The Health-Giving Gifts of Peppermint

Dr. Tieraona Low Dog

Peppermint is a refreshing seasonal scent that instantly reminds of brisk winter days, but it has great medicinal uses too. Learn more about my favorite four ways to use peppermint.

— Tieraona Low Dog, M.D.

As the winter festivities get underway, I find myself called more and more to peppermint. It’s a refreshing seasonal scent that instantly reminds us of the brisk beauty of a cold snowy day, but peppermint also has some amazing health benefits. Used since antiquity in medicines and fragrances, this potent perennial is helpful for common ailments from head to toe.


Heading for a headache? Just one drop will do.

Many migraine sufferers know the power of peppermint oil for a headache. A drop massaged into the temples encourages irritated blood vessels to return to a more balanced state, evening out blood flow and dulling sharp pain. But you need not be a sufferer of migraines to take advantage of peppermint oil therapy for headaches. A drop or two will work magic on any tension and tightness around the temples and neck. One caveat: keep this strong oil out of your eyes and wash your hands after use to avoid stinging sensitive mucous membranes.


Upset Stomach? Pop a mint!

Another bit of wisdom from our elders, a little peppermint does swift work dispelling nausea and settling an upset stomach. Often found in tummy taming preparations of ginger and chamomile, peppermint tea, breath mints, and candies ease a troubled belly as soon as the cool menthol arrives in the system. Stomach cramps quickly relax, dissipating along with uncomfortable gas and bloating; a boon for IBS sufferers and anyone who tends to eat a little too much at holiday feasts. Note: if using for IBS, look for enteric coated tablets to get the menthol down to the intestines, where it will do the most good. 


Bust bad breath instantly with peppermint.

Peppermint’s cool fresh taste is sure to make your taste buds sit up and take notice but it’s not just the smell of peppermint that accounts for its use in toothpastes and breath fresheners. The naturally occurring menthol in mint leaves has antibacterial properties that help maintain a healthy mouth by fighting bacteria build-up. No wonder it’s found in so many chewing gums and breath mints!


Holiday stress heating up? Peppermint oil to the rescue.

Notice how a whiff of peppermint opens the eyes and cools the nasal passages? This same effect is responsible for a quick reduction in the stress response of the body, opening up our breathing and cooling hot tempers and flushed skin. Even in a cup of hot cocoa, 1-2 drops of natural peppermint flavoring can be a beneficial element to make your hot cup ritual even more relaxing. And don’t forget to add a bit of aromatherapy to balance the energy of your home with peppermint candles and scented oil diffusers.


Peppermint makes a great gift!

Be sure to include plenty of peppermint goodies and treats in those stockings and gift baskets. If somehow a few starlight mints and candy canes are left after the holidays, save them for the next time you or yours have a little tummy trouble. And after the holidays, give peppermint oil and sweet minty treats a year-round place in your pantry.