Menthol, the main chemical component of peppermint, is a very effective decongestant. Decongestants sooth swollen blood vessels in your nose. This helps open your nasal airway, making it easier to breathe.
Menthol is also an expectorant, which thins mucus so you can cough it up easier out of your lungs. This can relieve your cough faster.
2. Headaches and Migraines
Two trials have shown that topical application of peppermint oil is effective in reducing symptoms of tension headache (here and here). In fact, one of them found peppermint oil to be as effective as acetaminophen (Tylenol).
Another study (here) found that the smell of peppermint can reverse migraines triggered by the smell of onions, garlic and other alliums.
While studies are inconclusive on the benefits of peppermint for pregnancy “morning sickness,” many women claim that the herb does in fact help relieve their nausea. Remember to always ask your doctor before trying any new herbal supplement when pregnant.
4. Skin Conditions
Peppermint oil is frequently used to sooth skin and reduce redness. A word of caution: too much peppermint oil can have the opposite effect and irritate your skin. Use it sparingly.
5. Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Doctors recommend that you not take peppermint if you:
- are diabetic–peppermint may increase your risk of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia).
- are taking antacids–some peppermint supplements are in capsule form, which may break down too rapidly with antacids, increasing the risk of heartburn.
- are taking cyclosporine, a medication taken by transplant recipients to prevent organ rejection.
- have a hiatal Hernia.
- have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
- taking medications that are metabolized by the liver (ask your doctor).
- are taking drugs for hypertension (high blood pressure).
Always ask your doctor before taking any herbal supplements.