Using Peppermint to Treat Heat Exhaustion

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If you have ever stayed in the sun too long and experienced dizziness,  headache, extreme tiredness/weakness, nausea and/or an elevated core body temperature, you may have suffered from heat exhaustion.

Without treatment, heat exhaustion can develop into heatstroke which is a “severe condition caused by impairment of the body’s temperature-regulating abilities, resulting from prolonged exposure to excessive heat and characterized by cessation of sweating, severe headache, high fever, hot dry skin, and in serious cases collapse and coma”. (FreeDictionary.com)

The main difference between heat exhaustion and heatstroke is the core body temperature. With heatstroke, core body temperature is above 104 degrees F, with heat exhaustion it is below that.

Heat exhaustion and heatstroke are serious conditions that require immediate attention.

In these situations, it is important to cool the body as soon as possible. A lukewarm or cool bath is often helpful in regulating body temperature. Adding peppermint to the bath should speed up the process.

Why Peppermint?

Peppermint enhances circulation and soothes the nerves. It is known to lessen the effects of overexposure (to heat and cold), and also helps alleviate nausea. Since peppermint provides aid to so many symptoms that are experienced during heat exhaustion, it is an excellent choice for treatment.

How to administer peppermint during heat exhaustion or mild heatstroke:

The first step is to take a Peppermint bath and soak for at least 20 minutes.

In addition, drink cool (not ice-cold) peppermint tea before, during or after the bath.

How to Make a Peppermint Bath

First you will make an infusion:

In a large pot, bring 3 quarts of water to the boil. Once boiling, turn off the stove.

Add 6 ounces of peppermint leaves to the hot water. Cover.

Allow to steep for 20 to 30 minutes before straining out the leaves. It is  usually easiest to strain the leaves by placing some cheesecloth over a large container and securing with a rubber band. Then pour the infusion through, catching the leaves in the cheesecloth.

Next, add the infusion to the bath:

Fill the bath with cool to lukewarm water (the water should be comfortable to the patient).  Then add the strained infusion.

The bath is now ready for the patient (who should soak for a minimum of 20 minutes).

If a bath is not possible, the peppermint infusion can also be used to sponge the patient down. You could also soak a few washcloths in the peppermint infusion and lay over the forehead, across the feet, and the inside of the wrists.

How to make Peppermint Tea:

Steep 1 teaspoon of peppermint leaves in warm water for 15 minutes. Then strain.

Interesting Note:

Peppermint oil is also useful in treating other forms of overexposure, such as hypothermia. Since it aids circulation, drinking hot peppermint tea can help take chills out of the body. Preparing the same infusion as above, and pouring into a warm bath, will help heat the body if it has become extremely cold.

I am grateful to Lalitha Thomas’ book, 10 Essential Herbs, for introducing me to this treatment.

Preventing heat exhaustion and heatstroke

Of course, it would be much better to avoid these situations altogether! Here are a few steps you can take to prevent heat exhaustion and heatstroke when you must be out in the hot sun:

  • Drink plenty of water (avoid caffeinated beverages)
  • Wear thin, long sleeved shirts (to allow air in, but keep sun out). Cotton is best because it is breathable.
  • Get in the shade whenever possible.
  • Keep a spray bottle filled with water and spray yourself regularly to keep cool.
  • Limit physical activity. Severe heat is not the time to shot for a personal best on your running time!

Do you have any tips for preventing or treating heat exhaustion or heatstroke?

If you have ever experienced heat exhaustion or heatstroke, you know how frightening it can be. Please remember that heatstroke is considered a medical emergency and can be fatal. It should be tended to immediately. This information is based on my own research. I am not a medical professional. Please contact your medical provider if you suspect heatstroke.

Stacy is wife to a preacher and mom to three busy children. She strives to live a healthy, happy life with God at the helm. Stacy writes about finding peace and joy at home, on her blog: Delighting in the Days.

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7 comments to Using Peppermint to Treat Heat Exhaustion

  • My 7 yr old daughter is VERY sensitive to the heat. She easily and profusely sweats when outside, gets very hot to the touch and just “exhausts” very easily. We have to be very careful to make sure that she doesn’t get too overly warm. Obviously we have to keep her well hydrated and in the shade as much as possible, but I also keep a spray bottle of water with peppermint essential oil in it. I eyeball how much, but a good guess would be 4-5 drops to about 8-10 oz of water. I make sure we keep her hair up and off her neck/face and then just have her close her eyes and I spritz her down every so often. It really helps!!!
    Blessings~

    [Reply]

    Stacy @ Delighting in the Days Reply:

    @Shelley Swindler, That is an excellent idea Shelley! I am going to try that next time we are outside on a hot day. Thanks so much for sharing.

    [Reply]

  • Heidi

    Several of my family members are heat sensitive and we’ve found peppermint to work well. I carry a roll on peppermint oil that I apply to my forehead and neck. Gatorade, Pedialite, or seltzer water work wonders; even after the horrible symptoms have started. We found bandanas that are filled with the same gel pellets in diapers that hold cold water and then get tied around your neck and keep you cool. They’ve been the best solution yet.

    [Reply]

    Stacy @ Delighting in the Days Reply:

    @Heidi, Those bananas sound super helpful. I’ll have to look out for them.

    The roll on peppermint oil is an excellent idea too!

    Thanks Heidi.

    [Reply]

  • […] Using Peppermint to Treat Heat Exhaustion – my post a Frugal Granola (I forgot to link a few weeks ago). […]

  • Justyn

    I had heat stroke as a teen and have been heat intolerant since then. I’ve learned that fresh coconut water is many times better than “rehydration” drinks, since it doesn’t have all the artificial colors, flavors and preservatives. It’s extremely high in electrolytes… in fact, I read that in World War II the doctors would actually do a direct transfusion of coconut water for patients who had lost too much blood! You can buy packaged coconut water, but be careful about additives and know that it will never taste as good as fresh. :-)
    Also, citrus fruit is helpful for re-hydrating and cooling. A limeade or lemonade made with fresh coconut water and citrus juice and the least amount of natural sweetener you can manage would be excellent!
    This summer, I’ve found that my new stainless steal thermal cup is a lifesaver! Even in direct sunlight, it keeps my water or herbal iced-teas cold all day! I like to put a few slices of fresh fruit or cucumber in the water. I’m not sure if that has any health benefit, but it was the only way I could keep water down with my morning sickness a couple months ago, so it helped with that! 😉

    [Reply]

    Michele Reply:

    @Justyn, Yes, we love coconut water! You can read my post on coconut water for rehydration here: http://frugalgranola.com/2009/03/kitchen-tip-tuesday-coconut-water/ :)

    Blessings,
    Michele

    [Reply]

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