Does Peppermint Oil Help With Anxiety?

Those who have experienced anxiety know just how physically, mentally, and emotionally draining it can be. While having sporadic moments of anxiety here or there is not uncommon, for others, it's an ongoing chronic condition (via the Mayo Clinic). 

As per the American Psychological Association, anxiety is an emotion involving feelings of tension stemming from worrisome thoughts. It often manifests physically in the form of high blood pressure, a rapid heart rate, trembling, or sweating, amongst other symptoms. Anxiety can significantly impact one's quality of life and ability to function day-to-day. As a result, many people seek out means to manage anxiety symptoms, either through professional mental health support or through wellness practices they can implement on their own.

One such practice that has continuously increased in popularity is the use of essential oils for easing or prompting emotional states of mind, such as anger, burnout, confidence, peace, depression, and fear (via AromaWeb). Peppermint has been praised for its physical health benefits on the body, such as easing cold and flu symptoms, indigestion, nausea, and soothing skin irritation (via UCHealth). When it comes to essential oils, can peppermint oil harbor mental health benefits, such as helping ease anxiety?

Research shows promise regarding peppermint oil aromatherapy

Although there has been minimal clinical research done on the mental health benefits of essential oils, some research suggests that peppermint oil used as a means of aromatherapy may help provide anxiety relief. A 2019 study published in the Journal of Pain Research examined 80 cardiac patients and indicated that inhaling peppermint oil reduced anxiety symptoms in those experiencing pain from cardiac catheterization.

Additionally, a 2018 study published in the Medical – Surgical Nursing Journal set out to determine if peppermint oil aromatherapy could reduce patient anxiety prior to undergoing diagnostic procedures for digestive disorders. In an examination of 50 colonoscopy patients, the study suggested that anxiety symptoms lessened after 10 minutes of inhalation through a nebulizer mask of 3 drops of peppermint oil mixed with distilled water, given 30 minutes prior to the procedure.

While peppermint oil certainly does show promise in lessening anxiety as it occurs, further research is still needed on the subject, and it should not be used as a means of medical treatment. WebMD also emphasizes that essential oils should not be ingested.

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.