Essential Oil Usage: Peppermint

Okay let's move on to one of the MOST commonly used essential oils but one that has substantial harms attached to it if used incorrectly.  Upping the ante so to say :)

Mentha x piperita is the Latin for Peppermint.  While there are LOTS of mints there is only one peppermint - otherwise it's Chocolate Peppermint or Cornmint or Spearmint and so on (I have never seen Chocolate Peppermint sold as an essential oil but if I had a still and a BUNCH of Chocolate Peppermint you can betcha that I'd distill some!!)  In any case, Menthol comes from Peppermint.  It is used alllll over the place in food and medicine and cleansers and so forth.  It is one of the essential oils that has alot of commercial and other uses.  But you do not want to get it up too close to your nose or especially around the nose of a child of any age which could cause breathing problems for that child so care must be taken when you have Peppermint Essential Oil in your home!  The other risks associated with Peppermint are that it can literally burn you, if put into a hot bath it can cause thermal shock to one who bathes in it, it can mix poorly with medications and those who have gastrointestinal problems, heart problems especially cardiac fibrillation or G6PD deficiency should AVOID it or only use with Great Care (under the advisement of an Aromatherapist and with their Dr's A-Okay!)!  With children under 30 months of age it shouldn't be used AT ALL.  There is never a reason to use this oil NEAT (that is undiluted) on skin.

Now that I've scared you away from it, know too that it is very effective for many things as so often happens with some of the more dangerous substances in life - like bleach or turpentine or ...well a host of chemicals that we keep in our homes although Peppermint Essential Oil can be good for a person's body unlike most of said chemicals (Peppermint Essential Oil has lots of the good kinds of chemicals in it - and let's be clear: everything has a chemical makeup.  Chemicals are not the bad guys.  When folks use the word chemical in a derogatory way they are referring to man-created chemicals which we as a society should be thankful for in reality as we need them in order to keep things running smoothly and live nice long lives, get around town, farm, build homes, etc etc etc!)

Peppermint is one of the first things I recommend if someone has a headache.  Put a couple drops on a tissue and smell it - carefully/tentatively! - and that might end your problem then and there.  For a more stubborn headache I suggest a mix of 10 drops of Peppermint Essential Oil to 40 drops of Bay Laurel Essential Oil (which is also contraindicated for some folks and with some medications but a good pain killer) to 10 drops of Rosemary Essential Oil in 2 oz of Aloe Gelly or Sweet Almond Oil or Jojoba Oil (wax really), etc - mix well and put on your forehead and neck and shoulders.  This can be used for backache too.  For most folks it gives a cooling sensation.  It can also give a heating sensation.  Different people have different reactions to it - some can take it in MUCH higher concentrations and the only way to tell which kind of person you are is to fiddle, carefully, with dosage.  Up to 2.25% is considered okay for Peppermint Essential Oil used in a solution on skin but I know people who use it in higher concentrations.  2.25% I got from IFRA which is a regulatory group that watches over folks who make cosmetics among other things.  (Remember I make and sell Handcrafted Soap)

Peppermint is great for neasea.  It is antiseptic just like the Lemon and Lavender Essential Oils (and frankly most essential oils) which means it kills bacteria/viruses/fungi, pain-killing, head-clearing, mood-lifting (although it is not recommended for use in a difuser - rather use on the skin in a carrier, a room spray can be used to freshen a room and clean the air or it can also be carefully ingested in a gelcap with some oil or mixed in honey or with Solubol or food grade polysorbate 20 or another carrier like those.  Enteric coated tabs are necessary if the person has stomach problems and this is where you probably should see an aromatherapist and it's getting costly to boot.)  It's an anti-spasmotic which means it's good for cramps  - use in a carrier of course and rub on the offending muscle.  Another great use is if you have a stuffy nose!  Put a drop in a cup of very hot water and CAREFULLY lower your head with a towel over it and breathe in the vapor to clear your nasal passages - truly it is VERY EASY to BURN your nostrils so one must be very cognisant of what they are doing here.

 (Exception to the no NEAT rule:  There is something called a friction where you basically rub A DROP in between your palms and in so doing it mixes with the oils on your hands and you can then place it on someone's back who has the hiccups or on a spasming muscle but one should truly be very comfortable and know the oil well before doing something like this - I personally have never done this.  I'd say for most folks it's not a great idea and certainly not a place to start when exploring this oil.  Essential oils do need to be explored in a way before using them.  One needs to get to know them so to say.  Even though we are all familiar with Peppermint the essential oil is soooo much stronger than one might imagine before actually coming into contact with the real deal.  So that getting to know your oils through careful examination and experimentation is the way to go - moving slowly up  in terms of means and ways of using them from more to less diluted and from using in a diffuser or room spray to using in a carrier on skin to ingestion.  Please do take my advise when I say less is more when working with essential oils!!)

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