Both peppermint and spearmint essential oils are popular in aromatherapy use. However, these two essential oils are quite volatile and are not recommended for use with certain groups of people. As the Holidays approach, and you might be tempted to add some mint essential oils to your Holiday products, take a moment to consider the similarities and differences between the mint oils – and which is the most appropriate oil for your use.
Profile of Peppermint
Peppermint (Mentha x piperita) is believed to be a hybrid of spearmint (Mentha spicata) and watermint (Mentha acquatica). It is a small herb with serrated, aromatic leaves and spikes of purple flowers.
Peppermint essential oil has a strong, minty aroma. Although peppermint and spearmint essential oils have similar chemical components, peppermint essential oil contains a higher percentage of alcohols than spearmint essential oil. However, it is the ketone content of menthone that gives cause for this essential oil to be contraindicated in some circumstances. Both peppermint and spearmint essential oils contain quite a high percentage of ketones.
Profile of Spearmint
Spearmint (Mentha spicta) is a similar looking herb to peppermint. Spearmint essential oil has an aroma that is reminiscent of chewing gum, which is perhaps why it is a popular as an essential oil in the United States! The essential oil is composed predominately of ketones (menthone) and alcohols, with monoterpenes. Both peppermint and spearmint essential oil contain the alcohol component menthol.
Mint Oils for the Holidays
Mint oils tend to be stimulating essential oils and are useful for relieving fatigue and stress. They may also be useful essential oils to have around to combat the symptoms of colds and flu.
If you plan to use peppermint or spearmint essential oil for the Holidays, here are some suggestions for use:
in candles – combine with other essential oils to minimize the overpowering minty aroma, or use by itself, as detailed in this post.
in an aromatherapy diffuser – to combat the symptoms of colds and flu, or to uplift spirits and reduce stress.
in bath products – such as these peppermint bath melts. However, use SPARINGLY, and watch for skin irritation. In addition, read the cautions below. Made correctly, these make great Holiday gifts!
Combine mint essential oils with other essential oils such as:
Cautions for Using Mint Oils
Do not diffuse, or apply topically, any aromatherapy product that contains peppermint or spearmint essential oil in the vicinity of babies and young children (under the age of three). In addition, avoid use in pregnancy and with nursing mothers. Do not use in conjunction with homeopathic treatments. Always use mint essential oils in moderation. Consult a qualified health care professional for further advice.
Make Your Own Aromatherapy Holiday Gifts
If you are interested in making your own aromatherapy Holiday gifts, consider one of the Sedona Aromatherapie Bath and Body courses. To learn more, visit the courses home page.
Caddy, Rosemary, 1997, Aromatherapy: Essential Oils in Colour, UK: Amberwood Publishing
Falsetto, Sharon, 2014, Authentic Aromatherapy, US: Skyhorse Publishing
Heilmeyer, Marina, Ancient Herbs, US: Getty Publications
Lawless, Julia, 1995, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils, UK: Thorsons
Penny Price Academy of Aromatherapy