Although essential oils have long been used in traditional and alternative health practices, in recent years researchers have also begun to study their purported health benefits. Essential oils are aromatic, concentrated plant extracts that have a wide range of uses, from creating the scents that emerge from aromatherapy diffusers to adding fragrance to lotions, soaps and other beauty products.
Many essential oils also show potential benefits when it comes to your health, but it’s important to be aware that, often, these oils haven’t been researched enough to determine how safe or effective they are as treatments. While more studies need to be done, some essential oils are generally recognized as safe to use and may help relieve some symptoms of inflammatory conditions and skin conditions such as acne. Some essential oils also may have antifungal, antiviral and antibacterial properties. Learn more about the health effects of some of the most common essential oils.
Peppermint oil is one of the most versatile essential oils, and you can use it for a variety of different purposes. For starters, it's used as a dietary supplement for digestive issues such as irritable bowel syndrome. When taken in enteric-coated capsules, peppermint oil can be especially useful for reducing irritable bowel syndrome symptoms.
You can also apply the oil to your skin for tension headaches, but be sure to dilute it in a carrier oil such as coconut oil — otherwise, it can cause skin irritation. Three drops in a few tablespoons of carrier oil is an appropriate ratio. When applied topically, peppermint oil may ease muscle aches and itching.
Peppermint oil is safe to consume by mouth in small doses and is typically used to flavor tea. However, it's best to take enteric-coated peppermint oil capsules to avoid potential heartburn or other reactions.