Peppermint for a Sore Throat

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.

Is This an Emergency?

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.

How It Works

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.


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.