Medicine Cabinet Must-Have: Peppermint

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By Lisa Luck and Rachel Mayan

A hybrid of spearmint and water mint, peppermint oil is one of the most versatile essential oils. Its most active ingredient, menthol, has a variety of medicinal qualities. Stock up and keep your peppermint products handy for relief of these common maladies.

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SNIFF IT

  • Motion Sickness: If anything on wheels or on water makes stomach queasy, take in a deep whiff of peppermint oil. The strong scent will ease your stomach and relax your body.
  • Scratchy Throat: The active ingredient in many cough drops is menthol, which is what gives peppermint its permeating scent. As the cough drops melt, the menthol vapor that releases is what eases scratchiness. Skip the drop and stop the cough with a quick whiff instead!
  • Allergies: Peppermint helps relax and open your nasal passages. Sniffing it is a great way to harness its power as a natural decongestant.
  • Low on Energy: While peppermint oil helps relax your body, it stimulates your mind and acts like an energy drink. Feeling sluggish at school or work? Take a whiff and get back to it!

RUB IT

  • Muscle Pain: The menthol in peppermint is known to help eliminate soreness and pain. Add two drops of peppermint oil (check the label to make sure it’s safe – not all oil is created equal) in cold water. Soak a washcloth in the liquid and apply to the skin as a cold compress over the sore area.
  • Acne: Peppermint has anti-microbial properties, which are great for getting rid of acne. Mix it with grape seed oil to make a “spot” zit cream. Rub directly on the zit right before bed.

INGEST IT

  • Indigestion: The Center of Inflammatory Bowel Disease at Georgetown University Hospital states that chewing peppermint gum can alleviate the sensation of bloating and fullness after a meal by stimulating the secretion of gastric juices.
  • Bad Breath: Mix with your toothpaste to freshen breath and reduce cavities. Peppermint’s natural antiseptic ability will get those teeth feeling like new!
  • Stress: Peppermint tea can help take that weight off your shoulders (metaphorically, of course!). The menthol acts as a muscle relaxant, which often translates to stress and anxiety relief as well.

MIX IT with other oils

  • Inflammation/Itchiness: Peppermint mixed with lavender oil can help with joint therapy, itches, and inflammation- your very own at-home icy hot! Keep in mind, peppermint oil alone should never be applied directly to the skin.
  • Hair Growth: Mix a few drops of peppermint oil and rosemary oil with your shampoo for hair growth and hair repair treatment. Be sure to only use a few drops of peppermint, and consider mixing a mini trial bottle to see how you like it.

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