite happens when the intake exceeds recommended amounts.
Read more about other essential oils and their benefits at EssentialOils.news.