As the FDA increases censorship of natural ingredients, it becomes vital for the health-conscious consumer to have a practical knowledge of common natural ingredients. As an aromatherapist and herbalist with over 7 years experience (and maker of alternative skin goods) I’m excited to present a blog series devoted to profiling common and useful natural (and questionable synthetic) ingredients. In this way, we may all be empowered to make informed decisions about what goes on and inside our bodies.
Peppermint essential oil is one of the most commonly used and widely available oils. It has a wide variety of uses and is extremely safe and effective.
How It’s Made
Peppermint Essential oil is steam distilled. This means that a huge vat is packed full of leaves and steamed. This steam is then cooled quickly and condensed back into a liquid form. The essential oil (EO) is then collected from the top of this liquid. Steam distillation preserves the plant’s healing properties and extracts the oil with nothing but heat and water. Cheap essential oils are extracted with harsh solvents which inevitably get into your skin. Always be sure to buy from companies that only use 100% steam distilled or cold pressed (for citrus) essential oils. Unfortunately, some companies still sell adulterated essential oils. If something smells off with an EO or product, don’t use it! Peppermint EO is generally clear but it may have a slight yellow tinge. The specific scent of peppermint EO will vary depending on where it was grown. There’s an abundance of peppermint oil grown in the Pacific Northwest, I buy mine in bulk from a supplier in Yakima, WA.
Basic Precautions for Essential Oils
Peppermint oil is generally considered safe, however it is very strong and care should be taken to avoid mucous membranes. Should you ever spill peppermint EO on your skin and it begins to burn, apply any kind of vegetable oil to dilute it. Water will only make it absorb into the skin faster. It is important to always check with your health care provider before using any product, especially if you are pregnant. Some people are very sensitive to specific essential oils. Always do a skin test to check for an allergic reaction if you have never used an oil before. Always dilute essential oils before application. Essential oils should NEVER be taken internally without the guidance of a qualified aromatherapist (or in a pre-made formula, such as store-bought toothpaste). Always store essential oils out of reach of children and pets.
Topically, peppermint is naturally cooling. This makes it ideal for application on any kind of burns or inflammation. I use peppermint and lavender oils in our After-Sun Salve. Applied after a day in the sun, these oils cool a burn and prevent further skin damage. If the burn isn’t too bad and if I apply the oil in time, I’ll often wake up to no sunburn at all! Peppermint is also invaluable for relief of headache through inhalation. Diluted in vegetable oil and rubbed on the abdomen, peppermint can relieve nausea, indigestion and bloating.
Emotionally Peppermint EO is very stimulating. It’s great for increasing mental activity and stamina. A very positive essential oil, I don’t know a single person who dislikes the smell of peppermint!
Today we have a recipe for a quick headache/migraine relief spray. I love this blend so much, I often use it as a body spray or perfume.
Peppermint Oil is so common, you have probably used it without even knowing! What do you have in your medicine cabinet or food pantry that contains peppermint? What are your favorite peppermint oil products?
Follow along with the Know Your Ingredients blog series for even more profiles of all natural ingredients.