You may know peppermint as a flavoring in gum, toothpaste and tea, but it is also used medicinally to treat a variety of ailments, such as upset stomach, headaches, anxiety, menstrual cramps and symptoms of the common cold, including sore throat 4. According to the National Institutes of Health, or NIH, more scientific information is needed to support the use of peppermint for symptoms of the common cold 24. Consult with your doctor before using peppermint medicinally 4.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
About Sore Throat
Your throat, or pharynx, is a tube that passes food to your esophagus and air to your windpipe. Sometimes, your throat can become sore for a variety of reasons, such as allergies, bacterial infection or the common cold. Treating a sore throat depends on the cause. You can suck on lozenges, drink a lot of fluids and gargle to alleviate the pain. Some people also take supplements, such as peppermint 4. Over-the-counter pain medicines are used for relieving symptoms.
- Your throat, or pharynx, is a tube that passes food to your esophagus and air to your windpipe.
- Sometimes, your throat can become sore for a variety of reasons, such as allergies, bacterial infection or the common cold.
How It Works
The Uses of Peppermint Extract
The main active compound in peppermint is menthol 4. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, menthol is soothing, numbing and calming for sore throats 1. Furthermore, a report published in the journal “Harefuah” in 2008 suggests that peppermint has anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-viral activities 4. Taking peppermint may therefore help to destroy the infective organisms that are causing the sore throat 4.
Menthol, the active ingredient in peppermint, is available in a variety of over-the-counter products for treating colds and related sore throat and cough 4. These include chest rubs, inhalations, lozenges and syrups. Some people inhale peppermint oil for treating symptoms of cough and colds, and as a painkiller 4.
Peppermint Allergy Symptoms
Preliminary research suggests that peppermint may help to relieve your sore throat 4. A study, published in the journal “Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine” in 2010, evaluated the effectiveness of peppermint oil in combination with essential oils of four other plants for treating sore throat, hoarseness or cough due to a respiratory tract infection 45. Results showed that the essential oil combination with peppermint produced immediate and significant improvement in symptoms when compared to a placebo 4. These effects were diminished after three days of treatment.
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- University of Maryland Medical Center: Peppermint
- National Institutes of Health: Sore Throat
- "Harefuah"; The Treatment of Respiratory Ailments With Essential Oils of Some Aromatic Medicinal Plants; Y. Rakover, et al.; October 2008
- Drugs.com: Peppermint
- “Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine”; Treatment of Upper-Respiratory Tract Infections in Primary Care: A Randomized Study Using Aromatic Herbs; E. Ben-Arye, et al.; November 2010
- National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Peppermint Oil. Updated September 2016.
- Khanna R, Macdonald JK, Levesque BG. Peppermint Oil for the Treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. J Clin Gastroenterol. 2014;48(6):505-512. doi:10.1097/MCG.0b013e3182a88357
- Shavakhi A, Ardestani SK, Taki M, Goli M, Keshteli AH. Premedication With Peppermint Oil Capsules in Colonoscopy: A Double Blind Placebo-Controlled Randomized Trial Study. Acta Gastroenterol Belg. 2012;75(3):349-353.
- May B, Köhler S, Schneider B. Efficacy and tolerability of a fixed combination of peppermint oil and caraway oil in patients suffering from functional dyspepsia. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2000;14(12):1671-1677. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2036.2000.00873.x
- Borhani Haghighi A, Motazedian S, Rezaii R, et al. Cutaneous application of menthol 10% solution as an abortive treatment of migraine without aura: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossed-over study. Int J Clin Pract. 2010;64(4):451-456. doi:10.1111/j.1742-1241.2009.02215.x
- Göbel H, Fresenius J, Heinze A, Dworschak M, Soyka D. [Effectiveness of Oleum Menthae Piperitae and Paracetamol in Therapy of Headache of the Tension Type]. Nervenarzt. 1996;67(8):672-681. doi:10.1007/s001150050040
- Thosar N, Basak S, Bahadure RN, Rajurkar M. Antimicrobial efficacy of five essential oils against oral pathogens: An in vitro study. Eur J Dent. 2013;7(Suppl 1):S71-77. doi:10.4103/1305-7456.119078
- Meamarbashi A. Instant effects of peppermint essential oil on the physiological parameters and exercise performance. Avicenna J Phytomed. 2014;4(1):72-78.
- Masoumi SZ, Asl HR, Poorolajal J, Panah MH, Oliaei SR. Evaluation of mint efficacy regarding dysmenorrhea in comparison with mefenamic acid: A double blinded randomized crossover study. Iran J Nurs Midwifery Res. 2016;21(4):363-367. doi:10.4103/1735-9066.185574
- Mount Sinai. Peppermint oil overdose.
Diana Kaniecki has been writing health-related articles since 1991. Her work has appeared in peer-reviewed health journals including the "American Journal of Cardiology," "Chest" and "Pharmacoeconomics." She also develops health technology products for wellness and chronic illness self-management. Kaniecki received her Doctor of Clinical Pharmacy from St. Johns University.