We've already waxed poetic about peppermint oil's obvious benefits—to wake you up during an invigorating morning shower (Dr. Bronner's Peppermint Pure-Castile Liquid Soap, $7, anyone?)—but did you know it can cure so many more of your common ailments? To be honest, we had no idea. In a group of more common essential oils like lavender and tea tree, the immense benefits of peppermint oil have flown under the radar. Until now.
We reached out to Adina Grigore, the founder of the organic skincare brand S.W. Basics and author of Just the Essentials. Below she breaks down six unknown ways to use peppermint oil as a part of your wellness routine.
1. It's antimicrobial and antifungal.
"So you know peppermint oil is a breath freshener, but it's not just effective at masking a stale smell," notes Grigore. "Peppermint essential oil is antimicrobial and antifungal, so it kills bad bacteria in your mouth. Add a few drops to your DIY toothpaste or snag a natural toothpaste at your local drugstore—just be sure to look for peppermint essential oil on the label rather than 'fragrance' or 'flavor.'"
2. It's a stimulant.
"You know that cool tingly feeling you get when you apply a peppermint lip balm? Peppermint oil is a stimulant," says Grigore, "so it's incredibly invigorating and having it right under your nose can help you feel refreshed all day." Plus, it'll plump up your lips for a bit as well. Try S.W. Basic's Peppermint Salve ($10).
3. It's an analgesic.
"You don't have to spend any money on a massage to soothe your sore muscles after a long workout or a hard day," says Grigore. "Peppermint essential oil is an analgesic, which means it numbs and kills pain on the skin. Just add a few drops to of peppermint essential oil to four tablespoons of sesame or avocado oil and massage into wherever you are experiencing pain or discomfort."
4. It eases tension headaches.
"Hold off on the painkillers when you have a tension headache and use peppermint oil instead," suggests Grigore. "Dilute a few drops in any carrier oil and apply it to your temples. Or simply inhale some straight from the bottle. Participants in a study reported a significant reduction in the pain of their tension headaches within 15 minutes, and the pain continued to drop for the following hour. Try it and see how you feel. You can carry Aura Cacia's Cooling Peppermint Essential Oil ($8) in your bag—they're super tiny and they will come in handy." We're also huge fans of Shu Uemura's Essential Drops ($48) for a scalp massage.
5. It helps clear up cold sores.
"You may have heard a tip about tea tree oil as the go-to remedy for cold sores. And tea tree oil is indeed wonderful, but peppermint's antimicrobial and antifungal properties make it an equal competitor," says Grigore. "Add a few drops to a small scoop of coconut oil, and apply to your cold sore throughout the day. You can also combine peppermint and tea tree oil for an even more effective treatment."
6. It improves concentration.
"Remember in school when teachers told you to listen to classical music to improve concentration during homework time? Well try adding some peppermint essential oil into the mix," recommends Grigore. "Peppermint essential oil improves concentration and memory, so next time you're on a tight deadline, add some peppermint essential oil to a diffuser and nail that to-do list."