A sore throat can strike at any time of the year, for a multitude of reasons. When that happens, it helps to be prepared with an at-home remedy like peppermint.
The benefits of this plant are truly impressive: it’s a pain reliever, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antiseptic, and cough suppressor.
Whether you consume the tea or use the essential oil, this is one natural remedy that has stood the test of time.
So, in this article, we will go over how to use peppermint for a sore throat and, of course, its many benefits.
Let’s dive in!
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HOW PEPPERMINT CAN HELP A SORE AND PAINFUL THROAT
1. Kills Oral Pathogens
A 2013 study showed that peppermint has significant antibacterial properties against oral pathogens, including (source):
- E. coli.
- Candida albicans.
- Staphylococcus aureus.
- E. faecalis.
Although there are multiple constituents in peppermint that account for these antimicrobial properties, the most well-known one is menthol.
In fact, some research has shown that menthol inhibits the growth of various viruses, bacteria and fungi (source).
2. Has Analgesic Properties
Peppermint demonstrate analgesic properties, which means that it alleviates pain and discomfort in the body (source).
Research indicates that peppermint’s pain-relieving properties are mainly due to compounds like (source):
Let’s take a closer look at menthol, because it has been studied extensively.
When it comes to relieving pain, menthol seems to have various modes of operation. And one of the most interesting has to do with the fact that it interacts with a specific set of opioid receptors – kappa receptors – resulting in a reduction of pain.
In addition, menthol has a cooling sensation which helps to reduce the intensity of pain.
Research indicates that the essential oils in the peppermint plant play a significant role in its anti-inflammatory benefits.
In addition, peppermint is an antispasmodic. As such, it reduces spasms or involuntary muscle contractions (which can contribute to painful coughing when you have a sore throat).
HOW TO USE PEPPERMINT LEAVES FOR SORE THROAT
1. Make a Mint Tea
When you’re feeling under the weather, nothing beats the warm embrace that comes from a cup of tea. Here’s a quick and simple recipe for mint tea.
- 1 cup of water
- 1 teaspoon dry mint leaves or 1 tea bag or about 7 fresh leaves
- Raw honey (optional sweetener)
- Lemon slices (optional)
- Place the mint into a tea infuser.
- Pour very hot (but not boiling) water over the mint.
- Cover and allow to steep for 15 minutes (covering the mixture prevents those important essential oils from evaporating).
- Remove the leaves.
- For additional soothing benefits, add raw honey or lemon slices to the tea.
- Sip and enjoy!
2. Make an Herbal Tea Blend
You can boost the soothing properties of your mint tea by adding in herbs like thyme and chamomile.
Both are are anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic, making them incredibly soothing and relaxing to the throat. I’ve found both to be very helpful when battling stubborn sore throats and/or coughs.
- ½ tsp dried peppermint
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried chamomile
- 1 cup hot water
- Raw honey (optional sweetener)
- Place the herbs in a tea infuser.
- Pour very hot (but not boiling) water over the herbs.
- Cover and allow to steep for 15 – 20 minutes.
- Remove the leaves and pour the tea into a cup.
- Sweeten with raw honey if desired.
HOW TO USE AND APPLY PEPPERMINT ESSENTIAL OIL FOR A PAINFUL THROAT
Before we get into how to use peppermint oil, please note that it may not be suitable for everyone. In particular, you should avoid this oil if you experience cardiac fibrillation or have a G6PD deficiency (source).
1. Make a Throat Rub
Since a throat rub is applied to your skin, any recipe you make must adhere to the dermal limit for peppermint oil.
If you’re not familiar with the dermal limit, it is the maximum recommended dilution for an essential oil. For peppermint, that limit is 5.4% (source). The recipe below is made for a 5% dilution.
Please do not exceed this dermal limit as it can increase the risk of skin irritation and other side effects.
- 1 oz glass bottle
- 45 drops of peppermint oil
- Carrier oil (such as fractionated coconut oil, almond or grapeseed oil)
- Add the essential oils into the bottle.
- Fill with carrier oil.
- Seal the bottle and roll it between the palms of your hands to mix the ingredients.
- Massage onto the neck and throat area several times a day as needed for relief.
2. Steam Inhalation
Steam inhalation is a core part of aromatherapy. Steam may help to loosen up mucus in the nasal passages and throat. When you’re under the weather, consider steaming twice a day for 5 – 10 minutes.
- Fill a large bowl with hot water.
- Add in 2-3 drops of peppermint oil.
- Lean over the bowl and drape a towel over your head.
- Inhale the vapors for 5 -10 minutes. If the vapor feels too intense, remove the towel.
NOTE: Instead of using only peppermint oil, you could add in other oils like eucalyptus, lavender, or rosemary. Just make sure not to exceed 2 – 3 drops in total.
Diffusing essential oils is another natural remedy for soothing throat soreness. Below are 3 essential oil blends to help you soothe a sore throat.
Please note that these measurements are for a small, 100 ml diffuser. If you have a larger capacity diffuser, please adjust the essential oil drops based on the manufacturer’s instructions.
Also, experts recommend short bursts of diffusion. This is because extended diffusion can create unnecessary stress in the body (source). With essential oils, less really is more!
Personally, I like diffusing for 30 minutes and then taking at least an hour-long break.
- 2 drops peppermint
- 1 drop tea tree
- 1 drop clove
- 2 drops peppermint
- 1 drop each of cinnamon, clove and peppermint
Gargling essential oils is another way to soothe a painful throat at home. Just make sure that you don’t swallow the essential oils!
- Place 2 drops of peppermint oil and 1 drop of lavender oil into 1 tablespoon of warm water.
- Gargle for 30 seconds and spit out.
- Repeat every 4-6 hours as needed.
NOTE: You can also add a ½ teaspoon of sea salt to the mixture. Gargling sea salt is a proven remedy for killing germs and even increasing your body’s ability to fight viruses (source).
As we’ve seen, there are many ways to use peppermint when you feel a sore throat coming on.
I hope this article comes in handy when you need it!
And if you’d like to learn more, here’s a guide on more essential oils for sore throat.