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 Essential Oils
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Peppermint Oil

Unanimously regarded as 'the world's oldest medicine', the cooling and refreshing peppermint oil has delivered numerous benefits compatible to general health and other ailments. Having an archaeological evidence placing its usage at least as far as 10,000 years ago, the oil is believed to e highly useful in aromatherapy. Through its massage, one can stimulate the mind, increase mental agility and increase focus. On the parallel side, this oil helps in cooling the skin, reducing redness and calming irritation and itchiness. Further, it helps to ease spastic colon, migraine, headaches, sinus and chest congestion and boosts the digestive system.

The rich sources of minerals, vitamins, and menthol content, the peppermint essential oil is liberally used for flavoring in tea, ice cream, confectionery, chewing gum, and toothpaste. It is the oldest and most popular flavor of mint-flavored confectionery. This oil can also be found in some shampoos and soaps, which give the hair a minty scent and produce a cooling sensation on the skin. Peppermint

essential oil is an all-natural way to deter ants from being inside and outside the home, though it needs to be reapplied every few days (in sparse amounts) until the ants are fully discouraged. It blends particularly well with the essential oils of benzoin, eucalyptus, lavender, marjoram, lemon, and rosemary.
 

History of Peppermint
Being a native of the Mediterranean regions, peppermint is a perennial herb that grows up to 1 meter (3 feet) high and has slightly hairy serrated leaves with pinkish-mauve flowers arranged in a long conical shape. Found in several species, this hybrid has underground runners by which it propagates easily. In the present times, the herb is cultivated in Italy, USA, Japan and Great Britain. According to the Greek mythology, the nymph Mentha was hotly pursued by Pluto, whose jealous wife Persephone, trod her ferociously into the ground, whereupon Pluto then turned her into a herb, knowing that people would appreciate her for years to come. It has been cultivated since ancient times in Japan and China. Evidence of its use was found in Egypt in a tomb dating back from 1000 BC.

 

Oil Extraction
Being also known as the brandy mint and balm mint, peppermint oil is extracted from Mentha piperita, a member of the Labiatae family. Peppermint (Mentha piperita) is a hybrid mint, a cross between watermint (Mentha aquatica) and spearmint (Mentha spicata). The essential oil is extracted from the fresh or partly dried plant through steam distillation. The yield is of 0.1 - 1.0 % of clear essential oil with a tinge of yellow and thin consistency. This extracted oil having a fresh and strong minty aroma, provides numerous health benefits. Therefore, it is also sold in the form of capsules and tablets. Interestingly, peppermint oil is also used as a flavoring agent with a massive popularity across several geographical palates.

Applicable Benefits

The major chemical components of peppermint essential oil are menthol, menthone, 1,8-cineole, methyl acetate, methofuran, isomenthone, limonene, b-pinene, a-pinene, germacrene-d, trans-sabinene hydrate, and pulegone. Owing to such a rich source, the oil is blessed with numerous therapeutic properties such as analgesic, anesthetic, antiseptic, antigalactagogue, antiphlogistic, antispasmodic, astringent, carminative, cephalic, cholagogue, cordial, decongestant, emmenagogue, expectorant, febrifuge, hepatic, nervine, stimulant, stomachic, sudorific, vasoconstrictor and vermifuge.

Peppermint oil also contains numerous minerals and nutrients including manganese, iron, magnesium, calcium, folate, potassium, copper, omega-3 fatty acids, and Vitamin A & C. Due to the presence of menthol, menthone, and menthyl esters, this essential finds wide applications in manufacture of soap, shampoo, cigarette, toothpaste, chewing gum, tea and ice cream. It works wonders in forms of several health benefits including:

  • Indigestion: Peppermint oil is very helpful in digestion. Often people put a few drops of peppermint oil in a glass of water and drink it after their meal due to its digestive properties. It is carminative, and therefore helps in removing gas. Peppermint oil is a good tonic for those who have a low appetite. It also helps during motion sickness and upset stomach.
  • Dental Care: Owing to its antiseptic properties, peppermint oil is useful for dental care. It removes bad breath and helps teeth and gums deal with germs. No wonder, it is added in numerous toothpastes. It is also useful for treating toothaches.
  • Respiratory Problems: Menthol, which is present in abundance in peppermint oil, helps in clearing the respiratory tract. It is an effective expectorant, and therefore provides instantaneous, though temporary, relief in numerous respiratory problems including nasal congestion, sinusitis, asthma, bronchitis, cold and cough. As a result, it is used in numerous cold rubs. When these cold rubs are rubbed on the chest, they remove nasal and respiratory congestion immediately.
  • Nausea and Headache: Peppermint oil is a good home remedy for nausea and headache. Applying peppermint oil in diluted form on the forehead is known to remove headache.
  • Stress: Like most other essential oils, peppermint is able to provide relief from stress, depression and mental exhaustion due to its refreshing nature. It is also effective against anxiety and restlessness.
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome: The muscle relaxing property of peppermint oil has been found to ease irritable bowel syndrome. This has been validated through preliminary scientific research though the exact mechanism is still unknown.
  • Antispasmodic: Peppermint oil is very effective for gastroscopy, colonoscopy and during double-contrast barium enema. It is applied intraluminally. Further benefits of peppermint oil due to its antispasmodic properties are being studied.
  • Urinary Tract Infection: Peppermint oil can be used for treating urinary tract infection (UTI). However, thorough scientific studies are yet to be conducted to confirm this.
  • Pain Relief: Peppermint oil can be used externally for providing relief from pain. It is believed that the presence of calcium antagonism in peppermint oil aids in removing pain. It is cooling in nature and therefore helps reduce fever.
  • Immune System: Peppermint oil increases your immunity to diseases, and therefore helps you in preventing a number of diseases.
  • Blood Circulation: It also improves blood circulation.
  • Hair Care: Peppermint oil is very useful for hair care as it gives a cooling effect to the head, and removes dandruff and lice.
  • Skin Care: Peppermint oil contains Menthol, which is good for skin. It gives a cooling effect. Further, it nourishes dull skin and improves oily skin.
 
As per the researches, it is believed that peppermint oil is useful for treating cancer and tuberculosis.

Precautions: Having a strong nature due to high menthol content, the peppermint essential oil may cause irritation to the skin (if not diluted). Thus, it is advised not to be used for children under 5 years age-bracket. Also, avoid its usage in cardiac fibrillation, epilepsy, and fever. It is neurotoxic (toxic to the nerves). It should also be kept away from the eyes. High dosages of this oil may cause adverse effects which include allergic reactions, heartburn, peri-anal burning, blurred vision, nausea, and vomiting and may also prove fatal when used on infants.
 
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