By Stephen Zogopoulos, USNN World News
Mint, belonging to the Mentha genus, is a versatile herb cherished for its culinary delights, medicinal properties, and therapeutic fragrance. This group of perennial herbs comprises 18 species and 11 hybrids, with peppermint, spearmint, and wild mint being the most well-known. While modern society appreciates mint for its refreshing taste and aroma, ancient civilizations recognized its remarkable health benefits.
In the ancient cultures of Egypt, Greece, and Rome, mint was employed to address indigestion and provide relief to the stomach. Fascinatingly, peppermint leaves dating back to 1,000 B.C. have been discovered in Egyptian pyramids.
During the Middle Ages, peppermint found alternative uses as a tooth polisher and a deterrent for rodents in stores. As the 18th century arrived in Western Europe, peppermint became a remedy for various ailments, including nausea, morning sickness, vomiting, menstrual disorders, and respiratory infections. Its inclusion in the London Pharmacopoeia of 1721 solidified its status as a treatment for colds, headaches, sores, and even venereal disease.
Moreover, mint was recognized for its ability to interact with the central nervous system. For instance, in South Africa, dried mint leaves were burned, and the resulting smoke was inhaled to combat mental illness.
In recent times, scientific studies have corroborated the effectiveness of these ancient practices, affirming mint’s ability to regulate the nervous system.
Given its diverse range of healing properties, peppermint can serve as a natural substitute for several synthetic medications commonly found in modern first aid kits.
Headaches Instead of reaching for aspirin or acetaminophen (Tylenol) when faced with a headache, consider using peppermint.
Contrary to the belief that synthetic drugs are inherently more effective, scientific research suggests otherwise. Topical application of peppermint oil has proven effective in treating tension headaches, the most prevalent type of headache. Studies indicate that peppermint oil can provide relief from tension headaches as effectively as acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin) and paracetamol (acetaminophen). Moreover, while peppermint is derived from a natural plant source, aspirin may contain synthetic ingredients such as carnauba wax, D&C yellow #10 aluminum lake, polysorbate 80, propylene glycol, and triacetin.
Nausea To combat nausea or motion sickness, try peppermint instead of relying on medications like Dramamine or Gravol.
A study published in the medical journal Nursing in 2016 concluded that inhaling peppermint oil is a viable first-line treatment for nausea in patients recovering from cardiac surgery. Following surgery, 34 patients experiencing nausea rated their discomfort at an average of 3.29 on a scale of 0 to 5, with 5 indicating the highest level of nausea. Merely two minutes after inhaling peppermint oil, the average nausea rating significantly dropped to 1.44.
Constipation For relief from constipation, turn to peppermint rather than resorting to MiraLAX.
A study published in the Journal of Gastroenterology reported that enteric-coated peppermint oil capsules are both safe and effective in treating irritable bowel syndrome. According to the study, 79 percent of adult patients who consumed the capsules three or four times daily, 15–30 minutes before meals, for one month reported a reduction in the severity of abdominal pain. Additionally, 56 percent experienced complete relief from pain, while 83 percent reported a decrease in abdominal distension.
While peppermint is a natural plant remedy, MiraLAX contains polyethylene glycol 3350, derived from fossil fuels.
When to Utilize Peppermint Scientific studies have highlighted the various beneficial applications of peppermint, which include:
- Headache relief
- Pain reduction
- Increased alertness
- Reduced anxiety and fatigue
- Relief from nausea
- Alleviation of constipation
- Suppression of coughing
- Improved sleep
Different Therapeutic Options While consuming raw mint directly can be effective, its perishability makes it impractical for inclusion in a first aid kit. Similarly, while peppermint tea offers relief, it requires warm water and steeping time, which may not be ideal in urgent situations.
The most suitable options for a first aid kit include diluted peppermint essential oil, aromatherapy, and capsules.
These remedies can be prepared at home or purchased pre-made. Below are my preferred recipes along with common dosages.
Diluted Peppermint Essential Oil Mix three drops of peppermint essential oil with two teaspoons of organic fractionated coconut oil. I recommend using a glass essential oil roller bottle for convenient application, although a glass bottle with an eye dropper will suffice. Simply apply the diluted essential oil to the affected area of the skin. For instance, to relieve a tension headache, apply diluted peppermint essential oil to the temples and back of the neck. To alleviate constipation, apply it to the abdomen.
Peppermint Aromatherapy Add two or three drops of peppermint essential oil to a vaporizer or diffuser and enjoy the invigorating minty aroma. For a relaxing bath, directly add a couple of drops of essential oil to the bathwater. Alternatively, mix a few drops with distilled water in a spray bottle and spritz your home, car, or office.
Peppermint Capsules Peppermint capsules can be either homemade or purchased. Enteric-coated capsules are often recommended to prevent premature breakdown before reaching the intestines, minimizing the likelihood of unwanted side effects like heartburn.
Refer to the dosage recommendations on the product label or consult your doctor for a suitable dosage. Peppermint oil is generally considered safe for adults at a dosage of 0.2–0.4 milliliters three times per day in enteric-coated capsules. (One drop is approximately 0.05 milliliters.)
Considerations on Peppermint Quality It’s important to note that not all peppermint essential oils are equal in quality. To reduce costs, essential oils are sometimes adulterated by adding cheaper oils or diluting the natural oil with various solvent oils.
In 2023, ConsumersAdvocate.org tested 11 samples of peppermint essential oil and discovered that four were adulterated. Identifying adulterated essential oils can be challenging since they may still smell like unadulterated oils, but their quality and effectiveness are likely diminished.
When selecting an essential oil, I recommend purchasing organic products without additives or synthetic chemicals. Additionally, choose oils that have been tested for heavy metals, microbes, and glyphosate.
Precautions Pregnant or breastfeeding women should consult their healthcare provider before consuming mint. Peppermint may interact with certain prescription drugs, including cyclosporine, acid-reducing medications, ulcer medications, calcium channel blockers, and other medications used for hypertension or high blood pressure. Individuals with hiatal hernia, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), diarrhea, or conditions that cause insufficient stomach acid production should consult with a healthcare provider before consuming mint. Peppermint oil is not recommended for children under 2 years of age. Avoid contact with the eyes, inner ears, and sensitive areas.
Please note that these recommendations are intended for informational purposes only and should not replace professional medical advice.