The Health Benefits of Peppermint Oil

Peppermint Oil May Help IBS and Provide Other Benefits

In This Article

Peppermint leaf and peppermint oil is commonly used to flavor food, especially sweet treats. Peppermint is a combination of water mint and spearmint. This herb can also be used medicinally. Both the leaf and the oil are sometimes used to treat a variety of conditions.

For example, peppermint oil has long been thought to be helpful in reducing the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Here is what you need to know before you try this time-honored remedy.

peppermint oil
Verywell / JR Bee

Health Benefits

Peppermint has been used for hundreds of years to treat a variety of conditions. There is history of use and some limited clinical evidence that peppermint leaf and peppermint oil may help in the treatment of:

  • Breastfeeding discomfort
  • Heartburn
  • Tension headache
  • Relief from discomfort during gastrointestinal exams

People have also used the minty herb to treat hot flashes, dental plaque, bad breath, pain from shingles, stress, morning sickness, nausea and vomiting and a wide range of other conditions. There is insufficient evidence to know for sure if peppermint oil can provide any of these benefits.

Peppermint Oil for IBS

Peppermint oil has been studied in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome. Studies have provided promising results.

Peppermint oil is thought to have a helpful effect on gut motility. The principal component of peppermint oil is menthol, which appears to relax smooth muscle such as that found throughout the colon. This effect on the smooth muscle is thought to act to reduce gut spasms.

A number of research studies have been conducted to assess whether or not peppermint oil is better than a placebo in reducing IBS symptoms. In general, there has been some indication that peppermint oil is as effective as prescription antispasmodics, leading the American College of Gastroenterology to recommend peppermint oil as a front-line treatment.

There is one study that found that children who suffered from IBS experienced significantly less abdominal pain after two weeks of taking peppermint oil supplements. The results were dramatic, with 75 percent of the children experiencing pain relief.

Side Effects

Peppermint oil is generally well tolerated, although there are some reports of heartburn or burning sensations in the rectal area when used to treat IBS. You may also experience dermatitis if you use peppermint oil on the skin.

Peppermint leaf and oil can also cause some side effects including heartburn, and allergic reactions including flushing, headache, and mouth sores.

The safety of using peppermint leaf or peppermint oil long-term (longer than eight weeks) is not known.

Dosage and Preparation

There is no recommended dose of peppermint or peppermint oil. Studies investigating the herb's effects on different conditions have evaluated various doses.

For example, to examine peppermint's effect on upset stomach, a product containing 90 mg of peppermint oil and 50 mg of caraway oil was taken two or three times daily for up to four weeks.

Studies involving IBS patients, one to two enteric-coated capsules each providing 0.2 mL or 180-225 mg of peppermint oil three times daily has been used.

As with any remedy, it is best to get clearance from your physician. They are likely to recommend that you take two capsules twice a day.

What to Look For

Peppermint oil is available in liquid form and in capsules, including enteric-coated capsules. Enteric-coated capsules are often recommended for patients with IBS.

The fact that IBS is a chronic disease calls for caution when considering the use of prescription medication, due to concerns about long-term safety. Effective supplements thus become an important aspect of treatment. Peppermint oil would appear to fit the bill, in terms of providing a safe, well-tolerated treatment option for reducing IBS symptoms.

When you buy a peppermint oil product or supplement, check the Supplement Facts label to get information about what is in the product. Also, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) suggests that you look for a product that contains a seal of approval from a third party organization that provides quality testing.

These organizations include U.S. Pharmacopeia,, and NSF International. A seal of approval from one of these organizations does not guarantee the product's safety or effectiveness but it does provide assurance that the product was properly manufactured, contains the ingredients listed on the label, and does not contain harmful levels of contaminants.

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Article Sources

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