Peppermint, a fragrant plant known worldwide for its medicinal properties, has been used for centuries as a treatment for several medical conditions. Peppermint leaf and peppermint oil are now sold as a component of modern naturopathy. But before you begin taking peppermint oil, you’ll likely ask, “Does peppermint work?”
The answer will depend on why and how you want to use peppermint oil. While some of the herb’s uses are evidence-based, others have been disproven. Consult your health care provider before using peppermint on an ongoing regular basis.
What Peppermint Oil Works For
Several well-designed studies have found that peppermint is an effective treatment for heartburn, also known as dyspepsia, when it is NOT related to gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD. Peppermint oil is also apparently effective as a treatment for tension headaches, when is is applied to the affected area. Peppermint oil reliably eases spasms in the colon associated with irritable bowel syndrome and certain medical procedues.
What Peppermint Oil Might Work For
Some of peppermint oil’s uses are under-researched – there isn’t enough evidence to conclusively confirm or refute claims of its efficacy. Peppermint oil may or may not be an effective treatment for shingles, toothache, itching, lung infections, vomiting, nausea, gallbladder disease, menstrual cramps, nerve pain, muscle pain and coughs. So far, there simply isn’t enough evidence to know if peppermint oil is more effective than a placebo for treating these conditions.
What Peppermint Oil Doesn’t Work For
Peppermint oil does not seem to work effectively for gastroesophogeal reflux disease or GERD. It actually tends to worsen this condition. Peppermint oil also doesn’t seem to work as a method for preventing or treating post-surgical nausea and vomiting. And, although it may theoretically ease symptoms of pregnancy-related vomiting (morning sickness), the risks outweigh the product’s potential benefits during pregnancy.
Visit the National Institute of Health for more information about peppermint oil.