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Generic Name: peppermint

Alternate Title

Mentha x piperita L., Menthol

Category

Herbs & Supplements

Synonyms

Balm mint, black peppermint, brandy mint, curled mint, Feullis de menthe, Japanese peppermint, Katzenkraut (German), lamb mint, menta prima (Italian), Mentha arvensis L. var piperascens, Menthae piperitae aetheroleum (peppermint oil), Menthae piperita var officinalis, Menthae piperitae folium (peppermint leaf), Menthe anglaise, Menthe poivre, Menthe poivree, Mentha piperita var vulgaris, Our Lady's mint, pebermynte (Danish), peppermint oil, Pfefferminz (German), Porminzen, Schmecker, spearmint (Mentha spicata L.), water mint (Mentha aquatica), white peppermint, WS(R) 1340.

Note: Mentha x villosa L. is a different species of mint with a similar appearance, used primarily as a flavoring agent.

Background

Peppermint is a flowering plant that grows throughout Europe and North America. Peppermint is widely cultivated for its fragrant oil. Peppermint oil has been used historically for numerous health conditions, including common cold symptoms, cramps, headache, indigestion, joint pain, and nausea. Peppermint leaf has been used for stomach/intestinal disorders and for gallbladder disease.

Mint plants such as peppermint and spearmint have a long history of medicinal use, dating to ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome. The scientific name for peppermint (Mentha x piperita) is derived from the name Mintha, a Greek mythological nymph who transformed herself into the plant, and from the Latin piper meaning "pepper." Peppermint is believed to be a cross (hybrid) between spearmint and water mint.

Peppermint oil is available in bulk herb oil, enteric-coated capsules, soft gelatin capsules, and in liquid form. In small doses, such as in tea or chewing gum, peppermint is generally believed to be safe in healthy, non-pregnant, non-allergic adults. The United States is a principal producer of peppermint, and the largest markets for peppermint oil are manufacturers of chewing gum, toothpaste, mouthwash, and pharmaceuticals.

Evidence

DISCLAIMER: These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.

Antispasmodic (colonic, esophageal, gastric spasm): Peppermint oil may be beneficial in reducing intestinal spasm during and after endoscopic procedures. However, more research is needed before a firm recommendation can be made.
Grade: B

Cough: There is currently insufficient evidence available to determine the efficacy of peppermint oil in the management of cough.
Grade: B

Indigestion (non-ulcer dyspepsia): There is preliminary evidence that a combination of peppermint oil and caraway oil may be beneficial for dyspepsia (heartburn) symptoms. It should be noted that heartburn can actually be a side effect of taking oral peppermint oil. Patients with chronic heartburn should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
Grade: B

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS): Peppermint may improve irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms. Additional study is necessary before a strong recommendation can be made.
Grade: B

Tension headache: Application of diluted peppermint oil to the forehead and temples has been tested in people with headache. It is not clear if this is an effective treatment.
Grade: B

Abdominal distention: There is not enough available scientific evidence in this area.
Grade: C

Asthma: There is not enough available scientific evidence in this area.
Grade: C

Bad breath: Early research suggests that cleaning the mouth with an essential oil mixture of diluted tea tree, peppermint, and lemon may improve bad breath in intensive care unit patients.
Grade: C

Breast tenderness (preventing cracked nipples): Using peppermint gel during breastfeeding may help prevent cracked nipples. Additional research is needed to confirm these early findings.
Grade: C

Functional bowel disorders: Early research suggests that peppermint oil taken by mouth may improve gastric emptying. Therefore, peppermint oil may help treat digestive disorders. However, this research is early, and additional studies are needed.
Grade: C

Nasal congestion: Menthol, a constituent of peppermint oil, is sometimes included in inhaled preparations for nasal congestion, including "rubs" that are applied to the skin and inhaled. High quality research is lacking in this area.
Grade: C

Nausea: There is not enough evidence to recommend for or against the use of peppermint oil in the treatment of nausea. Further research is needed before a strong recommendation can be made.
Grade: C

Post-herpetic neuralgia (herpes zoster pain): There is currently insufficient research available to determine if there are benefits of peppermint oil in the treatment of post-herpetic neuralgia.
Grade: C

Stroke recovery: Aromatherapy with peppermint oil, lavender, and rosemary has been used to reduce shoulder pain and improve motor power in patients recovering from strokes. Although treatment appeared to have beneficial effects, it is unclear if this was caused by peppermint oil or the other two herbs. Additional studies using peppermint oil alone are needed.
Grade: C

Tuberculosis: There is not enough available scientific evidence in this area.
Grade: C

Urinary tract infection: Peppermint tea added to other therapies has been used in the treatment of urinary tract infections. It is not clear if this is an effective treatment, and it is not recommended to rely on peppermint tea alone to treat this condition.
Grade: C

Vigilance improvement in brain injury (aromatherapy): There is currently a lack of sufficient evidence to recommend for or against the use of peppermint oil to affect vigilance following brain injuries.
Grade: C

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Note: This information is not intended to cover all possible uses, precautions, interactions, or adverse effects for this drug. If you have question about the drug(s) you are taking, check with your health care professional.
 
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