Peppermint oil comes from peppermint, a native plant in Europe and is frequently used for various therapeutic applications like oils, shampoos and lotions. It has been used to relieve flatulence and as a gastric stimulant. Peppermint oil comes from a family of liquids known as essential oils, which basically means liquids containing volatile aroma compounds from plants. They contain the ‘essence’ of the plant’s fragrance and are frequently used in aromatherapy and perfume production.
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Peppermint is usually known for its main ingredient, menthol, which has been proven to have a distinct cooling and refreshing sensation which has been used as a treatment to counter itchiness in humans, whether it is ingested or applied to the skin (Bromma et al., 1995) as well as analgesic(pain relief) properties (Galeotti et al., 2002). As an ingredient in treating hair loss, peppermint is extremely useful in soothing the scalp as an anti-inflammation substance, treating inflamed hair follicles which can prevent optimal hair growth. A study in 2014 (Oh, Park & Kim, 2014) recently compared the effectiveness of peppermint treatment with 4 other treatment options (including minoxidil, the recommended treatment for hair loss) and found that peppermint exhibited significant increase in dermal thickness, follicle number, and follicle depth compared with other treatments when done on mice. This has confirmed numerous anecdotal evidence of the usefulness of peppermint oil in combating hair loss.
Besides directly impacting the scalp, peppermint oil also helps stimulate hair growth by increasing blood circulation around the scalp and cleaning the area around the scalp; this helps prevent scalp buildup (sweat, sebum, dead skin etc) which can lead to irritation and inflammation. It also has antimicrobial and antifungal properties which can help prevent the growth of fungus and bacteria on the scalp, which are common causes of dandruff.
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However, despite the powerful therapeutic properties of peppermint oil, too much of it at one shot can be harmful to our naked skin. When using peppermint oil, it is highly advisable to use it in conjunction with another carrier oil such as jojoba oil or coconut oil, followed by massaging it gently upon the scalp to ensure full absorption into the skin. It is also recommended that you do a small skin patch test beforehand to ensure that your skin does not react adversely to menthol. In conclusion, peppermint oil is a highly potent compound capable of soothing and healing the scalp when applied, however too concentrated a dose will likely result in damaging the skin instead of healing it.
Use with carrier oil such as jojoba oil or coconut oil. Important to use proper dilution when applying as it might hurt the scalp if applied directly.
- Bromma, B., Scharein, E., Darsow, U. & Ring, J. (1995) Effects of menthol and cold on histamine-induced itch and skin reactions in man. Neuroscience Letters. 187 (3), 157-160.
- Galeotti, N., Mannelli, L. D. C., Mazzanti, G., Bartolini, A. & Ghelardini, C. (2002) Menthol: a natural analgesic compound. Neuroscience Letters. 322 (3), 145-148.
- Oh, J. Y., Park, M. A. & Kim, Y. C. (2014) Peppermint Oil Promotes Hair Growth without Toxic Signs. Toxicological Research. 30 (4), 297-304.