The holidays are upon us, and you’ve probably noticed that suddenly stores everywhere have traded in pumpkin spice for peppermint. All these treats can be tough to resist. But if you can steer clear of the sugary concoctions, this seasonal treat can actually benefit your health.
Essential oils have gotten tremendously popular in recent years. Peppermint oil may be partially responsible for this trend thanks to all the different ways it can help us. You may have used peppermint to fend off nausea. Some people swear by it to get rid of headaches. These are great uses. But today I want to focus on how it can help us get that holiday glow we’re all after.
When you picture peppermint, a red and white candy might immediately come to mind. Of course, peppermint itself is actually green. But this green plant can help you avoid looking like a red-nosed reindeer.
That’s because peppermint oil is a great way to take care of your sinuses and ward off a cold. Peppermint is full of flavonoids. And studies have found that peppermint has both antimicrobial and antiviral properties. It’s also antiallergenic.
If you have clogged sinuses, breathing in peppermint oil can offer relief. It serves as an expectorant because it helps your nasal passages relax. This can ease discomfort and help your body move excess mucus and irritants out more quickly. And if you begin diffusing this oil whenever you’re ready for your house to smell like the holidays, you may avoid your annual winter cold altogether.
Drinking peppermint tea is another good way to take advantage of these gentle antimicrobial and antiviral properties. You’ll probably find that it soothes your scratchy throat, especially if you add a little bit of quality honey.
I know I encourage you to drink a lot of different kinds of tea. They provide such a delicious, easy way to get a dose of antioxidants. Green tea and white tea are generally my go-to suggestions. But they may not feel as festive as peppermint tea. Even if you don’t have a cold, if peppermint tea helps you turn down, say, peppermint hot chocolate, it’s still going to help your skin by decreasing your sugar intake.
And, of course, constantly wiping a runny nose irritates your skin. If you can ward off the virus in the first place, your skin will thank you. And since peppermint has antiallergenic properties, it can help you avoid constantly having to wipe itchy eyes.
Stop Itchy Skin Year Round
Speaking of itchiness, peppermint oil can help you avoid this sensation on your skin as well. One study examined the effects of peppermint oil on a population particularly prone to – and sensitive to – discomfort: pregnant women.
Pregnant women generally avoid prescription drugs when possible to avoid unwanted side effects. But up to 8% of pregnant women suffer from generalized pruritus, or itching. Researchers wanted to see if a natural solution could help. They designed a triple-blind clinical trial to test peppermint oil’s effects.
For this study, the researchers divided 96 pregnant women who had received a pruritus diagnosis into two groups. Each group received an oil to apply topically. And sure enough, there was a statistically significant difference between the group that received peppermint and the group that received a placebo oil.
Whether you suffer from itchiness year-round or find that the dry winter air brings it on, peppermint oil may be able to help. Like the women in the study, you can apply a few drops topically to the affected area (test the oil on a small patch of skin first). If you have sensitive skin, you may want to mix it with another carrier oil first, like coconut oil. Or you can look for lotions and moisturizers that include peppermint oil.
If your whole body feels itchy, try taking a bath with up to 10 drops of peppermint oil added. This is also a great strategy if you need a chance to relax and enjoy the holiday season instead of rushing around! Just make sure the water is warm, not scalding hot. Very hot water can dry out your skin and leave you as bad off as when you started.
More Topical Uses
Because peppermint oil is antimicrobial, applying it topically can help you avoid acne as well. One review study indicated that it can help reduce blackheads and oily skin. Because it has anti-inflammatory properties, it can soothe redness and irritation.
In fact, it can even soothe sunburn. If you’re jetting off to the tropics for the holidays, you could definitely benefit from this information. And it’s important to remember that you can get sunburned even when the temperature is below zero. If you’re outside in the snow, you need to be especially careful since all that snow can reflect rays back at you.
If you apply peppermint oil to help soothe your skin, you’ll be giving it an extra layer of protection from the sun. Researchers examined the ability of a number of essential oils to absorb UV radiation. They found that peppermint oil worked the best.
Peppermint oil isn’t a substitute for sunscreen. But it’s wise to layer on different forms of sun protection when you can. And if you do forget your SPF, peppermint oil can help take the sting out of the burn.
To help the area heal, mix a couple drops of peppermint oil with coconut oil and apply the mixture to the affected area. Some early research even suggests that peppermint may have anticancer properties, so it’s a good choice for sun-damaged skin.
If you like to stay bundled up inside in December, you can save this tip for the summer and enjoy a feeling of Christmas in July instead. (Of course, the best gift you can give your skin year-round is sun protection, so this tip should be a last resort!)
Anytime you’re using peppermint oil, be sure to dilute it properly. Follow the instructions that come with the oil.
Fight Dental Infections and Decay
While we do associate peppermint with the holidays, many of us also encounter it daily in our toothpastes. This isn’t just because it tastes pleasant. As I mentioned above, peppermint oil has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties.
A review study published in the Journal of International Society of Preventive & Community Dentistry confirmed that several essential oils can fight oral pathogens. Peppermint in particular works against staphylococci and candida.
My readers work hard to have beautiful skin. And I’ve often warned that chemicals lurking in common personal care products, including toothpaste, can undermine your efforts. However, no one will want to be close enough to admire your flawless skin if your breath stinks.
Peppermint oil can help you sidestep both issues. Several natural oral health products exist that use peppermint oil to cleanse your mouth and keep bacteria at bay. There are even some DIY options.
If you are generally happy with the toothpaste you’re currently using but think it could use a little more oomph, you can add a drop of peppermint oil right before you brush. Or you can put a drop under your tongue and drink a glass of water to freshen your breath.
Making Peppermint Work for Your Hair
Finally, you can use peppermint oil to help you get hair as beautiful as your skin. All those “anti” properties I told you about help remove buildup and reduce dandruff. And if your hair is thinning, peppermint may actually help it get thicker.
One study conducted with mice looked at the ability of four different substances to regrow hair: saline, jojoba oil, minoxidil, and peppermint oil. After four weeks, the peppermint oil was working the best. The mice had increased dermal thickness, more follicles, and deeper follicles. They also had a significant increase in the activity of an enzyme known to be associated with hair growth.
Many hair care manufacturers include peppermint oil in their products. If yours doesn’t, you can always add a few drops to your bottle. Or you can add a few drops to a spray bottle of water for a quick hair refresher. You can even massage a couple drops directly into your scalp while you’re showering if you like. Many people find this energizing and refreshing.
These strategies are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to enjoying peppermint oil’s many benefits. People also use it for a variety of internal issues. Research suggests it can help with everything from headaches to nausea to muscle aches. So if you suffer from any of these issues, you may want to look into peppermint oil further. After all, looking your best hardly feels worthwhile if you don’t feel your best too.
Peppermint isn’t great for our health when it’s in the form of bark, candy, or sugary lattes. But when you use the oil or the leaves on their own, they have many benefits. I’ve included peppermint oil in several of the Système 41 products thanks to its antioxidant and skin-soothing effects.
Whether you diffuse it, ingest it, or apply it topically, peppermint can help you feel as festive as the season. The only red noses in sight will belong to the reindeer.