There is some misinformation on peppermint and wintergreen essential oils and their safety. As much varying information there is there are perhaps more variations on the quality of both peppermint and wintergreen essential oils. As always… the information on this site only refers to the Young Living brand. Please note that essential oils are not created equally and the terms “organic” or “pure” are never indicators of superior quality. Whereas knowing the source, the farms and extensive testing in quality control are the only ways to know if the essential oil is of the highest standard; this is why Young Living Essential Oils is known throughout the world as the leader in essential oil quality. This is also why other companies try to compare their oils to Young Living oils.
Another important point when using essential oils to in knowing how to use them properly. The superior quality essential oils are not used the same ways as cheap aromatherapy oils or fragrance oils are used. The superior oils are used by the drop, never the handful. Knowing the ways of application are important as well.
Peppermint, Wintergreen and dozens of other superior quality essential oils can be purchased on my buy page.
In this post, Doug Corrigan, Director of Training and Development for Young Living Essential Oils, discusses Using Peppermint and Wintergreen Essential Oils Safely…
It seems that I say this every time, but I am very excited to discuss these two single oils that we have before us today; they are of particular importance in a plethora of critical therapies.
The first one that we’re going to talk about is peppermint and the second is wintergreen. These are two pretty familiar and pretty common oils for a lot of folks out there who are using essential oil therapy on a regular basis, but in the review of these two oils in preparation for this it has really been a great reminder of how important it is for us, even if we think “been there, done that,” it’s important now and then to pick up a couple of these compulsory oils and just do a thorough review of the literature.
I’ve really enjoyed that because I learned some things that I didn’t know before, and just made some connections. You don’t realize that as you learn about different oils through the course of education that you start to make connections to the bigger therapeutic puzzle and how they’re connected to other natural therapies and other essential oils. Note that the two of these oils are closely connected and are often used as a very dynamic duo. I know that’s how I like to use these oils often, in combination.
I use them in combination for critical, acute, and chronic situations and we’re shortly going to discuss a few of those; but before we get there let’s talk about these oils and how we can use them as individuals for they are some of the most frequently-recommended oils, especially by Gary (Dr. Gary Young), and I’m talking about Gary’s writings in the Essential Desk Reference. He recommends both of these oils in a variety of conditions. Especially standout is peppermint single essential oil.
Anyone serious about essential oils would name peppermint oil quickly as a true marvel amongst other essential oils, and really even amongst other natural therapies, so in the greater world of natural therapies in general its versatility and immediacy make peppermint truly indispensable when it comes to anybody who is using essential oils for their health or for the health of others. In fact I’m willing to bet that a bottle of pure and potent peppermint essential oil in the hands of at least a semi-knowledgeable oil enthusiast may have been responsible for likely introducing and converting literally hundreds of thousands of people to essential oils.
I use the word convert because many times it is almost like a missionary effort because people come to essential oils or natural health with a lot of skepticism and probably with a lot of false ideas about the efficacy and about the usability; and peppermint is one that can quickly demonstrate how powerful, immediate, and potent natural therapies can really be. I know that was the case with me; peppermint oil was one of the first really pure and genuine essential oils that I experienced.
Before I experienced a Young Living peppermint oil I had experienced many different renditions of peppermint and all of them had been nice, it was a good smell, but it wasn’t until I tried the genuine article from Young Living that I realized, “Wow, there’s something to these essential oils when we get them in their pure, potent, genuine, unadulterated form!”
Just to get you a little idea of how versatile and effective this oil is, in the Essential Desk Reference, this great compilation of essential oil therapy, peppermint is mentioned more than 222 times. This idea of peppermint as a very versatile therapy was illustrated very well in a recent experience that we had in the corporate office. We undertook a project as a joint effort between Research, Education, and our Product Management teams and we were trying to simplify the introduction of essential oils and the Young Living product line down to just a few key products that we could introduce and have people experience in regard to all the different senses – to hear something, to taste something, to smell something – and we started to boil it down to a 4-square matrix.
Using that matrix we could demonstrate to new distributors the specific activity of essential oils. This matrix incorporated two simple and time-honored health concepts; the first one is a holistic concept which is a mind/body/spirit concept, but because spirit for brand-new people might be a little bit of a reach we focused mainly on the mind/body concept.
The other part of that was the Chinese yin and yang and the idea in Chinese medicine that someone is always going towards heat or going towards a cooling mechanism, which we labeled Energize and Soothe.
The top line of this matrix was described as Mind and Body, and the side matrix or quadrants were titled Energize and Soothe; so we were trying to find the ideal Young Living products to represent the four quadrants – the first one being Energize the Mind; the second one Energize the Body; then go to the bottom tier and that is #3, Soothe the Mind; and Soothe the Body.
For the #2 quadrant, Energize the Body, NingXia Red was immediately recommended as an obvious choice. What a great product that people could taste and quickly feel a sustainable good-quality energizing of the body!
The next thing that was mentioned was peppermint and someone suggested peppermint as the ideal substance to truly energize the mind, and that seemed a lock as everyone who has experienced peppermint in its pure and potent form is aware that genuine peppermint really can ignite the mind, it really brings immediate illumination and just a feeling of very invigorated mind. That, coupled with the fact that most people who study essential oils even a little bit become aware that there is a lot of research in regard to peppermint.
I’m talking about a University of Cincinnati study that found peppermint oil increased mental accuracy by 28%, and also immediate effects of inhaling peppermint have actually shown to reduce appetite, affecting the brain’s satiety measurement. So we know that it can help us to focus and truly energize our mind in a very profound and immediate way.
As we started to move on somebody mentioned “Isn’t that kind of limiting peppermint, because as I’m looking at peppermint doesn’t it also have the ability to soothe the body?”
Meaning sure, you use the aromatherapy part of peppermint and it is an invigorating and energizing experience, but when we topically apply peppermint that actually brings a different attribute of peppermint forward.
That’s the ability for it to cool tissues and for it to cool whatever it’s placed on, such as the tongue where it immediately feels hot but then it quickly cessates and begins this cooling mechanism. Again anyone who has used peppermint knows that it really can dispel hot conditions, be it acute or chronic inflammation where the tissue needs to be eased and soothed we can apply peppermint topically and have that effect; also anytime when someone has a very active flatulent situation or they’re gassy or nauseous, here again peppermint has the ability to cool that off.
Somebody else brought up the idea that many times it can be invigorating to the tissues, so peppermint used in the right situation can also have an energizing effect on the body. We went around and around but we all started to realize that putting peppermint in one of those specific quadrants just really was not doing it justice, because it indeed has the ability to impact virtually every area of our simple matrix, but also well beyond that.
If I was going to tell you that I had one essential oil that impacts profoundly probably 80% of the key areas of health for most people, people would probably say “That’s not possible!” But if we look at a list of the top areas of health concern in American today – and I would say even growing out into the globe today – the #1 area where people are concerned and, not just concerned but spending their hard-earned money to address, the #1 area is energy.
People are struggling with fatigue. What we don’t realize is that fatigue – and this is coming from Harvard where I just recently read several White Papers that they had developed in regard to addressing the problem of fatigue – it’s one of those things where physicians often have people come to their office saying “I’m tired, what can you give me to be less tired?” and physicians don’t have a lot of options. They know that the solutions to help someone to be immediately not tired are not really great ones; meaning you can give different stimulants but those things always end up in a crash.
So what they’ve actually found, and what makes perfect sense to the holistic practitioner, is that with regard to fatigue the most important thing to realize is that most of it is in our mind. We are tired, not because our bodies are exhausted and don’t have enough energy and nutrients (granted, that can play an important role and often does) but the majority of that is happening because of a mental fatigue, meaning the stress of our lives and the worries and anxiety and depression; those things all lead to an inevitable feeling of “I’m just tired, I just don’t have the will and drive to go forward.”
That’s one of the key areas that people want help with, and of course often what people turn to is an energy drink but the problem is obvious with those things, they wear you out; very few actual nutrients and a lot of stimulants that cause the body to spike and then to crash. What an amazing option it is then, to use a pure and potent simple peppermint oil just through a simple inhalation mechanism by cupping your hands over your mouth and nose, having some peppermint oil on your hands, and breathing in. This can do more to get rid of that fatigue than almost any other thing that you can do. The reason why is that it sharpens the mind, it stimulates the part of your nervous system that gets you back in the game, and peppermint is tremendous for that.
That’s why I love to put the peppermint in our diffusers at home; not only does it stimulate the mind but it also helps to do one other critical thing for energy and that is open our respiratory pathways. If you’re breathing better and taking in more oxygen and utilizing that oxygen better, you can’t help but feel a lot better. That’s why sometimes when people are down, they’ll take oxygen. Peppermint seems to have had that effect many times for me, and it’s important to recognize that with peppermint it becomes in many ways the quintessential example of how powerful aromatherapy really can be.
Never forget that as quick as we are to use it internally or topically, that one of peppermint’s best uses is really through that aromatic mechanism that inspires our limbic system; it soothes and cools and opens up our respiratory system. It’s just really important to know that many essential oils can be even more effective and rapid at affecting the bloodstream and other tissues of the body by using them as aromatherapy.
Now let’s move on the topical area; how to use peppermint topically and what kind of activities we can expect to see with the topical use of peppermint. One of my favorite uses for peppermint, and this is in that quadrant of cooling off tissues, is that it’s well recommended in uses with fevers and hot flashes.
This is one of those things where, if someone is running a fever, then a little bit of peppermint on the soles of the feet can bring an almost instant cooling mechanism, and we’ve used this time and time again with our young children, even our older children, and even ourselves when we are feeling a little overheated as a result of exercise or some other situation.
Peppermint has that instant refreshing mechanism that is so profound. One of the ways we’ll use it is to put peppermint in a spritzer with some water and maybe a little bit of citrus oils, and we’ll use that spritzer around our body. I’ve seen a lot of people use this very effectively. Some friends of mine have used this for hot flashes and really have had a lot of success with that.
Of course with regard to its topical application we cannot forget that whenever we have an injury or we’re trying to get over some type of injury or bumps or bruises, peppermint topically can really be a great thing to use either by itself or in a layering mechanism. A lot of people out there do a practice of layering essential oils, they’ll put on one essential oil that is indicated in a certain way and then they’ll put on peppermint over top of that, and then possibly another essential oil on top of that; multiple oils.
Peppermint is a great one to use in a layering situation because of its profound impact in increasing circulation and helping to improve the absorption of other oils, that’s why with injuries or aches and pains and all those situations, peppermint is always a tremendous aid in that regard.
I can’t leave this topical topic without discussing a little bit about its use in headaches. There is a lot of research, there are a lot of papers proving that peppermint can be very, very effective in regard to alleviating your headaches. In fact one of the great things that we see with peppermint is that it was proven just as effective as many of the over-the-counter medications for headache and the great upside of that is that you don’t have to take aspirin or Tylenol, because all of those things will adversely affect your body in some way. They bring some short relief but long-term they are not your best option.
We’ve already mentioned a couple of different things with peppermint and, specifically with nausea and improving the digestion, peppermint is right up there in many clinical studies and case studies of people using peppermint with great effect, not just with nausea but improving sluggish digestion or inspiring improved digestion.
Again you can start to get an idea, hopefully, of just how versatile this one essential oil is and if you look at those top areas, and I didn’t hit all of them, but those top areas where people are spending their money, energy is right up there at the top; stress, anxiety, and depression right up there at the top; people have all kinds of indigestion problems and are spending massive amounts of money in that area; and fourth in the top ten is pain, not just chronic pain but specifically headaches.
People complain of headaches; some people have multiple headaches in a given day. My wife says that she has about one headache per kid per day! So peppermint can be one of the great alleviators of that.
One thing I need to mention before we move on is that peppermint can be so, so soothing to our internal organs. A lot of people are using peppermint as a tremendous breath freshener because in my opinion there really is nothing better than peppermint to bring immediate and long-lasting freshness to your mouth, and the great thing there is that it invigorates more than just the mouth and impacts throughout the body and the mind. One has to be a little bit careful because too much peppermint orally can (and this doesn’t happen with everybody) but it can lead to a feeling of heartburn, just because it can relax some of those important valves that lead to the digestive areas of the body, so just be cautious with that.
One great way to use peppermint is by putting it in a capsule or, even better yet, use Young Living’s Digest + Cleanse as an enteric-coated capsule which combines peppermint and caraway. The reason why that was done was because peppermint and caraway were shown to be many times greater and more effective at soothing gas and soothing, not just gassy situations, but specifically soothing the tissues in the bowel.
A large percentage of people out there have issues with inflammation in their bowel and nowadays because we are so hard on it, and just not with the foods we eat but also with the stress and anxiety, it all goes right to our gut and we feel it literally in our gut. Well peppermint and caraway in this formula, Digest + Cleanse, can really go a long way to alleviating that.
We mention that today just because peppermint can be really soothing to critical tissues there. We could go on, and there’s no doubt that people out there are saying “Hey, you didn’t mention this, this and this!” and there are so many great ways to use peppermint, so much great information out there on peppermint. Jump onto PubMed http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/ and do some investigating – you’ll be very encouraged.
With that, we’re going to move on to wintergreen essential oil. Wintergreen essential oil – or the Latin name Gaultheria procumbens – and I always like to mention the Latin name; people may say “why would we ever need the Latin name?” Well, the Latin name for peppermint is Mentha piperita; what we find with Latin names is that they are important when we are researching a certain topic [and so we know exactly which plant we're getting].
Many of the studies list those Latin names, or the studies are listed by those Latin names so if you have the Essential Desk Reference and even on most bottles of Young Living essential oils we list the Latin names so that it helps you in your research.
We’ll kind of walk through our normal protocol with wintergreen and then we’ll discuss the aromatic, topical, and internal uses. One of the things about wintergreen that’s important to understand is that it has a long history of use as a flavor (much like peppermint) and these two, peppermint and wintergreen, have a lot of critical commonalities in several areas.
One thing that I’ve always remembered with regard to wintergreen is that it was often used by Native Americans when running long distances and performing difficult labors. Oftentimes people had their children chew the leaves of wintergreen back in the day, and there’s a lot of wisdom in that because much of the science of wintergreen has been done on its use in dental situations, dental products and dentifrice; something to clean the mouth. wintergreen is one of my favorite essential oils.
It’s obviously not as versatile as peppermint or Lavender or some of those other oils, but it is versatile in a variety of situations that have to do with structural issues, specifically structural issues where muscles, ligaments, and especially important, where bone is impacted and there’s an inflammation or injury situation.
Wintergreen is one of those that, if you look on the web or in a lot of aromatherapy books, it gets blackballed in regards to its safety sometimes. Well some of those cautions come from the chemical similarities between the methyl salicylate that we find in wintergreen and some of the other salicylates that we find in the marketplace.
A lot of these salicylates are utilized in a lot of painkillers that people take orally, and a lot of muscle-soothing ointments like Icy Hot and other preparations that take advantage of salicylates. Some of those are naturally-derived from, say wintergreen, and others are chemically synthesized. In the past we’ve seen salicylate poisoning occur from people using too much aspirin or too much Icy Hot, and some of those things have been damaging.
Sadly, because the salicylate portion of those products is responsible for those activities that sometimes we see methyl salicylate or your pure and natural wintergreen lumped in together with all of those different products. Are they the same? They have some similarities, chemically. But are they exactly the same and do they work differently?
Well people who work with natural products know that most of the time the balanced phytochemical profile of a natural product is by far safer and has really, the upside without the downside that some of these other more synthesized and more refined chemicals will have. So it’s just important to note that even though some people have kind of thrown wintergreen in a “do not touch” area I would say, and what we feel at Young Living, our philosophy is that if we use it responsibly and we use it in the way that it was intended we can indeed derive many, many benefits from this important natural product.
That’s really illustrated in a simple way; in researching this I looked at 4 or 5 different aromatherapy books from some of our best and brightest out there in regard to aromatherapy practitioners, from Tisserand and Price and some of the other people who are very renowned, and a lot of them really have a “hands-off” attitude with regard to wintergreen and they are not going to deal with what they perceive as some of the issues in the general scientific journals.
Now on the other hand we have Young Living and Gary, who has really embraced so much of what wintergreen can do and has experimented so much with what it can do. In the Essential Desk Reference we have wintergreen mentioned in a productive way, not just as a cautionary thing in regard to what wintergreen can do, more than 100 times. It’s something that, when used properly, can be used with effect.
I should mention one other quick contraindication with regard to wintergreen; the caution is that generally if people are epileptic you avoid using wintergreen.
One of the things that makes wintergreen beneficial is that these compounds, and the methyl salicylate in particular, have an anticoagulant property, so it actually inhibits too much platelet aggregation. Now this can be very beneficial for people whose blood is thick, who have problems with sluggish circulation and that’s one of the reasons why a lot of doctors recommend that someone take an aspirin in order to help thin the blood and improve the circulation and make it less likely to clump up and cause issues like stroke and other heart and circulatory disorders.
The good news is that wintergreen, if taken properly, can have many of the same impacts on the body but if taken in combination with other blood thinners like too much aspirin or warfarin or something like that it can cause problems.
Now my recommendation comes from a study that talked about how using wintergreen topically – now just topically – really had the same effects in bringing the salicylates to bear inside the bloodstream as did taking oral doses of aspirin!
That’s pretty cool because the great thing you have to offer there is that when you use wintergreen on the skin as a topical we have this great circulatory-enhancing property and then we don’t have to take an aspirin internally, which has some downside effects as it gets metabolized in its different channels and it actually has some toxicity concerns internally, as it affects digestion. So that’s one great thing, you can say “Hey, why not go for a natural option if that’s your end goal?” and wintergreen has some great properties there.
Now wintergreen, as you know, is used in many of our products that are to ease and to soothe. You can go online and find the reason why people have used salicylates and especially methyl salicylate for so long is because they work. They have great ability to soothe tissues, to enhance the healing process, and that’s why you’ll find wintergreen not just as a single but you’ll find it in tremendous products like Deep Relief or Ortho Massage oils or our product PanAway.
Even our product Raven, which is really meant to be a respiratory product, is built on the back that wintergreen also has some pretty profound impact in regard to its respiratory effects. In fact I’ve seen that personally which is why I often say that peppermint and wintergreen are a great one-two punch when used for respiratory issues, or also used for headaches, because again I think you benefit from the aromatic impacts of those things that are both soothing and can help with discomfort, and also help with the respiratory angle.
Several of our toothpastes take advantage of small amounts of wintergreen and that’s not just for flavoring, though it really adds that; who doesn’t love the flavor of wintergreen, this is a really delicious and appealing flavor to add to different things like that, it’s one of my favorite scents [see Scent and the Brain]. In fact something that’s just a mainstay in my house is that I add a lot of wintergreen in my diffuser and add it to different citrus oils.
Again, one of my favorites is wintergreen, a little bit of peppermint and then some kind of citrus such as Tangerine or Grapefruit are something that, really if you want to get noticed in a positive way as people walk into your home, that is one of the most appealing and compelling blends that I’ve used.
Regarding its topical use for people, again for both chronic discomfort and acute discomfort people are using wintergreen. The other critical area where both the aromatic and of course the topical uses of wintergreen could be helpful is with people who have hypertension.
I wasn’t able to find specific literature but I have seen several testimonials of people using wintergreen and having good effect with regard to hypertension. That could come from its aromatic effects and it could come from its phytochemical or physiological effects. I really like the addition of this in the toothpaste; it has long been used in that regard and I talked about how people would chew it to prevent tooth decay; in traditional medicine they would actually chew the leaves.
You now have this opportunity with wintergreen; it’s a great topical and aromatic and even at times people can use this and get some discomfort alleviated through an oral administration but I would put in there to use a little bit of caution and don’t overdo it with oral administration.
Now we have some wintergreen essential oil in our BLM product and I would recommend that if you’re trying to help with a chronic or acute discomfort that the BLM product is a great way to go if you’re thinking about utilizing wintergreen, and just utilize BLM which brings to bear the wintergreen, and also brings to bear all these other great nutrients which will be synergistic and help wintergreen do what you intend it to do in helping with your joints.
In summary on wintergreen, as an aromatic it increases awareness on all levels of the sensory system. It really does have profound impact on how it affects our system in its very positive experience. It then has a cascade of effects that can affect multiple body systems. Then topically, we’ve mentioned how we can utilize wintergreen in helping to soothe any kinds of bumps or bruises or discomfort, be it chronic or be it acute, and one of the things I really like again is using peppermint in tandem with wintergreen both aromatically and topically.
You should know the reason why now, but peppermint will help to drive in those components like the methyl salicylate and other components that are found in wintergreen, and drive them in to assist with rapid healing.
I think that’s one of the things that people have a misnomer in regard to natural remedies, they think “wow it just takes too long, you have to take too much, or it doesn’t work quickly.”
Well they have not tried pure, potent essential oils and in this case, peppermint and wintergreen in a liniment, in Ortho Sport or Ortho Ease or just on their own mixed with V-6 oil and layered together; you will see rapid, rapid results and rapid relief. That more than most anything is what will help to convert or at least to open the eyes of those people who might be a little skeptical.
You can show them that all these different products out there on the market that are mainstream, be it Icy Hot or even Vicks VapoRub or many of these other things that have become commercial, even Listerine for instance in regard to a dental product, all of these things are built on the backs of essential oils. These natural products really are a gift from our Creator and have been – and I really believe this – prepared for our use, if we can use them wisely and if we can keep them as close to their pure form, and keep them in the integrity that Mother Nature maintains and that our Creator intended.
So I hope that you’ve received some great insight; again I know there are lots of different uses for both of these things and these are just the top ones that I think most people can benefit from quickly and really have great experiences. I’m excited to hear more from you.
We stand ready in the Training and Development area to disseminate good quality information and dispel false notions as, in regard to these two products, there are a lot of false notions in regard to wintergreen.
Part of the message here also has to do with quality. The things that we’re talking about are the pure, potent, genuine articles. With regard to peppermint, is there some adulteration out there? Is there some falsification?
Yes, the most common thing that we have found as people have sent us different samples of their peppermint when they are trying to vie for our business, we see that peppermint is oftentimes adulterated with an inferior form of mint, a more common form of mint called cornmint. That’s often very difficult to detect if you don’t know what you’re looking for and of course it takes us a rigorous process of both analyzing, and then people who have trained in regard to detecting those things with their nose, but it also goes far beyond that.
Nothing can replace the fact that if we’re seriously considering doing business with that vendor then we have to do that site inspection, which now erases all the different concerns because we can now see the actual plant. That’s not a luxury that most other companies out there have.
Wintergreen is another one where there’s a lot of different testing that has to be done; very specific testing that, if not done properly, can lead you to a false positive meaning you think you’re getting wintergreen when in fact you’re getting an inferior substance or in fact you’re getting a synthetic substance. That’s often what we find with wintergreen, that people have artificially created that wintergreen in a laboratory so it take rigorous testing and some know-how to determine whether that is truly the natural article or whether it’s artificial.
We believe that is so critical at Young Living because if we don’t do that, how are we supposed to know how this thing will react when we put it on the body, when we breathe it into our lungs and into our limbic system? If it’s not the genuine article it will not act the same and then all kinds of bad things can happen. So save yourself a lot of trouble and a lot of peace of mind by just sticking with the genuine article.
With both of these single oils there is some adulteration to be concerned about in the marketplace, but Young Living has gone to the utmost to make sure that doesn’t happen.
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"There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it's going to be a butterfly." ~ R. Buckminster Fuller