Peppermint (Mentha piperita) is a flowering plant that grows throughout Europe and North America and is widely cultivated for its fragrant oil. It can help mood, energy, mental acuity and alertness, as well as control appetite and increase physical strength and endurance. Unlike many other essential oils, numerous health benefits of peppermint oil have been studied and proved by the scientific community.
For instance, peppermint has been studied for enhancing athletic performance. One study performed by Bryan Raudenbush, Ph.D. suggests the smell of peppermint alone could boost athletic performance. In his experiment, 40 athletes performed a series of physical tests. Tests conducted after having the athletes smell peppermint showed improvement in areas of cardiovascular endurance and strength. According to Raudenbush, “they were able to go longer at the gym, able to push themselves, were more motivated, less fatigued and felt like they had more energy”. This astounding effect of peppermint on physical strength and endurance is exciting for athletes looking to take their training to the next level.
The study also found that peppermint is a natural appetite suppressant. Volunteers who sniffed peppermint scent every two hours were not as hungry as non-sniffers and ate 2,800 fewer calories in a week. The peppermint, Raudenbush says, "is distracting you from your hunger pains, and you don't feel as inclined to eat as much." A 2008 study conducted by the Wheeling Jesuit University evaluated the level of hunger of participants after inhaling peppermint oil every 2 hours for five days. Participants who inhaled the peppermint oil experienced less hunger and fewer cravings than those who didn’t use the oil.
Beyond physical uses, peppermint has several emotional uses. Peppermint provides relief from stress, depression and mental exhaustion due to its refreshing nature. It is also effective against anxiety and restlessness. Its cool and refreshing nature stimulates mental activity, clears the mind and increases focus on cognitive tasks. According to recent research from Wheeling Jesuit University, the smell or flavour of peppermint can have profound effects on cognitive functions. These include reasoning, problem solving, concept formation, judgment, attention span, and even memory.