(Mentha piperita) Peppermint oil is considered by aromatherapists as one of the more indispensable essential oils. The oil should be a part of every traveler's first aid kit - it can work wonders for motion sickness and general nausea for some people.
Medical research has found Peppermint oil to be effective for irritable bowel syndrome. French literature suggests Peppermint for asthma due to its liver strengthening and regenerating properties.
Peppermint oil is steam distilled from the partially dried tops of the plants. Growers will harvest just before the herb goes to flower to bring out the best of the oil's aroma.
The main constituent of peppermint oil is menthol, a potent chemical unto itself which causes a quick physical response when inhaled or applied the the skin. Menthol produces a sensation of coolness which the body reacts to by producing its own warming effect, with as blood flowing to the area of application.
This physical sensation is responsible for peppermint's long history of use as medicine. Today menthol is often found in sports creams and chest rubs, such as the well-known 'Halls Mentholyptus' cough drops - the oil is excellent for opening the sinus passages, though should be used with caution in this respect.
Even a small amount of the oil coming into direct contact with the delicate membranes inside the nasal passages can result in a temporary burning sensation.
The aroma of Peppermint essential oil is strengthening, soothing and stimulating (it is noted that use during the day is better than just before bedtime). It has been repeatedly studied for its effectiveness in improving concentration and mental sharpness. Peppermint may also help relieve congestion when inhaled, and is also commonly used for headaches and migraines by placing a drop on each temple.
The oil has shown favorable results in clinical testing for the treatment of headaches, without side effects at the dosages used.
The oil has also been touted to possibly help arthritis, depression, skin conditions, food poisoning, and may increase the receptivity of the sensory system for some people.
Information courtesy of http://www.anandaapothecary.com
"If you can't eat it, don't put it on your skin."